[Blindmath] Linux

Jason White jason at jasonjgw.net
Mon Jan 4 22:18:34 CST 2010

Lloyd Rasmussen <lras at loc.gov> wrote:
> You will get a number of Linux proponents on this e-mail list.  It
> takes considerable effort to set up and learn to use, but it may be
> worth it, depending on the direction your studies take.

It isn't difficult to set up, and the amount of learning involved depends on
your background. For example, if you've used a version of Unix previously,
even if only as a user rather than as an administrator, Linux will be fairly
easy to adapt to. People coming from Microsoft Windows who have never used any
other operating system tend to find it considerably harder, however, perhaps
in part because they think their Windows knowledge will transfer to a somewhat
different software environment, which it apparently doesn't.

I agree with the observation that if you are interested in mathematics,
computer science or other technical disciplines, there is a wealth of software
available under Linux, much of which is accessible from the shell prompt. For
this purpose, I would recommend installing Debian or Ubuntu or a Linux
distribution derived from one of these, since the number of
mathematics-related packages available for these distributions will
considerably ease the task of installing and maintaining the software. You
don't want to have to spend unnecessary time compiling software from source
code and installing it when this can be avoided by obtaining a pre-packaged
version for which the installation is completely automated.

A recent addition to the available mathematics packages which has been
discussed on other mailing list is Sagemath, which combines a number of tools
into a single environment.

I don't know how accessible it is, however, although it is reputed to have a
shell-based user interface as well as one that requires a Web browser.

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