KF8GR Main Page

KF8GR On The Air

Who or What is KF8GR?

Well actually, my amateur radio station is KF8GR, but, hams adopt the station callsign as an identifier for themselves.  I am actually Bill Leonard, and live in the City of Holland, the County of Ottawa, the State of Michigan.  I have been a ham since 1982, and I am licensed as an Extra Class ham.  I am involved with West Michigan Search And Rescue.  I am a member of the Ottawa County Skywarn program, and I am a volunteer for The Ottawa County Chapter of the American Red Cross ham communications group.  I am not much of a programmer.  I simply point people to the programs that are already out there, and try to make their searches a little easier.

KF8GR Shack Pic

Ham Radio and Linux

What came first ham radio for Linux, or Linux for ham radio?  Linux has become a mainstream operating system, and well loved by amateur radio operators because of it's support for amateur radio, it's built in ability to program in high or low level languages, forward looking technology, and of course it's open source origins.

Linux offers amateur radio operators many ham radio applications, most of which are available through my Linux Software page
These include Linux digital soundcard programs such as gMFSK, LinPSK, Qsstv, HamFax, soundmodem, and many others. 

There are also many logging programs for Linux,  such as XLog,QTLog, TWLog, phpHamLog, and others.

Satellite trackers in Linux include Predict, with it's gui apps, mTrack, GPredict, KTrack and others.

Packet Radio applications for Linux include Xarpm, Open Baycom, XPR, LinPac, F6FBB, TNOS, Jnos,aprsd, and more.

APRS in Linux is a shining star with Xastir, the finest APRS available anywhere, and it's free!  Xastir has more features than any other aprs program I have ever seen, and it is getting better every month!  Congratulations to the Xastir team for a wonderful and dedicated project.

Linux includes many other features useful to radio amateurs, or hams, including rotator control, gps tracking, weather station reporting on ARPS, you name it, Linux has it for ham radio.

Another unique feature of Linux is that the ax-25 protocol is available right in the kernel.  This makes setting up ax-25 applications a breeze (after you figure out how to set up the ax-25 stack).  Therefore, I recommend ax25-config for getting the stack up and running, so you can review the files, and see how it is all done.

Now I must confess, Linux is a UN*X clone written from scratch, and many of these programs will work with other *BSD etc.  operating systems, most of which I have tried, and liked, but, less than Linux.  Your milage may vary.  The unique thing about Linux is it's open source kernel, which allows hams (and others) to get their code put into the kernel so that it will work native in the kernel.  Other UN*X systems have a proprietary kernel that does not allow this, and therefore limits the abilities of the operationg system to be adaptable for programs requiring the ax-25 stack for example.

Still have doubts?  Well, how about downloading Knoppix-AFU if you have a cd burner, and make a Live-CD distro of Linux that will run from the CD-rom and try it out before you even install it on your hard drive.  Now of course, Knoppix will not run as fast as Linux on a hard disk, but, you will be able to try out many of the Linux Ham radio applications, (as well as Linux itself) without even installing it on your hard disk!

Stealing Content from this Site

So you want to lift something from this page? Stealing content from this site is all but impossible.  If you would like to use information from this site, you have my permission.  That is the spirit of Open Source.  If you would like to use my pages as a template to form your own page, go ahead.  Let me know, and I will post a link to your page.  I am PROMOTING Linux for exactly these kinds of reasons.  Most of what are on these pages are links to OTHER PEOPLE'S pages, and information that has been made public in the hope that it will be disseminmated.   I will not post a copyright notice on my pages for exactly these reasons.

What you will find on this site

Information, links, commentary and lots of Linux Software. I will try to provide links to the best FREE (like in FREEdom and FREE beer) software. I want to promote Amateur Radio, not make programmers rich. And programmers that produce good, free software for the Amateur Radio Community deserve to be recognized.

Elmer for Linux

I am willing to help anyone who is willing to dedicate time to learn linux for hams.  But, if you are going to install Linux, waste my time telling you what you need to know, and after three or four hours, quit, don't waste my time.  I often am helping several people at a time, and many of them don't have a serious interest, they are just nosey.

There are many ways including downloading Harv's Hamshack Hack that you can try out Linux without installing it on your hard disk, or, wasting my time.  If you are serious, I will give you all the help I can.  I am not a Linux guru, and troublshooting your computer from my qth is quite a big deal.  So please tolerate me, and my helping several people at the same time, and I will do all I can to make your transition easier.

I recommend for new people just turning to Linux to use Debian Linux.  Why?  I used to use Mandrake Linux, but, even as an experienced Linux user, I got sick of trying to track down all the packages that Mandrake didn't install.  These are usually *-devel files, which RPM makers broke off the programs since you don't need them (at least that is their excuse).

Once you try to ./configure, you find the program will not configure, you don't have some devel file, or you have the wrong version of some file, or some other such thing.

Debian uses a program called apt-get, which will find ALL the files you need to install your program from the repository, and install a working program, without all the hassle you will find with the RPM packages.

Slackware uses a different approach. You install a program, it just installs, it doesn't check for any missing files at all.

The downside of Debian is that they are not cutting edge. You will often have to wait until the packages catch up in order to download the newest versions of your favorite program. But, you can still download the source code and try to install it yourself.


I don't do this for awards, but a little recognition helps keep you going!
W5WWW Ham Radio Award

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This page last updated by KF8GR on May 16, 2005