In the world of amateur radio, the tools you use can make a significant difference in your experience. One such tool, often overlooked, is the operating system running on your computer. While many hams opt for mainstream operating systems like Windows or macOS, Ubuntu Linux presents a compelling alternative that offers stability, security, and a wealth of open-source software tailored for amateur radio enthusiasts.

What is Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is a popular Linux distribution known for its user-friendly interface, stability, and extensive software ecosystem. It’s based on Debian, another well-regarded Linux distribution, and is designed with ease of use in mind. Ubuntu is free to download and use, making it an accessible option for anyone looking to explore the world of Linux.

Software for Amateur Radio on Ubuntu

Ubuntu’s open-source nature lends itself well to the amateur radio community, with a variety of software available for tasks ranging from logging contacts to digital mode operation and radio control. Here’s a roundup of some essential software for amateur radio enthusiasts running Ubuntu:

Logging Software:

  1. CQRLOG: A robust logging program with features like ADIF support, DX cluster integration, and customizable fields.
  2. Xlog: Simple yet powerful logging software that supports multiple log formats and features easy-to-use interface.

Digital Modes:

  1. Fldigi: A popular software suite for digital modes like PSK31, RTTY, and Olivia. Fldigi offers a user-friendly interface and support for a wide range of digital modes.
  2. WSJT-X: Specifically designed for weak-signal communication, WSJT-X supports modes like FT8, JT65, and JT9, making it ideal for DXing and contesting.

APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System):

  1. Xastir: A graphical APRS client that displays real-time position data on maps. Xastir supports various map formats and integrates with GPS devices for mobile APRS operation.
  2. Dire Wolf: A software TNC (Terminal Node Controller) for APRS and other packet radio applications. Dire Wolf can decode and encode APRS packets and interfaces with other software via AGWPE protocol.

Walkie Talkie Programming and Radio Control:

  1. Chirp: A versatile programming tool for amateur radios, Chirp supports a wide range of transceivers and handheld radios. It simplifies the process of programming frequencies, memories, and other settings.
  2. Hamlib: A library for controlling radio transceivers and receivers. Hamlib provides a standardized interface for radio control, enabling integration with various amateur radio software applications.

Getting Started with Ubuntu for Amateur Radio

If you’re new to Ubuntu or Linux in general, getting started is easier than you might think. Ubuntu offers a straightforward installation process, and many amateur radio software packages are available directly from the Ubuntu Software Center or via package repositories.

To begin, download the latest version of Ubuntu from the official website and follow the installation instructions. Once Ubuntu is up and running, open the Software Center and search for the amateur radio software you’re interested in. Alternatively, you can use the terminal to install software using the apt package manager.

With the right software installed, you’ll have everything you need to log contacts, explore digital modes, participate in APRS activities, and program your radios—all within the familiar environment of Ubuntu Linux.


Ubuntu Linux provides a robust platform for amateur radio enthusiasts, offering stability, security, and a vast selection of open-source software tailored to the hobby. Whether you’re a seasoned ham or just getting started, Ubuntu’s user-friendly interface and extensive software ecosystem make it an excellent choice for amateur radio operations. So why not give it a try and explore the world of Ubuntu-powered ham radio?


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

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