Linux Ham Software

2020-03-06 1508

    Chirp - Python-based program for programming memory channels and configurations of radios. Recommended for use especially with cheap chinese radios like the Baofengs. Often works better than commercial programs that come with the radios. Requires python packages, python-serial and python-libxml2, for use. (Warning multiple xml packages may exist for python. The python-libxml2 package should be the only one needed; install python-lxml just in case it doesn't work.)

    FLDigi - A suite of programs for operating Digital Modes and CW (Morse Code). FLDigi itself is the main program but also includes other utilities: flwrap (message wrapper with checksums), flmsg (report formatter), flarq (beacon messages) and flrig (rig or radio control). Not all distros carry the full suite or do not indicate they do. Each program is their own package but some distros (like PCLOS) only indicate that fligi is available.

    gPredict - Gui program for monitoring satellite positions and tracking movements over the Earth (including the ISS). Can be used to track Amateur Radio or commercial satellites. Has the ability to download more data for other satellite positions. Will display path of selected satellite over a map of the Earth or a diagram for overhead path. Useful and a bit fun to use. Note that there are multiple predict packages in some distros, here I speak of "gpredict" there is also "predict" which is a server programand requires a separate UI client (predict-gsat).

    See my Electronics page for recommendations on additional programs for Linux and Amateur Radio. Some Electronics programs are also useful for the Amateur Radio hobby (like circuit design or uploading firmware).

Linux Operating Systems

2020-03-06 1508

    Slackware - Linux grand-daddy; has been around for awhile. A simple to install and use distro, as long as you don't mess with it. It isn't set up for novices and can be easily broken if you do not know what you are doing. The advantage is that it can be configured anyway you want it and install whatever software you want. Provided you can do it yourself of course. [Recommended for techies]

    PCLOS - Easy to use RPM-based distro, has its roots in Mepis and AntiX Linux distros. Developer drama has lead to division of teams and the start of PCLOS as its own distro. Easy to install (provided you cooperate and don't try a wierd setup), and has several desktops to choose from (KDE, XFCE or some community-based options, like LXDE or Trinity). Just stick with KDE and you should be fine. Not as feature rich as some distros and a little bare in the repos but not a bad system and great for beginners. [Recommended for |\|0085 or |\|3\/\/85]

    Linux From Scratch - The absolute bare-bones distro; built it yourself. The ongoing project that provides a book and source code to build your own linux operating system. Not for the faint of heart but the only real difficulty is setting up your PC for cross-compiling and retaining that configuration across reboots. Only creates a commandline based system, a graphical desktop is installed in BLFS (Beyond LFS). [Recommended for real techies, who know what they are doing]

    BSD - the other Unix. I mean FreeBSD but there are other variants. This is the grand-daddy of all Operating Systems, older than DOS / Windows. FreeBSD is the best choice but is a bit difficult to install and the devs don't plan on changing that, they expect people to do it themselves. It is stable and good production quality. Runs just about everywhere and on any machine. There are easier to install variants like GhostBSD which is based on a FreeBSD clone called TrueOS (formerly PC-BSD, based on FreeBSD). But like similar warnings, if you are expecting some wierd setup, stick with FreeBSD. GhostBSD is a bit straight forward and you can't do things like encrypted systems. [Recommended for real techies]

    Amateur Radio Specific - I haven't seen a decent ham radio specific distro of any OS. There used to be the HamFreeSBIE which was a FreeBSD LiveCD that you could run from a disc, but I don't think anyone maintains it anymore. There used to be a PSK31 variant of RedHat/Fedora called PSK-Linux (or something similar) but it has disappeared too. Right now I think the only dedicated Distro to Amateur Radio is Skywave Linux which is based on Ubuntu and dedicated to SDR or Digital Modes. It does not appear to have development software like Arduino or CAD programs for circuits. Debian has what they call a "spin" which includes ham software already installed, Red Hat / Fedora also does "spins". [No recommendations; HamFreeSBIE if it is still around]