I recently bought a new laptop to be used for scientific research when I'm at home. The machine has Intel i7 processor with 8 cores, 4 GB of RAM, and a graphic card from Nvidia (2 GB, Ivy Bridge). The programs I need most for computing are MATLAB and Python.

I tried to installed Ubuntu (versions 12.10 and 13.04) and they were both slow. When MATLAB uses 1 core 100%, the entire OS just freezes. Cannot do anything at the same time. Also, the graphic card is clearly not used to its full potential (I either use optirun or give the DRI_PRIME flag when starting programs) and not used at all by Unity.

Would some other OS be better than Ubuntu for my purposes? Also, how could I dedicate few cores to the OS, few to MATLAB/Python and a few for other programs (Chrome, Messaging, LaTeX etc.)

  • "how could I dedicate few cores to the OS" – I think you should delete this part from your question and make that a separate question. Or at least adapt the title. People who can answer the second question will rather not expect it under the current title. – Hauke Laging May 16 '13 at 16:41
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    @Hauke Laging man taskset? I think you guys were too quick to close this question. It is completely valid. The best distribution for scientific computing is of course RedHat.If you reopen the question I will explain. – Predrag Punosevac May 21 '13 at 3:32

If you come to Distrowatch, you can search all the available distros based on ones that have categorized as being "Scientific". You might want to include "Educational" as well in that search.

I hit the search page here.

These are the results from that search:

  1. Scientific Linux (40) Scientific Linux is a recompiled Red Hat Enterprise Linux, co-developed by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Although it aims to be fully compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, it also provides additional packages not found in the upstream product; the most notable among these are various file systems, including Cluster Suite and Global File System (GFS), FUSE, OpenAFS, Squashfs and Unionfs, wireless networking support with Intel wireless firmware, MadWiFi and NDISwrapper, Sun Java and Java Development Kit (JDK), the lightweight IceWM window manager, R - a language and environment for statistical computing, and the Alpine email client.

  2. Bio-Linux (118) Bio-Linux is a full-featured, powerful, configurable and easy-to-maintain bioinformatics workstation. Bio-Linux provides more than 500 bioinformatics programs on an Ubuntu base. There is a graphical menu for bioinformatics programs, as well as easy access to the Bio-Linux bioinformatics documentation system and sample data useful for testing programs. Bio-Linux packages that handle new generation sequence data types can also be installed.

  3. Poseidon Linux (188) Poseidon Linux is a GNU/Linux distribution designed primarily for academic and scientific use. It is based on Ubuntu LTS, enhancing its parent by adding a large number of applications for GIS/maps, numerical modelling, 2D/3D/4D visualisation, statistics, genetics, creating simple and complex graphics, and programming languages. The usual software for daily use, such as the LibreOffice suite, Internet browsers, instant messaging and chat clients are also included.

  4. CAELinux (241) CAELinux is a live DVD Linux distribution dedicated to computer-aided engineering (CAD) and finite element analysis. Based on Ubuntu, it features a full software solution for professional 3D FE analysis from CAD geometry. It includes the Salome 3D pre/post processor, Code_Aster non-linear/multi- physics FE solver, Code-Saturne and OpenFOAM CFD solvers, Elmer multiphysics suite, GMSH, Netgen and enGrid 3D meshers, GNU Octave, Rkward, wxMaxima, Scilab, and more.

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