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 http://iut-tice.ujf-grenoble.fr/cao/install.txt, 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?

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