Review: Linux in the Ham Shack Linux

Budgie Desktop is an interesting Linux distro which you can see is the base of Linux in the Ham Shack, downloadable here.

System Requirements

First install, I tried a VM with less than 8GB. It gave an error requiring more disk space. I would only use this on a 10GB+ free partition.

After installing, I see the base memory usage of the Budgie desktop is about 1.5GB. Best to install this on a computer that has a couple gigabytes of RAM, at the least. The terminal from which you can check this, is a bit different, the “Tilix” app is installed and opens on Ctrl+Alt+T.

Installation

Installation seems just like Ubuntu, but with “Budgie” being the name rather than Ubuntu. No Ham Shack additions mentioned during install and it seems to be Budgie Desktop (a desktop environment with top left menu, and mac like dock on the bottom with word processor, sheet, Firefox, etc.). After install, a dialog asks you to do the usual Ubuntu package updates.

The menu however shows some neat ham radio app additions:

  • CQRLog
  • CubicSDR
  • CuteSDR 1.21 beta
  • Direwolf
  • fldigi, flmsg, flamp, flrig, flwrap, grig
  • Gpredict satellite tracking
  • freedv
  • gsmc Smith Chart calculator
  • fccexam – this is for commercial fcc exams, not ham exams? It is in the apps list but does not show up as you must run “fccexam” from command line terminal.
  • hamexam – also a terminal only application, includes ham exam questions.
  • LinPSK – sound card rx/tx?
  • wsjt – message aggregator?
  • psk31 – terminal only application.
  • pyqso contact logging
  • Xlog contact logging
  • qsstv
  • qrq
  • quisk
  • Xdx
  • twpsk – gives error about dialout group that could be easily remedied.
  • Xne2c

It seems a bit disappointing there was not any specific ham radio desktop background set on the 20.04 build of this, also the ones bolded above are the only ones that are not apparently easy to install with a simple apt-get install (or search and install with Software manager) from the Debian/Ubuntu repository.

Notable omissions

Pat, the application that lets you send Winlink messages, does not appear to be installed at all. This is quick to install and would be useful to most hams.

Repeater-START, my ham radio repeater locator, is not installed either and might be a useful preinstalled addition.

While some might find the choice of system apps a little different, it’s interesting to note that Budgie Desktop is based on GTK+3, just like Ubuntu, GNOME, AND XFCE. Apps using GTK are quite minimal and quick to install, as those with KDE/qt generally have massive dependencies to install, which is why I prefer to build with GTK+.

Trust/Security

There isn’t much mention about this ham shack linux build other than a download link at https://lhspodcast.info/. In fact it doesn’t have md5/sha1 hashes to tell if what you downloaded is not corrupted, it doesn’t say a complete list of what was done or installed into this build. Furthermore the urls are not https to download this so it might possibly be man-in-the-middle’d. If you are just wanting an old laptop dedicated to Winlink or TNC ham radio tasks this is probably a distro to take a look at. However I wouldn’t trust it for security critical uses.

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