Linux Ubuntu here I come………..

I have a Toshiba A300 laptop in which most of my blogging is done on. The only trouble it gave me was  for some reason the HD failed. Not a problem it was sent in for repairs and came back with a new HD and it's been fine ever since. The operating system is the 64 bit Vista. Now this is another story  I found it took forever to boot up. I am talking about 3-5 minutes to get to the point were I was able to use the laptop. It would also stop and think every so often and I would just have to sit and wait. Shutting down was no problem that was done in under 30 seconds. To remedy this problem I tried just about everything and it just did not seem to do the trick. On the home P.C I have WinXP and have had no troubles with it at all. It runs smooth and does not get hung up. These are the only two Windows operating systems I have had really any exposure too.  As for the Laptop I was either going to re-install Vista, try loading XP or do the radical and go with Linux!! I was not sure how XP was going to work out on the laptop and figured Vista was just going to act the same way.  So that idea was put  on the back burner, I noticed on the Internet that Linux Ubuntu
could be loaded on my laptop along side Windows. Kinda have two OS's on one machine. Now I am not a fan of doing this for the long term and I don't think it is meant for that. It was a way of  test driving Ubantu 11.10 and see how I liked it and how the laptop liked it. An installer called Wubi allows you to install Ubuntu on a Windows machine.  If  you don't care for Linux it can be removed also using Wubi. If you want to go ahead and install Linux Ubuntu using Wubi just follow the step by step instructions   found on the Internet. There was no need for any fancy computer whiz bong knowledge it was similar to installing any windows program. Before you know it Uantu was up and running and each time I started the laptop I was asked if I wanted to load Windows or Ubuntu?? The first thing I noticed was it sure did load  faster than Vista and that was a BIG plus. For a few days I gave Ubuntu a test drive. I had only done things the Windows way so the desktop and how programs were launched took some getting used to.  I kept reading "take time to get used to Ubuntu it's not Windows" I went to YouTube to check out some tutorials on the operating system to learn more. This was were I thought I ran into my first Ubuntu troubles. At YouTube I was greeted with the messages "Adobe flash is required to view YouTube" The flash upgrade was painless and was a matter of just clicking on a link. The needed update was downloaded and installed then YouTube was up and running.  After playing with Ubuntu for a weekend it was time to take the plunge and remove Vista and do a perminant install of Linux Ubuntu on my laptop. There are step by step instructions for this as well on the Internet.  So after a week what is my impression of's loads in 20 seconds compared to Vista's 3-5 minutes. It comes complete with a word processing program, spread sheet, a power point type program, workspace switcher were you can have four windows going at once and switch between them. You can run windows programs by using a program called wine. I have not venture down this road yet. One thing I did notice was it eats up the laptop battery time but there is something out there in Linux land to help that along. As times goes on I will continue to learn more. Have not tried it yet with any ham radio programs but my laptop was never used for that.

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

32 Responses to “Linux Ubuntu here I come………..”

  • Tom Kb3hg:

    That’s real neat, keep posting about your progress, how much memory does the laptop have? Just curious.


  • Stewart VA3PID:

    Happily running an Ubuntu-based shack here. For digital work, Fldigi is excellent.

  • Good morning Tom, I sure will blog the progress. As for the laptop it has 4g of ram and the HD is 320g. That is more than needed to run Linux. Not sure what the minuim is off the top of my head but you can Google it.
    Thanks for stopping by the blog.

  • Hi Stewart, I am thrilled with Ubuntu as for programs I have heard of Fldigi. I also want to make sure I can get programs like LP-pan, K3 download software, PoweSDR and Skimmer for starters. If I can work the ham programs in I will be moving toward Ubuntu. I was going to give Wine a go on the laptop and see how it runs the ham programs.

  • Bruce, G8BGI:

    Hello, Have just added and upgrade Ubuntu 11.10 on my Toshiba Laptop ‘Satellite Pro’ 2GB RAM 250 GB HD. Elected (sensibly) to have Windows XP Premium and not the dreaded Vista installed when purchased. Can have either OS on boot-up but hope to use Ubuntu more for Ham work, but must do some searching for suitable s/w. Like you still experimenting, and learning, which is good to keep my 75 year brain functioning, hi. 73’s Bruce

  • Good afternoon Bruce, you will have no problem with Ubuntu with that setup. As for software I am going to install Wine and try some Windows software. Before that I am going to give Fldigi a go. Have to do more checking on Mac software for ham radio.
    Thanks for stopping by the blog Bruce.

  • Jason KE7TDY:

    I’ve been using Ubuntu exclusively for all my ham radio needs since I first got licensed 😛
    It’s pretty slick :]

  • Phil KA7TTI:

    Yes please keep us informed on Ubuntu. I had Vista on mine and then upgraded to Windows 7…a big waste of money as little if any performance gains were forthcoming. I just booted up the laptop and in about 5 minutes when it loads up I’m going to download that Ubuntu.

  • Tom WX1YZ:

    I’ve been a fan of linux for over ten years. I’m currently running xubuntu (an ubuntu spin that uses the xfce desktop) on a HP mini netbook as my ham shack computer. Couldn’t be happier.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Jason, It’s great to hear that you have been using Ubuntu for all your ham needs. I hope to do that soon as well if you could email me and let me know the ham programs you use. Oh and thanks for stopping by the blog.
    [email protected]

    Hi Phil, I am writing this response on a net-book that runs Win7 and it was slow to load as well….so it too will be finding the way of Linux. Phil try the system along with Windows until you get used to Ubuntu. I found it makes the transition a bit more smooth. You can use Wubi to do a dual boot with Windows and Ubuntu…follow the link on my post and it will go very smooth. Do understand there is a learning curve and check out some YouTube video’s about Ubuntu and how it works.

    Hi Tom, I have never heard of xubuntu….then again I am very new to Linux…I am going to look into it as I will be switching a net-book to Linux and xubuntu seems like a good idea. Thanks for stopping by the blog Tom.

  • Phil KA7TTI:

    I got it installed on my laptop but cannot get it to work with my wireless. I have my own router and have entered the password, etc. but all Ubuntu wants to do is try to connect, it never actually does. I went to the Ubuntu forums but have no idea what they are talking about. Any ideas?? Shouldn’t Ubuntu find my router connection automagically??

  • Good morning Phil, I am at work today but will look into it more at home. You are correct you should just enter your password for your router. The only other thing I can think of is there a firewall setup at your router? If so you may have to go into your router settings. If you are able to go online with another PC go to your routers website for instruction to get access to the routers settings.
    Will get back to you Phil

  • Stewart VA3PID:

    Mike, I’ve heard that Skimmer flat out won’t run. Pretty much anything that does something more complex than making a noise, Wine doesn’t do very well. It’s a very simple compatibility layer.

    You’ll probably want to use KA6MAL’s excellent Amateur Radio repo:

  • Phil KA7TTI:

    No firewall and no indications of anything blocking anything. I do have all my routers settings printed out. I can connect through Windows as usual but not with Ubuntu. Ubuntu does ‘see’ my laptops ‘card’ but all it wants to do is send out the radar beacon and say ‘connecting’. I’ve tried several reboots and entered in my ISP address and tried that with and without the password but with no luck. I’m sure I could connect using a cable to the router but then my laptop becomes a desktop.

    Thanks, Phil

  • Mike KB0NND:

    @Phil – Connect the laptop with an ethernet cable for one session only. While you’re connected go to the menu “System” >> “Adminstration” >> “Additional Drivers” to see if your system needs something else. If it lets you install a newer wireless driver, take it! Afterwards you should be able to ditch the cable.

  • Hi Mike, thanks for stopping by and adding the great advice for Phil. I hope that does the trick Phil do let me know? Mike I’m new at Linux but wanted to do the best I could to get Phil up and running.
    Cheers and thanks again for the input!

  • Hi Stewart, that’s to bad about Skimmer but oh we’ll another reason to have a Windows Maxine around at least until It’s developed for Linux…:))

  • Phil KA7TTI:

    While connected I went to System…but there was no icon for Administration.
    While in System I hit Additional Drivers and it searched for a few seconds and came back with “No proprietary drivers in use on this system” so I reckon that means that no new wireless driver was available. I then went to Network and it showed I was connected “Wired” and then tried to connect wirelessly and it asked for my password. It then showed it was connecting but never did. It did connect when it was wired and I was hoping that would be enough of a handshake to get this working.

  • Phil KA7TTI:

    I also disconnected the cable and tried to connect wirelessly but no good there either.

  • Phil KA7TTI:

    My laptop has a built in wireless adapter. It is a ‘g’ type. I have been using a faster and more secure ‘n’ type for about 2 years now with no problems at all. Ubuntu sees both of these and I have repeatedly tried one or the other to no avail. I just now disconnected (physically) the ‘n’ adapter and Ubuntu saw that disconnect but still would not connect using the internal card. Should I set up a new network and if so, how?
    I appreciate everyone’s help.

  • Mike KB0NND:

    If you had been able to connect this laptop using Windows XP, Vista or 7, then there may be a driver issue. If you go to the manufacturer’s website and download the correct Windows driver, there’s a way to use that piece of software in Ubuntu using NDISwrapper. The process for this is well documented at the Ubuntu forums, which is where I go to refresh my memory everytime one of my kids makes me reinstall Ubuntu on their laptop.
    If this laptop has not ever connected to your router, check if the router can handle ‘g’, or if the ‘g’ card has other capabilities listed on the router. I have one card that’s only ‘b’ and a newer router without ‘b’. I would get EXACTLY the process you described, no connection. Here again the driver might help.
    Contact me at my call at yahoo and I’ll be glad to direct you toward better resources.

  • Phil KA7TTI:

    Mike, the laptop is running with 7. I’m not clear on what you’re saying with regards to the driver…which driver do I look for and don’t they self-install when you download them. The laptop has been connected and it’s internal card handles b and g. The external dongle card handles b, g, and n.
    Last night I went to the Ubuntu forums but got so confused as I don’t even know what to look for as far as a topic goes. I’m not even sure of what question to ask. I don’t know how to contact you via Yahoo either. I use my laptop constantly for programming my radios and I just don’t want to make a mistake which I can’t recover from.


  • Phil KA7TTI:

    Just now I was able to connect with a close-by Wi-Fi network. UI connected and reconnected several times and each time it was OK. But still no luck on my secure router. I pulled out the ‘n’ dongle and tried to connect with the internal card and so on…every iteration and no luck. I shut it down until tomorrow.


  • Mike Ve3wdm:

    Good morning Phil and Mike, I hope Phil today is the day you get the Ubuntu going with wireless. Do keep using the comment section here to get your answer and let us know what the solution is…..and it will come.

  • Phil KA7TTI:

    Good morning and hopefully today will be the day. The fact that I connected with the Wi-Fi means, along with the fact that Ubuntu recognizes both the internal and external adapters, means a lot. I’m just not sure of what to do or how to do it and the Ubuntu forum is a bit much for me.
    I would think that Ubuntu would be almost plug and play with wireless…and it may be…but it sure is taxing my ability.
    I’m also optimistic that an answer will be found. I’m going to go through the entire scenario which I’ve already done and make sure I covered all the bases.

  • Mike KB0NND:

    My experiences with Ubuntu aren’t as harsh as you’ve had here, but then I do support for a living and have seen and solved many conditions. The default version of Ubuntu does not include any proprietary drivers or programs, which leads many people to conclude that it’s a tough distribution to setup. I’m glad it’s working!
    As you use this machine to program radios, I’d recommend against committing solely to Ubuntu unless and until you’re certain all your programs and setups can be replicated or replaced in Ubuntu. Yes, the Ubuntu forums can intimidate easily. That said, visit for some tips you might find useful.
    Also, log your processes! You’ve done this as a ham, computers are not much different.

  • Phil KA7TTI:

    I’d like to take a moment to announce my success in getting this going.
    Here’s what got it going….I have both a PassWORD and a PassPHRASE. Ubuntu was asking for the PassWORD and that’s what was wrong. I tried entering my PassPHRASE and it took right off with a solid connection. Now I can hear the birds singing and see the flowers blooming…the sky is clear, etc.
    So it was just a simple solution. I do want to thank you all for the time and the help with this…remarkable.
    And Mike I am running Ubuntu and Windows and am aware that my radio programs may not work so I’m not going to solidify my arrangement with Ubuntu but do want to use it for other things. It loads up a lot faster than my Win7 and I believe it may be a superior product. I’ve got lot’s to learn about it.
    I have been with computers since before there were hard drives, the 88’s, DOS only and so forth. I used computers for programming most all my working life both here and in Mexico where I worked for over 33 years. When I retired I dropped out of keeping up with this stuff. Reading reviews and discussions about Ubuntu reversed that. Being out of the loop required me to be very cautious.
    Thanks for the help, it is very much appreciated and I will now go to that link you just mentioned.
    73 Phil KA7TTI

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Well Phil that is GREAT NEWS I am very happy to see Ubuntu is up and running for you. Thanks very Mike for the help as well. Enjoy Ubuntu Phil and as I run across more Ubuntu fun stuff and as I get used to using it I will be blogging about it. Have a great what is left of the weekend.

  • Dave K1THP:

    I am another happy Ubuntu 10.10 user. I made the switch about three years ago and went cold turkey. Had no problems using a wireless card. Ubuntu found it and loaded the correct driver. Have had a problem with the K3 utility and found I was missing a program named curl. All I had to do was bring up a terminal box and type in sudo get-app install curl. Ubuntu asked me my password, then found curl and installed it. Perfectly painless and now the Elecraft K3 utility works just fine. FYI the Ubuntu Software Center includes several Ham Radio Apps. I use XLog for logging. If you need something more powerfull, there is CQRLog which is similar to a lite version of Ham Radio Deluxe. There are also PC board layout Apps and a Smith Chart App for working with RF designs.

  • Phil KA7TTI:

    Dave, I did some snooping around and did see those programs you mentioned. However that’ll be in the future. Right now I’m just getting my feet wet with Ubuntu and even the challenges are fun. BUT….I’m also trying to learn some of the new radios I purchased within the last month so I have my hands and brain full.
    Everyone “out there” seems to rave about how good Ubuntu is so it’ll be nice to get the feel of it. I have done some practicing with sudo get-app and did a few installations of some items. Nothing major as I’m on a learning curve, a very slow arc these days. Unfortunately it looks as though my radio specific software won’t work with Unbuntu so my next step is to try Wine…maybe a bit of both types.

  • Mike KB0NND:

    I just had a thought regarding some programs and sound in Ubuntu. Recently Ubuntu changed sound control to Pulseaudio, which doesn’t use the /dev/dsp sound device. You can preface a program, such as gmfsk (which works fine in older versions) with padsp to get pulseaudio to pickup the output:
    $padsp gmfsk
    You might find the same issue with wine programs, but I haven’t tried that yet. If sound won’t put out in a program otherwise behaving in wine, try it with padsp prefacing wine.
    $padsp wine hrdxxxx.exe
    Have fun!

  • Good evening Dave, thanks for the info on the ham apps I will have to pay the app center a visit and see what’s there. Good to hear you are also getting things to work with the K3.
    Thanks for stopping by and putting in your two cents.

    Hi Phil, nice to hear things are now coming together with Ubuntu do keep me
    posted with your progress.

    Hello Mike, in time what you wrote will make sence to me. Thanks for your input and the help you have offered up to others on the log.

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