Anybody out there who has ever had to analyze any statistical data in any serious way or take a class on stats has been introduced to the mighty SPSS , or Statistical Package for the Social Sciences in long form. This is software which was designed for, is standardized by, and expected for your use by the scientific community at large for statistical data analysis. It is required for use at many universities at both the undergraduate (poor college kid) level and the graduate (even poorer college young adult) level, and is not cheap in any way.
There is, however, a slightly crippled down version of the software offered to students, which is quite a bit cheaper than it’s “full” version counterpart, and can typically be found for about $80 or $90. This can be a serious crunch to the hungry students budget, at least it is for mine. So I looked, and I found the wonderful PSPP, a very functional free and open source alternative for SPSS. It is good to see that the good people over at the Free Software Foundation understand that scientific knowledge should be free and open, and that educational tools should be as well. (Knowledge cannot be licensed out, nor can it be owned…ever.)
I have to pay for school, and then the wildly overpriced books (that the authors make very little on, despite the high price), and then again a piece of closed source software (the actual opposite to the ideal of the sharing of knowledge) as well. The educational experience needs to be based on the basic principal that knowledge is beyond ownership, that it is the right and requirement of every individual in a functioning society to have free and open access to the accumulated wisdom of the human race, and that any restriction of that based off of social or economic standing is simply saying that the poor of wallet are not worthy of this knowledge, that only the opulent or affluent are worthy or capable of doing anything worthwhile with this knowledge (to humanities benefit) in any way. This is not the case, we know this on an intuitive level, yet we cling to forced payment for knowledge, culture, paying for and restricting the use of basic scientific tools, and the tools used to manage knowledge and information. This seems backwards to me in the most fundamental way.
So, we have the organizations like the Free Software Foundation promoting and creating free and open software, like PSPP, and the good folks over at Creative Commons fighting for, developing and promoting the use of a sane copyright culture, and the good people at FreeCulture.org – Students For For Free Culture and on and on. Please pay attention to, and support these movements, they are the flagships of sanity in an insane copyright and knowledge-restriction based culture.
Now…back to PSPP…Briefly, it works very well, handling SPSS’s native .sav files, and it does all you need to do for your familiar SPSS data analysis. It can be installed in Linux (I am currently running it on my Ubuntu machines, even on the tiny EeePc), on MacOS, and on Windows (from what I gather, anyway). One limitation I have found, it doesn’t seem to put out the nice graphs that the latest SPSS version does, but it spits out all of the information you need quite nicely none the less. It also requires a little bit more to get installed, so…if you are running Ubuntu
8.04 Hardy Heron, and would like a nice SPSS replacement WITH A GRAPHICAL INTERFACE, then read on. If you want command line only, just install through apt or synaptic.
EDIT: PSPP with front end has been included in the Ubuntu Software Center since 12.04, and is currently on version 0.7.9 (under Ubuntu 14.04), whereas the GNU repository is currently showing version 0.8.5 as the latest.
How to install the latest PSPP (*with a graphical interface) on a stock installation of Ubuntu
8.04: ***Download the files here or from another GNU Mirror to your home directory and extract the files there.***
1. Open a terminal: Applications—->Accessories—->Terminal
2. First we have to install all of the dependencies…Type in
sudo apt-get install libgsl0-dev libplot-dev libgtk2.0-dev libglade2-dev zlib1g-dev libncurses5-dev libreadline5-dev Texinfo libpq5 libpq5-dev
Enter your password. It should ask you if you want to install quite a few more programs than these here, dependencies of these dependencies, worry not, say yes, and go on.
3. cd to the pspp directory, replacing -0.X.X with whatever version you downloaded.
4. Get these ready to go into your operating system…type in
Wait. If this process ends with an error, it will tell you if you need to install any other programs/packages. Simply do what it tells you to and redo this step. There should be no error if you installed everything in step 1.
5. Make the actual installation files…type in
Wait 6. Optionally you can
7. Now we actually install
sudo make install
give up your password, again…and wait.
8. You can, optionally, clean up after yourself
to get rid of your installation files (made in step 5) and then
to get rid of your specific configuration files (made in step 4)
9. To use this you need to make a launcher that calls for PSPPIRE, or you can use alt+F2 and call it, or type it into a terminal. PSPPIRE is the graphical front end to PSPP. Enjoy!