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MathGroup Archive 2000

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Re: Linux: how compatible with add-ons ?

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg22317] Re: Linux: how compatible with add-ons ?
  • From: paulh at wolfram.com (P.J. Hinton)
  • Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 03:01:30 -0500 (EST)
  • Organization: "Wolfram Research, Inc."
  • References: <88vtk5$mbv@smc.vnet.net>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

In article <88vtk5$mbv at smc.vnet.net>,
 AC "baltazarius" <a at a.com> writes:

> What I understand is that there are so many different Unix (Linux) flavors
> out there that Wolfram doesn't want to have to give support to ALL these
> individual platforms for ALL the add-ons. I can understand that. Though,
> maybe Wolfram should make some testing on the most popular versions (Sun
> Solaris, Red Hat Linux, etc.) and let the customer decide if he wants to
> take the "risk". I use Linux-Mandrake myself and it is said to be 99%
> compatible with Red Hat Linux. 

Although it says so in my signature disclaimer, I'll repeat it again 
at the  beginning of this post.  The remarks below are mine.  They do 
not constitute an official statment on behalf of my employer.  I post
replies to this forum on a volunteer basis on my own time as a service
to the Mathematica community.  The author's post included some questions 
about Wolfram Research's official stance on some points.  I have referred 
these questions to more appropriate individuals within the company.

Now on to my remarks...

I think you may have misunderstood my prior remarks.

The issue of courseware add-on compatibility isn't tied to the issue 
of distribution compatibility or even compatibility across different
flavors of UNIX.  Rather it is largely due to the fact that X Window
does not specify user interface behavior to the same level of detail
that Windows and MacOS do.  Instead, the details are left to the 
designers of widget toolkits and window managers.  Most current Linux
distributions ship with at least five or six different window managers,
all of which have their own ways of handling things like window placement.

The Calculus Wiz product contains a lot of notebooks with active user
interface controls.  These controls are programmed using notebook 
manipulation commands like those described in Section 2.10 of _The
Mathematica Book_ (Fourth Edition).  Some of these commands will
work fine under MacOS and Windows, but may be unpredictable under
X.  A good example is the control of exact placement of a window
somewhere on the screen.  X allows a client program to request a 
location, but the window manaager has full discretion and can disregard
the request altogether.  This can result in some bizarre interface
behavior.

> So if Wolfram Inc. had made compatibility testing and figured x, 
> y and z add-on packages were compatible with Red Hat Linux, I 
> would had been confident that packages x, y and z would had worked
> with my Linux-Mandrake distribution.

The Linux version of Mathematica is designed to be fairly 
distribution agnostic.  Installation is handled through a 
shell script rather than specific package management tools.
The executables are linked statically against all libraries 
upon which they depend.  This includes the C runtime libraries,
math libraries.  For the X Window-based notebook front end, 
this includes static linkage against the Motif libraries.  
Although it results in a larger memory requirement, it protects 
the user from a lot of compatibility problems that
may arise do to shared libraries.

With the exception of courseware products that make extensive use
of notebook manipulation commands, WRI does produce a number of 
add-ons for Linux and UNIX versions of Mathematica.  This is because
these add-ons are written in the Mathematica language, which is
largely platform independent.

-- 
P.J. Hinton
Mathematica Programming Group           paulh at wolfram.com
Wolfram Research, Inc.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone.


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