In the previous two posts in this series, we saw what new software features and hardware support will be provided in our upcoming ADP Software Tools release 6.5.

Our first post on this release discussed the following features:

  • Command-line interface (CLI) based firmware update tools
  • Multiple FPGA bitstream selection at boot-up
  • New LVDS core enabling the use of the Mestor interface

Our second post covered:

  • ADP software going open source
  • ADAC250 streaming and GNU Radio support
  • RF Wideband Digitizer bundle product support

In this post, I discuss another new feature: support for Ubuntu and Debian Linux operating systems in addition to the ones currently supported, Windows and Fedora Linux.

Our criteria for deciding which operating systems to support

Because of the commercial/governmental nature of our customer base and their requirements for high reliability and fast technical support response times, our standards for software quality assurance (QA) are extremely high. The knowledge of our technical support team with regards to the software that our customers use has to be in-depth and impeccable. For these reasons, we hand pick the most commonly used operating system across our user base and include them in our list of supported systems. Before an operating system is included, we run exhaustive QA tests on it. By doing so, we are able to deliver top-line technical support for our systems.

The list of officially supported operating system is periodically revisited as the technology evolves. Until ADP release 6.5, Windows and Linux Fedora were the only operating systems supported. But, following the introduction of support for GNU Radio, things are about to change!

GNU Radio support

GNU Radio is an open-source, user-friendly, real-time radio framework for computers. It includes a scheduler for distributing digital signal processing tasks to the computer’s processing resources and implements a large set of signal processing libraries, from basic math operators to complete communication algorithms to building blocks for protocol stacks. More information on GNU Radio can be found at http://gnuradio.org/

Early in 2013, Nutaq introduced support for GNU Radio on its PicoSDR software-defined radio platforms. Later that year, GNU Radio support for the ZeptoSDR was introduced, enabling users to seamlessly run GNU radio on a remote PC using a Gigabit Ethernet connection or on the ZeptoSDR’s embedded ARM processor. Coupled with Nutaq’s Model-Based Design Kit (MBDK) tools for offloading CPU processing to the FPGA, and a QAM64 MIMO OFDM FPGA reference design, the solution was quickly adopted. Additionally, our new GNU Radio plug-in for ADP 6.5 will introduce support for the PicoDigitizer-250 and the WD8/20G Wideband Digitizer.

A two-part blog series on how the PicoSDR platform can be used in combination with GNU Radio is available: Part 1, Part 2.

GNU Radio has become a widely used framework and is the de facto PC-based prototyping tool for software-defined radios used in wireless communication, radar, and other fields. As far as operating systems are concerned, the GNU Radio user base mostly relies on various distributions of Linux operating systems.

“Based on my experience and fielding questions, here’s the rank”, says Tom Rondeau, GNU Radio project manager and long-time contributor.

  1. Ubuntu and Debian
  2. Fedora
  3. Redhat/CentOS
  4. Arch Linux
  5. Gentoo

“I’ve heard people mention Slackware too

[but] by far our largest user base is Ubuntu,” explains Mr Rondeau, pointing out that his feedback is based on mailing list traffic and his interactions with the GNU Radio community.

To adapt to the needs of this community while maintaining top-line support, Nutaq decided to move forward and extend its list of officially supported operating systems to include Linux Ubuntu and Debian. Starting with ADP release 6.5, the Nutaq ADP tools as well as the GNU Radio plug-in for these distributions will be available for download.

Conclusion

By adding Linux Ubuntu and Debian to its list of officially supported operating systems, Nutaq shows its commitment to helping and supporting engineers and researchers who are working on tomorrow’s wireless technologies. Nutaq’s goal is to enable the GNU Radio community to leverage their existing projects on Nutaq’s platforms (PicoSDR, PicoDigitizer, ZeptoSDR, WD8/20G Wideband Digitizer) while continuing to work in the operating system of their choice.