In article <Pine.3.07.9309022012.B3143-d100000 at nuscc.nus.sg>, bchtantw at NUSCC.NUS.SG (Dr Tan Tin Wee) writes:
|> I believe if your users are not fussy, it is possible to survive on a
|> really low or no budget facility. You can get all the software listed below
|> for free at the usual ftp sites and email server sites or contact me.
|> Getting nice pictures for publications may be a slight problem, as you
|> will have to do some computing gymnastics (well, they're free after all)
|> and play around.
I fully agree - there's a lot of stuff out there which is free.
And, indeed, you can do most of the work without paying a penny
for licenses and resources (we had the discussion on (ab)usage of
public servers earlier on this bboard).
Don't understand me wrong but I consider a comprehensive package
to be a software environment which is (a) smoothly integrated
(b) well supported and (c) widely used so that there's a considerable
experience, and the chance that you do not need to educate incoming
newbies. Fuzzy users and researchers are not necessarily the same
community - why should a molecular biologist know how to configure
a software package if the hardware spec is not quite the same as requested
by a program package, or why should a molecular biologist write a
small program to transfer data from format X to format Y ?
The packages which jump into mind are Intelligenetics, GCG and Staden,
and to some extend GDE, Darwin, and others. All of these do or at
least advertise that they do provide a smooth environment integration
with all facilities needed, so you need not reformat, prepare cryptic
I/O files, redraw plots because you don't have the driver, and
get endless mail server bouncers.
I like the interfaces of the 'big' ones, and I like to mail someone
and get back a patch within the same day. Both Intelligenetics and
GCG are commercial companies which operate on a for-profit basis, and
this implies that you get value for what you pay. If you didn't the
companies would close down soon...
In terms of RESEARCH we want to be productive. Meaning that I find it
very tedious to train a user community which is well-used to a
particular package (as the original poster mentioned, GCG in this case).
It does not make sense to reeducate people or even worse let them
retry individually - the mistakes you will make are more expensive
than the saving you gain from the discarding of the facility.
I fully appreciate the work of the authors who publish the Tools for
Public domain. I do it myself also (see my announcement tomorrow).
However, as a PD author I am not necessarily comitted to keep a
release stable, supported on particularly YOUR environment, and
will not feel obliged to support you if an uninteresting problem
occurs (e.g,. questions like I run XXX and YYY and if I set
the ZZZ then your software bombs). We have this discussion quite
often, as I have only a limited zoo of systems, I will be predominantly
write for these. If someone else has a slightly different system
and wastes time because the 'gymnastics' are more than a surgery,
that raises costs. Or, if I am helpful enough to get you satisfied
in adopting my PD software for your system, who pays me for this,
as I am not owning this system and therefore will not need to
make my program run on it?
The early internet and public domain business was mostly focused on
a givin' and takin' in terms of an _exchange_. As we are approaching the
situation of providers and customers today (what can you expect on a
internet with 1.5 mio hosts), the system doesn't scale and we better
not try to compete commercials- we might get to very dangerous grounds
Keep these restrictions in mind - public domain software is great as
long as you are not dependent on it. Use it as much as you can if you
feel that you benefit from it, but do not expect that you trash
a XXXX$ license and get replacements for free at 0$ cost. It might
be 0$ cost on the purchase but much higher if reevaluated with time
of support staff, research staff, and time lost due to incomprehensive
results obtained due to unpractical reformatting procedures.
I do not work for any of the companies mentioned. The opinions
expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of
| Dr. Reinhard Doelz | RFC doelz at urz.unibas.ch |
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