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Re: 64-bit transition deadline (Re: Etch in the hands of the Stable Release Managers)

On 4/10/07, Jean-Christophe Dubacq <jcdubacq1@free.fr> wrote:
On Tue, Apr 10, 2007 at 11:40:27AM +0200, Tshepang Lekhonkhobe wrote:
> On 4/10/07, Jean-Christophe Dubacq <jean-christophe.dubacq@ens-lyon.org>
> wrote:
> >I work in a science lab and can tell you that even though we do have
> >commercial software (Matlab, Maple, CPlex and other scientific
> >computation programs, some of which are at least twenty years ahead of
> >any free equivalent), we do use debian and from there also use it
> >elsewhere (our homes, our students' workstations, etc.). Should we
> >become unable to do our daily job with Debian, yes, we would have to
> >switch distributions, which would be a pity since this is a place where
> >computer scientists are made.
> I'm pretty interested in knowing which programs are so advanced as to
> being 20 years ahead of libre equivalents, and why, if you don't mind.

For example, CPlex (a mathematical programming optimizer) is considered
much better than any free (even free as beer) program, having no
equivalent for e.g. quadratic constraints problems.

Maple is also considered much more advanced than Octave especially
toolboxes available only in Maple.

I may have exaggerated by saying 20 years, but I will not settle for
less than 10. And we need those anyway to compare results obtained by
one software against the other.

This is interesting. I often hear people citing pros and cons of FLOSS
and commercial stuff, but don't remember anyone stating such
extravagant development gaps as 10 years or so. I'd like to hear
opinions of others who have also used those Cplex Maple, and whatever
else you may have in mind. This however brings to mind libre CAD stuff
which truly lags behind.

The reason for the advance is that the most brilliant people of one
small research field unite to build some software company. They recruit
the most brilliant students, and can keep this for a long time (not
eternally, I believe, but long enough). Maple, Cplex and Matlab all date
from before 1990 where free software became (at least in france) commmon
place enough so that new projects (see Scilab) would be at least partly
open source.

I've got an idea that some software is targeted at such a narrow
userbase (CAD for example) that volunteer development seemes
unjustified. In such cases, it's nice when academy and business lend
their hand.

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