On April 20, the Scientific Linux development team, a collaboration of scientists and computer professionals from Fermilab and CERN, announced the production release of Scientific Linux v4.0. Scientific Linux is an operating system developed especially for scientific researchers.
Its developers created Scientific Linux to provide the scientific community with a supported, stable,
customizable, freely available operating system designed to be compatible with the equivalent commercially-supported Linux distribution- RedHat's "Enterprise Linux." Scientific Linux, supported by the global research community, is distributed to scientists free of charge.
"We don't just take RedHat source code and repackage it," said co-lead developer Connie Sieh, a member of the Fermilab Computing Division. "We add features that are customized for the scientific community."
Each laboratory or university has its own unique Linux requirements. Scientific Linux is designed to
be customizable by users to allow for these site requirements. Fermilab and CERN customize Scientific Linux for their own site needs, while maintaining compatibility, to allow a common operating system standard for GRID applications and multi-lab experiments. Users have a choice between a version designed for a particular site, if they are at that site, or the generic Scientific Linux, available online from Fermilab and from mirror sites worldwide. Scientific Linux receives daily security checks and regular security updates.
"Although the main contributors are Fermilab and CERN, Scientific Linux is a true community effort", said Fermilab computer professional Troy Dawson, co-lead developer of version 4.0.
"We've received Linux kernels from Rutherford, AFS patched from DESY, scientific applications from Russian scientists and contributions from universities and labs worldwide," Dawson said. "People everywhere keep adding to its value."
Particle physics research organizations currently using Scientific Linux include CERN, DESY, Fermilab, CCLRC Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory, SLAC's BaBar experiment, Canada's TRIUMF Laboratory, scientists from IN2P3, the French funding agency; Italy's INFN, and many universities.
"Scientific Linux rules almost all of the HEP world." Alan Silverman of CERN noted in a recent report to the IHEPCCC.
Two versions of Scientific Linux, Scientific Linux 3.0.x based on RedHat Enterprise 3 and the recently released Scientific Linux 4.0 based on RedHat Enterprise 4, are currently available. Before downloading the newest version though, users are encouraged to check with their local support staff to find out which version(s) are supported.
More information on Scientific Linux can be found at