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the big news


I guess most people know that Antoine left the ATLAS group a bit back.
This was a pretty big blow, since he was roughly half the group.  The second
shoe is now dropping, in that I am going back to school to finish my Ph.D.
This leaves 0 full-time ATLAS developers.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a school with both the possibility of
doing ATLAS/AEOS stuff for my dissertation and a curriculum that lets me
get started on it before I die of old age.

This is not an "ATLAS is going away" message; it's more a "ATLAS will not
be administered in exactly the same way, who's got ideas?" kind of deal . . .
I am certainly not abandoning the project; I feel that ATLAS provides
real value to the community, and I am proud of the work I have done here,
and would not like to see it go to waste.  However, the amount of time I
have to spend on it will obviously decline enormously.  One thing that is
obvious is that alone I will never again have the resources to get out a
stable release, and support it in the way we have previously.

It is my belief that stable ATLAS releases need to be much more solid than
many libraries, in that blas and lapack are basic infrastructure that simply
must work correctly.  Therefore, I don't worry about the more cutting edge
developer releases, which only people in the know should play with.
Stable releases and their support, though, will need a new process in order
to continue at a decent level . . .

It is my hope that the community will find atlas useful enough to give me
a hand with this stuff.  If that doesn't materialize, that in itself is
an interesting data point . . .

Anyway, I am leaving full-time ATLAS work in November-December time frame.
I have been working on some developments that I hope are in the right
direction to allow for a more distributed maintainence.

The first of these is finally ready.  The ATLAS developer page has been
moved to SourceForge, 

The entire ATLAS source tree is available for anonymous CVS access (read).
I have posted a quick explanation of how to access it at:

As I say, this is just the first thing to get done.  It is mainly so that
work between Antoine and myself is more lightweight.  However, people do
occasionally want to submit patches or add to ATLAS, and this ought to
make that easier (at least on me :).  Before, people made their changes
against a released tarfile, and when I got them, I would adapt them to
our source.  This will allow them to give me a CVS diff that I can
evaluate and apply much more easily.  Note that we keep the ATLAS source
in something called extract, and most may not be motivated enough to
figure this out . . .

I'm still getting a feel for what-all I can do on sourceforge.  One of the
things I hope to get rolling is an ATLAS help mailing list to replace
atlas@cs.utk.edu.  This is an obvious place where I think the community could
help a great deal.  I would like to get a help list that others can sign
up for (or better yet, perhaps, just browse when they have time), and some
questions could be answered by others who have a given problem figured out.

I hope to be able to generate an auto-reply message, telling people to scope
the errata, and that the authors check mail only sporadically.  If this were
supplemented by having others answer some of the easier questions, I think
support can be maintained at a decent level.  Roughly 1/2 of the answers I
give on this list boil down to "scope the errata", "no, I mean really scope
the errata", and "no, seriously, what about the errata".  It doesn't
require vast amounts of ATLAS experience to answer these type of questions,
but personal intervention does seem necessary to get people directed that way.

I still don't know, but I'm hoping SourceForge's resources will help with 
this (if you've got some SourceForge knowledge, I'd certainly appreciate
any shortcuts you could supply) . . .

Because ATLAS runs so many places, and because everyplace it runs is changing
rapidly, it can suffer bitrot quite a bit faster than many projects (the
recent problems with gcc 3.0 show how quickly things can go downhill), so
I think it is important I don't spend *all* my free time in raw support even
if just staying the same place, much less progress, is important . . .

So, in the remaining full-time months until the end of the year, my main
goal is to get a solid stable release out before I leave, while investigating
the feasability of various maintainence and development methods.  If people
have ideas along this line, let me know.  I feel the time to try this stuff
is now, while I'm still fulltime, rather than try to find a new process
when I can't concentrate on it . . .

We have never officially announced the developer stuff that I know of, and
we already have a small community of contributers.  It is my hope if the
developer stuff is improved in the next few months, we can then announce
it to the broader community and perhaps bring in more interested people . . .

Anyway, in the meantime, the CVS is there if anyone is interested . . .