The Engineer's Desktop and Library
Welcome to the Engineer's Desktop and Library, which is an experimental resource that aims to offer the user a 'free' computer working environment for undertaking a range of engineering as well as day-today tasks.
It should be noted that although the system has been trialled with students for over two years it is being continually developed and therefore we request that you contact the project website www-mdp.eng.cam.ac.uk before making any copies, since a more recent version may be available.
The disk provides a suite of common engineering software and resources using the Knoppix bootable CD operating system. In many cases all you need to do to use the disk is to re-start any standard PC with the MDP disk. The disk will boot directly into the Knoppix operating system, but will not make any change to the computer's existing operating system. All applications run directly from the disk and it will not install any software or write any data to your hard disk unless explicitly instructed to do so. After completing work using the disk, the computer can be restarted and returned to the permanently installed operating system.
While we call the EDaL package a "CD", the Knoppix environment, including applications and teaching materials, can actually be implemented or distributed in many other situations. Possible implementation scenarios include:
- On read-only bootable media like CDs or DVDs
- On USB devices like flash drives, key drives, and large external hard drives
- On flash media such as compact flash or smart disk
- Remotely loaded over a network to low cost workstations
- Loaded locally as a "virtual machine" using QEMU, Virtual PC or VMWare Workstation within an existing and simultaneous Windows, Macintosh, or Linux environment
- Over the internet for most teaching materials and some analysis tools
Applications Provided on the Disk
Since Knoppix is based on the Linux operating system, it can run many of the useful and free tools available for Linux. However, neither Knoppix nor Microsoft Windows can run all the programs written for the other operating system. The exact program suite included on each issue of the MDP CD may vary, but some available programs include:
- QCAD - A 2-D cad package
- Octave - a free numerical computation language (similar to Matlab)
- gEDA - ECAD suite
- GCC - a compiler for C++
- Pro/Engineer - a commercial 3D solid modelling package
- Open Office - a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing suite
- Emacs - a fully featured text editor
- Mozilla Firefox - a web-browser
- LaTeX - a high quality type-setting language
Most of the software on the EDaL disks may be freely distributed and is licensed under a free software license such as the GNU General Public License. See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft for further details of the GPL and its philosophy. As an exception, some versions of the disks may be issued that contain commercial software such as Pro/Engineer. We have obtained special permission to include this software from the copyright holders, and these CDs should not be copied or re-distributed. See Applications & Licensing for more information on licenses.