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A control system for high-throughput protein crystallography experiments has been developed based on a multilevel secure (SSL v2/v3) UNIX socket under the Linux operating system. Main features of protein crystallography experiments (purification, crystallization, loop preparation, data collecting, data processing) are dealt with by the software. All information necessary to perform protein crystallography experiments is stored (except raw X-ray data, that are stored in Network File Server) in a relational database (MySQL). The system consists of several servers and clients. TCP/IP secure UNIX sockets with four predefined behaviors [(a) listening to a request followed by a reply, (b) sending a request and waiting for a reply, (c) listening to a broadcast message, and (d) sending a broadcast message] support communications between all servers and clients allowing one to control experiments, view data, edit experimental conditions and perform data processing remotely. The usage of the interface software is well suited for developing well organized control software with a hierarchical structure of different software units (Gaponov et al., 1998), which will pass and receive different types of information. All communication is divided into two parts: low and top levels. Large and complicated control tasks are split into several smaller ones, which can be processed by control clients independently. For communicating with experimental equipment (beamline optical elements, robots, and specialized experimental equipment etc.), the STARS server, developed at the Photon Factory, is used (Kosuge et al., 2002). The STARS server allows any application with an open socket to be connected with any other clients that control experimental equipment. Majority of the source code is written in C/C++. GUI modules of the system were built mainly using Glade user interface builder for GTK+ and Gnome under Red Hat Linux 7.1 operating system.

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