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Thread: Which Linux Distro?

  1. #1
    Administrator Supporting Member K7VZ's Avatar
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    Which Linux Distro?

    I've been using Windows at home and work for a long time. About a year ago, I replaced the hard drive in my netbook and set it up to dual boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12. I've found myself using Ubuntu 99% of the time on the netbook. I recently started playing around with the Raspberry Pi and it runs a version of Debian (Raspbian). So, that has me looking at installing a flavor of Linux on my workstation at home. I don't really love the Ubuntu desktop and was considering Kubuntu, Debian, or Mint. What does everyone else use or recommend? Anything particularly good for ham radio use or software?
    Virgil - K7VZ
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  2. #2
    4x4 Ham Member Supporting Member
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    Take a look at Fedora (fedoraproject.org). It has a lot of amateur radio support, like:
    http://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/...uide/index.htm
    and
    https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Amate...s/AmateurRadio
    Many of the ham related apps are available in the fedora repository and can be installed with a simple "yum install package_name"
    I would recommend staying away from the gnome desktop. I'm not a big fan. Go with the KDE spin or one of the other alternatives:
    http://fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora-options#desktops
    Also, and this is true for both Ubuntu and Fedora, you can install and run alternative desktops. Usually there is an option on the log in screen to select between installed desktops. Sometimes you need to run a desktop switcher.
    Also, most well supported distros have a "Live CD" that will let you boot and run from the CD, no installation required. This is a quick way to test drive a new distro.
    The one downside of Fedora is it is a development distro so you are constantly installing patches and upgrading to keep it current.
    In a side by side comparison of Ubuntu and Fedora, one isn't significantly better than the other. There mostly just two different roads to the same destination.

  3. #3
    4x4 Ham Member vk3aif's Avatar
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    I've been using ubuntu 10.04 since it came out, I did use earlier versions of ubuntu prior to that and have set up a machine using 12.04 and didn't like it so I stuck with the 10.04 version and I am happy with it. I have only one windoze machine (xp) which is a netbook and if it ever gives trouble it will be ububtu as well. All machines co-exist happily on my network and have shared folders accessible from any of them and also share a nas and a printer. Windows 7 and ubuntu 12.04 annoys the heck out of me because I cannot find anything any more as everything seems to have been moved. I am sure if I took the time to learn them it would be ok but when I want to do something I don't want to be messing around trying to re-invent the wheel each time.

    Maybe I'm just getting too old?

  4. #4
    4x4 Ham Member Supporting Member KF7ORO's Avatar
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    I've been using Linux since about 1999 as my main OS and I've used all of the main distros and a bunch of the lesser known ones. I'm using Mint 13 Cinnamon right now. It really is a great distro with a nice desktop and lots of Ham Radio software available. If you want something easy to install and get working so you can do other stuff without the OS getting in the way, I think it's a great choice.

    Fedora is excellent but I find that I spend more time getting it configured the way I want. If you like tinkering with the OS, it's a great choice.

    Debian? I've tried to like Debian before but Ubuntu and Mint are so much more refined that I usually go to them first.

    If you really want to learn how Linux works, try Arch. You'll have to configure nearly everything yourself but if you keep at it, you'll end up with exactly what you want (and no more). There's a small amount of Ham Radio software available pre-compiled. You'll have to work a little harder to get lots of what you want built and installed. Arch has a nice way of dealing with the need to build from source code that uses scripts. They also have a repository of those scripts called the AUR. You can also run Arch on your Raspberry Pi since they have an ARM version.

    I asked somebody once what they thought the best distro is. They told me, "Whichever one you've got installed already". There's a lot of wisdom there I think.

    Hope that helps.
    Brian - KF7ORO

  5. #5
    4x4 Ham Member Supporting Member KE7KUS's Avatar
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    My first Linux install was RedHat 4.1 (2.0.27 kernel) back in 1997. I stayed with RedHat until it became Fedora then switched to Debian for a number of years; however, Debian's molasses-slow update rate moved me across the aisle into Ubuntu camp about 4 years ago. Like Virgil, I'm not a super-big fan of the "new" Unity interface used by "out-of-the-box" Linux distro's. I liked the old Gnome2 interface on Ubuntu 10 & prior, but fortunately there's a way to get back to your happy place (disclaimer...I haven't used Gnome3 yet...):

    http://www.webupd8.org/2012/10/how-t...esktop-in.html

    Ubuntu has every ham radio package you'll need in the repository, and updates happen like clockwork every six months, so you're never left out in the cold for long with outdated software. I like apt-based package managers, as they make dependencies almost a non-issue, and new installs a breeze.

    I used Kubuntu for a while, and used KDE on RedHat at the very beginning. Quite frankly, I never did take to KDE...I always thought it was rather klunky, and a real resource hog compared to GNOME. I don't know what drove Ubuntu to move away from GNOME, but I think it was a bad decision.

    I found this at a small corner of the Interwebs:

    http://shackbox.net/

    Looks like an interesting distro. It burns to a CD and runs off the disk, so you can install it and play with it on your desktop without installing it to your hard drive. If you give it a try, post up a review...I'd be interested to see what you think.

    Kurt

  6. #6
    4x4 Ham Member Supporting Member KF7ORO's Avatar
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    Shackbox does look interesting. There's a video of him running HRD but I didn't dig into how he did that. Guessing in a Windows VM since I don't think there's really any other way to do it.

    The only bad thing is it looks like the latest version is nearly 4 years old. Judging by that video and the kernel version (2.6.27), it looks like a re-roll of Ubuntu 8.10 and that version hasn't been supported for a couple years.

    Luckily, it's not too hard to just start with the latest version and install all that extra software yourself.
    Brian - KF7ORO

  7. #7
    Administrator Supporting Member K7VZ's Avatar
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    I'm liking the looks of Mint. I think I'm going to load that on a VirtualBox and play around with it.

    I've also successfully used Pen Drive Linux on a few different OS's. http://www.pendrivelinux.com/ I even used it to build a bootable Win7 install for when I setup my netbook as it doesn't have a CD/DVD drive. If you build the image to the thumb drive and the OS is available to run in "live mode", you can operate off the thumb drive without actually installing the OS onto a HDD.
    Virgil - K7VZ
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  8. #8
    4x4 Ham Member KD8IUS's Avatar
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    I've actually got a PC setup with Shackbox. It's a pretty slick distro. The way they run HRD, is through WINE, which is a windows emulator.

  9. #9
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    I've run distros of Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian and so on. I've been generally a huge Ubuntu fan as it's solid and easy to install and use.

    However, for those who care about such things, they made a significant change to distribution with the latest version, that has me stopped at prior versions.

    This matters to me, and may or may not matter to you. The short version of the change is that Ubuntu now shares ANY search term you enter, even on your local hard drive, with Amazon. Amazon pairs this up and downloads marketing materials to your system. This includes a search for a local file...

    I find this excessively intrusive. I won't pontificate whether you, nor anyone else should care. I just thought I'd share what is going on in the background. A good discussion of this can be found here:

    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/1...and-data-leaks

    Other than that, I like Ubuntu a lot. I can get the same job done with Fedora and with just a bit more work, Debian.

  10. #10
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    I use Ubuntu LTS on my ham laptop. I mainly use it for packet and APRS in the vehicle and portable.

    I have also started to look at "Harve's Hamshack Hack", but haven't seen enough to really recommend it. Worth looking into, but I haven't played with it enough to switch to it--it does run from the boot CD on my old Dell Inspiron 1000 with a Celeron processor.



    Dave, W6DPS

  11. #11
    Administrator Supporting Member K7VZ's Avatar
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    I loaded Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon on a spare workstation. I'm liking it so far. The desktop is way better than the stupid Ubuntu one I was complaining about. It does run in live mode when I loaded it to my thumb drive for installation. I had the spare HD space so I went ahead and installed it.
    Virgil - K7VZ
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  12. #12
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    Sadly, much like Windows, Canonical has started to move to an integrated model of desktop/OS rather than seperate. If you dislike Unity (as much of the Ubuntu fan base seems to, myself included), it's a simple matter to install GNOME (which I did) or KDE (which is all Kubuntu is - Ubuntu with the KDE desktop manager instead of Unity). Sadly, as I've found out, it's not possibly to merely strip out all of Unity, as parts of it are integrated into the core OS now. You can however strip the majority of it, and I don't believe what's left behind is much to be concerned about.

    That said, given the discovery on this data sharing bit, I think I'll be going back to Debian.

  13. #13
    4x4 Ham Member Supporting Member KF7ORO's Avatar
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    I like Cinnamon too Virgil. Some may say it's just the old Gnome but I think it's a marked improvement over the old Gnome. I used to tweak Gnome to look more or less like Cinnamon does out of the box so it's a great fit for me.

    I'm curious to see if whatever Ubuntu's doing will work. I guess you can't blame Shuttleworth / Canonical for trying to get back some of the cash they've sunk into it over the years. They've done a world of good for Linux and I respect them but I no longer use their distro.

    The way people buy up Apple products, I'm not sure most people care about a lot of the concerns traditional Linux users have. If Ubuntu can become an "everything just works" OS that does things with a bit of style and still runs on commodity hardware, they might be able to compete with the likes of Apple. I think this is what they're trying to do. I wish them luck since the improvements they make will mostly benefit the rest of us too. The junk can be thrown out so no real harm there.
    Brian - KF7ORO

  14. #14
    Administrator Supporting Member K7VZ's Avatar
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    Soo, not long after my last post here, I ditched the dual boot on my home workstation. I still keep a laptop that dual boots into Windows 7, but the primary OS on it is Mint as well. The only OS on my workstation is Linux Mint 17.3. Full time Linux user for over 3 years now. Too bad I can't get rid of Windows 7 on my work laptop.
    Last edited by K7VZ; 01-07-2016 at 12:30 PM.
    Virgil - K7VZ
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    It depends upon what you use it for... for example Kali is good/great-- but very specific purpose built, so not general usage. For general purpose, I use a lot of different *NIX variants. Work favors Ubuntu right now, so I guess that's my answer for now, but as others.. i've used quite a few variants. For some purposes, like front facing servers, i prefer FreeBSD still...

  16. #16
    4x4 Ham Member Supporting Member kg7els's Avatar
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    i prefer ubuntu for workstation, debian for server. just something about yum annoys me, much prefer apt.

  17. #17
    4x4 Ham Member Supporting Member W6SDM's Avatar
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    I have a separate server set up with Mint 17. It's primarily for programming Arduino projects, so it doesn't have to do a lot of heavy lifting.

  18. #18
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    I like Linux Mint 17, and run it on the desktop in my shack.

    I have and OLD laptop that doesn't seem to work on anything after Ubuntu 9.04, so I have an old distribution called Harv's Hams hack Hack on it. Very old, but still works for fldigi, etc....

  19. #19
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    Been running Linux for several years, although I rarely use the terminal. Currently on Linux Mint 17.3, may be upping to 18 soon.

  20. #20
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    This is a really old thread, but it's still active, so I'll throw in my two cents. A couple people mentioned raspberry Pi. Their Debian distro (Raspbian) is a good highly stable OF tuned for Raspberry on that has lots of HAM packages available through their package manager.

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