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SEUL: A few comments

Hi all. I received information about the SEUL-Project through the 
RedHat list. I believe your initiative may come to be highly 
significant for the marine scientist community. A few comments 

The OS & software issue is becoming critical for Research, 
Development and Education (RD&E) both in developing and 
industrialized countries.

On the one hand, there are several (OSs) & software applications 
(apps) for which  access  is restricted. This implies huge problems 
for students and scientists with no software budgets (the majority) 
who are forced either to piracy of commercial OS & apps (when no 
group wide licenses are available -again, the majority of cases in 
developing and many industrialized countries) or be left behind as 
the tail within the academic/scientific community with obsolete tools 
to work with.

In this, Linux, as a free, stable and highly optimized  OS  
acquires,  in  my opinion,  a strategical significance for RD&E 
in developing and industrialized countries:

	- Forced piracy and legal consequences;
    - Budget cuts;
    - Low cost-efficiency of commercial software;
    - Dependencies created by prticular selfinterests from
      the software industry upon academia;
    - Scientists' perception of 'being cheated' by commercial
      software developers;
are a few of a series  of  factors pointing towards the expansion of
Linux and the use of ported, non-commercial applications).

In  my view, the new 'sphere' the Linux project has created combined
to  factors  such  as  those  mentioned  above  may  be  setting new
political standards with concern to RD&E.  In fact, the 
man-hour-input from  the  Linux  'hacker' community goes well beyond 
the mere  act  of  kernel  development  and may come to be a 
significant catalyzator and,  hence,  a political event which may 
change academia.

I run academic services (see under networkinG in my home  page;  URL
given  below,  in  my sig file) besides my research and offered some
materials related to  Linux  (Debian  &  Redhat) and SAL (Scientific
Applications on Linux).  Within the fish research community I  serve
(N=2300;  58 countries for FISH-ECOLOGY alone), 30% of the population 
feels cost-efficiency of commercial software is low/bad (they feel 
'cheated' by commercial software developers) and may migrate to Linux 
for good.  In my view, these figures may show  that  some highly 
significant phenomenon may come  to  occur:  Assuming  the   figures  
may   be   statistically significant,  1/3  of all marine scientists 
may migrate to the Linux environment at anyone  time.   Hence,  I'd  
like  to reach the Linux 'hacker' community, SEUL-Project leaders 
with a few ideas about further development of the system:

  - It'd  be  necessary  to 'map' what problems average academics
    have  to  install,   maintain   and   use   Linux  and  ported
    applications; At the moment, Red Hat, for instance, has gone
	far with installation procedures (RPM tech, dependencies, etc.). 
    However, the system's GUI	control panels still lack many 
    components for it's easy of use. To get an app running under 
    Linux for a scientist may take sevaral days -even weeks- of 
    his/her time. The OS with it's many commands may be a 
    'concrete wall' for the average user. The point is not to become 
    a phd in an OS but use it to get the work done. 

  - Develop the GUI to a stadium where  anyone,  intuitively,  may
    run  a Linux workatstion without having to loose a lot of time
    learning  the  technical  aspects   of   of  OS  (improve  the
    time-efficiency factor of the OS). The Linux 'hacker' community
	does a great job but hackers, many times, become so technical
	they loose 'anchorage in the real world': This aspect is quite
	clear in the technical documentation of the Linux Project where,
	many times, one's got to be a 'techno-maniac' to understand the
  - Get  in  touch   with  international  organizations  such  as
    FAO/UNESCO/UN to reach agreements to do marketing  of  the  OS
    under an 'international flag'; In my opinion, just JPL and 
    classic distributions channels are not sufficient. Most academics
	don't even know what ftp is.

  - We  need  more  communication  between  the  hacker  and  the
    scientific community to make the use of Linux more simple and
	to implement a documentation standard which will allow rookies
	to get started and get their job done right away.
Well, most of the above, I'm sure, won't be new to most of you. Just 
some comments to support this initiative. I will keep informed the
fish research and latinamerican scientific communities on the 
advancements of this project hoping this will get in-course and 
accelerated to the degree SEUL will be 'on the streets' in 1-2 years 
from now.

I'm fisheries biologist with phd in-progress.
Cheers to all

	Aldo-Pier Solari
Aldo-Pier Solari <solaris@searn.sunet.se>, Fish.Res.Gr./ULP
Home: http://segate.sunet.se/fish-ecology/aps/index.html
Oath:          'I will not fail those with whom I serve'
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