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Linux in Physics

  1. Mar 27, 2010 #1

    Question: What Linux distribution do you think is most widely used in physics circles? Is it more widely used than Windows or OS X? Which OS do you prefer?

    Any responses are appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2010 #2


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    Windows is probably a lot more used, Macs tend to be big in medic/biology.

    Linux really took off in astronomy 15years ago when IRAF ported. As soon as you could take all your reduction software with you to the telescope on a laptop and look at data 'live' it was a breakthrough. Then when Pentiums got to be as powerful as Suns we pretty much switched overnight.

    I have used SLS, Slackware, Redhat, Mandrake, Suse then Ubuntu - pretty much whatever is the current front runner. Most of the specialist software will build on anything so it doesn't matter.
  4. Mar 27, 2010 #3
    There is also a "scientific linux" flavor. I think they've used it at CERN and other labs.

    There was an article in Scientific American where in Sandia (or Brookhaven forgot which) they've loaded one million linux kernels into a supercomputer in order to simulate cyber warfare attacks.
  5. Mar 31, 2010 #4
    ^ +1

    You just need a large repository. I find lots of scientific software available for Linux.

    If you want a large repo of that, use Gentoo, but it's hard to work on it...so you might give Sabayon a try.

    Although I might expect more scientific software in scientific Linux, but it uses RPM repos...so no go.
  6. Apr 11, 2010 #5
    Disclaimer: I am not a physicist, but a mere software engineer who enjoys physics and math.

    http://www.scientificlinux.org/" [Broken] is a similar project, though not branded as "scientific", it pretty much does the same thing (minus the "sites" feature of SL) and is more frequently updated.

    If you find yourself needing more software options, take a look at http://www.debian.org/" [Broken], which has one of the largest open source software repositories.

    I prefer Mac OS X for workstation/desktop use. I can run and/or compile any Unix software I ever want and use the most organized GUI in the industry at the same time. On servers I prefer the following order: OpenBSD whenever possible, FreeBSD if more software is needed, RHEL/CentOS if virtualization is needed, Debian if both virtualization and more software is needed, Solaris for really large storage and huge data sets. But thats just me...
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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