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SIENews

The newsletter of the SIE de Investigación y Enseñanza N. 64 - December 2020

Welcome aboard, Carlos!

Carlos Westendorp has recently joined the SIE, coming from the IAC's IT Department (known as SI: Servicios Informáticos), where he led the Analysis and Development Group. His main assignment is to provide support to our large user base on matters related to Big Data and Machine Learning; he will also assist in the development of the new CAT application, which will replace the existing one which is becoming obsolete and cannot cope with new requirements and proposed modifications (only security patches will be applied in the meantime). Also, this coming January a new postdoc, partially funded by the RES (Red Española de Supercomputación), will start working with us on such tasks as supporting supercomputing efforts in the research division, reproducible science, and promoting access to supercomputing for local small- and medium-size companies and the University.

Migration to Ubuntu

As you know, we are gradually migrating all Linux desktop PCs and "burros" (powerful Linux servers dedicated to heavy computing jobs) to Ubuntu, to take advantage of the fact that Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support) releases receive security upgrades for 5 years (compared to about 13 months for Fedora). In particular, all burros have already been migrated to Ubuntu 18.04. There are a few differences in using a Ubuntu machine with respect to Fedora, all described in the document titled Notes on the upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. If your machine has been recently upgraded to Ubuntu, or you started recently to use a burro, please read it, and get in touch with us if you have any comments or questions.

WSL 2 on Windows

Windows 10 allows the installation of a Linux distribution (the most common ones are supported, and even multiple Linux distros can live together) in a Windows box, on top of the so-called Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL - version 2). This avoid the needs of installing a virtual Linux machine using VirtualBox or some other virtualization tool, and should provide an easier installation procedure and better integration with Windows itself. We have managed to install successfully Ubuntu 20.04 on a Windows 10 laptop (and run IRAF/PyRAF on it), and while there still are a few rough edges and things we need to understand better, the procedure is not that complicated. If you are interested in using the WSL, do get in touch with us and we'll try to help you out.

pip3 vs python3 -m pip

Recently we have had users reporting installation problems using the pip3 command, which were "miraculously" solved by using python3 -m pip instead. While the two commands may seem one and the same, there is a very important point to consider: not necessarily the command pip3 is the one that corresponds to the python3 installation and version you are using. Perhaps you installed several versions of Python3 (for instance v3.6, 3.7, and 3.8), and while command python3 starts v3.8, pip3 will refer to Python v3.7. Or you have multiple installations of Python from different "vendors" (say Anaconda, MacPorts, the one included in macOS - obligatory XKCD https://xkcd.com/1987/), and pip3 points to a different vendor than python3. Thus, as a general rule, python3 -m pip should be used instead of pip3. Read https://snarky.ca/why-you-should-use-python-m-pip/ for a more detailed discussion of this topic.
SIE de Investigación y Enseñanza :: N. 64 - December 2020 - Contact: