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The IceCube experiment at the South Pole is currently the world’s largest neutrino detector and will consist of nearly 5000 optical sensors deployed deep in the Antarctic ice. Though the experiment is still under construction, its Data Acquisition System (DAQ) is largely complete. The DAQ software, including an embedded application for the sensors, a kernel-level device driver at the surface, and a set of high-level data processing and control components, is completely based on open source technologies, specifically Linux, Java, and Python. While the problem domain is a unique and peculiar one, our experiences highlight some of the advantages and challenges offered by the open source environment, as well as working in a collaborative, distributed environment. We discuss these aspects, our problem domain, architectural solutions, and briefly describe life and work at the South Pole.
Software Engineer & Computer Scientist at LBNL with interests in software development methodologies, distributed systems, scientific/collaborative software development, computer security & open source technologies.
Currently working on the data acquisition component of the IceCube Neutrino detector being constructed at the South Pole.
John Jacobsen is a software consultant based in Chicago, IL. He studied art and physics at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he did his doctoral research on the simulation of neutrino detectors. His company, NPX Designs, specializes in software for large-scale science projects, and has done work ranging from Linux device driver development to interactive Web site development for experimental control and scientific visualization. He has also exhibited artwork in half a dozen states across the USA, and created one of the first Web sites for presenting artwork (Jan. 1994). Recently returned from his 7th trip to the South Pole, he is currently obsessed with painting, Lisp programming, and helping to finish commissioning the world’s largest neutrino detector, IceCube.