The aggregation of a Linux kernel, other system software such as a boot loader and applications are called distributions Distributions differ in their philosophy such as being for free or commercial, the targeted audience, distribution medium, added value for example in form of software for installation and system maintenance and the way that support is handled. Another differenciating factor - and the reason for the existence of this page is the degree of support for amateur radio. This page is trying to give an overview.
Live CDs for one thing are meant for trying out things for Linux beginners as they usually don't change the existing system. They also are useful for testing to what degree a computer system is supported by Linux. Live CDs are usually for the i386 architecture and are frequently based on Knoppix (http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/) which against is rooted on Debian. Live CDs are interesting because some are optimized for amateur radio.
Debian is supporting 11 different hardware architectures and comes with a vast collection of amateur collection. Basically there are three version of Debian available:
- oldstable (aka Woody) http://packages.debian.org/oldstable/hamradio/
for the predecessor of Sarge security updates will be available until at least May 2006. For new installations generally Sarge is recommended.
- stable (aka Sarge) http://packages.debian.org/stable/hamradio/
The current and recommended Debian release. It consists of sofware which is considered stable and well tested and receives updates for usage and security critical problems. 2.4 and 2.6 kernel can be choosen during installation.
- testing (aka Etch) http://packages.debian.org/testing/hamradio/
contains software which is intended for the next stable Debian distribution. Usually works very without problems but isn't automatically updated in case of usage or security critical problems.
- unstable (aka Sid) http://packages.debian.org/unstable/hamradio/
contains new, not yet well tested programs and versions.
Mailing list: debian-hams
Novell-SuSE / openSUSE
Novell-SuSE doesn't activly support amateur radio software in its distribution any more. Despite that Novell-SuSE 9.3 and 10.0 i386 amateur radio software packages are getting maintained by JÃ¶rg, DL1BKE in his spare time. They can be installed through SuSE's system management tool YOU/YAST. All it takes for example for SuSE 9.3 is adding
as an installation source.
Upto SuSE 9.0 or 9.1 amateur radio applications were still shipping on all installation media. Later versions had them only on the DVD version. For SuSE Live CDs amateur radio software had to be installed from the internet.
SuSE has changed the "time base" in their kernels for SuSE 9.2 and 9.3 without fixing the timing for AX.25 under /proc/sys/net/ax25. Without change a connection attempt will timeout after 0.3s instead of 300s.
Mailing list: SuSE-ham - mostly german spoken on this list.
For further instructions e-mail the lists' robot email@example.com.
The PPC architecture is supported since openSUSE 10.0.
NOTE: mkiss is broken in SUSE 10.0.
2006-12-21 Tim Fischer, DG7GT is now maintaining Ham Radio packages for openSUSE. Both 10.1 and 10.2 are available in x86 and x86_64 and the kernel is still compiled with AX.25 support modules included. The packages are found at
and are mirrored at
http://ftp.w1nr.net/suse-ham/dg7gt.osth.de/suse-10.1-ham-extended/ (may not be up-to-date - check!) http://ftp.w1nr.net/suse-ham/dg7gt.osth.de/openSUSE-10.2-ham/
Set up the appropriate YaST installation source pointing to one of the above. ftp.w1nr.net supports both http and ftp protocols. The mailing list has been migrated to http://lists.opensuse.org/opensuse-ham/
Redhat / Fedora Core
None of the Redhat Linux rsp. Fedora Core distributions did every ship with amateur radio software. For packet radio even the kernel will have to be replaced with a kernel that has the necessary features built in since the distribution kernels don't come with AX.25 and the necessary drivers.
Ubuntu is debian-based and is therefore compareable to debian in respect to amateur radio support. Note that in order to install most of the amateur radio related packages, you need to edit your /etc/apt/sources.list file and un-comment the lines which talk about the "universe" repository.
Live-CDs build for amateur radio support
AR-Knoppix current version is V3.7 dated January 2005 (based on Knoppix 3.7 from December 2004)
Hamshack-Hack is based on Knoppix, too. Release:????