Product Picks: Fedora, Oscilloscopes, Bash and Maple

Gadgets, gizmos, and gear for you and your Penguin.

Lucky Number Seven

Fedora 7 is the latest version of Red Hat’s community-supported Linux distribution. Besides dropping the word “Core” from its name (its predecessor was Fedora Core 6), there are a number of improvements in Fedora 7.

One key feature is customization. Some large organizations, such as school districts, find it advantageous to tailor Linux more closely to needs, omitting certain packages or adding others, for instance. All the tools required to create such a custom Fedora 7 are now freely available. Another key addition is the Fedora 7 Live CD. Just place the Live image on any form of bootable media and turn the PC on to “try before you buy,” without affecting the contents of the hard drive. Or, take the Fedora 7 Live CD image with you to run the distribution virtually anywhere.

Fedora 7 includes enhanced support for virtualization and gobs of software upgrades. You can download Fedora 7 and the Fedora 7 Live CD from http://fedoraproject.org/ or from Bittorrent and FTP mirror sites worldwide.

Is That an Oscilloscope in Your Pocket…?

Retired Ryerson Polytechnical University professor Peter Hiscocks is tackling the problem of getting quality electrical engineering tools at affordable prices into student hands. His starting point? The DSO-101 Oscilloscope (http://www.syscompdesign.com/).

To trim costs and size, the DSO-101 lacks a display, instead depending on a computer to handle display duties. Almost any computer built within the last five years with a USB port should be sufficient. The DSO-101 is small enough to fit in a pocket, and features 8-bit vertical resolution, a 20 MS/s sample rate, and two input channels so you can monitor two waveforms at the same time. The display software is available under the GNU Public License version 2 for Linux and other operating systems.

The DSDSO01 lacks features found in top-of-the-line oscilloscopes, yet it has most everything students and hobbyists need. Moreover, with a price tag starting at $189 plus shipping, the DSO-101 is much more affordable than any commercial oscilloscopes.

Bash Potatoes and Other Recipes

Linux desktop software is quite capable, and graphical user interfaces simplify so many tasks. However, there are times when only the command-line will do. And while there are many shells available, the most popular one remains the tried-and-true bash.

The “bash Cookbook” (O’Reilly Media, ISBN 0596526784), written by Carl Albing, JP Vossen, and Cameron Newham, presents a series of real world administration problems with real world solutions, all written in bash. The book is packed full of useful scripts, along with examples that explain how to create better scripts. Throughout the book, issues that can get you into real trouble are tagged with a small drawing of a trap.

Anyone who uses bash can benefit from the “bash Cookbook.” The book is available through most book stores, or can be ordered directly from O’Reilly for $49.99. Alternatively, you can pay $25.99 to read the book online.

Get Your Math Geek On

Got some squirrelly math problems to solve? Try Maple (http://www.maplesoft.com).

Maple 11 combines the world’s most powerful mathematical computation engine with an intuitive user-interface that eliminates the learning curve common with other mathematical software. Its smart document environment automatically captures all of your technical knowledge in an electronic form.

Maple 11 is available for selected versions of SuSE and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, as well as other operating systems. Prices start from $99 for the student edition, up to $1,895 for a full professional edition.

Have you seen something new and neat for Linux? Is your organization producing a neat Linux product? Send announcements to news@mcgregor.org.

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