Software

This is a list of software I use for work. I only use Free Software (whenever I have a choice, at least). Free here is not about price, but about freedom. Think of free as in free speech. The reasons I chose to use free software are both practical and philosophical. Free software gives me infinite flexibility: I can install it on any machine I own without having to worry about licenses or worry that the software may become deprecated some day. As for the philosophical reasons, I think that free software is in line with the way science should be done: sharing knowledge, helping each other and disapprove of unethical behaviour. To know more about Free Software, consult the FSF site and the Wikipedia page about free software.

  • I use openSUSE as my operating system. It’s fast, stable, doesn’t nag me with forced and unwanted updates and has a lot of software available in the default repositories.
  • For my statistical needs I use the R programming language. It is a very extensive and powerful programming language used worldwide by both researchers and firms and is rapidly taking the place of other statistical software programs like SAS. You can install it on any linux distribution via its package manager. For Windows and OSX versions, you can get R for free on the project’s page. It works best if you also install Rstudio, which is a modern IDE for R.
  • Setting up Python for scientific purposes can be a tricky. To simplify the installation of the different Python libraries and have a consistent environment across my different computers (and coworkers’ computers) I use Anaconda by Continuum Analytics. It is a free, commercially supported Python distribution and it works very well. It comes with everything you’d need from a Python distribution, Numpy, Scipy, Matplotlib and Pandas, one of the most useful Python libraries out there.
  • LaTeX is used extensively in academia to write scientific papers. It takes care of the formatting for you, allowing you to focus on what really matters. Writing mathematical equations in LaTeX is also very easy and the result is beautiful. On any GNU+Linux distribution, installing LaTeX is done via the system’s package manager. For Windows users, you’ll need to install Miktex and for OSX MacTeX.
  • I’ve been looking for the killer editor for quite some time and I can confidently say that Spacemacs is the one! Spacemacs truly is the best of both Vim and Emacs; it is Emacs at its core, but the user can enable Vim keybindings. This means that you can use all the great Emacs packages. Using ESS, it is possible to work with R, and it’s also possible to edit LaTeX source files, Python files, etc.
  • I’m not a designer by any means, but when I need to design a poster for a conference, or a call for papers, I use Gimp and Scribus. Gimp is an image manipulation tool not unlike Adobe Photoshop and Scribus is a desktop publishing tool like Adobe Indesign.