Local Configuration Information for Linux Machines
Note: this page is under construction.
Local Hardware Configuration
Things that I find useful to have on a serious scientific machine:
- at least 32 MB of RAM
- at least 2 GB of disk
- a tape unit for backups. I had used a floppy-tape unit when at MIT,
but now I've discovered that the Linux floppy-tape driver puts
funny headers on the tape so that nothing except that driver
can read it. Get a SCSI tape unit (the new Travan TR-4 drives
- I swear by Northgate Omnikey 102 keyboards, but I cannot recommend
them. Tech support is nonexistent, and the latest revision
(programmable keyboard) has a very buggy keymapper program.
If you call Northgate and ask them to send you an upgrade disk,
they will recommend that you try and find one of the older
OmniKey models still in stock!!
The nicest thing (besides the feel) about these keyboards is
that it comes with extra keycaps so you can put the control key
back where God intended it to be (to the left of the "A" key.)
- A CD-ROM drive. Most software packages these days are distributed
Local Software Configuration
the Red Hat Linux distribution.
Takes a lot of hassle out of upgrading and maintaining your system.
The biggest drawback is that they have all sorts of crazy nonstandard
stuff (for example, the "logrotate" package) that you have to uninstall
after each upgrade, if you want your machine to remain a "normal"
Linux system. Some people probably don't care, but I don't like, e.g.,
the system deleting my log files behind my back.
Handy software to have around:
- We are using a number of Fortran tools to allow us to run large
Fortran codes on our boxes.
Visit the Linux Fortran Page
for more information.
XEmacs has become the default editor around here --- even I use it
after having used the standard GNU Emacs for eight years. Very
slick. Its online manual system is fully functional, unlike the info
system in the the Slackware distribution of GNU Emacs.
A nice mail program (VM) and newsreader (GNUS) is included with XEmacs.
XEmacs has pull-down
menus, icon bars for common activities, context-sensitive editing for C,
C++, HTML, Fortran, LaTeX, you name it.
- We use the xmgr
program for publication-quality plotting. If you want to try xmgr,
be sure to pick up the binary distribution here, unless
you have the Motif libraries installed on your system. The
binary xmgr distribution has the Motif libraries already compiled
- The tob
program is used in conjunction with my SCSI tape drive to make
backups. The program takes some time to set up (lots of config files)
but it is straightforward, and once it is set up, you can do a backup
by typing only one short command. Supports full, incremental,
and differential backups. It also includes the afio archiver,
which is like tar, but better since it can recover from tape
errors even when compressing. It can do this since files are
individually compressed and added to tape, but header info
is left uncompressed. tar, on the other hand, adds files and headers,
then compresses the result. Tape errors cause gaps in the compressed
data, so the decompression fails. With tar you lose all the files
in the archive. With afio, you lose only the one file whose
compressed data was corrupt.
Jeff Templon - email@example.com