Ubuntu for the radio amateur


Ubuntu LinuxSources of information
Don’t be put off this even if your Linux expertise is virtually zero. Mine was.

The Wiki and forums at www.eeeuser.com are an excellent source of information on this project.

You will need the Ubuntu Live CD – either via torrent or direct download – www.ubuntu.com is the place to go first.

What you will download is an iso CD image (unless you chose the much larger DVD image). You will need a program capable of burning the iso image to CD-R. I already had Nero so didn’t need to search for one.

If you have a USB CD reader (as I did) then all you need to do is adjust the Eee bios settings (press F2 at boot time) to boot from USB, plug in, and reboot. While you are in the BIOS settings make sure that all the chipset devices you need are turned on – the webcam and wireless may well be turned off by default.

If you don’t have a USB CD reader a USB memory stick can be used – follow the instructions for preparing this in the eeeUser wiki.

Once the Live CD has booted you next need to click the Install icon on the desktop. Make sure you pick a manual install.

The initial screens are deeper than the screen but just pressing enter after selecting the options you need will take you on correctly.

You can allocate the entire disk to root with no swap partition. The install program will gripe at you about this but just click through the complaints.

You have the choice of a journalled filesystem – ext3 or non-journalled – ext2. I used ext3 which has the disadvantage of more i/o which could in theory at least reduce the life of the solid state disk. The advantage is that your data is more secure and recovery from a crash is quicker.

Once the install is complete you can just restart Ubuntu. You will be told when to take out the CD.

Post Install Tweaks
Some if not all of these mods have been put in a downloadable script. I didn’t find this until after doing the job manually (or for that matter until after writing this page). Take a look at this post in the Ubuntu forums.

If you chose the ext3 journalled filesystem you can now reduce the i/o by adding the noatime option to the ssd disk mount options. Open a terminal (there’s a shortcut in the menus) and type sudo gedit /etc/fstab – look for the device following the commented out #sda1 (don’t ask – I’ve no idea) and where you see the options insert noatime – don’t forget the comma. The wiki has other tips about reducing disk writes

If you plan on using wireless follow the instructions in the wiki for installing the driver using ndiswrapper. You will need to install that first but fortunately it’s on the live CD so you don’t need a web connection at this point.

Follow this up by fixing the audio and shutdown issues (see the wiki).

The next thing to fix up is the inability to drag windows above the top of the screen after a standard install. I added this to the standard section of the wiki – at the top under “Seeing windows larger than the screen” after M0XDK found the gconf-editor fix. I still think having the panels at the side of the screen as I described in the wiki is an advantage.

The install and tweaks will probably take you about a hour – less if you’ve had some practice which I have through injudicious poking about which meant I had to reinstall as I didn’t have the skills to correct the problems of my own making.

Ubuntu running on the eee PC with launch bars left and right
Ubuntu screenshot

Finding Ham Radio Programs
All that remains is to connect to the internet and enable the external sources from the menus. Once that’s done you can use the menus to launch the package manager (under system).

The universal source contains a good selection of amateur radio programs – just click on an entry to see what the program does. Mark those you want to try for install, click apply, and the system does everything for you.

Most programs don’t put shortcuts into the menus. You can either just launch them by typing the program name into a terminal window or add them to the menus manually.

I will note in other pages those which I’ve managed to get working.


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