Re: The development of Scilab and Octave
Well, from my perspective as MOTU Science team lead, putting in some time to learn how to package and maintain science apps in Ubuntu is valuable. It's a pretty demanding task (we are "tracking" 450+ science package) but more people helping makes the load less. We also need bug testers and triagers. One of the most important things we can do is let the software authors know what bugs Ubuntu users are encountering so they can correct them for all Linux users.
Besides the more technical aspects I can also imagine the following:
- an "Ubuntu Science" blog aggregator so scientific ubuntu users can get the word out
- getting an official ubuntu-science mailing list for science discussion (we already have a mailing list for development/bug emails)
- make a real effort to use help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuScientists wiki space to put documentation, tips, etc.
- perhaps make an add-on CD full of scientific packages. I had wanted to use "Scibuntu" but that has already been taken.
On the whole I think an essential "piece" that the Linux scientific software community is missing is integration and focus. Currently we have hundreds of independet projects, sometimes trying to provide essentially the same features, and often times they aren't very concerned about how their software integrates with the rest of the user's OS. I think Ubuntu is an excellent platform to work on this issue.
Just my $0.02USD
P.S. As far as octave vs scilab goes, scilab's license has made it difficult in the past to get devs "excited" to work on it. Scilab also seems more difficult to maintain.
"That's all very well in practice, but will it ever work in theory?" -- G. Hill
"A tidy laboratory means a lazy chemist." -- Jöns Jacob Berzelius