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Bruce Perens

Some excerpts about Linux and Amateur Radio by Bruce Perens AB6YM

Linus Torvalds, a Finnish graduate student, wrote a clone of the 25-year-old Unix operating system "kernel" a few years ago. Linus and others combined the kernel with utility programs that had been written at U.C. Berkeley and others that had been contributed to the Free Software Foundation's GNU project, and the result was an entire operating system, compatible with Unix, that could be distributed for free, with all of the source code included.

Unix and Linux are the most comfortable platforms for the development of sophisticated software that communicates, controls hardware, does complicated math. What I'm trying to say is that it's the best platform for developing the kinds of software that Radio Amateurs need.

If you're an applications programmer, or a hardware engineer, you might want to learn how to become an operating systems programmer. Linux is very good for that, because you can turn a cheap PC into a full-fledged Unix workstation and make all of your mistakes on it at home where your boss can't see.

Well, on most systems you run a Packet program to communicate via packet. Under Linux, packet radio is part of the "kernel", which is the central part of the operating system. In fact, the packet radio functionality uses the same software interface as the Internet communications component of the system. The result of this is that any program on the system that can communicate on the Internet is also a packet radio program.

If you want to write software, there are compilers for C, C++, Objective C, SmallTalk, and Fortran. All of these come with Linux - they aren't expensive extras as they would be on a Microsoft system. There are interpreters for the languages Python, Perl and AWK.

You can download Linux from the net. I'd only suggest this if you have a way to download hundreds of megabytes without going broke - otherwise, you can get Linux on an inexpensive CD-ROM. If you'd like to download the entire system, start with the World Wide Web site . That site is the home of the Debian Linux Distribution, which I recommend because I helped write it. You can also buy a CD-ROM containing Slackware or Debian for as little as $15 - you'll find one of those at the "Computer Nut" table out in the hall.