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Old 09-19-2013, 07:22 AM   #16
tronayne
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I came up through the Unix world -- lots of years with System 3 then System V Release 4 (SVR4) and eventually Solaris (which is SVR4 with some bells and whistles). A brief foray into BSD, thankfully brief, but pretty much exclusively Unix, doing scientific, engineering and technical programming and system administration before there were such things as "apps" (we made our own applications). Lots of FORTRAN (and there is still a lot of FORTRAN) ultimately sliding in to C and staying there.

When Linux came along, particularly Slackware Linux, I paralleled Slackware side-by-side with Solaris. I mostly worked at home with a DSL line on a Slackware box developing data base software targeted at a big Sun farm -- I've been doing data base work for, oh, over 30 years now (I really don't remember exactly when but it sometime in the 70's when I got started with data bases, been a lot of fun ever since). One of the best things about Slackware is that porting software back and forth between Solaris and Slackware (which means from SPARC 64-bit processors to X86 and X86-64 is, pretty much, a straight-forward proposition).

Now all that is simply to recommend that A Good Thing may be to look into the world of relational data base management systems (RDBMS) in addition to the fundamentals. You need to know the command line -- click-'n'-drool isn't going to cut it, you need to know what you're doing, why you're doing it, how to do it and when it is appropriate to do it. But you also need to know, which really means be comfortable with, how data relates to other data and the most efficient ways to utilize that relationship to get something useful done. Might be worth taking a look at.

As for the question of Linux used in the world? Uh, yeah. Remember IBM Watson? Linux. Big honking Linux, but, yup, Linux. You can buy Watson software from IBM, you might even be able to put together a box to run it on and then you'd be in the natural language business. Linux in server farms all over the place (think cheap box doing useful work). Watson is blades, lots (a whole lots) of RAM, big disk drives, pretty fancy stuff, but the OS is Linux. If you need a blade box, you can install Slackware on it (the same way you install it on any X86 box) and away you go.

Computer programming is, essentially, a three-step process, answer three questions: what have you got, what do you want and how do you get there. What you've got, usually, is some conglomeration of data; doesn't matter what it is, it's just stuff. What you want is, again, usually, what a user, group of users or organization needs from that data (and sometimes that's really hard to nail down, users don't always know exactly what it is that they want, they just know that they want it). The hard part is you: you have to know how to get there and, believe me, you can't know too much about how to do that and that's where the toolbox known as Linux comes into play.

Unix and Linux systems are tool chests. The operating system, the kernel, is Unix, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX and on and on. It's the tools, the pipes, the filters, the regular expressions, the editors, the shell.

Shell? You'll do more useful programming in the shell than you will in any other language. Don't believe it? Do this:
Code:
cd /usr/bin (and /bin and /sbin and /usr/sbin)
file * | grep -i 'shell script' | wc
You might be surprised.

Learn the shell, doesn't matter which one (although if you're going to be working on Solaris platforms you might want to learn KornShell which is also included with Slackware), just learn the shell. It's the best tool you've got.

Finally, look the signature below: write programs that do one thing and do it well; write programs that work together; write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface.

Somebody once asked, "What development tool do you use?" I went high-tech and said, "A text editor." Another guy had the correct answer: "A pencil."

No kidding, that works.

Hope this helps some.

Last edited by tronayne; 09-22-2013 at 11:46 AM.
 
Old 09-19-2013, 08:24 AM   #17
Ilgar
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At my undergrad school (in Ankara) we used to have Solaris workstations and a Linux PC lab. The situation was the same at UW (Seattle) where I was a graduate student, only a few people used Windows. In my current institution (a university), the IT department uses a Windows infrastructure but we in the Math department (and of course those in the CS department!) mostly use Linux computers. Those few who prefer using Windows are the ones who are not so experienced with computers.
 
Old 09-19-2013, 09:02 AM   #18
NeoMetal
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Well at work I'm a linux admin and so unsurprisingly use linux all the time; mainly Ubuntu and Redhat, for webservers and various internal applications. Can't really speak to college's linux use, I majored in philosophy so I don't know if there was any emphasis on it for people doing computer related majors. In high school we used windows pretty much across the board, I took C++ and Java in HS, learned Python on my own during college and thats what I generally use for anything I'm writing for work though I have need to modify PHP stuff and of course sometimes Bash is the most straightforward way to do something
 
Old 09-19-2013, 09:42 AM   #19
thirdm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beancounterx View Post
Hello all,
... in the work force or academia and can explain what is the amount of linux use out there?
Well, I'm in a programming job but feel similar to you in wanting to know how much GNU/Linux or BSD (or any kind of Unix) use there is. Myself, I'm doing mostly C++ on Windows, but gradually doing more .NET. I'm not complaining, exactly, since I'm lucky to have a real programming job at all, I think, particularly getting to use C++. But all recruiters calling me call me for .NET (i.e. other Windows shop -- apologies to any Mono people reading) jobs. My stance (this will change when I next find myself unemployed) with recruiters who call is that I'll only consider a job with programming that's either multiplatform (really porting and testing to the multiple platforms, not multiplatform in theory or because Mono exists) or is sitting on some kind of Unix-like system. In effect, this means I ignore all recruiters who contact me. If there are C++/Unix jobs wanting filling they're asking other people (not surprising since I've been doing Windows development for years now -- despite not having a Windows machine at all at home and disliking the platform).

On the other hand, a guy a cube or two over is trying to make his .NET/WCF web service work with one of our customers and that customer is using Linux and Apache/Tomcat for its side (but they're in Europe -- is there not more GNU/Linux and BSD there?). Also, our parent company seems to mostly use Java and, I think, Linux and Apache in their other development groups.

It's really difficult to know what the prevalence of languages and platforms is by talking to people in the workforce. Maybe contractors working many different gigs over the years have a larger sampling, but even there most people specialize. So if you talk to a Java programmer the whole world seems to be Java and ditto (in spades) for a .NET programmer. Likewise I hear people in the local Perl and Linux groups talk about people who, "still have to use Windows," as if there'd been some mass migration -- wish I lived on their planet.

This is why sites like tiobe are so popular despite being of little real value if you look at how they work. It's a question everyone would like to know the answer to, both for programming languages and platforms. Maybe your best bet would be to survey job listings in your area.

As far as Python goes, I did hear Bradley Kuhn say on faif recently that Python developers are in very high demand. I haven't seen this myself (but I'm living on the planet Windows, remember, so that means little).
 
Old 09-19-2013, 10:30 AM   #20
ttk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beancounterx View Post
I figured some of you hard core Slackers are probabley in IT in the work force or academia and can explain what is the amount of linux use out there?
I've been a professional software engineer / sometimes-sysadmin in California and Washington since 1994, and IME Linux use varies from region to region. The Bay Area is thick with Linux-using businesses, and so is Seattle to a lesser extent, but outside of such major tech hubs the software is primarily Microsoft.

When I moved to the Sonoma County area (about 50 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge) in 2000, there were enough Linux-based companies to give me some choice of employers, but after the dot-bomb most of them disappeared from north of the Bridge, and now I can count the local Linux-using companies on my fingers. To highly tech-savvy companies (like Cyan, O'Reilly Media, Sonic.net) Linux is a no-brainer, but the rest have been taken in by marketing and pay through the nose for Microsoft and Oracle. It's really limited my options, unless I want to commute into SF (which is a huge PITA). Moving isn't really an option either, at least not for a while, since we bought property here in 2008 and selling it now would be too much of a financial hit.

My point is, be aware that Linux-using companies may be unevenly distributed. Use job search tools such as craigslist, linkedin, and DICE to see which cities are rich in Linux users, and focus your job/home search there. You'll be in a more tech-savvy community, and have more options for developing a career path and professional relationships.

Regarding programming languages, decide what kinds of problems you want to solve, and let that guide your language choice. Many languages are general-purpose in theory, but in practice are used primarily in narrower domains (like Ruby -- can be used for anything, but almost all of the Ruby jobs out there are in web user interface development).

Python is sliding into the niche previously occupied by Perl. It's a good one to learn for back-end development (databases, networks, managing servers, etc). It's an extremely flexible, powerful language, great for rapid application development, but not very performant.

Java is a tricky one. There's still a huge momentum behind it, with tons of legacy systems driving the need for Java engineers, but its long-term trajectory is clear. In twelve years or so it will be a dead language: http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/paperinfo/tpci/Java.html

Also, Java was one of the first dynamic languages, which means there's a lot the language gets wrong. As you have already observed, it requires a lot of boilerplate and introduces unnecessary complexity.

On the other hand it's one of the few languages that's still used in every problem domain, and today there is tremendous demand for Java programmers. It dominates the job ads. If you're looking for a skill that will maximize your chances of landing a good job right now, it's a strong contender.

C and C++ have their own niches, such as embedded systems (which are increasingly running Linux), virtualization systems, and network stacks. C++ arguably imposes more of a complexity burden than Java, though.

Scala is a new up-and-comer. My interpretation of it is "Perl-envy for Java developers". It's a very powerful dynamic language, like Python and Perl, but developed for and by Java developers. Unfortunately it's too young for a clear niche to have evolved yet, but I do see Scala jobs pop up occasionally.

Objective-C's niche is programming iPhones. There's little other reason to learn the language :-)

The TIOBE index is a good place to start when figuring out which languages are important to you: http://www.tiobe.com/index.php/conte...pci/index.html

Also, don't feel that you have to learn new skills at college. Most of what you do at college is read books, solve problems (which are often stated in the books), and practice your skills. You can do all of that at home, too. There's no instructor spoon-feeding you at home, but there are vibrant online tech communities (like LQ) which can answer specific questions. There's also community college, as you've already stated, and IME they are useful for learning specific skills.

I'm not knocking college education, just saying it's not the only option. As a technology professional, it will be necessary for you to be constantly learning new skills, even if they aren't being used at your place of employment. In order to remain relevant, you will have to watch for upcoming trends and learn new technologies on your own time. I programmed in Perl for fourteen years, but saw the writing on the wall in its slow but steady decline, so learned Python on my own time and made the transition fairly smoothly. Ditto with LXC, KVM, AWS, and GlusterFS. The landscape just doesn't stand still.
 
Old 09-20-2013, 02:03 AM   #21
solarfields
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Quote:
I figured some of you hard core Slackers are probabley in IT in the work force or academia and can explain what is the amount of linux use out there?
I am not a hardcore slacker and do not work in IT. However, I have seen Linux used in biology, biochemistry and bioinformatics. Many software tools used in these fields are either open source or run on Unix / Linux. SlackBuilds.org has a relatively rich collection of Academic programs.
 
Old 09-20-2013, 03:23 PM   #22
Pap
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Originally Posted by mattallmill View Post
I started with computers that had nothing but the command line: TRS-80 Model I/III, Apple IIe, Commodore 64. Typing commands to make the computer do what you want seems as natural to me as breathing. What a shame that has gone by the wayside. It's being dismissed by a generation that got their degrees in computer science from Point & Click University, it seems
Add another one to the club please. - mid-aged, nostalgic about the old-good days when men were men, and command line was all what you had to get the job done. The only difference is that Slackware is my "second" OS of preference - but still a very (I mean very) respectful distro.

I started with a Commodore 64 (what a machine!) and never really liked anything else than the command line. Even on Commodore 64 there was a windows-environment and mouse-based OS, namely GEOS, which resembled early versions of MacOS, and included several graphical applications. Still, I never liked it, despite the fact it looked impressive at that era.

In any case, using keyboard and ignoring mouse and windows-bloated applications is just 1000 times faster; I use Emacs for programming, debugging, even looking at the internet or just chatting etc; no need to even touch the mouse, and I can just get the job done faster than using any windows-bloated IDE.

Last edited by Pap; 09-20-2013 at 03:24 PM.
 
Old 09-20-2013, 04:07 PM   #23
jprzybylski
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I'm just in second year in my uni, and I'm certainly not middle-aged (just got my driver's license!), but the Linux presence here is almost nil. In fact, most of the people who started here last year did not know it existed! The people who have already been in the field know it exists, and some of them have used it too (normally something server-related coming from redhat), but even they use Windows or Mac in real life.

It makes it a little difficult to discern what languages or systems are popular outside the school, because besides the students mostly not knowing, the faculty are diverse - the comp. sci head uses Mac because that was the transition for him from proprietary Unices, the guy teaching algorithm analysis is a Windows developer, and the guy teaching circuit design seems to use Windows - for presentations, then he seems to eschew computers entirely.

So I guess I'm in the same boat as the OP - I'm a lone penguin in a sea of apples and glass. At least the lab computers use Ubuntu 10.04.
 
Old 09-20-2013, 04:28 PM   #24
perbh
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Started with Fortran on an 'Elliot-4130' (anyone??) at uni '66-'70, Fortran on Univac 1107/08 - Fortran/NPL on a 'Nord mini' (fancy critter, 48bit fps and 16bit ints) - hey, I'm a Civil Eng - what else do you use but Fortran?. Then the micro-revolution - Fortran and assembly on a score of those micros, mostly Z80-based. Remember we picked asounder the Fortran library (no such thing as 'shared/reentrant libraries' in those days) and changed some code to Z80 rather than Intel-8080 to save some few bytes (64k max, leaving us with some 50-52k for userapps), mostly db-apps. I have always been best at moving data around - though no-one really ever sees it! Left the gui-part to those that enjoyed doing it, so it was always a nice combination in the end - we all (all 3/4 of us that is!) got to do what we did best.

Another 'revolution' when the pc got introduced ('83), a whopping 10M hardisk that had to be divided into 'slices' of 2M each *lol*. Then Vax/PDP and a slow migration to unix ...

Eventually saw the light and moved to C and been there ever since - together with a fair dose of sysadm duties. I have been touching the water with OOP, but found out that I really, really don't like it (C++, Python) - again, I leave it to those who enjoy it - me, I'm sticking to C (ok, another touch of Tcl/Tk if I _have_ to make some gui-stuff ...

Last 20 years I've been doing good with C and huge amounts of data to rattle through - and, as usual, a fair amount of sysadm/sysint duties.

Hey - life is good for an old hand!!
 
Old 09-20-2013, 04:39 PM   #25
Pap
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Originally Posted by perbh View Post
hey, I'm a Civil Eng - what else do you use but Fortran?
...
Eventually saw the light and moved to C and been there ever since
Why apologizing for using Fortran? Actually, Fortran was, is, and will be the best choice for mathematical applications. Most people think of Fortran as if it is still as it used to be in the 70's, and they don't even know about Fortran 90/95, which is a module-oriented modern language, unbeatable in the domain of Mathematics. Honestly, if you are still on Civil engineering - or engineering in general - and think that moving to C/C++ is "seeing the light", I believe you are wrong...
 
Old 09-20-2013, 05:03 PM   #26
tronayne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pap View Post
Honestly, if you are still on Civil engineering - or engineering in general - and think that moving to C/C++ is "seeing the light", I believe you are wrong...
I wouldn't go quite that far -- FORTAN always has and most likely always will be a Royal PITA for anything but math (and it's danged good at math and probably will be for a long, long time).

I still do FORTRAN for map projections and a couple of other things but, wow, other than doin' the rithmetic, it's useless.
 
Old 09-20-2013, 07:06 PM   #27
brianL
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Never worked in IT, left school (a Secondary Modern, now an extinct species in the UK) at 15 with no qualifications and gained none since. Got my first computer at the age of 57. Evidently not a typical Slacker.

Last edited by brianL; 09-20-2013 at 07:08 PM.
 
Old 09-21-2013, 10:14 PM   #28
perbh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pap View Post
Why apologizing for using Fortran? Actually, Fortran was, is, and will be the best choice for mathematical applications. Most people think of Fortran as if it is still as it used to be in the 70's, and they don't even know about Fortran 90/95, which is a module-oriented modern language, unbeatable in the domain of Mathematics. Honestly, if you are still on Civil engineering - or engineering in general - and think that moving to C/C++ is "seeing the light", I believe you are wrong...
Because (at least in my field) there is a lot of string processing - Fortran is helpless at that (16HThis is a string) *chuckles* - I know, there is the type CHARACTER which is equally helpless - not to speak about its i/o-capabilities. I believe I said I did not like OOP (ala C++). In my younger days - before I learned C - I found that I had made a complete string library very much similar to C (in Fortran) - but as I couldn't use the null-character as string terminator, I used '~' instead *lol*
However, I haven't touched Fortran for 20-odd years, so I shouldn't really comment on anything later than Fortran-77.

I detest strong typing - to _my_ simple mind - the biggest advantage in C is the 'void pointer' - I just love the fact that anything and everything can be but a simple bytestring - come to think of it - that's also Unix i/o ...

[edit]
Sorry guys, didn't mean to start a flamewar - was just trying to highlight _my_ experiences ...

Last edited by perbh; 09-21-2013 at 10:21 PM.
 
Old 09-22-2013, 06:59 AM   #29
Pap
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Originally Posted by perbh View Post
However, I haven't touched Fortran for 20-odd years, so I shouldn't really comment on anything later than Fortran-77.
Indeed...
Actually, your comments are not about Fortran at all, because even 20+ years ago, Fortran 77 was already outdated (but still way better for Mathematics than C.)
I am really tired of explaining to people, who only know about Fortran 77, that what they think about "Fortran" is extremely outdated, but I'll give it a try. First of all, the "77" means "1977" that says it all)... All Fortran compilers had way better features than Fortran 77 in the 80s, which became the official standard at 1990, and revised and updated several times since then. Most people don't even know that Fortran language includes pointers, user-defined types, modules, dynamically memory-allocated structures etc., for more than 25 years now, and encourages module-oriented programming, which has all the reuse of object-oriented programming, but without the abuse and pitfalls of C++.
I am not saying C++ is a bad language, on the contrary. It is a very rich language, but also a very complex one, in many cases without reason. I'm saying that it is overestimated, and definitely the worst choice for Numerical Analysis programming. Several Universities today pick C/C++ or even... Java as the programming language to teach their students how to implement programs for numerical computations. This is just crazy.

Also, literally all numerical packages existing today, like Matlab, Scilab, Octave, etc, directly copied the syntax of Fortran 90 (I am talking about a direct copy here, like all their matrix operations and most of other structures.) Not to mention the underlying code they run when you issue a command is actually written in Fortran (either 77 or 90/95/03). Not to mention the vast majority of the codes available in mathematical libraries in the web, like LAPACK, BLAS, ODEPACK, FFT, and literally thousands of others, are written in Fortran and freely available in websites like Nist Gams or Netlib, and they are widely used even in C/C++ programs as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by perbh View Post
I detest strong typing - to _my_ simple mind - the biggest advantage in C is the 'void pointer' - I just love the fact that anything and everything can be but a simple bytestring - come to think of it - that's also Unix i/o ...
You have a point here, but only concerning the i/o... void pointers is commonly considered a feature that should be avoided.

Quote:
Originally Posted by perbh View Post
[edit]
Sorry guys, didn't mean to start a flamewar - was just trying to highlight _my_ experiences ...
Linux people are prone to participating in "flame wars", typically "Editor wars"... I cannot resist sometimes myself.

Last edited by Pap; 09-22-2013 at 07:04 AM.
 
Old 09-22-2013, 10:46 AM   #30
Holering
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Originally Posted by tronayne View Post
I came up through the Unix world -- lots of years with System 3 then System V Release 4 (SVR4) and eventually Solaris (which is SVR4 with some bells and whistles). A brief foray into BSD, thankfully brief, but pretty much exclusively Unix, doing scientific, engineering and technical programming and system administration before there were such things as "apps" (we made our own applications). Lots of FORTRAN (and there is still a lot of FORTRAN) ultimately sliding in to C and staying there.

Somebody once asked, "What development tool do you use?" I went high-tech and said, "A text editor." Another guy had the correct answer: "A pencil."
I'm jealous. I also agree with the guy who said: "A pencil.", is a development tool to use.

Also agree that command line is a proper way to do exactly what's needed (it's fast and gets to the point). Before I used Linux, I had used Windows 9x, ME, 2000, and XP and always missed the command line of DOS after its exclusion. To this day I still miss the high performance, tweakability and simplicity of Windows 9x, and its option of rebooting into a pure DOS environment; DOS games were better programmed too (most used assembly). Windows has become an all out bloated GUI and comes with nothing good to learn.
 
  


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