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Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] Matlab interface to USRP

From: Jeff Brower
Subject: Re: [Discuss-gnuradio] Matlab interface to USRP
Date: Wed, 09 Apr 2008 13:24:05 -0500


> I think the problem is that there are basically 2 separate cultures
> here.  There are those coming from the CS and free software world, and
> those coming from the radio, engineering, academic, industry, hardware,
> etc. worlds.  Those in the free software world often don't understand
> how truly separate the two cultures are.  While everybody has heard of
> Linux, they usually haven't heard of GNU, RMS, GPL, or freedom as
> applied to software.  For example, I often have people talk to me about
> "the GNU Project", when they really mean the GNU Radio Project, so I
> take the time to explain that the GNU project is actually much bigger
> than just GNU Radio.
> When someone comes here from that second world, where the lingua franca
> is Matlab, and we immediately hit them with a moral argument without any
> background, it doesn't help anybody, it just scares them off.  I think a
> better response would be something along the lines of:
> ----
>     If you are very comfortable in the Matlab world, then perhaps you
> should try Octave, which has a high degree of compatibility with
> Matlab.  A link between GNU Radio and Octave would not be difficult at
> all.  However, there are many other free programs which might also
> function in a similar manner and be even easier to work with, like
> scipy, matplotlib, and scilab.  Most people here just use GNU Radio
> without all that other stuff because it fits their needs without
> anything else added on.  Is there any particular reason that you need to
> use Matlab?  Is GNU Radio missing any particular features?
>     For a number of reasons, many people here choose not to use
> proprietary software.  Some of those reasons are outlined here:
>              http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/philosophy.html
> ----
> I know that a lot of GNU Radio users and even contributors started out
> using Matlab, Simulink, LabView, or other proprietary packages.  If they
> are scared off before they get to that point we all lose.

I agree with Eric, well said.  My one exception is your reasoning based on what
features MATLAB and/or GNU Radio have or don't have.  If you ask colleagues 
"why do
you need to use MATLAB" they will say because it's what their company has 
what their colleagues use, it's a widely accepted technical programming 
language for
publishing papers, etc.  If you ask students, they will say "because my Prof 
so".  A lot of pragmatic reasons.

As you said, a moral argument (or in my terms, an ideological argument) isn't 
to accomplish much.  But if GNU Radio gracefully plays with MATLAB, at least at 
data exchange and function-callable level, then you open the door for the other
culture to walk in -- and discover just how far GNU Radio software and hardware 
advanced.  That's a great way to attract new adherents and supporters.


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