While everybody else is waiting for Linux to become the standard on the desktop, in the field of neuroscience research we have made this step already – so silently that we haven’t even realized it ourselves.
In the NeuroDebian project we were trying to figure out what software would need to be integrated into Debian to have a maximum impact on enhancing its utility as a research platform. So we ran a survey, asking people to tell us what software they use in their research and what platform they run it on. We also asked people to describe their personal preferences regarding a computing environment and how that might differ from the computing platforms they are institutionally provided with.
The main result of this survey was very simple and pretty surprising (even to us): Despite common believe, GNU/Linux is the current standard computing platform in neuroscience – and that is both on the big compute clusters and on the laptop and desktop. It turns out that researchers on GNU/Linux are not only the majority, they are also much happier with what they get, and spend less time on non-research maintenance tasks than the guys who are still stuck with Windows.
It was also nice to see that Debian-based systems are preferred by neuroscientists among GNU/Linux distributions for their personal computing environments and that even proportions of Red Hat and Debian-based systems together represent the vast majority of GNU/Linux deployments in institutional computing infrastructure.
Well done Debian!
The results have just been accepted for publication in the journal Frontiers in Neuroinformatics. A link to the manuscript, the original survey form, collected data, as well as supplementary analysis results are available at: http://neuro.debian.net/survey/2011/