The Quantian Scientific Computing Environment
A Knoppix / Debian variant tailored to numerical and quantitative analysis.
The most recent version is 0.7.9.2 dated 26 February 2006 and released
March 1, 2006 --- the second Quantian version based on the new Knoppix
4.0.2 release. The (compressed) iso file is now 2.7 gb and corresponds to
about 7.6 gb of software -- all configured and ready to be booted and used.
Support for openMosix has been backported from clusterKnoppix v3.6
with the reliable openMosix-enabled 2.4.27 kernel. The packages list ordered by
size and the detailed packages
list provide details about the included programs, see the changelog for a detailed summary of all
Download informations are provided below. Also see the Quantian blog
page, the changelog, the todo and bugs pages, and well as the set of short howtos for detailed information.
What is Quantian?
Quantian is a remastering of Knoppix
self-configuring and directly bootable cdrom/dvd that turns any pc or laptop
(provided it can boot from cdrom/dvd) into a full-featured Linux workstation.
Quantian also incorporates
and adds support for openMosix
, including remote booting of
light clients in an openMosix terminal server context. Earlier releases are
still available; see below for URLs for downloads as well as ordering
Brief introductory information is available in a recent paper published in The Political
Methodologist, slides from presentations at
UseR! 2006 (June 2006),
DSC 2005 (August 2005),
Usenix 2004 (July 2004),
and in the earlier (revised) paper
about Quantian that has appeared in the DSC 2003
Quantian is an extension of Knoppix and clusterKnoppix from which it takes
its base system of around gigabytes of software, along with fully automatic
hardware detection and configuration. To this, it add about five gigabytes
What does Quantian contain?
Quantian differs from Knoppix by adding a large number of programs of
interest to applied or theoretical workers in quantitative or data-driven
fields. The added quantitative, numerical or scientific programs comprise
- R, including essentially
all packages from CRAN (excluding only non-Unix packages such as MimR,
or ROracle which needs special headers and libraries) and BioConductor; the
snapshot was made February 25, 2006) as well as some from other R package
repositories, out-of-the box support for the powerful
ESS modes for
Ggobi visualisation program, the
Rpy RPy Python interface, the
integration with Perl, the award-winnning
JGR Java GUI for R, the
Rserve headless R server,
the Rpad interactive web interface and
support for the RKward gui for R.
- bioinformatics tools such all packages from the
BioConductor project, as well
biopython and applications such as
- Octave, with add-on packages
Inline::Octave as well as other matrix language environments;
- Computer-algebra systems Maxima
(including the X11 front-end and emacs support),
- GSL, the Gnu Scientific
Library (GSL) including example binaries;
- the QuantLib quantitative finance
library including its Python interface;
- the Grass geographic information system;
- the OpenDX and
Mayavi data visualisation systems;
- TeXmacs for wysiwyg scientific
editing as well as LyX and
kile for wysiwyg (La)TeX editing;
- various Python modules
and Numeric Python;
- Cernlib, a large
number of programs and libraries from the CERN
particle physic lab;
- the bochs, wine and qemu emulators;
- office suites such as OpenOffice.org and KOffice as well as Abiword, Gnumeric and
- and various other programs such as
At the same time, all the distinguishing features that set Knoppix apart are
retained in Quantian:
- Auto-configuration of graphics, sound, disks, networking, auxiliary
devices which is second to none among computer installations
- A recent version (actually mostly 3.5 with some 3.4) of the KDE
- The GNU compiler suite comprising gcc,
g77, g++ compilers including gcj
- Perl and Python
with loads of add-ons, plus other languages such
- The Emacs
and Vim editors, as well as
Koffice, ... office tools, with
OpenOffice.org added back in
- A Swiss-army knife collection of networking tools allowing access
to wired and wireless lans, covering ethernet, isdn or dial-up modems
- And still in Quantian though no longer in Knoppix: a complete teTeX TeX /
LaTeX setup for scientific
publishing along with wysiwyg frontends such as kile and LyX / LyX-Qt, the preview mode
for emacs editors, several additonal bibtex tools, and
other goodies such as prosper,
pdfscreen and beamer
for presentations as well as numerous Bibtex utilities.
Last but not least, and thanks to
clusterKnoppix, quantian allows to build openMosix clusters in a matter
of minutes -- and to immediately use them thanks to the 5 gb of added
You can click on any of the images to see a full-size chart.
The first screenshot shows version 0.3 with
running on a cluster with two computers, an
session (run from with
with lattice graphics, the QuantLib
demo 'BermudanSwaption' as well as TeXmacs
-- and the Knoppix 3.2 heritage is clearly visible on the background.
The second screenshot shows Quantian version 0.4.9.3 with an openmosixview
display of a three-node / four-cpu cluster as well as the kile LaTeX frontend -- and the
Knoppix 3.3 background image.
The third screenshot shows Quantian 0.5.9.2 with its new custom background
which was contributed by Ed Pegg, Jr. Also shown are an R session running in
an XEmacs buffer controlled by ESS. The R session displays a demo from
Rmetrisc which displays the sensitivities of financial options to various
parameters--the so-called 'greeks'--in a 3x2 display. Also shown is openMosixview.
Two mailing lists exist for Quantian, courtesy of
quantian-announce for announcements only, very low volume, posting
restricted to the listowner/maintainer
quantian-general for general discussions about Quantian, posting
restricted to subscribers -- so please subscribe before posting
Two primary machines exist with Quantian archives:
The most current version is also on
Debian's Alioth site
Note that the increased filesize may create problems with web-caching
software that can only handle files of up to 2 gb in size. It may be safer to
use rsync or bittorrent instead of http webdownloads.
European mirrors site are available in Madrid, Spain at RedIRIS
(also with ftp
access) and Aachen,
Germany at RWTH
(also with ftp access).
Rsync access is available at the Fred Hutchinson archive.
would retrieve a directory listing, and for example
rsync -v rsync://quantian.fhcrc.org/quantian/boot_0.6.9.x.iso .
would (verbosely) retrieve the 0.6.9.x-compatible boot image to the current directory.
A new torrent
thanks to the Linux Mirror Project,
as well as at
EpiGenomics (in Germany).
U of Washington used to have both a bittorrent seeder and mirror with a nice
graphical summary of usage, but that
machine is currently, and for the foreseeable near-term future,
Quantian for purchase
Quantian dvds and cdrom are available pre-made from the following third-party resellers:
I should note that I am not compensated by any of these vendors.
Please send comments, suggestions to the
list. If your browser and mailer are configured
correctly, then this link
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