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Linux Journal: Why Experix?

Feb 25, 2003, 23:30 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bill McConnaughey)

"I like command strings. I can't tolerate GUIs that fill the screen with icons intended to provide information about what they do by means of little pictures, but need to be equipped with more-or-less informative messages that pop up if I park the mouse there long enough. I lack the patience to search through a tree of pull-down menus when I could have typed a command in half a second. That's no way to run an experiment when you need to be thinking about the science and your sample is expiring. GUIs may be suitable for a system characterized and simplified to the point where it nearly all fits on one screen. It definitely does not work for a complicated, buggy, home-made rig where people always want to do something I didn't think about when I wrote the software. And don't get me started on the wiring-diagram concept of data collection/analysis. It's completely inaccessible to the users and not at all a natural way to approach most of the problems I have encountered.

"The success we have had with the old DOS program proves the validity of my approach, but the platform is now seriously obsolete. I have built the command interpreter and stack management systems for Linux, copied or adapted most of the functions in the DOS program, and introduced concurrent execution of commands submitted though timers. The graphics, however, are still at a primitive stage, and the device driver interface is not really thought out. My purpose in releasing Experix at this point is to find programmers who want to help me fill in the missing pieces. You can download the Experix source and help files at biochem.wustl.edu/~elelab/bm.htm. It runs on Intel PCs, uses SVGAlib and can demonstrate most of the features discussed below..."

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