education s/w for suns - summary (LONG)

From: Bryan K. Walls (
Date: Mon Jan 06 1992 - 09:59:40 CST

Some time ago, I wrote about Project LASER (Learning about Science,
Engineering, and Research), a NASA sponsored program to encourage
education in the math and sciences at the pre-college level. Sun,
NASA, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) have set up
a computer lab as part of this, with Sun donating the machines. The
lab is now set up and running! There have already been some teacher
workshops and a chance for students to try out the machines.

I had asked on the net for advice for the configuration to run, good
software available, and general advice. I got a lot! Thanks. This
is a late, but appreciative, summary.

I mentioned we were in the market for memory. Advice was don't buy
from Sun. TechWorks and Solflower were recommended sources.

I asked whether I should run Sun's version of X, the current MIT
release, or Sunview. Advice varied slightly, but the common suggestion
was to stick with Sun's Openwindows, which is their X product, at
least until I was very comfortable with administering the system.
The full MIT release might be necessary to run some available soft-
ware, but Openwindows should serve most of my needs. Installing the
MIT X would also hog a lot of my precious disk space. A hybrid is

I asked for recommendations of good software which is publically avail-
able and would be of interest to elementary/high school kids. I got
a rich variety of replies. Here is a summary of packages, sources, etc:

        The source of all good things. Well, the pointer to the source.
        Well... Archie is an online, interactive database of anonymous
        ftp sites. You can reach archie servers by telnet, or by mail.
        There are some good client programs available. Archie can tell
        you where it is. The trick is knowing what to ask for.
        BRL (Ballistics Research Laboratories) CAD program

gnu things:
        emacs complete, customized for Suns
        gcc c compiler, ansi compatible
        gnu-chess -- one of the better computer players available
        gnu-plot -- allows 2D & 3D plotting of functions and data.
        may be hard to use, but might be of interest to some
        g77 or something. fortran compiler Real Soon Now

Games: Obviously will interest kids, some will also educate.
        Answerbook -- Sun online docs. Well done, helpful
        How to find sources (READ THIS BEFORE POSTING) -- a
        good summary of how to find all these things on the net.
        Read this in comp.sources.wanted.

Multi-Function Software:
        Rapport -- Commercial product from Clarity Software, includes word
        processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, and email.
        Island Draw/Paint/Write -- more commercial stuff.
        BBN Slate -- commercial multimedia presentation software,
                        integratable and tailorable.
        JACAL -- equation simplification and manipulation program.
        Numerical Recipies -- The book is full of good code. Available
        in Fortran and C,at least, source is available in various places. and are mail-based archive
        servers for math/stat software.

System Administration:
        Suggested reading includes:
        Managing NFS and NIS
                by Hal Stern
                A Nutshell Book from O'Reilly and Associates, Inc.
                ISBN 0-937175-75-7
        A System Administrator's Guide to Sun Workstations
                by George Becker and Kathy Slattery
                ISBN 0-387-97250-1
        UNIX System Administration Handbook
                by Nemeth, Snyder & Seebass
                Prentis Hall 1989
                ISBM 0-13-933441-6

        Catalyst -- list of third party software
        Sampler CD's

Sun User's Group:
        CD-ROM with lots of stuff on it.

        Word processing/type setting of classic proportions. Not easy
        to use, but very powerful.
        LaTeX -- typesetter/word processor
        TeX -- basis of LaTeX, not usually used ( directly )
        bibtex -- useful program for making bibliographies
        bibcard -- graphic program for inputing bibtex files
        texsun -- a screen previewer
        ispell -- a spelling checker
        fig -- a drawing program
        dvips -- a means of converting dvi files to
                        postscript files
        psfig -- code for including graphics in a LaTeX document
        dviselect -- extract part of a dvi file into a
                new dvi file
        pageview -- postscript previewer running under
        Including a few that are part of the system:
        man -- view manual pages ( available for most commands).
        tar -- Unix program to group files
        compress --- Unix program to compress files
        mtools -- read and write MSDOS floppies
        screen -- multiplex sessions to any ASCII terminal
        toms/toix -- convert text files to and from Unix
                and PC formats
        zoo -- file compression/grouping utility, also
                available on PCs
        arc -- file compression/grouping utility, also
                available on PCs
        unzip -- allows Unix machines to unzip PC .zip
        sit/unsit -- create and unpack Mac stuffit archives
        pbmplus -- utilities to manipulate and translate bitmaps
        tifflib -- utilities to manipulate and translate
                TIFF files

        telnet 3000 to get a weather report!

X: Quite a few of the previous programs are X, but I will mention
        here conversion programs for Portable BitMaps (PBM), Portable
        Grey Maps (PGM), and Portable Color Maps (PNM). Also, various
        pictures are available (satellite photos from Ames Research
        Center, etc.)

Anyone with questions about Project Laser can send to me, and I will
get it to the right folks, or you can contact:

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Marshall Space Flight Center, AL 35812

Bryan Walls

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