Author Topic: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?  (Read 7331 times)

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Offline robdejonge

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Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« on: October 29, 2021, 03:49:23 am »
A novice but lucky enough to have space for a dedicated bench to play on, I am trying to build one up. One of the things I am trying to figure out is what kind of operating system I should run on my bench computer. I use this system to read web pages and PDF files, simple serial connections and to connect test gear to. For example, a logic analyzer, multimeter and oscilloscope.

This is a general question, not one specific to my current gear as not everything I plan to hook up has been acquired yet.

I have not used Windows since XP, and would prefer to use Linux on the bench. But if your experience is that most devices don't connect well with Linux software, or perhaps there are many little tools out there written for Windows that you think make that the preferred operating system, then I'd love to understand the details.

Thanks very much for your feedback.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2021, 04:54:03 am »
I use Linux on the laptop I use on my workbench, it has done everything I need it to do. Whether it's viable for you depends on what software you need to run.
 

Offline DW1961

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2021, 04:54:21 am »
A novice but lucky enough to have space for a dedicated bench to play on, I am trying to build one up. One of the things I am trying to figure out is what kind of operating system I should run on my bench computer. I use this system to read web pages and PDF files, simple serial connections and to connect test gear to. For example, a logic analyzer, multimeter and oscilloscope.

This is a general question, not one specific to my current gear as not everything I plan to hook up has been acquired yet.

I have not used Windows since XP, and would prefer to use Linux on the bench. But if your experience is that most devices don't connect well with Linux software, or perhaps there are many little tools out there written for Windows that you think make that the preferred operating system, then I'd love to understand the details.

Thanks very much for your feedback.

What I would do is use both! You can dual boot Linux and Win 10 really easy. Don't buy Windows. The Win 10 license is now free. The only difference between a registered Win 10 and a non-registered Win 10 is that you can't "personalize" your desktop. That, and Windows will have a translucent watermark in the lower right hand side that says "unregistered." You can get rid of that using a DWORD in the registry. The only thing I personalize in Windows is the background, which I make black. You can still do that even with the unregistered Windows by simply clicking a picture and choosing "set as background image." You just can't set it in the personalization area. (The unregistered Windows never stops working.)

I actually prefer the unregistered version because I don't ever have to worry about registration bullshit with MS. When you install it, just make sure to always choose no to everything, like logging in before you install it, and install it disconnected from the internet. Now it's just like XP as far as installation goes.
 
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Offline robdejonge

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2021, 05:33:05 am »
Thanks for your recommendation.

The laptop I currently run Debian on, does not have sufficient resources to run Windows as well. So, if I were to require Windows then I’m looking for a new bench computer.

This is the main reason of asking this question. Is it worth spending a couple of hundred euros/pounds/dollars to add Windows? I’d prefer not to spend that money, but if an overwhelming number of replies say Windows must be present and Linux only won’t suffice, well then I guess I starting saving ;-)
 

Offline Doctorandus_P

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2021, 05:50:42 am »
The last windows version I ran was probably windows 2000.
Then, about 8 years ago my pc was quite old and I got a new one out of an enheritance.
It booted with some weird blue tiles of death and I had no apetite of figuering out how that worked or accept to get something like that shoved down my throat.

So that was the last drop and I switched to Linux completely.
All the standard software (web browsers, office, VLC player and many more) run just fine from Linux.

But unfortunately Linux still is quite small on the desktop, and you've got a lot less choice for software.
For example, there are some 50+ different programs to design PCB's, but just a handful that run on Linux. Personally I'm very happy with KiCad.

A lot of the more "exotic" hardware such as programmers, oscilloscopes and other test and measurements stuff has much less or no support at all on Linux. The software for Siglent scopes runs in a web browser and should work with any OS. I'm not sure about Rigol. The USB scopes from Picotech also have llinux support.

The default software for a popular programmer such as the TL866 does not work with Linux (Maybe it runs with "Wine" but I do not have that programmer, I have not tried it). There is some simpler software that can do something with this programmer and that does run with Linux.

I also quite like the cheap (EUR10) Logic analysers (based on Cypress CY7C68013A) and Sigrok / Pulseview. These are great for debugging microcontroller firmware.

So in the end, you can get along quite well with Linux only if you choose your test gear appropriatly, but there is a lot of testgear that's windoze only, but some of that part may still run fine with Wine.

If I was forced to run Windoze software now, I would probably use some virtualization software for Linux and run some kind of old windoze version in it, but without any access to Internet.

« Last Edit: October 29, 2021, 05:53:03 am by Doctorandus_P »
 

Online Ed.Kloonk

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2021, 08:18:54 am »
I use this system to read web pages and PDF files, simple serial connections and to connect test gear to. For example, a logic analyzer, multimeter and oscilloscope.

Consider running Linux and spend the saved money on a stand-alone oscilloscope with logic analyser and a couple of multimeters.
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Offline robdejonge

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2021, 08:34:36 am »
Personally I'm very happy with KiCad.

For stuff like KiCad, I'd use my main workstation which is a Mac. It has much bigger screen and is more convenient for this sort of thing. My bench computer really is only for interfacing with tools and circuits. So yeah, run stuff that connected to the 'exotic hardware' you mention.

I also quite like the cheap (EUR10) Logic analysers (based on Cypress CY7C68013A) and Sigrok / Pulseview. These are great for debugging microcontroller firmware.

An example of the exotic hardware that I actually own. Works really well as you said.

If I was forced to run Windoze software now, I would probably use some virtualization software for Linux and run some kind of old windoze version in it, but without any access to Internet.

The computer on my bench is an old Core 2 Duo laptop with 8GB RAM and an SSD. It is blazing fast running Debian and honestly I'm super happy with that. I also thought to run Windows inside a virtual machine, but when trying that using VirtualBox and Windows 10 a few days ago, the vm was unusably slow. So my only option is to upgrade my bench computer to allow just as you suggest. I'm just not sure its worth the associated expense.

Thanks for your input!!
 

Offline robdejonge

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2021, 08:37:45 am »
Consider running Linux and spend the saved money on a stand-alone oscilloscope with logic analyser and a couple of multimeters.

I may just do that, although such an expensive purchase (Rigol has a sub-$1000 model) is perhaps a few years into the future. Thanks for the recommendation!
 
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Online RoGeorge

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2021, 08:56:49 am »
I use this system to read web pages and PDF files, simple serial connections and to connect test gear to. For example, a logic analyzer, multimeter and oscilloscope.
...
I have not used Windows since XP, and would prefer to use Linux on the bench. But if your experience is that most devices don't connect well with Linux software, or perhaps there are many little tools out there written for Windows that you think make that the preferred operating system, then I'd love to understand the details.

I ditched Windows a few years ago.  Using Linux since then and didn't miss anything from Windows.  Dev boards (over USB), all the SCPI instruments like oscilloscope, generator and such (using LAN when it comes to remote control them), DMM that has an optical data cable (over RS232 serial port), programs for electronic related tasks, all working on Linux.

Some programs are not open source and are distributed for Windows only, but these are working under Linux, too, when run with 'mono' or 'wine'.  For example I am running LTspice on Linux (with 'wine').  Once you installed 'wine', most of the .exe programs or installers just run/install by simply clicking on them.

As a funny side of the story, only a few days ago I've run out of curiosity a program written 17 years ago compiled with VB5 and using the serial port (with a Windows OCX from back then), and it still works.  The real question is if that 17 years old VB5 program would still work on today's Windows 10.  :)
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/programming/python-becomes-the-most-popular-language/msg3763715/#msg3763715

Then, if you really need something that doesn't work with wine, you can use VirtualBox or other similar software, and create as many Windows virtual machines as you want, you can even run different types of Windows VM in the same time if you need to, snapshot them, roll back, etc.  I only did that for a few very fluffy compilers/toolchains specific to a certain devboard from the Win98/XP era.  If I were to have the latest Win10, that old software wouldn't work without a virtual machine anyway (I've tried).

Right now I'm using Kubuntu 20.04 LTS, but almost any other Linux should work as well.  I don't miss Windows, and I wouldn't want to switch to Windows again.  The only one that I really enjoyed using was windows XP.  Win7 was OK-ish but not looking good IMO, then Win10 was unbearable.

I'm grateful to Win10 for convincing me to abandon Windows.  ;D
« Last Edit: October 29, 2021, 09:08:25 am by RoGeorge »
 

Offline ledtester

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2021, 09:09:14 am »
...
The default software for a popular programmer such as the TL866 does not work with Linux (Maybe it runs with "Wine" but I do not have that programmer, I have not tried it). There is some simpler software that can do something with this programmer and that does run with Linux.
...

The TL866 software seems to work with Wine - although there are some extra setup steps:

https://reversatronics.blogspot.com/2016/12/tl866-minipro-under-linux.html

https://nerdyelectronics.com/install-tl866-ii-programmers-software-xgpro-on-a-linux-machine/

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/fpga/tl866cs-on-linux-wine/

The last link contains a reference to this command line program to control the TL866xx series of programmers:

https://gitlab.com/DavidGriffith/minipro/
« Last Edit: October 29, 2021, 09:46:33 am by ledtester »
 

Offline capt bullshot

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2021, 09:29:47 am »
Well, that depends ...

As others said, and from my own experience, one doesn't need Wiindows anymore.
All of the stuff I'm doing works on Debian and / or Ubuntu, sometimes one has a struggle with wine for a specialized tool that isn't offered natively for Linux.

Many instrument control software apparently doesn't exist for native Linux, that's a thing that obviously influences my choice of tools.
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Offline theHWcave

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2021, 10:12:33 am »
I am using Linux exclusively for my bench and I don't think I have ever used any interface software that came with an instrument. I generally write little Python scripts that work just fine because most of what I do would be running scripts anyway and collecting data in CSV format.  For analysis and graphical representation, I prefer to use standard spreadsheets (LibreOffice) or Octave.  By luck I found that most of my instruments support standard interfaces, GPIB, SCPI, Modbus, and its easy to use those under Linux. Good manufacturer publish their protocols, for example Brymen for its BM869s. There are some more exotic protocols were I had to consult the information compiled by the good folks at sigrok https://www.sigrok.org/ to write my own version. The interface to the Ruideng TC66 USB tester was one of these. Anyway, the cross-platform sigrok system may be an alternative if you don't want to program anything yourself...  Checkout the impressive list of devices they already support.  Other electronics-related software I am using under Linux is KICAD
 

Offline HB9EVI

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2021, 10:21:56 am »
for me the last Win was Win2k as well, about 20y ago; ever since I use Debian, in both the server and client sphere; it does everything I need.
Though I have a VM with a Win10 for very hard cases of e.g. firmware updates or other proprietary crap, most of the time I just start it up to get the newest updates; I never seriously work on it.
 

Offline CharlotteSwiss

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2021, 11:36:09 am »
I have always used windows (now 8.1, version 10 tried but abandoned); I also tried linux, but honestly .. I don't see a single slight advantage! Indeed only disadvantages. I understand that a lot of people are repulsive to Microsoft, but they should get over it.
 
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Offline robdejonge

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2021, 11:43:04 am »
@CharlotteSwiss: This thread was posted not to ask which operating system sucks and which is awesome. It’s specifically about seeing if I can run a bench system using Linux on outdated hardware or if Windows is a must.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2021, 11:53:02 am by robdejonge »
 

Offline CharlotteSwiss

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2021, 11:54:47 am »
some interventions tend to snub windows as if it were a freak: it remains the most used operating system. I also have an old laptop (early 2000), but with a lite version of windows 7 it goes that is a marvel. Of course I certainly don't put win10 ... I have dual boot with linux too, but I prefer the windows lite.
 

Offline HB9EVI

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2021, 11:57:16 am »
I have always used windows (now 8.1, version 10 tried but abandoned); I also tried linux, but honestly .. I don't see a single slight advantage! Indeed only disadvantages. I understand that a lot of people are repulsive to Microsoft, but they should get over it.

Sorry, Charlotte, this is just a very narrow minded statement not backed with any knowledge about the matter.
I don't intend to go into deep with FOSS now, but Microsoft is a defacto monopoly owner and uses its power shamelessly and relentlessly; it is notorious about collaborating with any kind of secret authorities like NSA, GCHQ and others while abusing the trust of the majority of honest, law abiding users. Windows is inherently insecure, security breaches and bugs are kept secret to be abused not only by criminals but again by authorities like the NSA, Windows is nothing but a black-box.

Sorry, but you obviously just don't know what you're talking about!
 
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Offline CharlotteSwiss

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2021, 12:04:40 pm »
Ok I'm ignorant; but I prefer to use windows, without complicating my life with linux (which I still have).
 

Offline AndrewBCN

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2021, 12:12:40 pm »
Actually your question really is: "Should I buy a new laptop to run Windows 10 for use on my workbench, or will my old Debian laptop be fine?"

As indicated by james_s, it entirely "depends on what software you need to run." So only you can answer your own question.

If you still want some advice, please list the software packages you intend to use for your electronics work, and your Debian laptop characteristics.
 

Offline robdejonge

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2021, 12:20:46 pm »
@AndrewBCN: I stated before it was a general question. And I’ve seen sufficient general answers to feel comfortable sticking with what I have running right now.

@theHWcave: had *just* watched your TC66 video, and right away ordered one. Thanks for your thoughts above and also thanks for your awesome and very informative videos!!!

Thanks everyone for the suggestions and comments!
« Last Edit: October 29, 2021, 12:22:26 pm by robdejonge »
 

Offline bitwelder

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2021, 01:10:39 pm »
If you are more familiar with Linux, I'd say that you should keep it as your primary OS.
However, I would suggest also to have a computer capable to run (at least occasionally) some virtual machine with e.g. VirtualBox, where you install a Windows (for Windows-only applications) or other customized Linux environments for when you don't want to mess up too much with your primary OS.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2021, 01:59:47 pm »
Interesting that most of the Linux works answers include an attack on Windows without comment from anyone, but a pro Windows comment gets attacked as off topic.

On the original question, I am not personally aware pf any task that you won't be able to do under Linux, and since that is the OS you are already comfortable with, definitely stick with it.
 
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Offline robdejonge

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2021, 02:05:56 pm »
@CatalinaWOW: none of the comments re. Windows before comment #15 were towards users needing to “get over it”, but simply stated a move from Windows to Linux. Not sure why that’s “interesting”, but there ya go.

Thanks for your recommendation nonetheless!
 

Offline robdejonge

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #23 on: October 29, 2021, 02:22:11 pm »
Alright. This thread has gone to shit. I’ve reported it to the mods.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2021, 02:23:50 pm by robdejonge »
 

Offline CharlotteSwiss

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #24 on: October 29, 2021, 02:53:16 pm »
PKTKS: please me to delete your last post! The message you quoted, I then deleted it. The author of the thread does not want OT, and so I respect his decision.
Thanks
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #25 on: October 29, 2021, 03:21:35 pm »
I do almost everything on Linux here, but also use VirtualBox to run my old CAD system (Protel 99SE).  That's about the only thing I need Windows for that is electronics-related.

Jon
 

Offline rstofer

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #26 on: October 29, 2021, 03:29:58 pm »
Linux is quite popular, after 30 years it has made it to 2% of desktops.

Simple solution:  Use Linux until you find something you can't do without Windows.  Then decide if what you want to do justifies buying a Windows laptop.
 
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Offline perieanuo

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #27 on: October 29, 2021, 04:37:23 pm »
A novice but lucky enough to have space for a dedicated bench to play on, I am trying to build one up. One of the things I am trying to figure out is what kind of operating system I should run on my bench computer. I use this system to read web pages and PDF files, simple serial connections and to connect test gear to. For example, a logic analyzer, multimeter and oscilloscope.
that linux vs windows crap is just stupid. like the analog supply vs smps.
every time i tested linux for electronics was a no-go. you put a new device into your usb, you got problems. and you spend hours in terminal
so i use win and vm's with all kind of OSes, everything works at first start, including surveillance solutions where all linuxes falls short, but really short. but you need a powerful pc, but it's the same if you want linux as native os and win in virtualbox.
windows license now is 10 bucks. you don't wanna be spied, put some pfsense and that's it. or work in vm, no network attached, whatever os you love.
so if you want just the stuff to be operational, put powerful machine with win and use vm for *nix/linux
for the heaters, i worked sysadmin for linux for some years (i also do manage linuxes now in several locations), my pc's are win or mixed, but win is already there, ALL my clients had ALSO windows stations, office licenses etc. every one of them...
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #28 on: October 29, 2021, 04:56:12 pm »
My 2¢ as a Mac user (which in terms of engineering software is in a very similar situation to Linux: some stuff available, including practically all the open source stuff, the rest available via wine or VirtualBox): you can do it, but it’s less hassle on Windows.
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #29 on: October 29, 2021, 07:35:22 pm »
This doesn't have to be a major life decision that you have to stick to forever. My suggestion is to use what you have for now, and then if you ever find that it is not meeting your needs then consider upgrading at that point to something that does. I still use Win7 on my main laptop because I like it and it works well, but as I mentioned I have Ubuntu on an older laptop that I use on my bench and that works absolutely fine. I simply have not seen the problems that some report, hardware like USB devices you plug it in and it just works, just like Windows. Things have come a long way in the past 20 years or so. Occasionally you will find some software you need that requires Windows and that's a good reason to get something that runs it. Some Windows-only software can be made to run on Linux but it's an uphill battle.
 

Offline wizard69

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #30 on: October 30, 2021, 01:51:18 am »
As mentioned way above this post it really depends upon you and the software you want to use.   If you are really hung up on one software package that only runs on operating system XX then you will need to run XX in some manner.

Now for a different point of view, I run Linux and MacOS for my personal needs and Windows at work.   Since I work in industrial automation, I'm often running obscure software packages to connect to some weird controller.   Here is the sad thing, if you work on legacy hardware, Windows today doesn't support legacy any better than Linux or MacOS.   We literally keep old laptops around just to run old applications that need an old Windows and a 32 bit environment.   With modern Windows you also have a crap load of bugs and poor design decisions to deal with.   From my perspective Windows is measurably worse than it has historically been.

So I'd go with Linux on a bench before I'd even consider Windows.   The exception being the  case where you absolutely are certain a specific software package you need runs on only Windows.   

Is Linux perfect?  Nope.   However with Wine it is almost better that Windows for legacy support.   More importantly Linux is built around the needs of developers, as such it is great for personal development projects.   For me this is key, if there is a language you like, it is most likely supported on Linux.   Then there is library support for those languages.

As far as native electrical engineering software for Linux I would say it is spotty at best.   That doesn't mean there is none or that it is poor quality, you just will not be flooded with a selection of high quality native products.    As mentioned by others, a lot of the commercial software can run under Wine or in a VM on Linux.

As for Mac OS, being UNIX underneath it shares a lot with Linux when it comes to usability.    Open source is almost as good under Mac OS and there is a bit more commercial engineering software running on Mac OS.    Currently the problem with Mac is the lack of I/O for the reasonably priced hardware.   However the new M1 Macs are nearly silent while outperforming most machines in their class.   Also Mac OS is extremely stable, somewhat better than Linux and light years ahead of Windows.   If you need a laptop I'd consider Mac OS on an Apple Silicon.    At the bench though you really don't want a laptop if it can be avoided.   I'd go for a desktop of some sort, a small form factor if you don't need expansion cards and obviously a machine with slots if you expect to expand in that way.

You might also want to consider the single board ARM computers out there.   Lots of low cost I/O card and if you blow them up you are not out a lot of money.   Performance isn't that bad either. 



@CatalinaWOW: none of the comments re. Windows before comment #15 were towards users needing to “get over it”, but simply stated a move from Windows to Linux. Not sure why that’s “interesting”, but there ya go.

Thanks for your recommendation nonetheless!
 

Offline m3vuv

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #31 on: October 30, 2021, 06:34:57 am »
I would rather a full frontal lobotomy performed with a rusty hacksaw than use linux on my workbench!!
 

Online Simon

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #32 on: October 30, 2021, 07:29:17 am »
It is clearly pointless asking on a forum whether to use windows or linux. I have tried linux several times and just gone back to windows as I found it more effort than reward. I'm not interested in becoming an expert in whatever OS I use, I expect it to just work and run my applications, just like I expect to get into my car each morning and drive to work rather than revel in getting to work 2 hours late because I spent 2 hours sorting out a problem with the car and I'm so pleased I did it myself.

Windows is crap too particularly in the way they treat you but at the end of the day it works and I don't find 10 different solutions to every problem of which only 1 works this time.

At the end of the day it is personal preference. Linux is based on the whole open source do it yourself mantra of every person being a programmer, that is why there is no standard and why it will never have wide adoption. Sure it runs every server on the planet, but then if you have a look at the majority of servers they are probably running cPanel which is a standard and commercially maintained, sure built on free software but they fixed the bugs and keep them fixed. Other wide uses of linux will be where it makes sense due to the scale of the project and there is a commercial interest in making it work at scale.

This dream of a cottage industry of people making up their own OS that is just what they wanted is just that for most people.
 

Offline m3vuv

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #33 on: October 30, 2021, 08:34:07 am »
It is clearly pointless asking on a forum whether to use windows or linux. I have tried linux several times and just gone back to windows as I found it more effort than reward. I'm not interested in becoming an expert in whatever OS I use, I expect it to just work and run my applications, just like I expect to get into my car each morning and drive to work rather than revel in getting to work 2 hours late because I spent 2 hours sorting out a problem with the car and I'm so pleased I did it myself.

Windows is crap too particularly in the way they treat you but at the end of the day it works and I don't find 10 different solutions to every problem of which only 1 works this time.,

At the end of the day it is personal preference. Linux is based on the whole open source do it yourself mantra of every person being a programmer, that is why there is no standard and why it will never have wide adoption. Sure it runs every server on the planet, but then if you have a look at the majority of servers they are probably running cPanel which is a standard and commercially maintained, sure built on free software but they fixed the bugs and keep them fixed. Other wide uses of linux will be where it makes sense due to the scale of the project and there is a commercial interest in making it work at scale.

This dream of a cottage industry of people making up their own OS that is just what they wanted is just that for most people.

well said i realy think linux is for ppl with more time on there hands battling with it than sense,ok its good for specific tasks but  feel ppl who like to use it for everyday computor tasks either need to see A shrink  or B get out more often,i dont like microshite but find it on the grand scale of doing things on a pc streets ahead of windows unless its say its to one task as part of an industrial operation specific process on a dedicated machine,just my twopence worth!.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2021, 05:18:51 pm by Simon »
 

Offline artag

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #34 on: October 30, 2021, 10:09:06 am »
My desktop is my workbench - so my default computer is also my workbench computer.
It's debian linux. I did used to occasionaly run Windows in a VM but haven't done that for a couple of years now.  Every tool I normally use runs fine, though I guess that's a bit self-selecting as I don't tend to buy things that are windows-only.

I do have old laptops that can be booted into XP or W7 for legacy stuff, but it's rare I need them. Definitely wouldn't give it permanent space on the workbench.
 

Offline blurpy

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #35 on: October 30, 2021, 11:26:35 am »
Linux works great for me on the bench. Like every other hardware purchase for my computer, I make sure it works on Linux first. That's something one gets used to. And it's no different with electronics equipment or software. If I need/want equipment that integrates with a computer then compatibility with Linux is included in the requirements list. Some equipment might be excluded because of that, but I haven't found it to be a problem.

Some equipment might have unofficial open source software, like the mentioned TL866 programmer and the minipro software, that works fine for me. Others expose a web interface and a standardized SCPI-interface, like some Siglent gear. And others like the QA401 audio analyzer might have official software that's just an API and no user interface. So I made my own UI: https://github.com/blurpy/qa401w

I find that sort of thing fun though. YMMV :)
 

Online brucehoult

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #36 on: October 30, 2021, 11:54:32 am »
The computer on my bench is an old Core 2 Duo laptop with 8GB RAM and an SSD. It is blazing fast running Debian and honestly I'm super happy with that. I also thought to run Windows inside a virtual machine, but when trying that using VirtualBox and Windows 10 a few days ago, the vm was unusably slow.

I don't know why you'd want Windows 10 in a VM. Is there any Windows software you need that actually needs newer than XP SP3? Or maybe Server 2003 -- that's what I was using in VirtualBox on a Core 2 Duo Mac in 2006-2008 to do *all* my work at one company, as it was slimmer. I'm pretty sure that machine only supported 4 GB RAM maximum.

Sure it's old unsupported software and vulnerable, but you can just use Linux to firewall the shit out of it and it's fine.

The advantage of VirtualBox (or others) is that you can map things such as USB ports through to Windows, while with WSL2 on Windows you can't access USB from Linux.
 

Offline Jwillis

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #37 on: October 30, 2021, 12:35:27 pm »
Linux and Mac are both Unix based operating systems . Most research and development will use UNIX simply because it's more stable than Windows . But in the end it boils down to application and what software is available. If your just using it to monitor data from a piece of equipment then most likely you'll find Windows software for that purpose . If your intent is research and development then Unix or a Unix based system would probably be more practical because you would need to develop the software as your going . Having a stable operating system just makes more sense . 

Just to add . Windows has mostly been  dedicated towards gaming and other entertainment . Mac has for many years been mostly dedicated towards music and visual arts . Where as UNIX has mostly been dedicated towards science and technology .       
« Last Edit: October 30, 2021, 12:43:28 pm by Jwillis »
 

Offline BradC

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #38 on: October 30, 2021, 01:10:51 pm »
It is clearly pointless asking on a forum whether to use windows or linux.

It's not really pointless if you are after a varied breadth of opinion and experience. In fact it's what a forum is really about. We understand you couldn't make it work, but you are but one data point in a great pool of experience.

There are many of us who have used it on the desktop for 25+ years and it works for us. Doesn't really matter what you use, there is some form of learning curve and maintenance involved. Personally I found the time I needed to spend on keeping Linux happy was less than the time I needed to spend on Windows maintenance, so it was a no-brainer for me but I acknowledge everyone is different.

Linux is user friendly, it's just choosy about who it's friends are.
 
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Offline HobGoblyn

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #39 on: October 30, 2021, 01:28:18 pm »
I use both, if i didn’t use certain music packages that aren’t available for Linux I would stick with Linux, as it is I use win 10 pro.

I worked as a system analyst for many years mainly on Unix/Aix/Sunos so Linux is second nature to me

A few years ago on previous versions of windows, I could just  be persuaded that a Linux desktop is a better solution for the average user, when Windows was often crashing and needing a reboot after installing every other bit of software.

I honestly believe that for the average non computer literate user, Linux is now a bad choice. Again years ago, when installing windows, constant blue screens, constant driver problems, constant rebooting etc then Linux was a good bet.  But now, on Windows, unless you’ve got obscure bits of hardware, the average user can simply turn it on and everything just works.  I currently believe Windows is a much easier system for the average non pc literate user to use.

Linux is great IF you understand it, while admittedly I haven’t given it a go in the past couple of years,  last time I tried the well known and most recommended versions, installing them, installing extras, maintaining it, updating it was a far far more laborious job than the latest Windows.  it also insisted on rebooting far more after various software installs. I got slated as a windows fanboy when I said this  on a Linux forum,

Wine  etc is great when it works, again I can usually get most things working under wine if I spend the time and effort (time and effort that’s not needed on Windows), but when I used to do this and played some online games, an update would come  out for the game, all my Window friends are logged in playing the update, but wine won’t run the updated version. If you are the average user, that sort of thing is simply no good for you.

While win 10 might be bloated, I can’t remember the last time it crashed, very very rarely does it need rebooting after a software install, antivirus engine updates being the main culprit.

While I have zero problems with running Linux, I also have zero problems running windows, I used to dual boot, and it got to the point of why bother, I need windows for certain hardware/software so just use that.

For music I use Native Instruments Komplete, Arturia V collection and Spectronics Omnisphere. None of these offer Linux support, they are very expensive software packages, and while a few people claim to have successfully found a wrapper to get them working under Linux, if you contact support with a question about something, if you’re on Linux, they aren’t interested. They do all work on a Mac though so that’s always a possibility next time I upgrade.

If ever it gets to the stage where all my software has native Linux versions, I would switch to Linux in a second, but until then it’s simply too much hassle for me.


« Last Edit: October 30, 2021, 01:34:49 pm by HobGoblyn »
 

Offline HobGoblyn

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #40 on: October 30, 2021, 01:52:09 pm »
It is clearly pointless asking on a forum whether to use windows or linux.

It's not really pointless if you are after a varied breadth of opinion and experience. In fact it's what a forum is really about. We understand you couldn't make it work, but you are but one data point in a great pool of experience.

There are many of us who have used it on the desktop for 25+ years and it works for us. Doesn't really matter what you use, there is some form of learning curve and maintenance involved. Personally I found the time I needed to spend on keeping Linux happy was less than the time I needed to spend on Windows maintenance, so it was a no-brainer for me but I acknowledge everyone is different.

Linux is user friendly, it's just choosy about who it's friends are.

Agreed. But for many people, they aren’t interested in a learning curve, for them, learning how to open email, Facebook, YouTube and google is the only learning they want.

I have many friends like this, if when they shut their pc down it says an update is available, they just click on shutdown and update, and forget about it (amount of times I go to help someone and windows, antivirus etc hasn’t been updated in months is mind boggling, as far as they are concerned, it was working and the update messages were another unwanted pop up they simply closed).

Saying that, the learning curve for windows (and Linux) isn’t what it used to be. If people I know can’t cope with windows, I don’t think most would cope with Linux either. They are used to tablets that just work and they expect their PCs to do the same.

I’m the one that has to go and fix them when something does go wrong, 95% it’s user error, but I know that while Linux would be perfect for their usage, my phone calls would increase 10 fold.

Many years ago a friend called me because their PC had slowed to a crawl. Took me hours to sort it out, they had no virus checker, a ton of viruses and Trojan’s. Got it working, two days later got a call from the same friend, PCs acting up again.

Bearing in mind I explained why their PC wasn’t working the first time and I had installed an antivirus on it, I looked at their Pc, looked at the antivirus and said the following.

 “Why is the Antivirus disabled?”
Their response “I disabled it because it wouldn’t let me download something I wanted”

Can you imagine them trying to get to grips with Linux :)

 
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Offline BradC

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #41 on: October 30, 2021, 02:22:24 pm »
Can you imagine them trying to get to grips with Linux :)

Nope, but then they're probably also not posting questions on an electronics forum. This isn't about "many people", it's about someone asking questions on a technical forum. With some notable (and prolific) exceptions, there is generally a basic "barrier to entry" there which implies a certain level of technical understanding/ability.

 
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Online brucehoult

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #42 on: October 30, 2021, 02:32:24 pm »
Many years ago a friend called me because their PC had slowed to a crawl. Took me hours to sort it out, they had no virus checker, a ton of viruses and Trojan’s. Got it working, two days later got a call from the same friend, PCs acting up again.

Bearing in mind I explained why their PC wasn’t working the first time and I had installed an antivirus on it, I looked at their Pc, looked at the antivirus and said the following.

 “Why is the Antivirus disabled?”
Their response “I disabled it because it wouldn’t let me download something I wanted”

Can you imagine them trying to get to grips with Linux :)

Well, they wouldn't have any problems with viruses or trojans, for a start...
 
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Offline bill_c

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #43 on: October 30, 2021, 03:02:23 pm »
"I use this system to read web pages"
   You can do that with Linux, several browsers to pick from.
"and PDF files"
   You can do that with Linux too.
"simple serial connections"
   You can do that with Linux too. I have no problem using USB to serial cables. I use a mico programmer too, but like below, may depend on model.
"and to connect test gear to"
   May depend on the gear, do a search for the model and add the word linux, should be able to find the information you need.
I have been using Linux only for several years and I have no reason to need windows. I use browser, email, CAD, photo editing, making PDFs, writing documents, spreadsheets, writing programs, virtual machines, VNC, ...
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #44 on: October 30, 2021, 03:40:02 pm »

The advantage of VirtualBox (or others) is that you can map things such as USB ports through to Windows, while with WSL2 on Windows you can't access USB from Linux.
Yes!  This works amazingly well!  I have an old Xeltek device programmer that interfaces through the parallel port.  You need to set up some options in VirtualBox to enable virtualizing the parallel port, but it actually WORKS to program EPROMS and such devices.  It also makes USB devices available virtually.  You can also print to network printers from the virtual machine.

Jon
 
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Online Simon

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #45 on: October 30, 2021, 05:23:42 pm »
It is clearly pointless asking on a forum whether to use windows or linux.

It's not really pointless if you are after a varied breadth of opinion and experience. In fact it's what a forum is really about. We understand you couldn't make it work, but you are but one data point in a great pool of experience.

There are many of us who have used it on the desktop for 25+ years and it works for us. Doesn't really matter what you use, there is some form of learning curve and maintenance involved. Personally I found the time I needed to spend on keeping Linux happy was less than the time I needed to spend on Windows maintenance, so it was a no-brainer for me but I acknowledge everyone is different.

Linux is user friendly, it's just choosy about who it's friends are.


It's nothing to do with my experience. everyone will have an opinion and in the end it's the person asking that needs to know which will work for them. Ask just gets you a flame war of windows versus linux. i have not read every post but not yet seen anyone ask what the OP wants to do, just recomendations based on their own experience.
 

Offline Monkeh

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #46 on: October 30, 2021, 05:59:35 pm »
Ask just gets you a flame war of windows versus linux.

One you're apparently happy to contribute to..
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #47 on: October 30, 2021, 06:00:49 pm »
well said i realy think linux is for ppl with more time on there hands battling with it than sense,ok its good for specific tasks but  feel ppl who like to use it for everyday computor tasks either need to see A shrink  or B get out more often,i dont like microshite but find it on the grand scale of doing things on a pc streets ahead of windows unless its say its to one task as part of an industrial operation specific process on a dedicated machine,just my twopence worth!.

I have a feeling you have never used Linux and are just parroting what you heard somewhere. My computer illiterate elderly mother has been using Ubuntu on her laptop for about 5 years now precisely because I was tired of spending time fixing her Windows machine. For the stuff she does it just works, if I hadn't told her it was Linux I'm pretty certain she would not even notice and would have assumed it was just some new version of Windows. If all you need is a web browser, a word processor and media player software the OS is irrelevant.
 
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Online Simon

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #48 on: October 31, 2021, 09:13:18 am »
Ask just gets you a flame war of windows versus linux.

One you're apparently happy to contribute to..

I did point out that it is down to personal choice and explained my experience and where it is likely to work. All others have done is state their opinion with no qualification. So far the opinion is linux is great it is the only way.

I am not adverse to linux for example in my last job we were getting softeare developed that would allow a laptop to talk to our devices, my suggestion to get around the user having to go through a convoluted licensing procedure was to send them it all setup on a linux virtual machine or send them a real cheap laptop we may never get back with linux on it to run this thing to make it a dedicated machine.
 

Online Simon

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #49 on: October 31, 2021, 09:17:54 am »
well said i realy think linux is for ppl with more time on there hands battling with it than sense,ok its good for specific tasks but  feel ppl who like to use it for everyday computor tasks either need to see A shrink  or B get out more often,i dont like microshite but find it on the grand scale of doing things on a pc streets ahead of windows unless its say its to one task as part of an industrial operation specific process on a dedicated machine,just my twopence worth!.

I have a feeling you have never used Linux and are just parroting what you heard somewhere. My computer illiterate elderly mother has been using Ubuntu on her laptop for about 5 years now precisely because I was tired of spending time fixing her Windows machine. For the stuff she does it just works, if I hadn't told her it was Linux I'm pretty certain she would not even notice and would have assumed it was just some new version of Windows. If all you need is a web browser, a word processor and media player software the OS is irrelevant.

And as you yourself pointed out she just does web stuff, if all I did was email and web browsing plus some office stuff I would happily use linux too. but the moment I am trying to get less conventional software it becomes a pain so I go with what works.
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #50 on: November 01, 2021, 12:35:54 am »
And as you yourself pointed out she just does web stuff, if all I did was email and web browsing plus some office stuff I would happily use linux too. but the moment I am trying to get less conventional software it becomes a pain so I go with what works.

The OP said "I use this system to read web pages and PDF files, simple serial connections and to connect test gear to" so the first part is exactly what my mom uses her computer for, the serial connections are native to Linux without even installing separate software so that's not an issue either. The wildcard is connecting to test equipment, if the equipment you're using is supported under Linux then it's not an issue. If it requires Windows then it makes sense to use Windows.
 

Online Simon

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #51 on: November 01, 2021, 12:36:34 pm »
If the instruments come with linux software sure, not a problem. as I said from the start, this is not a is one better than the other argument or it should not be, it's for the OP to work out for themselves. If they like linux and think it will work for them and have the programs they need or drivers for any hardware great.

What is confusing me is why the question in the first place. The typical response should have been, so you'd go with windows normally but are considering linux, why do you think linux would be a good idea? that way we find out what the OP is actually doing and can better recommend.

A benchtop computer will soon be used for more than what was listed. You going to take your MCU project back to yo,ur main machine to recompile and flash a small change in the code you think you should make having seen it work on the bench and then take it back to the bench? soon you will want to open the code, edit, compile and program on the bench. Can you run your chosen IDE on linux? I don't have a bench computer, it's my main machine, I bring the instruments to the desk. At my current job my desk and bench are the same thing, it was easier to get a pico scope for now so that I could may the desk PC be the o'scope and save the space of a real one on my desk.
 

Offline rsjsouza

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #52 on: November 01, 2021, 02:17:39 pm »
Since this is a thread that shows personal preferences, here's my $0.02

I tend to do an opposite scenario as mentioned by some: use Windows natively (7 or 8.1 work well for the majority of these off products) and run Linux in a good VMware, as my experience in running these on this VM provider is more stable and compatible. Not to mention that I prefer to set up a CIFS server on the VM to share files with the native Windows instead of dancing around with the USB pendrive switch.

The reason of keeping Windows natively is simply due to better compatibility with several bits and bobs of hardware: a TL866CS, an old Vividia USB microscope, a Kingst LA2016 logic analyzer, an OWON VDS1022I, some older Altera/Intel development environments, etc. For even older tools I tend to keep an older Dell laptop with Windows XP. I also use lots of small utilities that improve my productivity by a huge margin (Notepad++, XVI32, Beyond Compare, Screenpresso, Freecommander, Irfanview, Teraterm, etc.)
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Oh, the "whys" of the datasheets... The information is there not to be an axiomatic truth, but instead each speck of data must be slowly inhaled while carefully performing a deep search inside oneself to find the true metaphysical sense...
 

Offline tkamiya

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #53 on: November 01, 2021, 02:18:53 pm »
I use both.

My workbench PC is Windows.  I mostly use it to display datasheet and such.
My instrumentation PCs are Windows.  As you said, most control and record programs always support Windows but not necessary Linux.

My office PCs where I do design work and more "complicated stuff" are Windows, Linux, and Mac.  Using softwares like VNC, I can login to any of them from anywhere inside my LAN.

If you can't decide, why don't you run Windows as base OS, and Linux using virtualization software?  I did that for a while, too.
 

Offline Renate

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #54 on: November 02, 2021, 12:51:33 pm »
When I had space for a big setup I had a large "desktop" desk with triple monitors. The video board had a total of 6 outputs. I put another video display on my workbench. When I needed reference stuff for wiring I'd just drag a window over to that display. If I needed more I'd just grab my wireless keyboard/mouse. This also allowed me to let stuff run on my workbench and keep an eye on the desktop.
 

Offline artag

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #55 on: December 05, 2021, 06:39:19 pm »
What is confusing me is why the question in the first place. The typical response should have been, so you'd go with windows normally but are considering linux, why do you think linux would be a good idea? that way we find out what the OP is actually doing and can better recommend.

There are many people unhappy with what Windows has become, especially post WIn 7. If the OP wants to know how he'll get on with changing to Linux especially in the context of electronics work or supplementing his familiar PC with another on the workbench, it's a pretty reasonable question. In gaming, web browsing, office work etc. the tradeoffs and answers may be different.

The answer is that it's definitely not a handicap for the people here who use it, but for a few, it would be.

Note that some responders prefer Windows because it remains compatible with older devices (eprom programmers etc) which were distributed with proprietary software. This may well continue to be the case when newer equipment is bought and has updated software for Win 10 etc. But if you're sticking not with Windows generally but an older version such as XP, because that old software won't run on a newer OS, you'll also be stuck when it becomes inconvenient to run the old OS. At that point you have to choose between replacing the hardware or running the obsolete under emulation. The best solution then may not match the best now.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2021, 06:45:53 pm by artag »
 

Offline artag

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #56 on: December 05, 2021, 06:47:31 pm »
 
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Offline tooki

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #57 on: December 05, 2021, 09:00:53 pm »
My 2¢ as a Mac user (which in terms of engineering software is in a very similar situation to Linux: some stuff available, including practically all the open source stuff, the rest available via wine or VirtualBox): you can do it, but it’s less hassle on Windows.


For what it's worth, I'm writing this reply on the new HP laptop (well, convertible) I picked up a week ago specifically for schoolwork (since I'm doing an electronics apprenticeship). My poor old MacBook was just struggling with the burden of VirtualBox, since the MacBook was already at its limits. This new doodad is far more powerful than the MacBook ever was (granted, it's 9 years younger, too!), and handles Altium without breaking a sweat. It came with Windows 11, which seems to iron out some of the UI inconsistencies in Win 10 (but of course adding a few of its own). Everything seems to run fine though, even the Windows 8 drivers for my ancient printer.
 

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #58 on: December 06, 2021, 07:10:13 am »
windows 11 is windows 10 with some features removed, some added and a nicer UI, but for the problems it has brought they are not bad enough to have me switch the whole OS. as I explained, we act like linux is perfect and bug free. Linux has it's issues just as windows does, it's just a case of picking your battles.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #59 on: December 06, 2021, 08:17:22 am »
Linux has loads of issues, but at least there is choice, there are multiple distros, the source code is available and even without that there is loads of tweaking and tinkering you can do. There are no forced updates, a Linux machine feels like it's *mine*, whereas a modern Windows machine feels like I'm borrowing a PC from some random person who reconfigures it and reboots it whenever they feel like.
 
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Offline Messtechniker

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #60 on: December 06, 2021, 08:41:33 am »
The answer is simple: Whatever works.
In my case Windows for the benchtop and
Linux (Open Media Vault) for the NAS.
Simply use the best of two worlds. :-+
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Online Simon

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #61 on: December 06, 2021, 12:49:41 pm »
Linux has loads of issues, but at least there is choice, there are multiple distros, the source code is available and even without that there is loads of tweaking and tinkering you can do. There are no forced updates, a Linux machine feels like it's *mine*, whereas a modern Windows machine feels like I'm borrowing a PC from some random person who reconfigures it and reboots it whenever they feel like.

No I don't have weeks to waste trying different distros to get away from a bug. No the source code is no use to me. Check back and see my vesta cp adventure.
 

Offline LateLesley

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #62 on: December 06, 2021, 01:32:43 pm »
Well, I run Linux Mint on my bench PC, and pretty much use it as my main one.

I have 3 browsers, the one I use most is Vivaldi, but I also have firefox and chromium installed, to cover any edge case quirks I might run into on different websites.

Libreoffice covers documents and spreadsheets etc.

I've used CuteCom for any serial port stuff, like terminal in network switches connected by serial port, midi stuff too.

The only thing I've really needed windows for was to flash a bios on a motherboard, but I did that from windows installed in a VM (using VirtualBox), and passed through the CH341A , point being, if something REALLY needs windows, the VM covers it.

And I game on it too, using steam mainly. Had a couple of niggles getting a couple of games to work (they had to be stored on an Ext4 partition rather than NTFS), or I had to change the proton version they used, but in the main, they work pretty well.

I've used skype on it to talk to my pal in Manchester, and i've got the Arduino IDE and programmed Arduino stuff with it too.

So, in short, I'd recommend Mint as a First distro, especially if you aren't used to linux, It's pretty robust, without getting lost in  wrong library versions and stuff, unless you try to add some cutting edge software/hardware support.

It is a culture shock coming from windows, but all the basics, it does well. And while some quirkier stuff can have a learning curve, it's far from impossible, and if you install windows in a VM as a backup, it could cover the cases where you know how to do something in windows, and don't have the time to learn the linux equivalent. And it doesn't take long to install. virtualbox is right in the package manager.

Hope you find that helpful.

 

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #63 on: December 06, 2021, 07:01:47 pm »
Yes most programs have their equivalents. When I recently tried linux (ubuntu) I got everything up and running bar MPLABX. in the end I gave up.
 

Offline LateLesley

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #64 on: December 06, 2021, 07:54:42 pm »
Yes most programs have their equivalents. When I recently tried linux (ubuntu) I got everything up and running bar MPLABX. in the end I gave up.

Well I can't say for Ubuntu (which Linux Mint is based on), but out of curiosity, I tried installing it. It does work, but it's a bit of a mess really. You get no icons, and I had to use the terminal to install the thing. So not an easy experience for a new linux user, but can be done with some help and instructions, at least in Mint. You'd need to create a launcher (shortcut) for it, and add one into the menu too. So yeah, it's not great. Microchip could make the installer a LOT more user friendly.

 

Offline james_s

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #65 on: December 06, 2021, 08:34:50 pm »
No I don't have weeks to waste trying different distros to get away from a bug. No the source code is no use to me. Check back and see my vesta cp adventure.

So you prefer to just not have that choice available to you in the first place? You don't have to waste time trying different distros of Windows to get away from a bug because there aren't any other distros, you just have to live with the bug, and you could do that with Linux too if you prefer. The source code being of no use is because you can't be bothered to make use of it, that doesn't mean there is any advantage to not having it available. For someone who just wants to use whatever is handed to them and never bother trying to tweak anything they can just install Ubuntu and pretend that the default settings cannot be changed, it works at least as well as Windows out of the box and it doesn't force you to update or reboot your system without you telling it to do so.
 

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #66 on: December 06, 2021, 08:54:32 pm »
No I don't have weeks to waste trying different distros to get away from a bug. No the source code is no use to me. Check back and see my vesta cp adventure.

So you prefer to just not have that choice available to you in the first place? You don't have to waste time trying different distros of Windows to get away from a bug because there aren't any other distros, you just have to live with the bug, and you could do that with Linux too if you prefer. The source code being of no use is because you can't be bothered to make use of it, that doesn't mean there is any advantage to not having it available. For someone who just wants to use whatever is handed to them and never bother trying to tweak anything they can just install Ubuntu and pretend that the default settings cannot be changed, it works at least as well as Windows out of the box and it doesn't force you to update or reboot your system without you telling it to do so.

You see what you code monkeys need to understand is that most of the users of a PC are not code monkeys. We just want to sit at a computer and get on with it. Overall windows causes me personally less trouble. I'm not saying the issue is windows alone, as LateLesley said Microchip did not make the installer easy. In fact the little reading around I did - yes because to install something on linux you are forced to visit forums to find out how to do it, clicking on the exe is not always an option - told me that microchip had not been very helpful.

No there are not different distro's of windows, that is it's advantage. Every hardware and software maker knows exactly what they are dealing with and that they have one thing to support.

If a version of linux emerged that was paid for, supported and therefore attracted commercial software and hardware support I would happily pay a licence for it.
 
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Offline AaronD

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #67 on: December 06, 2021, 09:57:57 pm »
I'm surprised to not see a Raspberry Pi mentioned AT ALL yet.  WOW!

Sure, it's not a high-end gaming rig, but to display schematics and google problems, it's perfectly fine.  I have a 3B+ hiding behind a monitor at the back of my bench.  VESA mounts for both, not to each other but to a common board, which is then mounted to the rails of some custom shelves that I made a few years ago.  The monitor has an external 19VDC supply, which I tapped off to feed a 5V buck converter (demo board for a LM2596), which then feeds the Pi.  Thus, a single AC power plug for both, which I put on a switch.  It has onboard WiFi, which is plenty, and 4 USB ports that come from an onboard 2.0 hub.  (The Pi 4 improves almost everything, but I don't need it for this.)

It runs Linux, of course.  There is technically a version of Windows for it, but it hasn't caught on, so support for Windows on the Pi is not very good.  The official OS, which is based on Debian just like Ubuntu is, has a wonderful support community.

Because it's Linux, which has generic hardware drivers built into the kernel (one per chip instead of one per manufacturer), a lot of old adapters still work too.  I have a USB to 9-pin serial adapter that Windows 10 refuses to use (Device Manager says, "Contact your supplier"), and works just fine in Linux.  In fact, I have a written-for-Windows app running in Wine on a Lubuntu laptop, using that adapter.  (*)

Add a USB oscilloscope, and a USB sound card for some additional func-gen and 'scope channels (limited frequency range and not voltage-calibrated, but still useful), a GPIB adapter to control some other test gear, plus the native GPIO's, etc........



(*) Not everything is that nice though.  I actually have several USB to 9-pin serial adapters (I wonder how that happened ::)), and none of them would talk to an old "sealed-unit" audio DSP that came out of the main PA when my church upgraded.  (analog mixer in the booth -> this DSP -> analog amps -> speakers)  I tried all of them, both in Windows and in Linux.  The app would run in Wine, or on Windows 10, but no combination would let it talk to the hardware.  Finally, I dug out an old WinXP laptop that had a native serial port on the dock, and (after waiting 30min to finish booting) that finally worked!

Come to think of it, my main laptop that dual-boots Win10 and Lubuntu, also has a native 9-pin serial port on the dock.  I wonder if that would have worked?  Oh well, I got what I needed.

I suspect though, that the reason the adapters didn't work and the native port did, was because of the additional hardware signals beyond just Tx and Rx.  I wouldn't be surprised if the USB adapters omitted some or all of them, if the native port is actually full-spec, and if this particular device requires them.

So if you need a full-spec 9-pin serial port, then a Pi plus a USB adapter (or the native GPIO-based UART) is probably not going to work for that.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2021, 10:00:12 pm by AaronD »
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #68 on: December 07, 2021, 03:37:13 am »
You see what you code monkeys need to understand is that most of the users of a PC are not code monkeys. We just want to sit at a computer and get on with it. Overall windows causes me personally less trouble. I'm not saying the issue is windows alone, as LateLesley said Microchip did not make the installer easy. In fact the little reading around I did - yes because to install something on linux you are forced to visit forums to find out how to do it, clicking on the exe is not always an option - told me that microchip had not been very helpful.

No there are not different distro's of windows, that is it's advantage. Every hardware and software maker knows exactly what they are dealing with and that they have one thing to support.

If a version of linux emerged that was paid for, supported and therefore attracted commercial software and hardware support I would happily pay a licence for it.

My elderly mother has been using Linux for about 5 years now, she's computer illiterate and certainly not a "code monkey" and it works fine for her. In her case she takes the Windows-like approach and just runs Ubuntu in the "out of the box" default configuration, you don't have to tinker with it if you don't want to, there is no downside to having the ability to do so be there.

There is a paid for and supported distro with commercial software support, Fedora is one of the major ones. I'm not sure why an individual would choose that but you can if you want.

I used Windows for many years and I still like Win7, but Windows has unfortunately morphed into something that is so user-hostile that I have trouble understanding how anyone can tolerate using it. I was forced to use Win10 for a couple of years at a former job and it felt like it was constantly fighting against me, every day it was something, random settings being changed, settings changed back to default, crap I had uninstalled being reinstalled, stuff I had installed getting uninstalled because Windows claimed it was not compatible. Random forced reboots that popped up in the middle of meetings or caused me to lose work when it rebooted while I was away from the desk. Linux is superior to Windows now, not so much because Linux has improved, though it has in many ways, but because Windows has regressed so severely that it is just a nightmare.

And support, hah, have you ever tried contacting Microsoft for support? I wish I had money for every hour I've spent trying to install or troubleshoot something, if only it was always as simple as just clicking an exe.
 

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #69 on: December 07, 2021, 07:05:44 am »
And my computer illiterate father uses windows. If I gave him linux he would not know any different and have no problems either, web browsing and email reading are not the same as trying to install mplabx that has not been supported properly by it's own manufacturer.
 

Offline rsjsouza

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #70 on: December 07, 2021, 11:11:06 am »
My computer iliterate mother uses Windows 10 and it is a constant source of frustration for her due to the constsnt updates. She would be alright using a Linux machine as well, since she only needs a browser and Thunderbird for her email - ah, and Teamviewer for the occasional remote session.

However, the distance that sets us apart (8000km) prevents me from actually making this move - she has also two friends that help her with several minor things on the computer but they only "speak" Windows.

So, for the time being, Windows is a stumbling block.
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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #71 on: December 07, 2021, 12:52:49 pm »
most updates happen on shut down, unless it's ancient it should not take long. I had the issue with my fathers laptop because his internet was ridiculously slow and he refused to buy a decent laptop so they just queued up all the time
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #72 on: December 08, 2021, 08:05:49 am »
At least I can say that I’ve been impressed at how much faster updates go on windows 10 compared to earlier versions. Before getting the new HP laptop, I ran windows on my macs in virtual machines, and on the same hardware, windows XP updates took the longest (by far!), windows 7 was a big improvement on that, but windows 10 is a huge improvement over that! It also boots dramatically faster. I don’t necessarily like all the UI changes (win 7 is probably my favorite windows UI), but in terms of performance and stability, windows 10 has left a good impression on me. (The only windows 10 systems I’ve used that take a while to boot are the ones at school, but that’s because they boot over the network, with what strikes me as an unimpressive configuration that reflects poorly on the IT services, not the OS or hardware as such.)
 

Offline AaronD

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #73 on: December 08, 2021, 12:51:37 pm »
At least I can say that I’ve been impressed at how much faster updates go on windows 10 compared to earlier versions. Before getting the new HP laptop, I ran windows on my macs in virtual machines, and on the same hardware, windows XP updates took the longest (by far!), windows 7 was a big improvement on that, but windows 10 is a huge improvement over that! It also boots dramatically faster. I don’t necessarily like all the UI changes (win 7 is probably my favorite windows UI), but in terms of performance and stability, windows 10 has left a good impression on me. (The only windows 10 systems I’ve used that take a while to boot are the ones at school, but that’s because they boot over the network, with what strikes me as an unimpressive configuration that reflects poorly on the IT services, not the OS or hardware as such.)

Win10 boots faster because it's not actually shutting down.  The default "shutdown" is actually hibernate, despite what the UI says.  Close all apps, and then hibernate.  Reboot is still all the way down and back up.

You can turn that "feature" off, with admin rights, if you explore the "new and improved" (read: changed for no reason) Control Panel, which also gives you the benefit of using the Windoze partition from a different system (like dual-boot Linux) without breaking it.
 

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #74 on: December 08, 2021, 01:01:18 pm »
fast boot has been a thing since windows 7. IT support  usually start by getting you to disable it if you have issues. I always turn it off and can't tell the difference.
 

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #75 on: December 08, 2021, 08:31:30 pm »
Could Zorin be the answer? https://zorin.com/os/pro/ I've known about it a while. Can't remember why I never used it. If they are serious might go somewhere as microsoft piss more people off.
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #76 on: December 08, 2021, 11:56:18 pm »
At least I can say that I’ve been impressed at how much faster updates go on windows 10 compared to earlier versions. Before getting the new HP laptop, I ran windows on my macs in virtual machines, and on the same hardware, windows XP updates took the longest (by far!), windows 7 was a big improvement on that, but windows 10 is a huge improvement over that! It also boots dramatically faster. I don’t necessarily like all the UI changes (win 7 is probably my favorite windows UI), but in terms of performance and stability, windows 10 has left a good impression on me. (The only windows 10 systems I’ve used that take a while to boot are the ones at school, but that’s because they boot over the network, with what strikes me as an unimpressive configuration that reflects poorly on the IT services, not the OS or hardware as such.)

Win10 boots faster because it's not actually shutting down.  The default "shutdown" is actually hibernate, despite what the UI says.  Closeall apps, and then hibernate.  Reboot is still all the way down and back up.

You can turn that "feature" off, with admin rights, if you explore the "new and improved" (read: changed for no reason) Control Panel, which also gives you the benefit of using the Windoze partition from a different system (like dual-boot Linux) without breaking it.
Actually, since I’m one of those people who essentially never shuts down his computer, but only uses sleep, the only times I boot is to restart for updates. And windows 10 restarts way, way faster than earlier versions.

(Windows 7 even took forever to wake from sleep sometimes. Nobody could figure out why. This was on my work PC at a small software company, so no enterprise IT bloat, either. But our sysadmin was flummoxed by it.)

fast boot has been a thing since windows 7. IT support  usually start by getting you to disable it if you have issues. I always turn it off and can't tell the difference.
Actually, the internet says it was introduced in Windows 8.
 

Online Ed.Kloonk

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #77 on: December 09, 2021, 12:25:01 am »
Could Zorin be the answer? https://zorin.com/os/pro/ I've known about it a while. Can't remember why I never used it. If they are serious might go somewhere as microsoft piss more people off.

Whilst I'd prefer not to throw shade at Zorin, I wonder if the "pay these people instead of MS" attitude is now old hat. And not trying to be mean but a user that will not take the time to play with a free Linux and learn how to find and then adapt something to be perfect for their needs seems, I dunno... Just seems lazy to me. I commend the Zorin community if they do indeed welcome people over from Winders.

Another analogy I dreamed up is like having a particular brand of scope you've used for decades. The maker of the only scope you've ever known starts being a jerk and making it hard to use it the way it always worked.

So you pay more than you should for someone to modify a cheaper brand of scope so that it works like the brand you now hate.

I dunno. I had this type of distro (Xandos) a long time ago. I felt the chasm of learning red hat was too wide and that the turn-key solution would be all I need. After a few weeks, I found the blinkered approach became too restrictive. Then, the nice folks in the Mandrake community helped me fill in a few gaps. It takes work.

« Last Edit: December 09, 2021, 12:28:33 am by Ed.Kloonk »
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Offline BradC

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #78 on: December 09, 2021, 04:50:58 am »
Could Zorin be the answer?

That depends entirely on the question.
 

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #79 on: December 09, 2021, 06:52:33 am »

fast boot has been a thing since windows 7. IT support  usually start by getting you to disable it if you have issues. I always turn it off and can't tell the difference.
Actually, the internet says it was introduced in Windows 8.

Oh right, my mistake, so you mean it was introduced in Windows 10 :)
 
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Offline AaronD

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #80 on: December 09, 2021, 03:53:23 pm »
Could Zorin be the answer? https://zorin.com/os/pro/ I've known about it a while. Can't remember why I never used it. If they are serious might go somewhere as microsoft piss more people off.

I poked around that site.  It's paid, but it says it's based on Ubuntu.  All of the apps on the alternative list run on Ubuntu, which is probably how they're doing it, and some are not really viable alternatives to the real deal.  Some are awesome, like the office suite; others still have a long way to go, like the CAD tools.

So the impression that I got is that it's just a rebranded version of Ubuntu.  Given the support for Ubuntu itself, is it really worth paying for a clone of it?
« Last Edit: December 09, 2021, 03:55:47 pm by AaronD »
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #81 on: December 09, 2021, 05:20:14 pm »

fast boot has been a thing since windows 7. IT support  usually start by getting you to disable it if you have issues. I always turn it off and can't tell the difference.
Actually, the internet says it was introduced in Windows 8.

Oh right, my mistake, so you mean it was introduced in Windows 10 :)
Exactly!! :)
 

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Re: Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?
« Reply #82 on: December 10, 2021, 08:32:59 am »
Could Zorin be the answer? https://zorin.com/os/pro/ I've known about it a while. Can't remember why I never used it. If they are serious might go somewhere as microsoft piss more people off.

I poked around that site.  It's paid, but it says it's based on Ubuntu.  All of the apps on the alternative list run on Ubuntu, which is probably how they're doing it, and some are not really viable alternatives to the real deal.  Some are awesome, like the office suite; others still have a long way to go, like the CAD tools.

So the impression that I got is that it's just a rebranded version of Ubuntu.  Given the support for Ubuntu itself, is it really worth paying for a clone of it?

I don't know what the process is of creating a distro is. I guess if you rely on another you are highly dependant on that and if there are issues will have to keep updating. I see that when I asked on their forum the only asset anyone could mention was the support forum itself.

There is a free version
 


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