Electronics > Beginners

Bench computer: Linux workable, or need Windows?

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robdejonge:
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.

james_s:
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.

DW1961:

--- Quote from: robdejonge 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.

--- End quote ---

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.

robdejonge:
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 ;-)

Doctorandus_P:
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.

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