Betty Crocker Building Source Code

Since converting to linux (Ubuntu 9.04) at school, I have slowly been reconfiguring my chemical toolbox.  I am using SciFinder Scholar (site licence from the university) through WINE and BKChem and xdrawchem for 2D structure creation.  I still need a 3D molecular viewer and builder that would replace gaussview for windows.  This has been a bit troublsome so far.  The first challenge is simply to "test-drive" different programs available.  After reading about some of the features of a few possible programs, I settled on taking a ride in MacMolPlt 7.1.  However, just to get in the driver seat, I found myself sucked down a "rabbit hole" of dependencies.  MacMolPlt relies on wxWidgets which depends on the GTK+ 2.0 development package which in turn depends on several libraries: ATK, TIFF, glib, pango, and cairo...all of which I apparently did not have installed.  But like Alice, I was too enticed by the prospect before me and down I went.

Building from source so far seems a bit like making a birthday cake.  Since I lack the skills of both a computer scientist and a master chef, in both cases I am having to make due with getting my ingredients "from a box."  What Betty has done for millions of domestics, the Synaptic package manager does for me.  Most times I try to follow the INSTALL instructions and read the README and usually my configure step will fail.  I found all the libraries that I couldn't build from scratch using Synaptic and once installed, my configure step for wxWidgets passed.  Still this took a couple hours with lots of trial and error.  I later found wxWidgets for GTK in Synaptic also.  

In the end, I fulfilled all the dependencies for MacMolPlt but still got a strange error in the 'make' step.

The real surprise came when I went back to work and as applications were being reloaded, all the text displayed in GNOME was turning to empty boxes!!  After panicking a little, I tried to use the 'recovery' boot option and that didn't help.  After rebooting I decided to try to use my web-browser alone to back-up my files.  Fortunately I have GoDaddy server space and I was able to upload my Dissertation folder.  I couldn't back it up any other way as even the terminal window was broken.  I had older backups on a thumb drive and my other partition, but I would have lost a little more than a day of work....too much.  When I reinstalled Ubuntu 9.04 (now more experienced) I made unique partitions for /root, /usr, /opt, and /home so I won't have to worry about losing my files or programs if I "break" my installation.  I am now reinstalling all my software: Opera, BKChem, xdrawchem, Tinker, JabRef, WINE, SciFinder, Filezilla, etc and downloading my Dissertation folder from my server.  Only lost about 3 hours....

As always, lessons learned.

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