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DPRG: Robots and Linux

Subject: DPRG: Robots and Linux
From: Kevin Ross kevinro at nwlink.com
Date: Wed Jun 18 10:56:56 CDT 1997

I typically stay out of OS religious wars, since in the end it doesn't
actually matter. However, I do have a couple of tidbits to offer. 

I have Windows/NT on my primary machine, Windows/95 and Linux running on my
other machines. I find that I use Windows/NT 95% of the time, and
Windows/95 4%, and the Linux box mostly sits in the corner. 

One of the reasons for the lack of use of the Linux box is the hardware
supported. I know lots of people work very hard at writing drivers, but the
support just isn't there. The other major reason is the ad-hoc method of
installing, configuring, and/or upgrading the software. For example, to
install the X-Windows driver for my video card (a vanilla, mid-aged
Paradise card) required me to know the list of frequencies that my card
generates, and the list of frequencies that my monitor supports. I have no
idea. Do you know yours? The best resolution I can get to is 800x600. I
also had to rewrite part of the driver for my very standard 3COM 503C
network card because the original author never tried using the AUI option
he thought he wrote, but obviously never tested. Luckily, I knew what I was
doing, or I would have been stuck.

Installing Linux is quite a challenge. If you thought you had a hard time
with Windows, you are really in for a treat! There isn't a setup program
like Windows has. Unix doesn't have system.ini - It has dozens of little
config files and rc.* files that you end up editing. It can be very

Another example of this is well documented in the snippet from that last
mail. Check out the number of different sites you need to visit. I found
that the quality of the software from these different sites was very
spotty. The quality of the documentation also varied between terrible and
very good. Most of it was barely usable. 

Linux is a fine implementation of Unix. People have generally done a very
good job at writing the software. If you know how to install and run Unix,
you are probably going to be extremely happy with what you find. If you
don't, well, you are about to learn a whole bunch after being frustrated
for a couple of weeks. Its up to you to determine if you want to spend your
time figuring out how to run a new operating system or would you rather
focus on building the robot?

> B.

> l
> 	http://www.ntlug.org/LDP/HOWTO/Hardware-HOWTO.html
> If you have any trouble finding drivers or documentation, please let me
> and I'll help.
> C. Mailing list
> Cornell runs a mailing list LINUXVIS-L, specifically for discussing linux

> support for camera and framegrabbing equipment.
> To subscribe, send mail to listproc at cornell.edu containing this single
> of 
> text:
>      SUBSCRIBE LINUXVIS-L your-email-address
> For help send a message containing the single line 
>      HELP
> Archive is available at ftp://www.netrail.net/pub/lists/linuxvis-l/
> D. Matrox Meteor support
> http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~bah6f/matrox/
> (2) Image Processing
> http://www.tnt.uni-hannover.de/soft/imgproc/khoros/khoros2/
> B. Scientific Apps for Linux: Visulization / Image Processing
> 	1. Software for Scientists:
> 	http://www-ocean.tamu.edu/~baum/linuxlist.html
> 	2. Scientific Applications on Linux
> 	http://SAL.KachinaTech.COM/
> (3) TCL/TK
> I'll let Chris send you a mail about this specifically. Or if you have 
> questions, just email him (ccox at airmail.net)
> (4) Serial Support
> I'm willing to be that Linux has better support for serial expansion
> than any other operating system.  You can look particularly at the
> HOWTO quoted above:
> 	http://www.ntlug.org/LDP/HOWTO/Hardware-HOWTO.html
> (5) Miscellaneous
> The MIT Wearable Computing Project uses Linux for some of their portable,

> embeddded stuff:
> 	http://lcs.www.media.mit.edu/projects/wearables/
> I guess that's about it.


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