Thursday, November 22, 2012

Windows, OS X, Linux for the Roboticist

Call me a luddite, my main geek system is running XP despite being an OS X fanboy. The Windows upgrade path looks torturous. Windows 7 is a train wreck of confusion and delay. Trying to find My Documents and navigate around is like running in a pool. Windows 8 sounds like a nightmare, too. Swell.

I can't stay with XP forever. If I ditch Windows, what's the replacement? OS X? Linux? Everything runs on Windows but not everything runs on the other two. Here's a sample of some of my favorite tools.

Software
Win
OS X
Linux
NetBeans
Y
Y
Y
LTSpice IV
Y
Wine?
Wine
CadSoft Eagle
Y
Y
Y
LPCXpresso
Y

Y
MPLAB 8.xx
Y


MPLAB X
Y
Y
Y
AVR Studio
Y


Gimp
Y
Y
Y
Arduino IDE
Y
Y
Y
Processing IDE
Y
Y
Y
Google Earth
Y
Y
Y
Octave
Y
Y
Y
GnuPlot
Y
Y
Y
IAR Embedded Workbench
Y


Flash Magic
Y


Propeller Tool
Y
Google SketchUp
Y
Y
Wine?

AVR Studio and LTSpice are tools I really like and use often. Ugh.

Picasa is my go-to image manager/editor for this blog. Going without it may suck.

One can use Wine or VirtualBox to run Windows stuff. Since I first wrote this I've actually done it and both are looking promising.

Replacement tools are possible for some of these. Maybe I'd rather use TurboCAD or Blender.


6 comments:

  1. Windows 8 is way better than XP. Here's just one way: Windows XP slows you down by making you go through the "Found New Hardware Wizard" almost every time you plug in a new USB device. That was removed in Windows Vista, and the process of plugging in a new USB device has improved in every new version so that is now totally seamless in Windows 8.

    You might be annoyed at the user interface of Windows 7 or 8, but they probably have all the old features that you want and it will just take a little time to learn where they are.

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  2. @David: Good to know. I unfortunately use Win7 at work and find it awful. I had a chance since I wrote the article to play with Win 8 and it's not as bad as I thought. I think I can live with it. One can get a start menu app for Win 8 and the hotkey shortcuts to get to various stuff is actually kind of convenient. Moreso than Win XP, Vista, or 7.

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  3. LTSpice works flawlessly in Wine (http://www.winehq.org/). I use it all the time.

    Sketchup isn't perfect, but it is totally usable in Wine.

    Wine doesn't always play well with hardware (such as programmers) so even if MPLAB and AVRStudio did run you might not be able to load code tor or debug your device. That being said, the open source AVR toolchain works quite well and avrdude works with my AVRISPv2.

    For ARM there is a good open source toolchain as well. I have used it with the STM32 parts on the Discovery boards with great success (even able to debug!). OpenOCD is the project to look at when considering open source programming / debugging.

    Setting up open source toolchains and workflows for all your parts might not be worth the effort to you but it has worked out well for me so far. All my embedded projects (MSP430,STM32,AVR) have make files that build code and program the hardware.

    Also if you ever do venture into TI hardware and want to use the IDE: Code Composer Studio runs perfectly in Linux and supports most of their parts.

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  4. @daphreak - thanks for the tips. I will give Linux some more thought and research what hardware it supports. For now I built a higher performance system than I had and am running Vista and looking to upgrade to 32-bit. I do use an open source gcc for ARM. Need to look into OpenOCD, etc.

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  5. FlashMagic also works fine in Linux under Wine. You have to set up a symlink to get Wine to associate the correct Linux device with the correct COM port, but once done, it works great, and is my preferred way of burning LPC21xx class ARM chips. Also GnuARM works fine for compiling for ARM, once you can finally get it built. It's just normal GCC set up as a cross-compiler, but works great from the command line. I use it, my terminal, my favorite text editor to edit the code, FlashMagic to upload, and PuTTY to talk to the part once it is uploaded.

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  6. LTSpice runs fine under Linux via Wine. Just installed it the other day.

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