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From the Editor

A Spectrum of Great Projects

Don Marti

Issue #125, September 2004

Wireless communication on Linux is much more than merely a wireless session at a café. Spread out and enjoy the rest of the radio spectrum too.

Put “wireless” and “Linux” on the cover of the same magazine, and people are going to expect 802.11b, or Wi-Fi, networking. We won't disappoint you, as our master chef, Marcel Gagné, covers some desktop tools that you can use to manage your wireless connections (page 24).

Also on the desktop, if you're tuning in to satellite radio and want to control the receiver from Linux, you're in luck. Michael J. Hammel has a friendly GUI app for you. Follow along and learn how you can modify it or write your own applications (page 78).

We got a lot of positive response to Eric Blossom's introduction to software radio in our June 2004 issue. People want a beginner's software radio project to do, so Eric generously developed and wrote up the FM receiver on page 42. Even if you missed the first article, this one will have you listening to FM stations with software. You need a signal for testing, so now corporate radio finally will be worthwhile for someone other than the three Eagles fans who don't have a copy of “Hotel California” and the one guy who wants to buy a Toyota but doesn't know where the dealer is. Once you get started, there are plenty more projects to explore in software radio, so keep in touch when you invent something.

Ian McLoughlin and Tom Scott are quietly inventing a new RF communications mode, with the help of a Linux cluster, Linux FPGA tools and more. See how a modern engineering lab works with Linux on page 36 and get some ideas.

If you're a radio ham, and a little disappointed with the lack of OS diversity in the mainstream amateur radio magazines, you're sure to enjoy Volker Schroer's intro to PSK31 under Linux on page 50. In the early days of LJ, we had a lot of ham readers, so write in if you want more on amateur radio.

Not that ham radio isn't plenty educational and community-building, but radio amateurs settled for a bad deal with governments when radio regulation came into effect, nailed down in the US with the Radio Act of 1927. Amateurs were forbidden to broadcast music, news or general-interest programs. Hams in the 1920s put concerts and sports events on the air but found themselves relegated to talking about—well, mostly about radios. For details, see Bill Continelli's “History of Amateur Radio” on ham-shack.com.

What could have been the first peer-to-peer media went silent. Don't let it happen to new technologies—no matter how tempting it is to want to regulate spam, viruses or “bad software”, doing so could mean we'll wake up to find that all our favorite community Web sites can talk only about Cascading Style Sheets.

Whether you simply want a control panel for Wi-Fi and better music selection via satellite radio, or you're ready to break out the soldering iron and invent a whole new application for software radio, there's plenty to learn and enjoy in this issue. Have fun and see you next month.

Don Marti is editor in chief of Linux Journal.

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