Questions and opinions about the mag, Linux and open source
Your final batch of beautiful words
Linux 4 life
Dear LU&D, I was introduced to Linux many years ago for a game project, but just did the work on a small system and didn’t pay much attention to it. A few years ago I started doing contract work for Google ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) that involved prototyping on the Pi, which started a whole new chapter in my life.
I’ve been working with them ever since and it’s my favourite job, but the Linux side has taken on a life of its own. I dove in head first to learn everything I could about IoT devices/marketplace and Linux has been a major part of it. I’ve been working my way through the popular IoT electronics (MCUs, SBCs, displays, sensors and motor controllers and so on) by buying the part, reading the datasheet, writing custom code and then publishing it on GitHub (https://github.com/bitbank2).
I’ve learned a ton and have come to appreciate the power and simplicity of Linux. I’m able to write portable C code that can run on any CPU from a $7 ARM board to a $3,000 laptop. Now I’ve started to use my Linux experience and IoT knowledge to expand my client list and get new jobs in both software and hardware development.
Chris: Thanks, Laurence. Everyone’s journey with Linux is different and it’s exciting to think that 25 years on from the release of the Linux kernel, it’s commonplace to see people making a living from Linux in all its many, many forms. If you’ve not come across Google ATAP (https:// atap.google.com), it’s worth a look. Being interested in next-gen interfaces as I am, Project Soli is particularly fascinating as it demonstrates an interaction sensor chip using radar technology. The chip is able to pick up tiny finger movements, such as simulating the turn of a dial with a finger and thumb.
Dear LU&D, I don’t know if anyone has mentioned it already, but I would love to learn how to make my own GNU/Linux distribution and maybe desktop environment in a future issue. Not necessarily writing one from scratch, but creating bootable media of your current system and making it installable.
Chris: We get this request quite a lot, Frederik. Quite a number of the tools for building your own Linux distro have disappeared over time. (We also notice that OpenSUSE’s Studio and Open Build Services are merging to become OpenSUSE Express and creating quite a major upheaval in the process.) Probably the most popular tool (or script) was remastersys, and although that has ceased development many years ago, a number of distro development teams have taken on the script and reworked it into their own tools. We actually cover how to take a base Ubuntu, get the packages you want and create a custom ISO with Bodhi Builder (see p24). Hopefully, that will get started down the road to getting up the custom distro you want!
X marks the X2
Dear LU&D, I read your review of the HP Chromebook x2. Can you please advise where one can be obtained in the UK? Your review says http://www.acer.co.uk, which surely must be a typo?
Yannis Kingdom (via twitter)
Chris: Yes, we imagine trying to find an HP Chromebook on the Acer site would be quite fruitless... Sorry for that blooper. That comes from using an old template and no one noticing throughout the entire production process. The review of the x2 was quite an opportunity for us as UK availability has been very low, but the few reviews that we’d read were glowing. We managed to get one from HP US, but before we ran the review we received confirmation that the Chromebook x2 would be available in the UK as a John Lewis exclusive. However, this doesn’t appear to have happened yet as there’s no mention of this particular Chromebook on the John Lewis website.
Above Linux and small board computers go together well, and tinkering with them both can open up the prospect of a career
Above You can still use Open Build Services while it and SUSE Studio are merging, but Bodhi Builder is a good option for Ubuntu
right Chromebook x2s are as rare as hen’s teeth (excluding the Talpid mutant chicken, of course), although we have been told that John Lewis has the exclusive in the UK