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Open source developments

Developing and maintaining scientific software for numerical simulation, in a computer science environment which is complex and changing rapidly, requires many skills. In this context, the use of open source software provides the benefits of the latest technological advances and is tested by the scientific community. Moreover, the participation of the Simulation Sciences and Information Department (CEA/DAM DSSI) in the open source community demonstrates its know-how in the field of numerical simulation and reinforces the credibility of the Simulation programme.

The use of open source software presents many advantages for organisations like the CEA. Free software is synonymous with longevity (its use by a very large number of users assures that it will have a longer lifespan) and brings a certain security (the openness of the code guaranteeing that no faults exist), and low cost in terms of the license for multiprocessor computers. Today, the Linux operating system has become a beacon and major base for the open source adventure.

At CEA/DAM, as in the majority of large enterprises, an increasing use is being made of open source software. Here we discuss their contribution in the domain of numerical simulation, particularly for geometric modelling and meshing, in calculations and in visualization of the results. Since the CEA takes advantage of open source software it also contributes to it. Developments, coming from specialist software for meshing and 3-D visualization are being returned to the VTK community in the form of open source contributions. The DAM computers also make use of open source software, since it is exploited in the Linux system and in the Lustre file system (Lustre, which was originally open source, is a file and directory management software).

The CEA, together with the CNRS and INRIA, has developed a Cecill licence (http://www.cecill.info/), inspired by the GPL licence of the Free Software Foundation and made compatible with French law. This license enables distribution of CEA developments in the form of free software. Examples of such software include Kazimir, MPC, etc.

Today, open source software is an unavoidable reality. Its uses go from computers and systems to integrated sequences of scientific calculation. It helps in efficient development of program codes and software, by concentrating local efforts on the architectures and the specific functionalities and requirements of our applications. Does finding, testing, selecting, integrating and using open source components and interacting with the communities concerned represent a scientific approach? From our point of view the benefit is very real and should be sustainable for our developments.

You can find the open source developments of CEA/DAM on Github :