Joe's Linux Blog Linux Admin tips and tricks

February 10, 2009


Filed under: — jfreivald @ 6:38 pm

This is my linux blog.  I’m using it to keep track of what I’ve done that works for me.  If something in here causes your computer to spit transistors at you, feel free to post your results, but don’t get angry.  You should test everything in here thoroughly before you use it on a production system.

Use the tips contained within this blog at your own risk.

Feel free to link to this blog.  Do not feel free to copy tips and claim them as your own.

Joe’s Linux Blog is Copyright (C) 2009 – All Rights Reserved


  1. Joe,

    Are you available to do work for hire? as I want to move over a CentOS based digital d-star repeater system that is currently running on a regular pc in5o a ALIX based appliance and need a helping hand from a skilled Alix guru such as yourself.

    Let Me know,

    k j o n e s f l o r i d a @ h o t m a i l . c o m

    Comment by kj4qal — April 27, 2011 @ 8:02 am

  2. @kj4qal

    I am available for hire. I’m very expensive. Normally, for a job to be worth my time on I would need to charge more than $260/hr. On the other hand, I do a lot of stuff for free because the project or the people involved are interesting. I don’t have a middle ground.

    Ham radio happens to be a tertiary interest to mine (my day job is as an RF systems engineer), and Ham radio operators contribute a fantastic amount back to society for free, especially in times of crisis, all without so much as a ‘thank you’, so I’m willing to donate some time to help you get up and running.


    Comment by jfreivald — August 26, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

  3. Hello Joe,

    Just find your site because I search information on Alix CPU engine.
    I want to use an Alix 3D3 to turn the excelent OpenCPN, a GPLv2 chartplotter.
    There are some builds for Ubuntu, fedora/centos.

    I am not familiar with Linux installation, so could you give me some informations?

    (I need firstly to know if you think the CPU power of Alix 3D3 will be enought to turn OpenCPN)

    Is it possible to join you by email (sorry I didn’t found it..)

    Best regards


    Comment by manuprenlair — August 28, 2011 @ 11:51 pm

  4. @manuprenlair

    Bonjour. I will help you as much as I can, but there are many aspects which you will need to learn for yourself, especially to use such a critical application as a chart plotter, upon which will rest the safety of your property and the lives of you and your loved ones. Personally, I do not think you should use it as your sole chart plotter until you have used it side by side with a commercial plotter for a quite some time and learned whether or not it provides sufficient reliability and current information. I have no idea how mature the application is, and cannot stress to you enough that opensource applications can have quirks and bugs that are difficult to solve, especially in the open water.

    As I see it, you are faced with two problems, one is that you wish you use OpenCPN on Linux, and the other is that you wish to run it on a low power system, presumably to use on the 12V shipboard system.

    Installing and using Linux applications that do not come with the distribution is not generally a trivial undertaking for normal Windows users. There are a wide variety of things that can go wrong, with the error usually described using cryptic messages. Before you attempt to work with the Alix, I would recommend that you get a standard desktop computer and install Centos Linux from the DVD available at This DVD has a step-by-step installer that will assist you. Note that this will usually erase the hard disk of the target computer. Then you will have a working Linux system that you can attempt to install OpenCPN on, without having to deal with the ALIX complications. You should select Centos Version 5 so that the work you do conforms to the current ALIX image. I will be creating an image for Centos Version 6 in the near future, but it is not available yet.

    After reviewing the OpenCPN site for several minutes, I cannot find any system recommendations for either Windows or Linux so I cannot predict the performance on the Alix. They do provide a page for configuration parameters that can be used on low power systems, so we may presume that it could be used on the Alix by tweaking these parameters, but it may run slower than normal or prevent caching of as many chart tiles. It might take several iterations for you to find the parameters that work for you. In general, the Alix is reasonably powerful for moderate tasks. It will not be nearly as fast as modern laptops or desktops. It does have a relatively new but slow-clocking processor. The largest constraint is the memory, which is 256 MB, far below what modern systems use. Fortunately, the Linux kernel was designed just for such architectures, and works far better under those constraints that Windows XP/Vista/7.

    To use Centos on the ALIX, you would first need to install the Centos image from, which would be most easily done using the linux desktop that you use for testing and following the instructions on the Alix post of this blog at . While the 3D3 does have a VGA port and two USB ports, which will allow you to hook up the monitor, keyboard and mouse, you will need to have a compatible monitor that will run on 12V power, or run the monitor off of an inverter, which would be very inefficient.

    I realize that this response has rambled a bit, but it is late at night here in Nebraska and I’m very sleepy. I hope that it is helpful to you. I am very interested in your findings because I hope to one day retire to a sailboat and visit many parts of Europe, including France, and having a GPL chart plotter would be excellent.

    I do not publish my email on this site to reduce SPAM. I will send you a follow on email so that you have it.



    Comment by jfreivald — August 29, 2011 @ 1:30 am

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