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Old 04-15-2019, 06:39 AM   #1
Lysander666
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Slackware in academia


It's becoming increasingly apparent that there are quite a few academics here. It would be interesting to see who they are, what they are studying and how Slackware [and/or Slackbuilds] has specifically helped their research. If people want to share papers they've published - please go ahead - I know that some people here don't like to reveal their identities, which is absolutely fine and a necessary right, but I know others don't mind at all. This doesn't have to be current academia - past experiences would be great to know about too.

I'll start by sharing. I am a PhD student studying music, specifically metal music in the Middle East. Even though my research does not deal with open source in particular, network theory and the philosophy of computer science is related and included. I have published a few papers and may share them in due course. I am also an oudist and though performance as research is not intended to form a part of my work, it may do in the future.

All my systems use Slackware and I spent a while battling with academic software since I was told it was completely necessary and I should use Zotero or something similar. I couldn't help thinking that "50 years ago, no-one was using anything like that for their PhDs" and I just couldn't justify it for my kind of work. Zotero drives me mad, it's too convoluted. After some trials and a lot of errors, I discovered the note-taking application Cherry Tree which is near-perfect for my needs. It's simple, easy to organise and I can see my whole degree in tree-structure [I should note that the Slackbuild for CT is no longer linked properly in SBo so I had to download the latest .deb, convert it to a .tgz and remake it].

It would be very interesting to see what others are studying, have studied, and how Slackware or its applications have contributed to their work. Even better, how has Slackware or its applications influenced their study? Has it made a discernible difference in research output?

Last edited by Lysander666; 04-15-2019 at 07:58 AM.
 
Old 04-15-2019, 07:45 AM   #2
kgha
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OK, here goes: I'm a retired Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor (History).
Can't say that slackware has been crucial to my academic work, beside, of course, that slackware provides a stable system which of course has been (and still is) important.
I'm old school, I wrote my PhD dissertation using WordPerfect-4.2 under MS-DOS-3.3 with Ventura Publisher for layout. So I'm used to make bibliographical and other notes as separate documents, and have never bothered to learn more sophisticated software.
At the uni, I had a windows pc and of course I've had to face the challenge moving files to/from MSOffice and Linux office suites, something that never runs completely seamless, especially when sharing documents with diagrams, footnotes, subheadings and so on.
Necessary web-based tools (not many) have never been an issue. For a few years I needed a Cisco plugin for a database which required a bit of fiddling, that's the one thing I can remember. And I can't get my laptop's internal mic to work when on a videoconference using Zoom.
 
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:19 AM   #3
twy
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I'm not really an academic, but I've nevertheless published a few papers in mainstream journals by Wiley, Springer, and American Institute of Physics (AIP) within the subject of Clifford (geometric) algebras. Slackware64 has served as a very reliable and stable PC workstation when running on good hardware. Good hardware seems to be Intel Xeon CPU, server/workstation motherboard (Asus, Supermicro, etc.), ECC ram, Nvidia graphics card and driver, quality PSU (Seasonic) and UPS (APC). For hard drive configuration, Western Digital RE/Gold hard drives in mdadm raid6 seems like a good choice. I'm using ext4/LVM/LUKS/mdraid6. No problems and very reliable 24/7. I also use the multilib by alien.

I can keep the system up-to-date without too much difficulty. I like to rsync a full mirror of the slackware64-14.2 repo onto my harddrive, then point slackpkg to it for doing package upgrades. I also mirror slackware-14.2 so that I can upgrade the multilib 32-bit packages using a little script I wrote for the task (scans for packages that need upgrade and uses the convert tool from multilib to make and install 32bit packages). I install my own kernels directly from kernel.org to upgrade 4.4.x, but install the official kernel-headers and kernel-firmware packages.

Firefox and okular (KDE pdf and document viewer) have worked very well in slackware64-14.2. To edit a text file, I often use kwrite. Overall, KDE 4.x has worked very well and I hope that any future version will work as well.

For java, I install the Oracle java package. I've been installing the Sun/Oracle java package since early versions of java in the 1990s when I started using slackware. It has always worked very well on slackware. The java plugin still works fine with Seamonkey web browser, which is in slackware.

SlackBuilds.org is very useful for other packages that I need. To mitigate some CPU bugs, I use the intel-microcode SBo package. For some mathematical academic research, I use SBo packages: texlive, texmacs, texmaker, xournal, x48, sympy, djview4, and others (112 SBo packages). If some of these packages were included in slackware, I guess that would be nice (maybe texlive is in current already). Texmacs is still in development and I think a major new version is going to be released eventually. Texmacs makes writing a mathematical paper very easy, and then it can export to TeX. Texmaker works fairly well to get a TeX file into a journal format/style and then continue with more editing. TeX still seems difficult to edit, but the end result is a good looking PDF that is in the expected standard format/style that is ready for printing by the professional publishers.

For additional python software, I install the Anaconda python distribution. The dependencies among python packages can be complicated, so it would be too difficult to install them manually (the slackware way). Likewise, if you try to use Haskell software, the dependences can be nightmarish (SBo packages: ghc, haskell-Cabal, and some others are needed to get started). It seems that a lot of acamedic research software is now written in Python and Haskell. Another up-and-coming scripting/programming language is Julia, but I have not really tried it yet. I'm not an expert in using any of these languages, but they are known to be useful for academic research. It is not too difficult to get sympy and other python software running, and to use the jupyter notebook web-application for doing calculations and graphing/visualization.

All of this software, for scientific writing/publishing and numerical/symbolic computation and visualization, works very well on slackware, just as it probably also does on several other Linux distros. In my experience, the reliability and stability of a slackware system helps keep the reseacher focused on research/productivity and not distracted with troubleshooting system problems. If slackware can run the software you need and you understand how to run and maintain a slackware system, then slackware is a good choice.

Thank you very much, Patrick Volkerding, for making slackware the great linux distribution that it is. I look forward to running slackware64-15.0 when it is ready and released. No rush, since slackware64-14.2 is still working perfectly for me.
 
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:56 AM   #4
garpu
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Ph.D in music, here, too. (Composition.) Metal in the middle east sounds really fascinating. I think I took more ethnomusicology seminars than anything else.

My thesis was a bit different, since I had to present a portfolio of works and a recital. I used Slackware the entire time, and the computer music stuff I did was on csound. The written parts of things was done with Libre Office (or Open Office,) and I didn't use any special software for bibliography or note taking. Old school, I know, but, honestly, it was faster to just write the citations myself than get something to actually work the way I wanted. For the recital, I was driving everything from my laptop (on Slackware!)

It's nice getting to a gig and having your computer boot every time, know what I mean?
 
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:15 AM   #5
hitest
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Pre-academia? Heh. I was a grade 4/5 teacher for 32 years; I retired in January 2016. Throughout a lot of my career Slackware played a vital part with typing report cards and writing letters to parents.
I've been Slacking since 2004, version 10.0. Slackware is and continues to be my go-to, rock steady operating system. Accept no substitute.
 
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:28 PM   #6
Richard Cranium
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twy View Post
For some mathematical academic research, I use SBo packages: texlive, texmacs, texmaker, xournal, x48, sympy, djview4, and others (112 SBo packages). If some of these packages were included in slackware, I guess that would be nice (maybe texlive is in current already). Texmacs is still in development and I think a major new version is going to be released eventually. Texmacs makes writing a mathematical paper very easy, and then it can export to TeX. Texmaker works fairly well to get a TeX file into a journal format/style and then continue with more editing. TeX still seems difficult to edit, but the end result is a good looking PDF that is in the expected standard format/style that is ready for printing by the professional publishers.
You may wish to try LyX (available in SBo as well) instead of Texmacs.
 
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:52 PM   #7
ReFracture
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I'm no academic but I want to thank you for introducing me to CherryTree.

It's really neat hearing you guys talk about all the work you did with Slackware as your work horse.
 
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:54 PM   #8
sombragris
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I have a graduate degree in theology and I am also a lawyer. Slackware got me there with its legendary reliability and robustness.

I had to write theses and papers both as a lawyer and as a theologian. For my lawyer's thesis, while everyone was pulling their hair trying to get MS Word to behave, I sailed like a breeze with LaTeX. I also wrote my graduate research paper in theology directly in LaTeX. Subsequently such paper was converted into a peer-reviewed journal article about the Spanish philosopher Xavier Zubiri's panentheism. It was a major annoyance since the journal accepted submissions only in Word format. I had to painstakingly transform the contents into a Word format.

For typing into LaTeX, I used Kile and, when Kile had a hiatus in the KDE 4-5 transition, I switched to TeXStudio. Kile is now offered as part of AlienBob's Plasma 5 distribution and it is great, but the available color highlighting schemes for LaTeX code now sucks really hard. This is progress I guess...

For my defense, I used Beamer. Looks really great and it sets itself quite apart from standard PowerPoint fare.

For both the lawyer and the theology graduate work, I used BibLaTeX as my bibliography engine, and I used KBibTeX as a client.

Right now I teach seminary courses. I use Beamer for all my projections. My only complaint is that I also teach Biblical Hebrew and in order to use Hebrew language with Beamer, I must do so only by using the LaTeX cjhebrew package; there's no other option available. However, cjhebrew is still not 100% adequate. I can get most of the basics covered all right, but still there is no way to accent any Hebrew word in it and this is sorely needed in order to teach students the odd Hebrew word which is not accented in the last syllable.

For my Bible study needs, I use BibleTime. However, since my students use Windows almost completely, I recommend them to use Xiphos, which also uses the Sword backend.

I also have to give my students some of my Beamer talks in a ready-to-print format; that is, with several slides arranged into one physical page. Also, for some handouts, I have to generate PDF files for only a certain subset of pages from a book. For all that I use PDFJam.

I encourage my students to use as much free software as possible. I tell them it's more ethical than pirating software, and you can share and mess with the software to your heart's content in an absolutely legal way.

Last edited by sombragris; 04-16-2019 at 01:58 PM.
 
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Old 04-16-2019, 04:11 PM   #9
ChuangTzu
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What a great idea for a thread!

I've used LibreOffice, Scribus, LyX and Zotero, for writing articles/papers/theses etc...
https://www.zotero.org/
http://slackbuilds.org/repository/14...?search=zotero
Zotero how to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCJ0DjkQV3k

Last edited by ChuangTzu; 04-16-2019 at 04:13 PM.
 
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:41 PM   #10
montagdude
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I did all my graduate work (PhD in aero engineering) on Linux machines, plus some clusters running Linux or other Unix variants. My workstation ran Ubuntu, like the others in the lab, though I had to switch DEs when that abomination called Unity came out. Grad school is actually where I got introduced to Linux, and for that I am very grateful, but this was before I started using Slackware. TBH, all distros are close enough to the same that I doubt any of them would have been significantly better or worse for my academic purposes. I use Slackware now simply because I like it the best.
 
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:52 PM   #11
rkelsen
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Your blob is mine also

Last edited by rkelsen; 04-16-2019 at 07:53 PM.
 
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Old 04-17-2019, 03:03 AM   #12
twy
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I decided to upgrade my installation of lyx to take another look at it. But before that, I decided to upgrade to texlive 2018.180822 from SBo (all three packages). The texlive 2018.180822 SBo installation seems to have some kind of problem and I had to revert to my previous older texlive installation. With texlive 2018.180822 SBo, lyx could not find any document classes, not even the default standard article class. With texlive 2018.180822 SBo, texmaker acted very strange: when I clicked on pdflatex to regenerate the PDF, all it would do is display the old log file and no new PDF was generated.

After reinstalling my older texlive installation, everything was back to working: lyx found many document classes, and texmaker regenerated PDF like normal.

So, someone who understands the texlive package should take a look at it. I really think something is wrong with it.
 
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Old 04-17-2019, 04:54 AM   #13
Lysander666
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Some fascinating answers in this thread, it's turning into a very good read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by garpu View Post
Ph.D in music, here, too. (Composition.) Metal in the middle east sounds really fascinating. I think I took more ethnomusicology seminars than anything else.
I missed more ethnomusicology seminars than anything else [not my fault, it was pre-agreed, honestly]!

Quote:
Originally Posted by garpu View Post
The written parts of things was done with Libre Office (or Open Office,) and I didn't use any special software for bibliography or note taking. Old school, I know, but, honestly, it was faster to just write the citations myself than get something to actually work the way I wanted. For the recital, I was driving everything from my laptop (on Slackware!)
In truth, it got to the point where screwing around with Zotero or learning LaTeX was just too time-consuming and doing me more harm than good. I believe that older methods build more knowledge and/or more discipline and sorting my bibliography out in a paper-and-pad way, so to speak, is far better for me. It's easier, I remember more and I feel more in control.

I did a recital for my masters and no special software was used for that, just sheet music and an instrument.

I am looking into mind-mapping software at the moment. There are three in SBo - Xmind, Freemind and Treesheets. The latter isn't really what I'm looking for, it's based on speadsheets, I don't like the Xmind interface so that leaves Freemind. It feels rather limited but it is very highly rated here. So I'll give it another chance. It works better on 14.2 than -current but it is still perfectly usable on the latter.

There's always Coggle but I refuse to pay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by montagdude View Post
TBH, all distros are close enough to the same that I doubt any of them would have been significantly better or worse for my academic purposes.
Technically no, but emotionally yes, and that can get in the way of work too. I have always held that people have emotional relationships with their OSs which many of them don't realise. Pretty much all distros apart from Slackware stress me out, either because of how they operate or their community, or a combination of both.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rkelsen View Post
snip
Interesting. I can't believe it was done that quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuangTzu View Post
for writing articles/papers/theses etc...
Care you say a bit more about these? Topics, institution[s] etc?

Last edited by Lysander666; 04-17-2019 at 05:24 AM.
 
Old 04-17-2019, 07:14 AM   #14
SpacePlod
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I recently completed Master's program in forensic computing. All the work was done in Slackware, and Slackware actually played a significant role in my dissertation which centered around digital forensics education and open source platforms. The forensic computing program at the university is *very* Linux friendly, with separate courses for both Linux and Bash scripting. I'm teaching the Linux portion of the course now, and there are a couple of modules that specifically use Slackware to demonstrate things like tracing the boot process and understanding service start/stop. While students are encouraged to use whatever distro they want for the course (the testable course material is 'distro-agnostic'), using Slackware to illustrate core platform functions is easy and can be an eye opener for others trying to duplicate the exercise with systemd, for example. Most students tend to reach for whatever is 'easy'. Then when they start digging under the hood they realize that 'easy' usually requires 'complex'. So while I don't have any 'published' papers to speak of, I can at least say that Slackware has been a noteworthy partner in my academic career.
 
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Old 04-17-2019, 01:24 PM   #15
upnort
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Interesting and insightful replies.

I would be curious of the average age of Slackers. Another poll is how many years of using Slackware. And for statisticians, what kind of overlaps possibly exists between the two results.

Sorry for the hijacking. I have no musical talent whatsoever and a B.S. was as far as I traveled -- mostly through night school.
 
  


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