[Fedora-packaging] Re: paragraph on shipping static numerical libs

Axel Thimm Axel.Thimm at ATrpms.net
Mon May 28 09:45:24 UTC 2007

On Mon, May 28, 2007 at 09:34:20AM +0200, Ralf Corsepius wrote:
> On Mon, 2007-05-28 at 00:41 -0400, Bill Nottingham wrote:
> > Axel Thimm (Axel.Thimm at ATrpms.net) said: 
> > > > The right fix here is to educate scientific programmers as to why
> > > > statically linking in libraries doesn't actually get them what they
> > > > want, and that it is broken.
> > > 
> > > Actually the situation in scientific camps is not that easy. There are
> > > tons of situations where having a statically linked binary saves the
> > > day. You typically have a complete mix of very heterogeneous Linux
> > > distributions and releases thereof with semi-bogus libs under
> > > /usr/local as a bonus. At least that's what larger phys/chem
> > > institutions and educational facilities look like in
> > > de/uk/fr/ru.
> > 
> > So, my reading of this is 'larger phys/chem institutions are
> > crazy and don't understand sane systems management'. Am I reading
> > this wrong?
> Yes.  
> In most cases, these people are non-IT people with little to no skills
> in program development nor interest in program development. 

Well, they are not really idiots. Some of them produce great code. But
they don't care to autoconf it, or to spend more time on polishing
it. If it runs with good performance (which is the key element in
numerical code) and they can easily deploy it on the available
hardware, then they can turn to solving actual problems from their
field with this tool.

> To them, programming (and IT in general) is an unloved, unavoidable
> duty, they actually are not interested in nor are they interested in
> getting deeper into it.

IT yes, programming I disagree.

> They use Linux/Unix because "somebody told them so", they program in
> Fortran, Cobol, Algol or Modula, because "somebody told them so", they
> do something "this way" because they don't know better and don't "want
> to know better".

Nah, that's not the case, and you will not really find phys/chem doing
Cobol, Algol or Modula, that's reserved for cs/eco - Phys/chem does 90%
Fortran, 10% C/C++ (with emphasis on C).

The reason is not "somebody told them so", but that Fortran has a very
simple language  interface which still offered  language elements like
complex numbers ages  before C/C++ did, as well  as advanced libraries
to do the number  crunching. Furthermore there  is vast  knowledge of
Fortran in these camps, if a  rookie starts doing his work in C++ he's
rather isolated and needs to work through it by himself. Yes, I did C++.

Anyway, we're getting off-topic, the facts are that there are camps
that rightfully use static libs a lot. Either Fedora cares about these
camps, or they are considered a minority to not really cater for their
Axel.Thimm at ATrpms.net
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