Download instructions do not let a new user compile

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Issue #1807 open
Roland Haas created an issue

The Download section of our website does not give any hint on how to compile the code after a (possibly) successful download. It should contain some additional sections

  1. required installed software, in particular that svn from OSX does not work
  2. a “How to compile” section that links to the simplified tutorial (preferred) or the regular tutorial (not preferred since this one requires them to get an account on Queenbee where they would have to download once more)
  3. ideally a link to a “first steps” type document which could be part of an ET user guide described in #1804


Comments (8)

  1. Frank Löffler
    • removed comment

    The page does point to the tutorial:

    This page just describes how to download the toolkit - you may also be interested in the Tutorial for New Users which leads you through these steps

    The other points, however, are well taken. Getting an account on queenbee is not the best option for 'just trying'. Another option would be a VM. What would people think about this as 'first steps platform'? This would also get around issues on OSX (that obviously should still be mentioned).

  2. Erik Schnetter
    • removed comment

    A VM would be nice; so would be a Docker image.

    However, it should also be possible to "just build and run". We've in the past concentrated on telling people how to do things "properly", i.e. to carefully look for existing packages (HDF5, MPI) and to use those, and even telling people to install packages if necessary.

    To keep things simple, we can turn things around. We can require only a C and C++ compiler, and then build MPI and HDF5 ourselves. That should suffice to run Cactus and the ET in a reasonable way, i.e. to get the first physics results. Everything else -- performance optimizations, reducing build time, etc. -- can be done later, once people know they are actually interested in using the ET.

    The goal here is to make things as simple as possible for a new user, not "as simple as possible, and make Fortran work", or "as simple as possible, but trying to find out whether MPI is installed correctly", etc. We want "download tarball, build, run", and nothing else.

    I'd argue that even GetComponents is too fragile for a new user who wants to attend a one-day tutorial.

  3. Frank Löffler
    • removed comment

    Ok, looking at the minimal requirements we have to have installed

    • C, C++ and Fortran compiler (and we have to know their names). We could guess here.
    • make, perl, python
    • subversion, git, wget/curl, bash

    Depending on compilers we could choose 'save' flags for known compilers, so that could be covered.

  4. Roland Haas reporter
    • removed comment

    We currently provide a tarball of the ET for the release version. This should be by usable by all users (certainly OSX, Cygwin and Linux). The tarball does not (by choice) contain the version control metadata so it does not let users contribute back changes or even know which revision they are using, there is only the tarball name.

    I could (at one point, has been a while) actually compile with the minimal set that Frank has outlined in comment:4, even MPI builds itself and provides mpirun and the like in exe/sim/mpirun. It is very slow to build this way though. On "normal" Linux/OSX systems I would still suggest that users first try installing binary packages through their packaging system. For this to work well on Linux (Debian and Ubuntu more specifically) we need to update the ExternalLibraries scripts' to take multi-arch installations into account (Bruno has started on this already).

    For one day tutorials the Virtual machines actually seem to be the best solution to me since they ensure that we know exactly what is present on the system, down to an editor. VirtualBox itself is easy to install and eg for the CGWAS school at Caltech we had not problems this year with students not being able to use it. The virtual machine has the advantage that we can provide a pre-build Cactus tree, drastically cutting down on compilation time compared to a full compile from scratch. The downside is the large size of a machine image (about 2GB) though for a local workshop one can provide USB sticks with the machine image.

  5. Frank Löffler
    • changed status to open
    • marked as
    • removed comment
    1. is now mentioned on that page. A link to the longer tutorial was already in place, a link to the other has been added, resolving 2, leaving 3. This can only be done once we have such a document.
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