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ARRL version of linux

Dec 17th 2013, 17:11

WA6SAZ

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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It seems to me it is about time for the ARRL to start providing all the supporting software for the Handbook on a fully running version of linux. This CDRom could be a "live" version of linux and thus all the reader needs to do is insert it into a computer and re-boot into the linux to use the programs. If hams are big on DIY projects, why are all the programs made for a propritary operating system that costs more than most computers used by hams. We should be rolling our own version of linux and thus making sure all things work properly on it. I feel that a ARRL version of linux, would get the equipment vendors to switch from windows only support to providing linux programs. In reading other forum questions, I see several questions that would not be asked if a ARRL version of linux were being used instead of the latest release of windows. As to the version of linux, there are plenty of tools to "roll your own linux" and one need look no further than ubuntu to see where rolling your own version can do for ham radio.
Dec 19th 2013, 16:16

W0BTU

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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The ARRL should write its own version of Linux?

I use Linux (Xubuntu LTS 12.03) on my shack PC, but this sounds like a huge project.

73 MIke
www.w0btu.com
Dec 19th 2013, 16:29

AA6E

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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There is not like to be an "ARRL Linux". Why should there be? There is no "ARRL Windows" after all. However, it would be possible for someone to distribute a Live CD with Ubuntu (or some other distro) along with some ham-oriented apps.

The only problems I see are

1) Not a great supply of Linux apps. The Handbook apps are mainly (all?) Windows-only. True, there are a number of good Linux apps for ham radio, but they are easy to download from your normal repository. Windows doesn't really have a good repository system.

2) Not a great demand for Linux apps. What fraction of hams is familiar with Linux and interested in those apps?

Of course, there is some supply and some demand. There's nothing stopping a Linux ham enthusiast from packaging a Live CD and distributing it. On the other hand, CDROMs as distribution media are fading away. The world is going to downloaded apps. Web distribution is a lot simpler than publishing CDs.

73 Martin AA6E
Dec 20th 2013, 04:58

WA6SAZ

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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First off - the reason there are very few linux apps for hams is because there is not an ARRL supported version. There have been several hams who have created "ham" linux versions that have gotten lost due to lack of support from ARRL. How many linux articles have you seen in QST? Get ARRL to support linux big time and the vendors and the apps will come.

Next is not to roll your own version, but to use a stable live distro that you simply re-package with all the apps, tested and working that are used in the handbook and from articles in QST. Just because it comes with the handbook doesn't mean you have to use it, but as more people start playing with RasberryPI, more articles and ham apps using it will be available.Put a working, ARRL approved version, in the handbook and lots more people will see the advantages and start wanting more linux support.

lastly is windows itself, they are going to an app store and as such no programs will run on windows machines that are not from the store. The gaming industry is moving to linux as they don't like losing 20% off the top to M/S to be in the app store. How many ham vendors will like paying M/S for the ability to put their app in the store. Kiss off free windows apps once that happens.

What I am really talking about is getting focus from powers to be in ARRL. Until that happens, linux support is a no go. If 34,000 French police can use linux instead of windows, why can't the ARRL use it as well. It is all about getting peoples attention that there is an alternative, that is free, works better than windows, and comes with all needed tools for no extra cost, while winodws costs just keeps going up. Last month my official copy of windows was declared un-official and no longer can be undated - not a problem with my ten linux systems.

If you want to see what I am doing with some of my linux systems, you can follow my articles at kiblerelectronics.com.
Dec 20th 2013, 05:25

WA6SAZ

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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In reading replies about needing ARRL support, it is clear that lots of users do not understand the linux world and the difference between "writing" your own and "rolling" your own. "Linux from scratch" is "writing" your own Linux version from souces on the internet. "Rolling" your own version however is taking a working and supported version and simiply setting it up with all the apps and packages you need with the intent of shipping the whole system when it is ready. You typically post the ISO image and users download that image and burn it to CDrom or DVD. Basically Xubuntu was created that way.

I might point out that there are several web sites that you can use to "roll" a version of linux. You simply click the packages and versions you want on your system and with one click it will then create your new system ready for downloading. One of the strong points of linux is that you can create, modify, or build just about any type of system you need that meets your specific requirements. For those wanting to see more about the available distributions of linux, I suggest going to "distrowatch.com" and checking out the 500+ versions. Many of these "distros" are one person projects.
Dec 20th 2013, 13:58

WB1GCM

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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This may be a good idea, but where will the ARRL get the funding to launch such a huge project? The ARRL is a not-for-profit organization which is fortunate enough to just break even, most years.

You should be explaining your idea to your ARRL Division Director. The Board of (volunteer) Directors direct the staff and control where the money is spent. They are always looking for new ways to push technology ahead for Amateur Radio and are charged with the duty of preserving Amateur Radio.

Bob Allison
WB1GCM
ARRL Test Engineer
Dec 21st 2013, 17:32

WA6SAZ

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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It is nice to know there might be a process for getting things like this before the board, however, it seems to me the first step is getting as many people as possible expressing their interest in a positive way before trying to work the structure to some goal. I.E. - making this the most active forum topic of the year.

As to size of project - it is not a major project. It could be done with all volunteers if the board would support it. I feel the best way to make it work would be two people inside the organization, one to manage the production and inclusion of the disk into the handbook and on-line resources. A second person - preferably a linux/windows developer - to work with writers and vendors to make sure programs and source code work as expected on linux. As an employee, vendors might feel better about an ARRL developer learning the insides of their programs than some un-known volunteer that they feel might sell their code.

For this to work, will require someone that can go and sit down with the current staff or vendors and explain and show how linux works and can do what currently is done on windows. A volunteer not part of the "office", would not be able to do that.

As to cost, if the office converted to linux from windows, the saving would more than cover two emplyees. Most companies converting to linux save anywhere from $10K to $50K a year or more in hardware and software expenses.
Dec 21st 2013, 18:58

AA6E

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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You might be interested in the work that W1HKG's group (fldigi et al) has done packaging their stuff with Puppy Linux http://www.w1hkj.com/flpuppy.html. There is also the Ubuntu Hams group, which focuses on providing good packages for the Ubuntu distribution - https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuHams.

I suspect a group of outside Linux ham enthusiasts is going to be much more effective than ARRL HQ. HQ actually produces no user software of its own AFAIK (except TrustedQSL), and there are not many Linux people in the publications or lab areas. (Only in the IT group, I think.) I would not look to the Board for this kind of innovation, except maybe to set up a committee. (Hi)

A Linux venture that needs a real development budget would be a tough sell, especially if it could be otherwise be done by volunteers. Maybe you could think of marketing a community-developed CD/DVD through ARRL. Still, you need to ask why we should ask people to pay for software that is available free on the net. Furthermore, any disk is going to go out of date in not too many months. On the positive side, the bootable OS feature is significant (use it on your Windows system), and it's an opportunity to educate yourself about Linux.

If your focus is on the Handbook disk, it shouldn't be especially hard to package some Linux apps on that disk -- if suitable apps were identified. Same for MacOS.

73 Martin AA6E
Dec 22nd 2013, 05:58

W1VT

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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http://www.arrl.org/news/logbook-of-the-world-web-page-now-features-daily-and-hourly-status-updates

call for volunteers to help out with Trusted QSL--Dave AA6YQ does not work for ARRL HQ.

Zack W1VT
ARRL Senior Lab Engineer
Dec 31st 2013, 19:41

WA6SAZ

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Total Posts: 0
Everyone seems to be missing the point about having an ARRL Linux. If I ask a vendor like Yaesu to give me a Linux version of their software to upgrade my FT450, the request will go in the round bucket, after all they provide a windows version and who should need anything more than that. However if the ARRL were to ask Yaesu to start providing software for their Linux Disk they will be selling and inserting in Handbooks, it is a whole different story - it would get them to think it is time to start providng linux support.
As to cost and support within ARRL, clearly you haven't checked out the help wanted section of this site - they are looking for a linux software developer for LOW. So ARRL is starting to look at linux and will soon have an inside support person to go and sit down with management and explain the finer points of using linux - like no money to M/S.
The 2012 Annual Report shows that ARRL is somewhere between $10 and $20 Million a year organization. It has $750K just for staff. Could not find out how much goes to M/S for license fees, but I suspect it is no small amount. So the idea that ARRL is too small to do their own Linux version I feel is not based on fact.
Dec 31st 2013, 21:35

AA6E

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Software vendors (and radio manufacturers) respond to demand. You can bet that if Yaesu saw a large percentage of customers preferring Linux, they'd give you Linux apps. ARRL can't wave a wand and make this happen, even if it wanted to.

ARRL is not too small for Linux. It's too big. That is, like most every organization, it has a lot invested in doing business with Windows tools. I wouldn't hold my breath for HQ to switch over their desktops. Yes, it would be different if we were starting from scratch, but nobody starts from scratch anymore.

Meanwhile, a number of us in the ham community are very happy using Linux for our projects, and we're getting them published in League journals. (See the Jan/Feb 2014 QEX for one of mine.) If you want to develop using the Beagleboard, BeagleBone, Raspberry Pi, et al., Linux is the obvious choice. This is a natural way for Linux to grow in ham usage IMO. Some of us choose Linux for our desktops, too, but we're never going to convert a very large number of folks when Windows (or MacOS) is already on their PCs.

73 & Happy New Year!

Martin, AA6E
Jan 4th, 13:44

N4AAB

Joined: Jan 16th 2013, 01:39
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Quote by WA6SAZ
In reading replies about needing ARRL support, it is clear that lots of users do not understand the linux world and the difference between "writing" your own and "rolling" your own. "Linux from scratch" is "writing" your own Linux version from souces on the internet. "Rolling" your own version however is taking a working and supported version and simiply setting it up with all the apps and packages you need with the intent of shipping the whole system when it is ready. You typically post the ISO image and users download that image and burn it to CDrom or DVD. Basically Xubuntu was created that way.

I might point out that there are several web sites that you can use to "roll" a version of linux. You simply click the packages and versions you want on your system and with one click it will then create your new system ready for downloading. One of the strong points of linux is that you can create, modify, or build just about any type of system you need that meets your specific requirements. For those wanting to see more about the available distributions of linux, I suggest going to "distrowatch.com" and checking out the 500+ versions. Many of these "distros" are one person projects.


Looks like folks aren't reading your second paragraph. ARRL doesn't need to fund anything.
Jan 16th, 05:00

KF5ZZK

Joined: Jan 4th, 03:55
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Total Posts: 0
I have not run windows for the10 years so I feel your pay , really I do.
Jan 20th, 18:05

K7RMA

Joined: Jan 10th 2013, 23:05
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Total Posts: 0
Hi WA6SAZ. I've been primarily a Mac user for years and am in the process of migrating permanently to Linux. I was also frustrated after buying the ARRL study guide to find that the CDRom worked in Windows only. But that's the world's dominant OS, so ARRL did the smart thing. Don't worry though, there is software for all OS that will allow alien software to run. For Linux the software is called Wine, and being Linux it's open source and free of charge. Some distros will include it in their download. You may find that the ARRL CDRom will run if you open it with Wine.

Worth noting: the CDRom is nothing more than practice exams, and you can find web sites with practice exams too. A good example is https://hamstudy.org/, put together by the folks at ICOM radio.
Jan 24th, 22:32

WA6SAZ

Joined: Apr 4th 1998, 00:00
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Total Posts: 0
It does seem like most reader are not reading and clearly not understanding what I am talking about. In order to explain things so that most can understand it, I wrote a long article and posted it on my web site - it is article #30 - Ham Radio, ARRL, and a Liunx Distro.
I am starting #31, a step by step example of building the ARRL Handbook distro.So go to kiblerelectronics.com if you want to understand the problem in more detail.

Otherwise the main problem is Debian has 3 PCB programs and 6 Smith Chart programs - which one do you choose for writing QST or Handbook articles? Only the ARRL Staff can decide....

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