[SciPy-user] Suggested Linux Distribution?

massimo sandal massimo.sandal at unibo.it
Mon Jan 16 09:57:56 CST 2006

Before all, a friendly advice if you never used Linux/*BSD. No matter 
what Linux distro will you install, before doing it *read some 
documentation first*. You can find a lot of tutorials etc. on the 
internet. Do it and do it *first*, before even thinking of installing 
anything. Linux is generally not difficult (no more than Windows), but 
it's quite different, and you have to know its basics both to not 
stumble upon problems and fully appreciate its power. Switching to Linux 
without some knowledge of its basics is like being parachuted in an 
unknown city without a map and trying to find the post office. Remember 
again: *read it first*. When I first installed Linux two years ago I 
took the time to download and read a bunch of tutorials, introductions 
etc. and it saved me a lot of grief. I immediately felt at /home ;).

mfmorss at aep.com wrote:
> For scientific computing I would strongly recommend a distribution that
> compiles from source; that's the only way to exploit the full power of your
> machine (most binary distros, for universality's sake, are compiled for the
> i386).  The major such distribution is Gentoo.  

I am a Gentoo user myself and I would recommend Gentoo too for the same 
reasons. If you never used Linux it can be a bit harsh introduction 
(but, hey, we're scientists! we don't fear the unknown!), but you surely 
will learn a lot of things in the install process and you will 
appreciate the flexibility of a computing environment you can fully 
tailor around your own needs. Moreover documentation is truly excellent, 
and both the forums and the gentoo-user mailing list are wonderful 
helps, among the best in the Linux community.

> I doubt the accuracy of the statement below that Gentoo installation
> proceeds wholly by command-line interractions.  

Ehm, no.
Gentoo installation is still mainly command line driven. But the 
documentation holds your hands quite easily. Keep another PC to connect 
to the internet if you need help during the process is highly advisable.

> If you go with a compiled distribution, you do
> accept a much larger burden of system administration.  That seems to be the
> price of having a fast, lean system.

Not really more than with other distros, after the first configurations.

Massimo Sandal
University of Bologna
Department of Biochemistry "G.Moruzzi"

snail mail:
Via Irnerio 48, 40126 Bologna, Italy

massimo.sandal at unibo.it

tel: +39-051-2094388
fax: +39-051-2094387
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