HigherLevelEduPackages

Summary

Compile a meta-package of educational software appropriate for higher-level education.

Release Note

TBD

Rationale

Education doesn't stop at 18 years of age. Edubuntu should identify free-software applications that help in education into adulthood.

In many colleges and universities, specially technical ones, students are entitled to use specialized licensed software for their education and research. In other institutions, specially in developing countries, the situation is less clear, and students use basically whatever they can get their hands on. Providing free alternatives to expensive, commercial software may be seen as a priority in some cases.

Assumptions

Since higher education, or tertiary education, encompasses any of the fields of study offered in universities, we may have to restrict ourselves to Engineering sciences which make extensive use of the computer.

Design

The meta-package must provide general software for accomplishing general tasks, and perhaps a few specialized for a given field.

  • Tools for general mathematics: manipulation of matrices, and basic programming
  • Tools for advance drawing and plotting: producing high-quality images and sketches
  • Tools for scientific authoring: writing scientific papers and dissertations
  • Tools for computer programming: a C compiler and debugger, and auxiliary libraries

Implementation

General mathematics

  • Octave: A free-software replacement of Matlab, Octave provides a programming language environment which can operate directly on matrices.
  • Octave-packages: there is a multitude of additional packages designed for Octave, which implement specific functions for optimization, differential equation solving, numerical integration, etc.
  • QtOctave: A frontend to the command-line-oriented Octave.

  • Scilab: an alternative to Octave.

Drawing and plotting

  • Inkscape: used to produce Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), which can be converted to PDF and PNG at an arbitrary resolution, thus obtaining a high-quality image suitable for inclusion in printed documents.

Scientific authoring

  • LaTeX: A system to create high-quality documents with lots of mathematics, to print or to distribute in PDF.

Computer programming

  • GCC: The GNU Compiler Collection to program in C and C++, at least.
  • gdb and ddd: the GNU debugger (gdb), and its frontend (ddd) to step through compiled C and C++ code.
  • Libraries for mathematics: these may include the GNU Scientific Library (GSL) and others that deal with specific topics.

The essential problem with this meta-package

It is hard to determine if a package like this one is really useful or needed at all, because at a higher education level students have very different needs depending on the career path they have chosen.

A package like Octave seems an obvious choice because it is a general platform to perform calculations, however, other packages may only cater specific fields, and including those in a standard installation may result in a bloated system.

It may turn out that the general classification of "Science & Engineering", and the sub-classes within, in the Ubuntu Software Center may be more than enough for most needs.

Unresolved issues

This should highlight any issues that should be addressed in further specifications, and not problems with the specification itself; since any specification with problems cannot be approved.

BoF agenda and discussion

Use this section to take notes during the BoF; if you keep it in the approved spec, use it for summarising what was discussed and note any options that were rejected.


CategorySpec

Edubuntu/Specifications/HigherLevelEduPackages (last edited 2010-05-06 19:19:34 by eliudcabrera)