I know that linux in the ham shack is not a new topic, and has been beat to death. I’ll keep beating that dead horse and document the issues I’ve run across, and what I’ve learned.
First, hardware. My machine is a Mac from ~2007 or so. My grandmother used it for email, recipes, and some basic browsing… maybe even typing a letter or two. But about 2 years ago, the hardware hit that magic age where safari wouldn’t update anymore, and Apple pretty much made the machine unuseable for someone who didn’t want to jump through a lot of hoops. When she moved out of her house, I saved it from the scrap heap, because it was lightly used, and I just had a feeling SOMETHING could be done with it. Let’s face it, i already knew linux had been put on these things.
So… I installed linux. I went for straight-up Ubuntu. Installation went easily, following instructions at https://linuxhint.com/install_linux_on_mac/ . It would be nice if this part stopped there… but it didn’t. The original purpose of this machine was going to be my kitchen computer for recipes and a little music while I cook. Firefox and chrome both seemed to choke the machine – and I knew it was an OS issue, they would take forever to load, drop offline, and just be miserable. So it sat for a while. I finally took it to the basement, and gave it another shot… this time, I tried a lighter distribution (lubuntu) – and it works like a champ.
Now, Lubuntu is not perfect – being “light”, it lacks a lot of the bells and whistles other systems come out of the box with. SSH Server, VNC server, and some other things I would normally use are not installed.
sudo apt-get install ... to the rescue!
Once i had the base system up and running, I started installing the ham radio libraries, just on a whim (which is when i decided this was going to be a shack computer). I just bulk installed all of the hamradio-xxxxxxx package groups, because i figured “why not?”.
I started looking into which logger would be useable on linux for contests – N1MM has been my go-to for a lot of years, and I either needed something similar, or was going to need to try Wine again for program compatibility (never had much luck with this myself, but others have). Fortunately, CQRLog had the right look and feel according to their website. I launched it, and was greeted by a whole host of issues with mysql. Best solution for this was to run the following set of commands (in order)
sudo apt-get remove cqrlog*
sudo apt-get remove mysql*
sudo apt-get remove mariadb*
sudo reboot (then wait for a reboot and go back into the terminal)
sudo apt-get install mariadb-server
sudo apt-get install mariadb-client
sudo apt-get install cqrlog
Once I did that, and launched CQRlog, it let me into log001 right away, and didn’t flag any other issues. Then I needed to get rig control working. It’s not as simple as windoze where software typically populates a dropdown with all of the available hardware (though it’s better than it used to be!).
A little digging, and i found the right settings for my Icom 7300 (here is a link) on the CQRLog website. That didn’t do a stinking thing, or so it seemed. Then i found a post here that said the follwing command needed to be run:
sudo adduser >username< dialout
I ran that, rebooted (for good measure), and was greeted by CQRlog happily talking to my Icom 7300! Once I had all that happily running, i tried playing a video – only to find that the only audio device was now “dummy output”. I KNOW the audio worked out of the chutes on a fresh install. I tried a couple dozen different ALSA and Pulse Audio tweaks to try and fix it, but to no avail. Finally, out of frustration, I reinstalled linux from scratch, just to get a fresh install working.
Once I verified it was working with the fresh install, i went and re-installed all of the hamradio-xxxx package groups that I wanted, because it couldn’t have been THOSE, could it?
sudo apt-get install hamradio-datamodes
sudo apt-get install hamradio-rigcontrol
sudo apt-get install hamradio-tools
sudo apt-get install hamradio-digitalvoice
sudo apt-get install hamradio-logging
After a reboot, I was greeted with a dummy audio output again. yup. one of those did it. How could I eliminate what was causing it without having to spend an hour reinstalling linux every time? Turns out “Timeshift” is a nice restore-point tool. I reinstalled (again), and put timeshift on.
After some trial and error, and a dozen or so backups and restores, I got it limited down to something it the rig control suite that kills the audio output. So I installed only GLrig, Icom, and FLrig, and left it at those. No issues. I went and then installed only GQRLog, since that was the package I was settling on. Then the entire datamodes and tools directories. No issues. Once i verified something was good (after a reboot), I created a restore point, and then tried something different.
After i got CQRLog up and running, with audio output working, I decided to try and hook up my Icom 737 as a second radio. Once I verified settings (and used a USB to serial adapter), i was pleasantly surprised with 2 rig control working pretty well (albeit there’s a delay when you select a radio while the software polls the radio to see where it is).
As I was typing this, i was worried that WFView was the offending serial killer of my soundcard…. so I created another restore point, and installed WFView (for icom 7300 waterfall display and control). That wasn’t the issue, which is a relief, because it’s a cool piece of software! I think I’m at a point where all of the software I want to use now works. The next task will be getting WFView and CQRLog to play nice, so i can have a spectrum view AND contest logging. Obviously, i won’t have a spectrum off my 737, unless I add an IF output, and hang an SDR off of that, but i would probably not use it that often… and at that point, I’ll need way more monitors to display all the spectra. Maybe with some USB0-to-VGA adaptors, it could be done, but I’m not quite that motivated.
After a little tinkering, I got WFView working to show the waveform and do rig control, but CQRLog can only seem to write commands – it can’t seem to appropriately poll frequency from the radio. I’m partway there….