This is a guest post by Christine Slocum, a software engineer at Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), on behalf of the Ureka team.
Last month, STScI and Gemini announced the first public beta release of the Ureka binary installer for common astronomical software (primarily for the UV/Optical/IR community). The goals of the Ureka installer are to:
Minimize the number of actions needed to install all the different software components. We provide an install script that detects the user’s platform then downloads and installs the appropriate binary build.
Permit installation without requiring system privileges.
Make installs as problem-free as possible for the great majority of users.
Allow users to install their own software (particularly Python-based) within this framework, or update versions of software within the framework. For example, pip and easy_install work just as they normally would.
Permit different Ureka installations to coexist and to easily switch between them. This is useful if you want to try a new version of Ureka, but still want to keep an older one around as well.
Enable installing different versions of the same software package under a particular Ureka installation.
Support Macs and most popular Linux variants.
Ureka does not use the environment variable LD_LIBRARY_PATH (DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH on Macs) and thus should not affect existing software after installation or use.
Keep in mind that no installation system is completely foolproof–that’s nearly impossible to achieve. In particular, when users update or add software to the Ureka framework, they increase the risk of breaking something, but we feel that is an option users should have as long as they understand the risks.
This beta version includes IRAF 2.16 and associated packages for IRAF, DS9, and a fairly full suite of Python scientific software packages (e.g., numpy, scipy, and matplotlib). The full listing of included software can be found at this link: http://ssb.stsci.edu/ureka/1.0beta5/docs/components.html.
This is a beta release. We do expect to uncover some problems that we did not encounter during our testing. However, Ureka has institutional support from STScI and Gemini, so if you do experience problems, send an email to email@example.com for assistance. We also welcome feedback on additional software components you think we should include.