Getting off Windows XP

With the impending end-of-life of Windows XP a few weeks ago, I found myself with a bit of a predicament:  My shack PC is a dual-core 64-bit system (3.0-GHz Pentium-D) so it’s not really a slouch performer.  But, it had only 1 GB of RAM, which was fine for XP.  I could upgrade my RAM and upgrade Windows, or I could upgrade the RAM and dispense with Windows altogether.

I opted to drop Windows.

My almost-3-year-old son helped me install 4 GB of RAM last weekend.  (Actually, he spent more time asking about the capacitors on the motherboard. Kids these days.)

I’m a long-time GNU/Linux user (just over 15 years, actually) and fan.  However, as I wrote once in the past, I’m also fan of getting things done.  So, I kept using Windows 95 / MS-DOS for many years on my hamshack computer, with a brief several-year foray into using Windows XP when I moved to TR4W logging software.  Linux finally became ready for prime time in my hamshack when Kevin, W9CF, ported TR-Log over a couple of years ago.  After ensuring it wasn’t a fad, I was ready to jump.  Over the past week or so, I’ve been tailoring the setup of everything to bring back the functionality I had previously.

So, what broke?

  • I have an nVidia graphics card for my second monitor. Failure. Not sure how much I care. Maybe I’ll look for an old ATI card or something else with drivers?  Anybody have a plain PCI video card with VGA or HDMI kicking around?
  • Windows-specific software that I’ll probably just quit using:  AVR Studio and SH5. Didn’t really use these much anyway.
  • Now, for the truly bizarre:  My Elecraft K2/100 throws an ERR 080 on power-up if I disrupt communication between it and TR-Linux (does not matter if the K2 goes off first or TRLinux quits first).  I have to disconnect the RS-232 cable at the back of the K2 for a while and then it comes back OK.
  • ARRL’s Trusted QSL software version 2.0.1 didn’t compile immediately without dependency problems. Further study indicated.

And, what works?

  • TRLinux talks to both the K3/100 and the K2/100, as well as the YCCC SO2R+ controller.
  • Made some QSOs and uploaded the signed log to LoTW.
  • Pretty much everything else…
Ethan Miller, K8GU, is a regular contributor to and writes from Maryland, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

5 Responses to “Getting off Windows XP”

  • Ted KA8SEP:

    What version of Linux are you using? I’m not trying to start a flame war here. if you are using the same version I am, I’ll be glad to help.


  • k8gu:

    Thanks a bunch, Ted! I’m running Xubuntu 14.04LTS. Any ideas on the video or tqsl would be awesome. The video card is a GeForce FX 5200 clone, if I remember right. I’d have to get the build dump from tqsl 2.0.1 to know what it was complaining about. I installed the package for tqsl 2.0 and it works fine.

  • Jonathan KA8KPN:

    To get 3D acceleration with that video card, you have to build the legacy NVidia driver module. It’s easiest to use DKMS to build it. The reason you need the legacy driver is because NVidia dropped support for the older chipsets in the newer version of their driver, and you need to build the driver because of licensing restrictions in NVidia’s code.

    If you don’t need the 3D acceleration, you can use the all free nv driver, or so I’ve been told.

  • k8gu:

    Jonathan—great thoughts. So, the only thing I had tried was running the basic non-free no-acceleration driver (because I don’t do anything strenuous with this system, although you never know what exploits acceleration) from nVidia (actually the one that Xubuntu will install for you if you ask but the version matched the nVidia site). I’ll try the DKMS route next and see what happens. It’s only my secondary monitor that’s on that card so it’s not a deal breaker but it will be nice to have more real estate. Thank you!

  • Jonathan KA8KPN:

    The thing that it’s vital to understand is that there are at least two “nVidia drivers.” (My recollection is that there are at least three, but I don’t have legacy hardware and I’m not in a place where I can look at it right now.) Since your hardware is older, my understanding is that you need one of the “legacy” drivers. I don’t know if nVidia has it on their site or not.

    My experience is, if you get the correct driver and the matching kernel module it just works. I actually prefer nVidia video to ATI or anything else, although I’m used to the “multiple moving parts getting updated at different times and breaking things” gyrations that Debian goes through from time to time. (Most recently is this morning because the boost libraries are going through a revision change.)

    I’ve used Debian “Unstable” as my primary desktop for years, and my help is not necessarily the best because I don’t do some things the way you’re supposed to because I learned different and haven’t kept up, but if I can help I will.

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