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2. Introduction

GNU/Linux is probably the platform of choice for scientific computing. There exists a wide variety of high level languages, debugging tools and other code development tools for programming, numerical subroutines for solving various types of equations, plotting and visualization packages, word processing software which can display equations and figures and in fact parallel programming software to construct a supercomputer with off the shelf PC parts and some hardware. This document aims to provide a list of free software for carrying out the above tasks and links to tutorials and other documents on how to setup and use these software applications.

This document does not aim to provide links to subject specific free software available for GNU/Linux systems. It aims to show how GNU/Linux can be used best to handle scientific computing tasks. It is hoped that people or institutions with interest in a specific subject list, compile a list of the free software available for that subject ... for example see Linux for Astronomy, Linux for Biotechnology and Linux for Chemistry at The Random Factory . Another site with a lot of links (to commercial and free) scientific software is Scientific Applications on Linux. The GNU Software Directory also has links to many of the links provided in this howto plus many more topic specific software. You may also want to check out The Science and Engineering section at Freshmeat.net.

The software links provided are classified into

Just installing GNU/Linux on your PC makes it a powerful workstation. The various popular distributions however do not have all the tools needed to make it the ideal scientific computing machine. This HOWTO aims to fill in this gap by creating a list of free software useful for scientific computing. It is assumed that people reading this document already have a PC with Linux and the GNU utilities installed. For those who do not have such a setup and want to install GNU-Linux can check out GNU/Linux Systems for links to documents on installing GNU/Linux, and also on how to get started using GNU/Linux. Recently there has been an effort by Dirk Eddelbuettel to create a scientific computing environment Quantian which probably is the first GNU-Linux distribution tailored for Scientists. I checked out the latest release and it has almost all the packages mentioned in this document and many packages not mentioned. It is fair to say that if you have any linux distribution in which the packages are managed by rpms or any debian based system, you will find pre-compiled binaries of these packages and will not have to waste much time installing them.