alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)
[personal profile] alitalf
I have been using KiCad for electronics designs for a while now, partly becasue it is free open source software and I can install it on as many computers as I wish, and partly because it is developed for Linux as well as for windows.

Every now and again I experimentally try to use Linux rather than Windows for a while, to do my day's work. This is now more of an issue because the thought of having to use Windows 8 for the sort of work that windows 7 is good for on a desktop computer fills me with fear and loathing. Win 8 might be good for a tablet, but I am not going to be able to design complex electronic equipment efficiently on a tablet. OK, the tablet with CAD might still save time compared with pencil and paper, and manually taping a PCB design using a lightbox and layers of drafting film, but still...

So, I opened my latest project in KiCad on Ubuntu 13.04, and found that the version of KiCad in the repository here was not the latest, and won't open the files. (Yes, I had installed the most recent stable release on Windows 7, and it was easy! It has extra functions that are very useful.)

There is an explanation of how to install the latest version on the website hosting KiCad, using, of course, command lines with long strings that it is easy to mistype. I did very carefully type in the correct version (trying to follow the directions in, and ran into error messages that don't make sense without a good understanding of the OS. Realistically, I don't have time to learn the OS very deeply, because keeping up to date with the areas of electronics that are my core skills must take priority.

So, what is the best way forwards? Possibilities include waiting to see if future developments of windows do not render it almost useless to me, installing a different version of Linux that may allow me to install up to date versions more easily, finding out what was wrong either with the instructions or the way in which I implemented them, and learn how to deal with this problem for now and for the future.

There are still other programs I need to use that are only available for Windows, but if Windows becomes less useful for people doing technical work, not solely using wordprocessing and spreadsheets, then maybe some of the software will be ported to Linux. Not so sure about Atmel Studio, which is central to a lot of my work now, because it seems to have been built on tools from Visual Studio. [sigh] So, in order to write software for embedded processors with down to 1k of program memory (but I have used ones with a massive 16k!), in a reasonably efficient editing and debugging environment, it is necessary to use parts of Visual Studio which is designed to produce software for systems in which 1k of memory is too small to take account of.

In the short term the probably only correct response is to keep using the programs I work with on the copy of Windows 7 which I have. As and when I need to buy a new computer, there may be a choice of paying to upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 7, or if that is not available, then Linux of some sort, or a version of windows that is designed to be increasingly difficult to use for programs that don't sit behind Win8s brightly coloured icons (and which you have to pay Microsoft for).

Any bright ideas, anyone?

Date: 2013-06-14 07:21 pm (UTC)
bens_dad: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bens_dad
I'm a heavy linux user who has given assistance to Windows 8 users two or three times, so I'm not an expert on Windows, but my impression and understanding is that all the Windows 7 functionality is there in Windows 8. Certainly you can switch it out of the "tablet" mode and back to the user-interface of Windows 7.

I hear that Windows 8.1 will enable you to set the default to the non-tablet interface that you clearly need.

[ Command lines with long strings that are easy to mistype can, of course, be cut-and-pasted. ]

Date: 2013-06-16 08:27 am (UTC)
bens_dad: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bens_dad
> Isn't ther also a limit of four windows open at once?

I hadn't heard that (although Windows Vista Starter Edition does have a limit of 3 running applications, so it could depend which edition you are talking about).

A quick google suggests a lot of confusion about this. Pages such as

suggest to me that this may only apply to Windows 8 RT, or to phones, and/or only to Windows Store Apps. There are coments suggesting that this limit isn't the number of running apps but the number of background apps allowed on the tool bar.

Seems like a case of finding out and buying the right version of Windows 8 rather than dismissing Windows 8 completely.


Last summer the view I heard was that no-one thought Microsoft expected Windows 8 to be used for serious desktop use, rather it was a response to the iPad, which looked like a bigger and more lucrative market than all desktops. We expected it to be quickly followed by a Windows 9 which merged deskto and Windows 8 features. I guess this is now to be Windows 8.1.

Windows 8 is a better desktop OS than Android or the iPad OS; you can run Windows 7 programs on a Windows tablet, whilst you cannot run Mac programs on an iPad and whilst I know of Linux programs which have been ported to phones (including at least one open source computer algebra package IIRC) they have to be ported, the same binaries don't work.


I observe that the Desktop environments of Windows, Mac and Linux are all being over-influenced by the needs of tablets and touch-screen interfaces, but I hope that this is just a teething issue. If they don't correct support for power computer users I forsee some sort of split. Tablets are great for consumption of content but terrible for content production. If operating systems forget that, some part of the market will bring out a workstation OS for content creation.


alitalf: Skiing in the 3 Valleys, France, 2008 (Default)

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