LHS Show Notes #029

Recorded on December 8th, the anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon.


  • Matt, KC8BEW, tells us about a new Linux forum at Linux Journal for amateur radio topics.  The January, 2010 issue of Linux Journal has several amateur radio related articles.  Add  https://www.linuxjournal.com/ham to your bookmarks.  Look for an interview with a couple folks from Linux Journal on the episode to be recorded on January 5, 2010.  And thanks to Kent, VE4KEH, for the plug in the forum over there.
  • Kent, VE4KEH, sent in an audio segment, to be included later in this episode.  If you'd like to submit an audio segment, please send it in .ogg or .mp3 format, if possible.
  • Another message from Kent suggests a topic for a future show about installing distros from live .iso files to a flash drive with persistence.  (Check out the Pen Drive Linux site.)
  • Rich, KD0BJT, and his son Brady, KD0BJS, have started their own podcast, called Low SWR.
  • A WordPress blog by Gary, KE2YK, references an article by Martin, AA6E, about Linux and amateur radio.
  • The Fresh Ubuntu podcast website has linked to the LHS website.  They're also on Freenode IRC at #freshubuntu.
  • The Bluff County DX Association of LaCrosse, WI linked to the LHS website.  Thanks!
  • Ben, VK5JFK, left a comment on Bill's review of Linux Mint 7 asking if Xastir runs under Linux Mint.  Yes, it does, and I've posted an article on the website about it.
  • Ed, KC5NT, writes to say he enjoys the podcast and is 100% Linux in the ham shack.  He describes his radio activities and made a donation to the fund to send LHS to Dayton in 2010.  Thanks, Ed!
  • Jason, NT7S, has a link to LHS in his blog, Ripples in the Ether.
  • Richard sent some feedback to the Going Linux podcast and got mentioned in episode 86.
  • The technet.147120.com blog also linked to LHS. They hold an on-air technical net in the Orlando, FL area on Wednesday nights on the 147.120 repeater (103.5 Hz PL).


  • Donations: We received donations from: Ed KC5NT, Bill KA9WKA, Doug N6LMX, John EI7IG, and Walter WN3LIF.  Thank you all for your very generous donations.  It looks like we're well on the way to sending Russ and Richard to Dayton in 2010.
  • Thanks, again, to Dave and John of Gamma Leonis for the theme music for the show.  www.gammaleonis.com

Links and Notes:


  • "Fade Your Heat" by Val Davis from the album "Immortal"
  • "Didn't I?" by Shane Jackman from the album "Equilibrium"

Xastir and Linux Mint

Installing Xastir in Mint

Ben, VK5JFK, left a comment on my review of Linux Mint at the Linux in the Ham Shack web site, asking if I had installed Xastir under Mint.  I had not, but since Richard talked about Xastir in Episode 23, and Linux Mint is the "official" distribution for Linux in the Ham Shack, I thought a brief how-to article might be useful to our listeners.

In fact, installing Xastir in Linux Mint is fairly easy.  Here's a step by step procedure:

  • Launch the Synaptic Package Manager
  • Select the Amateur Radio (Universe) repository
  • Click on Xastir in the list - version 1.9.4-3 was available as I did this
  • Click on Apply - a bunch of dependencies were selected, and after approving that list, off it went.

A few minutes later (over a DSL connection) the installation was complete.

The first (and only) problem I encountered was that the installer did not create an entry in the Mint menu.  To remedy this, I clicked Menu, Preferences, Main Menu.  This utility allowed me to add a new menu category I called Amateur Radio, and a new item in that category that I creatively called Xastir.  The associated command is "/usr/bin/xastir".  After logging out and in, the new menu item appeared.

Before running Xastir for the first time, I opened a terminal and entered the command:

$ callpass ka9wka

and the computer responded:

Passcode for ka9wka is 19125

Of course, you will use your callsign and you'll receive a different passcode.  You'll need that number when configuring the interface.  No, the callsign is not case-sensitive.

After running Xastir, you must perform some configuration, as Richard discussed.  For this test, it was simply a matter of defining my location and adding the Internet interface.  When you launch Xastir the first time, it will automatically open the "Configure Station" dialog, but you can return to that by clicking File, Configure, Station.  Here I entered my callsign and location.  I left the rest of the options at the defaults.

Next, I clicked the Interface menu option, then Interface Control.  This brings up an empty list of configured interfaces.  I clicked Add, chose "Internet Server", and clicked the Add button. The "Configure Internet" dialog box appeared.  I entered 19125 into the Passcode field (see above), and "r/42/-87/500" (without the quotes) into the Filter Parameters field.  This filter says, I believe, show all stations within a radius of 500km of 42 degrees N and 87 degrees W.  Modify to suit your location and preference, and click OK.  Finally, still in the Interface Control dialog box, I clicked Start All.  The status changed from DOWN to UP, and I closed the dialog box.  In a few moments, stations began to appear on the map.

There are a lot more options in Xastir that I haven't explored here.  For example, if you're planning on installing this on a laptop with a TNC and GPS device attached, you'll need to add interfaces for those as well, and you'll probably want to add a more detailed map for your area.  For now, this should get Xastir running under Linux Mint with a minimum of time and bother.


-Bill, KA9WKA

LHS Show Notes #027


  • Russ visited a Ham Radio Outlet in Virginia and bought a new Yaesu FT-7900R for his truck.
  • Richard bought a Kenwood TS-50, some wire and antennas at the Belton hamfest, but hasn't installed them yet.
  • John, EI7IG, says you don't need AX.25 support in the kernel to run XASTIR, since you're running the TNC in KISS mode. He also says that APRS is useful for emcomm events, disseminating local weather information, and passing short text messages.
  • Tim, KI6BGE, recommends Resonant Frequency, Linux in the Ham Shack, and SolderSmoke in his October 29 blog entry.


  • We received a donation from Paul during the last episode, and now Alex made a sizable donation. Thanks, Alex!

Links and Notes:


  • "Company of Fools" by Great Big Sea from the album "Fortune's Favour"

LHS Show Notes #025


  • Paul, from TeenRadioJourney.com, mentions LHS on his blog.
  • Russ Wenner from The Techie Geek podcast joins us in the chat room.
  • Kent, VE4KEH, in a post in the forums, says he heard Russ on an episode of Hacker Public Radio, and wonders if an appearance on Linux Outlaws is next. He also asks about a Windows 7 launch party. Our hosts respond.
  • Kent also posts a comment in a thread about Acer dropping support if you install Linux on one of their computers. Kent asks which manufacturers are Linux friendly? He also wonders why Acer creates two partitions on their laptops.
  • threethirty from Linux Cranks sent congratulations about LHS getting a mention in an LXer.com article Ohio LinuxFest Report
  • Matt, KC8BEW, in a comment about Episode 22 asks if Chirp will support radios other than Icom D-Star.


Links and Notes:

  • Russ talks a bit about being at Ohio Linux Fest. He was in "podcasters row" in the exhibit hall, along with the Northeast Ohio Open Source Society, The Linux Link Tech Show, and the Security Justice podcast. Russ shares some interviews and audio he recorded:
    • Interview with Matt, KC8BEW.
    • Russ plans on taking Linux in the Ham Shack to Dayton Hamvention, 2010.
    • Jim, KB3ORA, stops by the booth.
  • Questions in the chat room:
    • Russ Wenner from the Techie Geek Podcast, asks: is ham radio an expensive hobby? Richard opines.
    • HamTests.net is a good resource. The European site is HamTests.co.uk.
    • Do you need to learn Morse code? Nope, but it's even more popular now.
    • Do you need a high antenna? Not necessarily. Russ discusses. The ARRL has several good books on antennas.
    • Paul Shirey asks if shared folders on different machines can be combined. Possible, but difficult.
  • Richard talks about APRS and XASTIR.
    • One of the requirements for using APRS under Linux is that you must have the AX.25 packet radio protocol support in the kernel.
    • To determine if your kernal has AX.25 support, enter this command in a terminal:
      grep ax25 /proc/kallsyms

      If you get a result something like this:

      c0510ddc r trans_net_ax25_table
      c05127a0 r trans_net_ax25_param_table

      then AX.25 support is built into the kernel. If you receive nothing, then you'll need to recompile the kernel with AX.25 support. (Most of the current versions of Ubuntu and Linux Mint have AX.25 support.)
      For more information, see the HowTo:AX.25 article on the XASTIR wiki.

    • Richard describes configuring XASTIR.
    • Bottom line: it's not all that hard to set up. Read the wiki. There are how-to articles for many different operating systems.
  • From the chatroom, someone asks about the throughput of the various data modes in amateur radio.


  • "Like This" by STEEP from the album "STEEP"
  • "Lost" by Trainlight from the album "Now You're Alone with Ghosts"