A Quantum of Success: FreeBSD, FOSS and Amateur Radio


There has been a rather long-running struggle for some of us to really adopt open-source from start to finish. For a while this was fairly easy as many requirements weren’t that intensive, the basics of having network access, a web-browser, an irc client, and a shell were easily met by distros of linux that were common in the early to mid 1990’s. For a while Linux, BSD, and Solaris were usable as desktops, then that changed as requirements and specialty applications needed to drive hardware and high-end computing applications (CAD, Radio, CNC etc) were needed.

Open Source has been displacing a lot of formerly paid applications, two notable examples, CHiRP and fldigi have been go-to applications for windows, mac and users of select linux distros that had good support for them (Ubuntu being a good example). However, for those of us whose tastes are a bit more ascetic windows XP on older hardware was the common option.

For a while the ascetics have been searching in the darkness, looking to escape both the bloat of Ubuntu, Debian, and Redhat based systems to find something that was more efficient, freeing us of the tyranny of SystemD. Well, this was finally delivered with FreeBSD 12.

Without a lot of time for endless exposition which will be talked about in a later article. A CentOS system was snuffed out, and replaced with a bit of struggle with FreeBSD-Stable (12). After some testing, some starts and stops, a few re-runs of the installation tools, and a few other fights, FreeBSD is up and running, configured, and is running the applications desired with a minimum of fuss.

Here is CHiRP up and running on FreeBSD, Afterstep window manager with some basic tweaks. The best thing here, the programming cable for the UV5R simply worked. There was no need to tweak drivers, serial ports, or other headaches that have often been a problem in the past. Being able to offload administrative overhead just to get work done was kinda’ve a promise that Linux was never able to keep. As soon as you wanted to get away from the recipes in the cookbook, everything went to hell.
After pulling down the settings that were already on the radio, it was re-written with a new codeplug!

Shown here is FLDIGI up and running. No time was put into testing yet, but just getting this far is amazing compared to some previous efforts. Later articles will deal with the setup HOWTO. This is just a victory lap.