Amateur radio contesting, a thrilling activity where operators compete to make the most contacts or accumulate points, requires reliable and efficient software. Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution, provides an excellent platform for contesting with a variety of open-source applications tailored for ham radio. This blog post explores how Ubuntu can be used for amateur radio contesting and why it is a compelling alternative to commercial operating systems like Microsoft Windows.

Why Choose Ubuntu for Contesting?

Ubuntu offers several advantages over commercial operating systems:

  1. Stability and Reliability: Ubuntu’s predictable release cycles and long-term support versions ensure a stable and reliable operating environment, crucial for contesting where downtime is not an option.
  2. Cost-Effective: As a free and open-source operating system, Ubuntu eliminates the need for costly licenses associated with commercial software.
  3. Security: Ubuntu is known for its strong security features, frequent updates, and robust protection against malware, ensuring a safe contesting experience.
  4. Customization: Ubuntu’s flexibility allows users to customize their systems to suit their specific needs, optimizing performance for contesting.
  5. Community Support: The extensive Ubuntu community provides a wealth of resources, forums, and documentation, making it easier to troubleshoot issues and find solutions quickly.

Essential Software for Contesting on Ubuntu

Here are some key applications available on Ubuntu that can enhance your amateur radio contesting experience:

  1. CQRLOG:
  • Description: CQRLOG is an advanced logging program for Linux, specifically designed for amateur radio operators. It supports various contesting features, including real-time logging, DX cluster integration, and QSO statistics.
  • Installation: Install CQRLOG using the command:
    bash sudo apt install cqrlog
  1. WSJT-X:
  • Description: WSJT-X is a popular software suite for weak-signal digital modes like FT8, which are increasingly used in contesting due to their efficiency in poor signal conditions.
  • Installation: Install WSJT-X with:
    bash sudo apt install wsjtx
  1. Fldigi (Fast, Light Digital):
  • Description: Fldigi is a versatile digital modem application that supports numerous digital modes, making it ideal for various contesting scenarios.
  • Installation: Install Fldigi using:
    bash sudo apt install fldigi
  1. TQSL (Trusted QSL):
  • Description: TQSL is essential for uploading logs to the ARRL’s Logbook of The World (LoTW), a popular service for verifying contacts during contests.
  • Installation: Install TQSL with:
    bash sudo apt install tqsl
  1. Xlog:
  • Description: Xlog is a logging program for amateur radio operators. It provides features like contest support, log import/export, and QSL management.
  • Installation: Install Xlog using:
    bash sudo apt install xlog
  1. N1MM Logger+ via WINE:
  • Description: N1MM Logger+ is a widely used contest logging software for Windows. It can be run on Ubuntu using WINE, a compatibility layer that allows Windows applications to run on Linux.
  • Installation: First, install WINE:
    bash sudo apt install wine
    Then download and install N1MM Logger+ from the official website using WINE.

Setting Up Ubuntu for Contesting

To set up your Ubuntu system for amateur radio contesting, follow these steps:

  1. Install Ubuntu: Download and install the latest LTS version of Ubuntu from the official website. LTS versions offer long-term support and stability, ideal for contesting environments.
  2. Update System: Ensure your system is up-to-date by running:
   sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
  1. Install Radio Software: Use the package manager to install the software mentioned above.
  2. Configure Radios and Interfaces: Connect your radio equipment to your computer. Use the respective software interfaces to configure and test your setup. Ensure all necessary drivers and libraries are installed and functioning.
  3. Optimize System: Customize your Ubuntu setup for optimal performance. Disable unnecessary services, tweak system settings, and ensure your hardware drivers are up-to-date.

Benefits Over Windows

Ubuntu offers several benefits over Windows for amateur radio contesting:

  • Performance: Ubuntu’s lightweight nature often results in better performance, especially on older hardware, compared to the more resource-intensive Windows.
  • Flexibility: The open-source nature of Ubuntu allows for greater customization and optimization, tailored specifically for contesting needs.
  • Security: With fewer vulnerabilities and a more robust security model, Ubuntu provides a safer environment, which is crucial during live contests.
  • Cost: Eliminating the need for Windows licenses reduces costs, freeing up resources for other contesting needs.


Ubuntu provides a powerful, reliable, and cost-effective platform for amateur radio contesting. With its stability, security, and extensive support for ham radio software, Ubuntu stands out as a compelling alternative to commercial operating systems like Microsoft Windows. By leveraging open-source tools like CQRLOG, WSJT-X, and Fldigi, amateur radio operators can enhance their contesting capabilities and ensure a seamless, efficient contesting experience. Whether you are a seasoned contester or a newcomer, Ubuntu offers the tools and flexibility to help you succeed in the competitive world of amateur radio contesting.


An amateur radio operator, Royal Signals veteran, jack of all trades and master of none.

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