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Thread: Computer questions

  1. #1
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    Computer questions

    Anyone playing with Arduino? I have an Acer Aspire One with Win XP on it. It has a bad battery but they are cheap. I would like to dedicate it to Arduino projects but I don't want to use an Microsoft OS. What are my options and where do I start? Before I order a battery, I thought I'd tap into the brain trust here.

    I have joined a Maker's group here to learn how to use Arduino or maybe Python for the passive energy systems for the house. Those guys do some really cool stuff. I wanted to put the Acer in the toolbox to take to the meetups. Rather than my 17" MacBook Pro.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carol Reed View Post
    Anyone playing with Arduino? I have an Acer Aspire One with Win XP on it. It has a bad battery but they are cheap. I would like to dedicate it to Arduino projects but I don't want to use an Microsoft OS. What are my options and where do I start? Before I order a battery, I thought I'd tap into the brain trust here.

    I have joined a Maker's group here to learn how to use Arduino or maybe Python for the passive energy systems for the house. Those guys do some really cool stuff. I wanted to put the Acer in the toolbox to take to the meetups. Rather than my 17" MacBook Pro.
    I've ran Lubuntu, which is a light weight linux version of Ubuntu, on one of those successfully. If I recall, there isn't a dvd drive on the acer, so you may need an external usb attached one to install to it. I think I tried installing through a usb drive and had issues, but didn't try very hard since I had an external dvd drive.

    BTW...I use Arduino for several things, including the dust collection control.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  3. #3
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    I use a Ubuntu variant on my work computer, in general fairly happy with it. Of the modern linuxes it's one of the more user friendly and reasonably well supported. Haven't used lubuntu specifically but most of the variants are similar enough I'd take Darren's advice on the lightweight version.

    I also have python on the Mac laptop https://www.python.org/downloads/mac-osx/
    It's pretty handy just as an advanced calculator if nothing else

    My arduino experience is limited enough, but I was able to program it from the mac laptop as well. Neat little machines. Also interesting to look at the raspberry pi, is more of a full computer so if you run into limitations on the arduino it's a backup plan. The programming is more complicated though so start easy

  4. #4
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    I've used the Universal USB Installer to create install ready Linux USB Sticks without issue. Way better than going through and burning disks that you use once. Way faster than reading off an optical drive as well.

    I've been a pretty much straight Ubuntu User. I have it running on my shop laptop, that I use for arduino programming and general 'stuff' as well. I also use Ubuntu to run my weather computer.

    http://www.pendrivelinux.com/univers...easy-as-1-2-3/
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  5. #5
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    @Ryan: As I understand it, Arduino is just a computer board that runs a dedicated program. Raspberry Pi is a computer with an operating system, so more versatile and more complex.

    @Darren: I think you are suggesting the light weight version as opposed to the standard version? I do have an external CD drive - somewhere - that I used for the Acer when I first got it (2004). I also have - again, somewhere - several external hard drives that contain old documents, pictures, drawings, etc. And hopefully, a copy of a particular piece of software no longer available to me.

    @Brent: A install ready Linux USB stick is what? A flashdrive with Linux on it? How big of a flashdrive? And I am confused between Linux and Ubuntu. Two different operating systems?

    @Everyone: I am in way over my head here. But I am willing to learn. So I am thinking the process could be like this?
    1. Buy large enough flashdrive
    2. Download ??? on it via the Acer? Or my MacBook?
    3. Using Brent's link to upload it from the flashdrive on to the Acer.

    Or

    Ship it to one of you more knowledgeable people to perform this task! I really like that idea!

    What happens to the WinXP on there now? And the other Win programs? Though If I loose them, that is OK.

    I want the Arduino programming software on it, plus SketchUp, NovaMind (when I find my PC license for it), a word processing program (maybe Open Office), and very simple photo processing program. Then the Acer becomes usefully dedicated to my Arduino learning process, especially when at MeetUps to learn and experiment.

    I will order a new battery for it, though now it works off its charger.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carol Reed View Post
    @Brent: A install ready Linux USB stick is what? A flashdrive with Linux on it? How big of a flashdrive? And I am confused between Linux and Ubuntu. Two different operating systems?
    Ubuntu, Lubuntu, all just different 'distros' of Linux. There are so many different distributions of linux it's not even funny.

    A basic 2 gig flash drive should be big enough. Should be able to find them somewhere for a bout $5.

    Basically, you would download that installer and a linux distro (generally as a single .iso file). The installer will help you to format and put the .iso file onto your flash drive and make the flash drive bootable.

    Then you would plug the flash drive into the usb port on your laptop, fire it up and boot from the usb. That will then install Linxu/Ubuntu/whatever onto your hard drive.

    Not sure if you are going to be able to run Sketchup or Novamind on linux though. I don't see a native linux version of Sketchup, but I have seen talk of working around to get it installed. I'm not sure what Novamind is, but there may be alternatives available in Linux you could use.
    Last edited by Brent Dowell; 02-10-2015 at 05:33 PM.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  7. #7
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    I have Linux lite 2.2 on my Acer Aspire 5740 that I am on right now using Firefox browser & Thunderbird E-mail. I do all my on line stuff with this computer no problems with virus issues I do an update every day. There is a program named Wine that you can install from "install additional software" already on the computer that may help your programs to work. This may help...there is probably more to be found with a search. I used DuckDuckGo search engine.

    http://forums.adafruit.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=20177

    https://www.winehq.org/download/ubuntu

    Also make sure you understand the install procedure for both wine & the program you want to use wine to install. I haven't used wine yet so I would always research if it plays nice with the program you want to install.
    Last edited by Bart Leetch; 02-10-2015 at 07:13 PM.
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carol Reed View Post
    @Ryan: As I understand it, Arduino is just a computer board that runs a dedicated program. Raspberry Pi is a computer with an operating system, so more versatile and more complex.
    That sums it up in a nutshell. You use both together basically using the Raspberry Pi as a "front end" computer with arduino backends if need be. For instance you need more advanced programming features than what the arduino provides or wanted to have a bunch of arduino's managing various bits you could have a raspberry pi acting as the front end. The Pi also has somewhat better display capabilities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carol Reed View Post
    @Darren: I think you are suggesting the light weight version as opposed to the standard version? I do have an external CD drive - somewhere - that I used for the Acer when I first got it (2004). I also have - again, somewhere - several external hard drives that contain old documents, pictures, drawings, etc. And hopefully, a copy of a particular piece of software no longer available to me.
    The main reason for the lighterweight version is that it will likely run a smidge better on older hardward. Linux hasn't been entirely immune to the bloat problem.


    Quote Originally Posted by Carol Reed View Post
    What happens to the WinXP on there now? And the other Win programs? Though If I loose them, that is OK.

    I want the Arduino programming software on it, plus SketchUp, NovaMind (when I find my PC license for it), a word processing program (maybe Open Office), and very simple photo processing program. Then the Acer becomes usefully dedicated to my Arduino learning process, especially when at MeetUps to learn and experiment.

    I will order a new battery for it, though now it works off its charger.
    Plan on the existing software being gone. You can sometimes resize the disk partitions and boot both OS's - if you have enough harddrive, etc.. but the process is fraught with pitfalls so its easy to accidently remove everything even if you try to go that route.

    Here's a short guide on dual booting: http://linux.about.com/od/LinuxNewbi...Boot-Guide.htm

    You can likely get sketchup running under wine: http://wiki.winehq.org/Sketchup?acti...GoogleSketchup - it will likely behave somewhat differently and may well be flakier than usual though... I haven't tried with any recent versions.

    You can plausibly do the same with novamind, but getting stuff running under wine without anyone else having done it is a "sometimes it just works" and "sometimes its totally impossible" sort of problem.

    You might want to try out some of the free alternatives and see if they'll fit your needs:
    http://alternativeto.net/software/no...platform=linux
    ~most~ of those should be available by running "sudo aptitude" which will pull up a package manager and then you can install them (not sure about all but at least some are free).
    https://help.ubuntu.com/10.04/serverguide/aptitude.html

  9. #9
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    Oh and although it may seem exceedingly painful the first time I would highly recommend you doing the install yourself. You'll learn a fair bit about how the system works and be in a lot better shape to try to pull the coals out of the fire later if something happens. It will also act as a nice intro if you decide you want to go deeper later

  10. #10
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    My father plays with Arduino as well as Raspberry PI's. I fiddle some with PI's, but have no experience with Arduino.
    I am a Linux user though. I am writting this on a Lubuntu system I built and I find it to do what I want it to do, and be light on resources. I used it on a netbook, booting from a USB stick for around 5 years as a primary computer. With the costs of USB sticks, personally I would recommend an 8gb one (dvd sized). You can find out what size your distro will take when you download it and I try to leave some space for the other things you might used with Arduino. Lubuntu is a Debian based system, with LXDE (same desktop as the PI, in case you get into them), but on a x86 based platform. Raspbian, is one of the PI distributions, but based on ARM, architecture (think the OLD RISC Mac's, verses Windows machines, sort of difference). I stayed with Lubuntu because the look was more uniform to me (simpler life thing).
    Mac, is a BSD based OS, so you might also consider something like FreeBSD (probably more of a learning curve, because Mac trys to take that out of the picture).
    Unetbootin is a simple program that is commonly referenced, when talking about putting an ISO (bootable distro image), on a USB key. http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/
    It is multiplatform. *run it on your old system, or your Mac* If you write it to a USB key with this, then you get the same thing every time you boot. (like a DVD) I tended to write the ISO to one drive and install to another USB key, rather then the hard drive. To me the hard drive was basically storage (kept Windows for once every couple years sort of thing). If you stick to drive that are less then your hard drive, it makes it easier to notice, so you don't overwrite your old Windows stuff, if you don't want to.

    I am now looking to go more old school with my new pc system (first higher end one in a LONG time). I built an I7s, 16gb ram, 320 on two ssd's and 2gb on a hard drive, and picked up a 4gb for my current system to act as the storage server. (rarely used the netbooks now) My goal is to go more old school and see if I can learn/relearn as there is a lot I haven't done since the Redhat 5.3 days (98-99?), so I am going Slackware.
    My father prefers Raspbian and Puppy Linux. But these are names for distro's that use the Linux Kernel (brains), with other packages. Distrowatch is a place to see lots of ones that might work for you. (Mint gets high recommendations) I sent him a question asking for his suggestions. (one would be don't get around static before playing with these things, he killed two in the last couple of weeks)
    I am sure more later.

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