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

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

    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
* 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.


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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