The world of amateur radio has always been closely tied to technological innovation, and in recent years, Linux has become an essential tool in the ham shack. From digital modes and logging to software-defined radio (SDR) and satellite communication, Linux offers a robust, flexible, and cost-effective platform for amateur radio operators. This blog post will explore what amateur radio enthusiasts can do with Linux, the top usages in the ham radio world, and why Ubuntu stands out as an excellent choice for a Linux operating system.

What Can Amateur Radio Do with Linux?

Amateur radio operators, or hams, can leverage Linux in various ways to enhance their radio experience. Here are some key capabilities:

  1. Digital Mode Operation: Linux supports various digital modes like PSK31, RTTY, FT8, and JT65 through software like FLDigi and WSJT-X.
  2. Logging and Logbook Management: Applications like CQRLOG provide comprehensive logging capabilities, including integration with online logbooks like Logbook of The World (LoTW) and eQSL.
  3. Rig Control: Software such as Hamlib allows hams to control their transceivers from their computer, making it easier to manage frequencies, modes, and other settings.
  4. Software-Defined Radio (SDR): GNU Radio and other SDR software enable hams to build and experiment with SDR applications, opening up new possibilities for signal processing and communication.
  5. Satellite Tracking: Programs like GPredict allow hams to track satellites and plan contacts using their orbital data.
  6. APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System): Xastir is a popular APRS client for Linux, helping hams track and map real-time data from APRS networks.

Top Linux Usages in the Amateur Radio World

1. Digital Mode Operations with FLDigi and WSJT-X

  • FLDigi: A versatile program that supports numerous digital modes. It allows for seamless operation of modes such as PSK31, RTTY, and Olivia.
  • WSJT-X: Widely used for weak signal communication, this software is essential for modes like FT8 and JT65, making it possible to make contacts even under poor conditions.

2. Logging and Station Management with CQRLOG

  • CQRLOG: Specifically designed for Linux, CQRLOG offers advanced logging features and integrates well with other amateur radio software. It uses MySQL for robust log management and supports direct online logbook uploads.

3. Rig Control with Hamlib

  • Hamlib: Provides a standardized interface for controlling various transceivers. It integrates with software like FLDigi, CQRLOG, and WSJT-X, allowing for automated rig control and frequency management.

4. Software-Defined Radio with GNU Radio

  • GNU Radio: An open-source toolkit that enables hams to create custom SDR applications. It’s a powerful platform for those interested in signal processing and experimenting with new communication methods.

5. Satellite Tracking with GPredict

  • GPredict: A satellite tracking and prediction application that helps hams track the movement of amateur radio satellites and plan their communications accordingly.

6. APRS with Xastir

  • Xastir: An APRS client that allows hams to send and receive APRS data, track positions, and visualize data on maps. It supports a wide range of map formats and interfaces with GPS devices and TNCs.

7. Slow Scan Television with QSSTV

  • QSSTV: Enables the transmission and reception of SSTV images, allowing hams to send pictures over HF, VHF, and UHF bands. It supports multiple SSTV modes and provides real-time image processing.

Why Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is a popular Linux distribution that stands out for several reasons, making it an excellent choice for amateur radio operators:

  1. Ease of Use: Ubuntu’s user-friendly interface and extensive documentation make it accessible to both beginners and experienced users.
  2. Software Repositories: Ubuntu has vast software repositories that include a wide range of amateur radio applications, making installation and updates straightforward.
  3. Community Support: A strong community of users and developers provides robust support, ensuring help is available when needed.
  4. Stability and Security: Regular updates and a focus on security make Ubuntu a reliable platform for running amateur radio software.
  5. Customization: Ubuntu’s flexibility allows hams to customize their setup according to their specific needs, whether for digital modes, SDR, or satellite tracking.


Linux, and particularly Ubuntu, offers a powerful and versatile platform for amateur radio enthusiasts. From digital modes and logging to rig control and SDR, the open-source nature of Linux provides endless possibilities for innovation and experimentation in the ham shack. Embrace the flexibility, stability, and community support that Linux offers, and take your amateur radio operations to the next level. Happy operating!

For more insights and discussions about Linux in the ham shack, please visit Linux in the Ham Shack.


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

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