Physics 210: Computational Physics:

Course Software Availability for Personal Machines



You can borrow DVDs, from the TAs or myself, containing a distribution of Mandriva 2009.1 that you can install on laptops and/or home PCs running Windows.  The installation process use to be straightforward with Windows XP, but is a little more involved for WIndows Vista. Nonetheless, we have the needed software that should allow you to install Linux so that your machine will be dual-boot (Vista and Linux). The TAs and I will be happy to help you with the installation process.

See HERE for instructions on how to prepare your Windows machine for a Linux installation (chkdsk, disk clean-up and defragmentation)


Maple 12 (the same version that is running on Thanks to the Mathematics Dept., UBC has a site license for Maple.  As part of this deal you can borrow an installation CD for hyper) for Windows, Linux or Mac OS. If you want to do this, see one of the PHAS department's system administrators who work in Hennings 203 (Ron Parachoniak or Tom Azana).  Be prepared to leave something of value (driver's license, credit card, student ID etc.) as collateral to ensure prompt return of the CD.


Unfortunately, UBC does not have a site license or other general agreement for MATLAB.  Individual licenses for the same version of MATLAB running on hyper, with all of the same features, can be purchased through UBC IT, but the cost is $300 per machine, per year!

A cheaper option, should you want your own copy of the software, would be to make an online purchase of the Student Version of MATLAB via this site.

The Student Version is missing some of the packages included in the full version installed on hyper, but includes:
  • Simulink
  • Control System Toolbox
  • Image Processing Toolbox
  • Optimization Toolbox
  • Signal Processing Blockset
  • Signal Processing Toolbox
  • Statistics Toolbox 
  • Symbolic Math Toolbox
and will certainly suffice for the purposes of this course.

The cost is $99 US for all platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac).  If you want to install on a Mac, it must have an Intel processor and be running OS X 10.5 Leopard.

Note that I have not personally purchased a Student Version online, and conceivably you could run into "issues" trying to buy it this way: if you do, let me know, and I will try to help out as I can.

Finally, the UBC Bookstore also has a few copies of the Student Version in stock, but its price is $150 CAN, so I'm assuming that even with the exchange rate, and possible shipping fees, the online purchase option should be less expensive.

PuTTY  (ssh client for Windows)

If you don't have a ssh client installed on your Windows machine(s), you can download and install the free package, PuTTY HERE. I recommend that you click the "A Windows installer for everything except PuTTYtel" link in the "latest release version (beta 0.60)" section, save the file to disk, then double click on the file icon to inititate the installation.  Once installed, you will be able to use PuTTY to open terminal windows to remote machines such as hyper. This in turn will allow you to do basic command-line work on hyper, and other machines that accept ssh connections, from within Windows.

XMing: (X Server for Windows)

Installation of this free software on your PC/laptop running Windows will allow you to run an X server on your system (without installing Linux).  In particular, your will then be able to ssh into and start up graphical applications such as kate, gedit, xmaple, matlab etc., and the applications will appear on your Windows screen.  The performance generally won't be as good as it would be if you had Linux installed and were running applications locally, but provided that your network connection is sufficiently fast, it should suffice for you to do at least some of your homework and term project work outside of the Computer Lab.

The software can be downloaded from HERE, and there is additional documentation about installing and using it HERE

IMPORTANT!  Before you install XMing you should install the PuTTY ssh-client (see above), which you will use to establish connections between your Windows machine and hyper (for example).  During the process of installting  Xming you willl be presented with a Select Components dialog: choose the Normal PuTYY Link SSH client option.

Once you have installed Xming, and assuming you have placed an Xming icon on your desktop, you start the server simply by clicking on the icon (alternately, you can start Xming from the All Programs menu).  Once the server starts, you won't see any specific windows etc. associated with Xming, but an "X" icon should appear on the panel, indicating that it is running.  Right clikcing on the icon will give you a pull-down menu that includes an option to exit the server.

Also, when using PuTTY in conjunction with Xming, you should ensure that any connections that you establish to hyper, or other machines on which you wish to run graphical applications, have X forwarding enabled; otherwise those applications (like kate), will not be able to display on your Windows system.  Note that PuTTY has a facility for saving and loading sessions (with the configuration settings saved as well), that you should learn how to use.

(You way notice in some of the on-line information about Xming that you are supposed to be able to download Xming's own ssh-client, XMing-portablePuTTY, for free, but, at least at this time, that does not seem to be the case.)

As always, you can contact myself, Ben or Jason should you have any questions/problems with the installation or use of Xming.

NOTE: Send Matt e-mail should you have any problems installing any of the following utilities on one or your own Linux / Mac systems.


  • Download: xfpp3d.tar.gz
  • Software prerequisites (depending on your flavour of Linux/Unix, not all will be required)
    • OpenGL headers and libraries (runtime and development)
    • GLU headers and libraries (runtime and development)
    • GLUT headers and libraries (runtime and development)
    • XForms headers and libraries (runtime and development)
    • JPEG headers and libraries
    • X11 Miscellaneous extensions library (libxext)
    • X11 libxi development files (libxi-devel)
    • mpeg_encode (if you want to be able to geenerate MPEG animations)

  • Installation instructions: Login as root or become superuser on your machine, then execute the following

    % mkdir -p /root/install
    % cd /root/install
    % wget
    % tar zxf xfpp3d.tar.gz
    % cd xfpp3d
    % ./configure
    % make install

    Assuming that all of the prerequisites are installed on your system, this should build xfpp3d and install it in /usr/local/bin

xflat2d / xflat2d_rgb

  • Download: xflat2d.tar.gz | xflat2d_rgb.tar.gz
  • Software prerequisites: As for xfpp3d above

  • Installation instructions: As for xfpp3d above, but replace all occurrences of xfpp3d with xflat2d or xflat2d_rgb.



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