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Daly, P. N. 2001, in ASP Conf. Ser., Vol. 238, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems X, eds. F. R. Harnden, Jr., F. A. Primini, & H. E. Payne (San Francisco: ASP), 265

Linux BoF

P. N. Daly
National Optical Astronomy Observatories, Tucson, AZ 85726, U S A.

1. Summary

The Linux BoF was attended by $\sim$40 people and included brief talks and an audience Q&A session. Martin Bly reported on Starlink's experiences of running Linux. With Linux on x86-compatible hardware in use $>3$ years, it is clear that it provides a cost effective solution for reducing data. Linux is entering the mainstream alongside Solaris etc. Hardware support issues are reduced to problems with bleeding-edge technology with some (big) vendors issuing Linux drivers/patches or providing information for driver developers. The Linux management tools are very sophisticated with several distributions using the same tools. Software tools are much improved with an integrated C/C$++$/Fortran compiler set and a number of desktop environments available. Linux integrates well into multi-OS data processing environments.

Phil Daly updated the group on developments in real-time Linux. There are now 130 devices supported by COMEDI and LabVIEW looks set to support the NI cards via this route. The principal advances for RTLinux and RTAI were ports to other architectures (x86, PowerPC, $\alpha$), 2.4 kernel support and integrated debugging tools.

Luca Fini talked about the effectiveness of Linux in embedded (industrial) applications by presenting two ways to build a protocol converter. He made comparisons between an implementation based on a PLC$+$SBC running a proprietary RTOS and a PC running Linux. Luca discussed a few details of how to realize a small footprint Linux system and how to cope with special devices used in embedded systems such as flash memory and non-standard interfaces. He stressed some aspects relating to the software development process.

Dave Mills updated the group on recent open source product releases (see and described implementing software guiders and auto-focus tools using Linux, SDL, and frame-grabbers. Dave also provided free CDs of TurboLinux and Linux for Astronomy.

Peter Teuben gave a talk about Beowulf clusters that covered the basic issues in applications needing such a beast and some tips on building one. It was clear that there was considerable interest within the BoF regarding Beowulf clusters.

The BoF concluded with an `ask a guru' session, with the audience asking such Linux related questions as:

One audience member also pointed out that the headquarters of the Free Software Foundation was just around the corner from the conference hotel!

© Copyright 2001 Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 390 Ashton Avenue, San Francisco, California 94112, USA
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