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Author Topic: Preferred Linux OS for Amateur Radio applications  (Read 7161 times)
KE7UAF
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Posts: 36




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« on: December 12, 2010, 07:30:23 PM »

I've been thinking about trying out a Linux based Operating System. Is there one that seems to be preferred over the others(for amateur radio software)?? At this point I'm mostly interested in Digital modes like PSK31 and MT63, and Weatherfax/APT, but I'm always interested in trying out new things as well.

Please, none of the comments suggesting I stick with DOS or Windows. I don't have any intentions on making this my only or even primary operating system. It's just something I'd like to try out. It seems like I've been hearing Linux mentioned more and more in the radio community lately.
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W6RMK
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2010, 09:21:59 PM »

Many folks like Ubuntu and it's various flavors (e.g. Kubuntu).. fairly easy to install, supports most consumer PC gear out of the box.  If you've never done Linux, and you've never worked with Unix, that's probably a good place to start.

You can put a bootable image on a USB thumbdrive or burn it on a CD-ROM to try it out.

There's also CentOS (a flavor of RedHat) and innumerable Debian distros available.

I use Knoppix (which is a Debian flavor), but that's for historical reasons, not because it's inherently better or worse.  I use CentOS at work, as well as some very stripped down embedded flavors (Snapgear, uCLinux), but I wouldn't recommend the latter for a first try (OTOH, if you're an old hand in the micro world, and used to boot CP/M by toggling in the loader with the front panel switches...)
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K4CHC
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2010, 04:26:43 AM »

Fedora ...
Easy and has lot of Ham apps ready to install.
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NA4IT
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« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2010, 05:10:53 AM »

I run Puppy Linux with FLDigi on a 4 gig bootable USB thumb drive. Turn off laptop, insert thumbdrive, boot laptop, and away we go in Linux leaving Windoze intact. Once done playing, shutdown Linux, pull thumb drive, and reboot into Windoze.

Well documented on the internet, just google for it...
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N4OGW
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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2010, 06:55:40 AM »

I don't think the distribution you choose matters much as long as it is reasonably up to date. Here I use gentoo.

Tor
N4OGW/5
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N6EY
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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2010, 02:14:29 PM »

I'd recommend Mint, which is an Ubuntu derivative, because it is just a little bit more simplified than some other distros.  Being an Ubuntu derivative, it has a wide support base.

Try it out with a Live CD or Live Thumb Drive install first, then progress to a full blown or dual-boot install.

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________________________________
73,
Jason N6EY
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KQ6EA
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« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2010, 02:49:42 PM »

I use OpenSUSE. I've been using it since version 6.4, and the reason I changed to it was it had Amateur Radio applications listed on the box those many years ago.
As others have said, it doesn't much matter what distro you run as long as it's up to date.
Great place to check out what Ham programs are available is http://radio.linux.org.au/?sectpat=All&ordpat=title
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WA7NCL
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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2010, 06:00:01 AM »

go to distrowatch.com and look at the distros at the top of the chart.  If they are compatible with Debian respositories, you will have the best chance of finding the applications you want in the form of packages.

Generally you need to consider the hardware you are running on.  If you run old (8-10yrs) system like I do, you try not to run the heavy KDE / Gnome centric distros.

Since Linux is free and easy to try out, I'd recommend you just start trying them.  I'd also recommend testing them as live CDs or USBs and then progressing to a HD install.  I would avoid dual booting with Windows unless you have a fool proof windows backup system or know how to debug the boot loader system.  Check the forums of any *Ubuntu and you will get page after page of pleas for help with messed up dual boots.

My last recommendation is that when you find a distro you think you like, try asking questions on their forum.  Its important to have a community to help you through the rough spots.  So forums are very helpful and some are filled with clueless hackers or demeaning uber geeks and you will quickly learn where you are welcome.  If you don't get the help you need, move on to another distro or forum and find where you get what you need.

Have fun with Linux, its truly the geeks tinkertoy set.
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VE3LXL
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2011, 10:17:04 AM »

There are a huge number of distributions of Linux, but most are small and/or specialized in some manner. If you're new to Linux, I'd suggest picking one of the big, mainstream distributions, because they are the easiest to install and configure, and usually better suited for new Linux users. Some candidates would be Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, openSUSE, Mandriva, Slackware, and Gentoo. Any of these would probably be capable of running most of the amateur radio software that's out there for Linux.

Personally, I would recommend Ubuntu. I use it at home extensively (although not for amateur radio) and I think it's a particularly good distro for new users because of the work they've done on making installation and setup straightforward. But any of the major distros will work for what you want and they're all good.
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AB2T
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2011, 06:20:11 PM »

Remember, choosing one Linux system family doesn't necessarily mean that you can't run programs packaged for other systems.  For example, a *.rpm package for RedHat systems can often be converted to a Debian package (*.deb).  The Debian package conversion command is "alien", for example.  Nowadays non-open-source programs like Acrobat Reader will provide you with an array of packages for most of the Linux families.  Learning to convert packages expands one's software access from repositories (apt-get, yum, etc.) towards a wider array of software.

In the worst cases, you could always recompile a program for use with your system.  This is a lot more frustrating than a clean package conversion.  This might be your only option if you really need a program.

If you've got the RAM and processor power, why not run a virtual machine with XP or dual-boot?  Linux purists will cringe at this suggestion.  Personally, I prefer that all my machines are MS free.  Again, this might be a good option if the ham radio program you need is designed for Windows only.

73, Jordan
« Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 06:21:49 PM by AB2T » Logged
W8JX
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« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2011, 04:50:53 PM »


If you've got the RAM and processor power, why not run a virtual machine with XP or dual-boot?

Virtual Machine is a great idea but do not waste time doing it with XP. Use 64 bit Vista or Win7 with 6 gig or more of ram and a fast dual or quad core machine and it will run extremely well this way. You need to "shake off" the 32 bit OS here and is memory limitations (approx 3.2gig) Visualization works really well when not running on a 32 bit host.

Personally, I prefer that all my machines are MS free.  Again, this might be a good option if the ham radio program you need is designed for Windows only.

In dream world maybe but in real world this is a Windows world like it or not and limiting yourself fully to a non windows host extremely limits your options and programs you can run. If Linux ever hits critical mass this could change but not today or for some time to come. Also at the risk and making some Mac people mad, the "ONLY' reason there is a MAC today is because MS wants it to survive because even though it only commands a very small share, this share help keep MS officially out of the "Monopoly" category.
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All posted wireless using Win 8.1 RT, a Android tablet using 4G/LTE/WiFi or Sprint Note 3.
KB5ZXM
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Posts: 214




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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2011, 06:52:13 PM »

When I asked this same question I was told to get MEPIS? I wound up using AntiX, a smaller version for computers with limited resources, of which I have a few semi retired, 266 Mhz with 1G ram and 12 G hdd. So they<these> can be dedicated to one use only and cheaply,and run on the Back up battery voltage that feeds the radio.
I have yet to find a way to run Telenet, or WinLink on it. I been sick for a while and have just got home again to play with it.
I did hear that there is a 32 bit version of DOS available? check out FreeDos web site.
I would like to understand the Linux soft ware better. The Main attraction is to be able to go to a command line and fix something when things go sour. Or at least find whats wrong. I can't do that in Windoze
Cheers de Kb5zxm Magnolia Texas
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N1YE
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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2011, 07:22:24 AM »

I second the vote for Fedora.  I have traditionally been an enthusiastic fan of Ubuntu and its variants, but I have been disappointed with some of the more recent distro updates beyond Karmic. I run my station on Fedora. It's not the most popular, but, like a favorite old beat up tool, it just seems to work and doesn't suffer from little "surprises".  Also, Fedora is a variant of RED HAT. Our commercial systems run on RED HAT.  If it is stable enough to run commercial multimillion dollar medical systems, it should be stable enough to run my home radio station...and it is.

73,
Gene
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WB9URN
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2011, 09:38:37 PM »

My Windows XP machine went belly up and when I attempted to reload it, MS wanted to "activate" my system, but wouldn't
accept the product code. I gave up on windows and went with Ubuntu 10.04, also called Lucid Lynx. Using a windows emulator called Wine, I am running Digipan for PSK31 and MTTY for RTTY.
Set up was extremely easy and very intuitive.

It is a homebrew system with 1 gig ram and two HDD of 35 gig total. The processor is old, only1.? ghz, but the system runs flawlessly.

Of course, my laptop is Windows Vista and does all my other computer stuff.

Allen
WB9URN
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W8JX
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Posts: 6093




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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2011, 05:28:46 AM »

My Windows XP machine went belly up and when I attempted to reload it, MS wanted to "activate" my system, but wouldn't
accept the product code.

This is not the problem it seems. I have had this happen a few times with system upgrades that retained old OS. When it happens you can call MS with and get a new code free. (assuming you had a legal OS to begin)
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All posted wireless using Win 8.1 RT, a Android tablet using 4G/LTE/WiFi or Sprint Note 3.
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