The 5 Ultimate Scientific Linux Distributions

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Time for a pop quiz: what are scientific Linux distributions?

The answer is rather obvious: while most Linux distributions are general-purpose, some specialized ones come bundled with certain types of software. For example, there are media center distributions, those that turn your computer into a multimedia production studio, and even a few religious distros. Knowing that, it shouldn’t surprise you that scientific Linux distros exist. After all, the history of Linux began in research labs, and today Linux powers the servers and workstations of the world’s biggest research organizations.

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Simply put, scientific distros offer pre-installed software for various research purposes. Of course, you can transform your regular Ubuntu into a scientific distro by installing those same apps, but the point of such distributions is to avoid hunting for individual applications. Instead, they provide a quick way to deploy Linux in research facilities, educational institutions, and on personal computers of students and science-curious users. If you’re among the latter, here are five great scientific distros to consider. computer science computer science computer science

1. Bio-Linux

This green-colored distro is aimed at scientists who work in bioinformatics — an interdisciplinary field that combines molecular biology and genetics with statistics and analysis methods from computer science. Developed at the Environmental Omics Synthesis Centre in the UK, Bio-Linux is supported and funded by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). computer science computer science computer science computer computer science computer science science 

It’s an Ubuntu-based distribution available for 64-bit systems only, and it offers two desktop environments: Unity as default and MATE as a lightweight alternative. The latest version (8.0.5) guarantees long-term support thanks to its Ubuntu 14.04 core. Bio-Linux 8 packs literally hundreds of bioinformatics tools, both command-line and graphical. To help you get started, Bio-Linux offers a PDF guide.computer science computer science computer science

Software Highlights: Artemis, a DNA sequence viewer and annotation app; Galaxy, a browser-based biomedical research platform; Fasta, for searching DNA and protein databases; Mesquite, for evolutionary biology; njplot, for drawing phylogenetic trees, and Rasmol, for visualizing macromolecules. If you want to install packages from Bio-Linux on your Ubuntu-based system, you can simply add their repositoriescomputer science computer science

Bio-Linux is available for free as a Live image and as an OVA file in case you want to run it in VirtualBox.

Alternative: BioSLAX, a Slackware-based scientific distribution focused on bioinformatics and developed at the National University of Singapore.

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