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Re: [Notice] Recently GPL'ed software from CERN

Hi everybody,

I think debian-devel would be the much more appropriate list for this 
discussion. debian-testing is for

This list finds problems with the next Debian release. This includes: trying 
the installation, trying the upgrade, and testing individual packages.

and thus totally inappropriate for this thread.


> Hi All, 
> I feel I should comment on this, even though I'm not on
> <debian-testing@lists.debian.org> or any of the other mailing list,
> since I did once pack the CERNLIB software for Debian, though it was
> entirely in binary form (I didn't bother to recompile), which I know
> is wrong, but it didn't really matter, since it couldn't get into
> public domain anyway, and I had no right to redistribute anyway. 
> If anyone would like to pack CERNLIB for Debian, mail me, and I'll
> send you what I have. 
> However, I'd like to point out a few things concerning CERNLIB. Don't
> get me wrong - it's a great (in both senses of the word) piece of
> software, and has certainly withstand the toll of time.  
> > I've been using it for
> > about six or seven years, but it's much older than that.  (But continuously
> > updated, of course.)
> CERNLIB is no longer really updated. It's supported, but not
> updated. Officially I believe that CERN is promoting LHC++ which is
> based on commercial software. 
> > CERNLIB is huge.  If this gets packaged for Debian (and I would *love* to
> > see someone package this) it's going to need to be broken into many
> > subpackages.  The subset of CERNLIB that I have installed (most devel
> > libraries, header files, and binary executables.  I don't have source
> > or object files.) weighs in at about 100MB.
> When I originally packed it, I put it into 3 packages cernlib1,
> cernlib1-dev, and cernlib1-bin in a total of 43 MB (only
> binaries), and an installed size of (103088+31390+2731)KB = 134MB.     
> > ... whatever you can even think of wanting to do with a histogram,
> > nothing does this better than CERNLIB/PAW.
> Hmm. I'm afraid I dont agree (see more on ROOT below). 
> > The biggest problem with the code is that it's very Fortrany.  You can
> > interface with C/C++, but the mindset that went into designing the APIs
> > and user interface was definitely a Fortran one.  If you like Fortran,
> > though, you'll be at home with this code.
> I guess this is the real Ackillies heel of CERNLIB. In general, it
> seems like the Physics community is moving away from Fortran (for
> better or for worse) and toward C++ (for better or for worse). This
> shift provides the scientific programmer with all the (fancy) features
> of that a modern programming language like C++ provide
> (Object-Orientedness, dynamical memory managment (who said ZEBRA), and
> so on).   
> Therefore, I feel I should promote another (and in my opion greater)
> piece of software: ROOT (see http://root.cern.ch). 
> Again, ROOT is a framework for data analysis, crunching, acquisition,
> and so on - all the stuff CERNLIB can do (and in some cases more). It
> is written in C++, and the user writes C++ - no more of that Fortran
> stuff around (except for two utility programs to import CERNLIB
> stuff), or strange command-line interfaces - even in an interactive
> session, you write C++ (you only need to know one language!). ROOT
> also have a very nice GUI framwork, as well as facilities for parallel
> computing, remote file access, and so on.  
> Various extension libraries have been contributed, among those, two
> (AFAIK) neural net libraries, buisness management, and so on. Also,
> ROOT is far smaller (in disk terms) then CERNLIB, only 45 MB including
> sources (23 MB). 
> ROOT is used by many modern day Physics experiments, where the data
> flux reaches un-precedented hights: 
> * NA49   at CERN http://na49info.cern.ch         (original developers)
> * ALICE  at CERN http://alice.web.cern.ch/Alice
> * BRAHMS at RHIC http://www.rhic.bnl.gov/brahms
> * PHENIX at RHIC http://www.phenix.bnl.gov
> * STAR   at RHIC http://www.star.bnl.gov
> * PHOBOS at RHIC http://www.phobos.bnl.gov
> * BABAR  at SLAC http://www.slac.stanford.edu/BFROOT/
> and many others ... 
> ROOT was originally developed at the NA49 collaboration at CERN, by 
> Rene Brun, Fons Rademarkers, and others. The former two where also
> heavely involved in writting CERNLIB. Since then the ROOT team have
> grown extensively, and many have one-time contributers.
> Having said all these wonderful things about ROOT, I should point out
> some of it's weaknesses: 
> * ROOT doesn't (at present) have a detector simulation package. 
> * It's not GPL'ed (or Open Source) due to the following line in the
>   lisence: 
>     Additionally, the authors grant permission to modify this software
>     and its documentation for any purpose, provided that such
>     modifications are not distributed without the explicit consent of
>     the authors and that existing copyright notices are retained in all
>     copies. 
> * CERN does not officially support ROOT.
> All that said, I recommend ROOT over CERNLIB, anytime. 
> > CERN decided to court the open source community by releasing it under a
> > modified GPL, but I and others on the linux-hep mailing list successfully
> > lobbied for a change to full GPL.
> Maybe <linux-hep> could lobby the ROOT team to do away with the above
> mentined line, and have something GPL'ish!? 
> Anyway, that's my 2 pennies worth.
> Cheers, 
> Christian  -----------------------------------------------------------
> Holm Christensen                             Phone:  (+45) 35 35 96 91 
>   Sankt Hansgade 23, 1. th.                  Office: (+45) 353  25 305 
>   DK-2200 Copenhagen N                       Web:    www.nbi.dk/~cholm    
>   Denmark                                    Email:       cholm@nbi.dk
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