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Science, Technology, and Engineering Applications

What .. you thought Ubuntu was just for play? Also see Ubuntu Science.

Health applications

OpenEMR (Electronic Health Record)

OpenEMR is a mature, robust, outpatient-setting electronic medical record system that is certified in the US.

  • Make sure the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP5) stack is installed first:
sudo tasksel install lamp-server

VistA (Enterprise Electronic Health Record)

OpenVistA and WorldVistA are two varieties of the largest and most robust CCHIT-approved electronic health record platform in the public domain. They are GPL licensed, are based on the US Veterans Administration health record system, and can be installed as an integrated database, server, and client system. See the detailed download and installation instructions for OpenVistA and WorldVistA, or visit Vistapedia for other instructions. Also see the Ultimate Server with OpenVistA EHR.


  • QCAD is a commercial CAD alternative to AutoCAD with a community open source edition. Install:
sudo apt-get install qcad
  • VariCAD is a commercial 3D CAD package for multiple platforms (including Linux). There is no open source or community version.

Mathematical solutions

Scilab, Octave, and Freemat are three open source solutions for solving complex numerical mathematical problems. Symbolic mathematical problems can be solved with Maxima and Mathomatic. All of these programs are included in the Ubuntu Universe repositories.


Gnu Octave is a free, open source (GPL licensed) platform for solving linear and non-linear equations, similar to (and mostly compatible with) Matlab. It interfaces well with Gnuplot. For troubleshooting tips, see this thread. Install:

sudo apt-get install octave3.0

Also recommended:

sudo apt-get install libatlas3gf-base gnuplot qtoctave

Note: QTOctave is a GUI for Gnuplot or Easyplot 1.1, and and the ATLAS library is an algebra-software-optimization set of utilities.

EasyPlot 1.1 is an alternative to GnuPlot, with a version that can be used with QTOctave. It must be installed from source.

An older GUI for Octave/Gnuplot is qgfe (available as the package qgfe).


Freemat is a free, open source (GPL licensed) platform for solving linear and non-linear equations, similar to (and mostly compatible with) Matlab. Install from Add/Remove Programs (Edutainment) or

sudo apt-get install freemat


Maxima is a free, open source (GPL licensed) computer algebra system (CAS) for doing symbolic mathematics. It can solve equations with many variables, simplify expressions, do calculus, and many other advanced operations. To install:

sudo apt-get install wxmaxima

To run, enter:


or select wxMaxima from the Applications/Science menu. wxMaxima is the standard Maxima GUI.


Mathomatic is a free, open source (LGPL licensed) command-line computer algebra system for doing calculations and symbolic mathematics. It can automatically solve and simplify algebraic equations, do some calculus, and other simple but useful operations. To install:

sudo apt-get install mathomatic mathomatic-primes

To run, enter:


or select it from the Applications/Science menu.

Amateur Radio applications

Fldigi is a free, open-source (GPL) application for digital-mode amateur radio communications using a sound card. Enable "Community Maintained Software (universe)" in Software Sources; then install either from Add/Remove Programs under (Amateur Radio) or by typing

sudo apt-get install fldigi

Amateur Electronics


Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, and hobbyists interested in creating interactive objects or environments. See this tutorial.


LaTeX is a LaTeX is a free high-quality typesetting system for the production of technical and scientific documentation.


LyX is a WYSIWYG frontend and GUI interface useful in creating documents formatted for LaTeX. Install:

sudo apt-get install lyx

LaTeX Reference Managers

  • The standard LaTeX bibliography (BibTeX) tool can be manipulated with one of several tools:
  • nbibtex. Install:
sudo apt-get install nbibtex
  • jabref. Install:
sudo apt-get install jabref
  • biblatex. Install:
sudo apt-get install biblatex
  • kbibtex (for KDE). Install:
sudo apt-get install kbibtex
  • Zotero is a Firefox plugin that allows culling references (and reference content) from online references.
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