Sun 02 December 2018

NeuroFedora update: week 48

Posted by ankur in Research (412 words, approximately a 2 minute read)

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In week 48:

Packaging MATLab tool boxes

The use of MATLab tool boxes is quite common in data-analysis. There's a noticeable movement in the scientific community towards using Python, but the work that has already been done, and the eco-systems that have developed around MATlab will take time to migrate to a Python based eco-system.

A majority of the tool boxes in use are Free/Open Source, but MATLab itself is not. As supporters of Free/Open source, we will not attempt to include MATLab in Fedora, but the question remains on whether we provide the toolboxes. We've begun discussing this in the SIG, and we'll reach out to the broader Fedora community before we decide on how to proceed.

Personal views

Personally, I'd prefer if we only provided software that support Free/Open source eco systems. The use of proprietary software in science, while currently necessary, should be avoided. Yes, it may make things a little harder to start with, but the Free/Open source tools that will be used will be accessible by all. Overtime, just like the Free software community, the eco system will mature.

A example case is the use of Microsoft products that is common in developed countries where universities can afford their licenses. In developing countries, this is not the case. They cannot always afford these fees. A solution, of course, is to use LaTeX which is free for all to use, extend, study, and share. Similarly, while universities and laboratories in developed countries may be able to pay for MATlab licenses, this financial requirement can hold back others---smaller labs and independent researchers.

If proprietary tools such as MATlab are the norm, then science is not open to all. It should be.

(I've signed the Open source for Neuroscience letter that you can read here.)

There is a lot of software available in NeuroFedora already. You can see the complete list here on Fedora SCM. Software that is currently being worked on is listed on our Pagure project instance. If you use software that is not on our list, please suggest it to us using the suggestion form.

Feedback is always welcome. You can get in touch with us here.

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