Why Joe Martin chose the Linux OS for Sherline CNC systems
I have purchased over one million dollars worth of CNC equipment in my life, and I couldn’t tell you what operating system (OS) any of it ran on. I was only interested in how the CNC equipment would work; that is, the “final results.” I chose Linux and the EMC (Enhanced Machine Controller) because I felt the final results were excellent. Unlike the Windows OS, the Linux OS dedicated itself to only running the EMC program. This meant that buffering wasn’t needed to prevent unwanted multitasking delays while the program was running. Another obvious reason is that it is an open-source code, which allows Sherline to give the program to you at no charge legally. An added bonus is that if you care to use the Linux OS, there are many other free programs available for it developed by a marvelous group of intelligent and dedicated people.
If you now use Windows®, you’ll feel right at home with this version of Linux
Many people express apprehension when they find that the Sherline CNC system runs under the Linux operating system rather than under the more familiar Windows® operating system. With the latest Ubuntu version of Linux, this fear is pretty much unfounded. From the point of view of the user, if you are familiar with Windows, you will feel right at home immediately with Linux. The basic operations of handling files are accomplished in much the same way in both systems, and the desktops are also laid out in a similar fashion. Once EMC is open you operate within the EMC2 program itself, and the underlying operating system is not much of a consideration, just like once you open a program in Windows. Below is a list of some of the common operations in turning on and using a computer with the Windows procedure compared to the Linux procedure. If you compare the two, you will see that there is really not much difference anymore.
A comparison of common operations
(To see a diagram of the Ubuntu Linux desktop menu links, CLICK HERE.)
|Operation||In Windows||In Linux (Ubuntu)|
|Turn on computer||Press “power” button on front of computer. Windows loads automatically, desktop appears.||Same as Windows. Linux loads automatically, desktop appears.|
|Open a program from a desktop icon||Double click on program icon||Same as Windows. (In earlier versions of Linux you would single click)|
|Open a program from the main menu||Click on “Start” Menu in lower left corner of screen. Select program from menu and click on it.||Click on the “Applications” section on the main menu bar at the top of screen. From the dropdown menu that appears, select a program and click on it.|
|Open a folder||Double click on folder icon. A window appears showing contents of folder.||Same as Windows|
|Move a window||Put cursor on bar at top of window, drag to new location and release.||Same as Windows|
|Resize a window||Put cursor over any edge of the window until cursor changes to double arrow icon. Click and drag edge to resize.||Same as Windows|
|Move a file from one window to another||Open a window for source folder and another for target folder. Click on file icon, hold down mouse button, drag from source folder to target folder and release.||Same as Windows|
|Copy a file from one window to another
NOTE: Keyboard shortcuts of [Ctrl]-C (copy) and [Ctrl]-V (paste) work the same in both Windows and Ubuntu Linux.
|Open a window for source folder and one for target folder. Click on file icon, hold down mouse button, with other hand hold down “Control” [Ctrl] key, drag icon from source folder to target folder and release.
Alternate: Right click file to select. From pop-up window select “copy.” Right click on target folder to select, then select “paste” from pop-up menu.
|Same as Windows (both methods)|
|Copy from a CD, DVD or USB flash drive to a file folder||Open a window for source (DVD drive or USB drive) and one for target folder. Click on file icon, hold down mouse button, drag icon from source folder to target folder and release.||Same as Windows
(Like Windows, when dragging a file from one drive to another, the original file is copied to the new drive, it does not remove the file from the source drive window.)
|Copy from a file folder to a USB flash drive||Open a window for source folder and one for USB drive. Click on file icon, hold down mouse button, drag icon from source folder to target folder and release.||Same as Windows|
|Close a window||Click on “X” in upper right corner of window||Same as Windows|
|Turn off (shut down) computer||Click on “Start” menu in lower left corner of screen, select “Turn Off Computer.” From choices offered (Stand By, Turn Off or Restart.) select “Turn Off.”
Windows Vista and newer versions have a “power button” icon to shut down the computer that expands out of the lower left menu bar.
|Click on “System” in the main menu bar at the top of the screen. From the dropdown menu select “Quit,” then select “Shut Down” from choices offered
Click on the red power icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Select “Shut Down.”
The Linux Desktop
The figure to the left shows the Linux desktop with two windows open. The left window is the “G-Code” folder containing all the G-code programs that come with the system and that you have written. The right-hand window shows the contents of a USB flash drive. You can drag and drop files from one window to another, just like in Windows. On the left of the desktop, you can see “CNC” icons for opening the inch or metric versions of EMC2 and the “G-Code” folder icon that contains all your G-code programs. Icons for the DVD-ROM drive and USB flash drive will appear on the desktop when a CD, DVD, or flash drive is installed. In Ubuntu Linux, you no longer single-click on items but double-click as you would in Windows. At the upper edge of the screen is a Menu bar containing sections labeled “Applications,” “Places,” and “System.” In the dropdown menu that appears when you click on the “Applications” portion of the menu bar, you can access programs that don’t have a desktop icon. You also restart or shut down the computer from here just like in Windows, except instead of using the “Start” button as in Windows, you use the “System” portion of the main menu at the top. In the dropdown menu under “System,” is a choice for “Quit,” which allows you to Shut Down or Restart. Pretty familiar, huh?
(CLICK HERE to see everything these three sections actually contain.)
NOTE: The default desktop screen can be changed to any image you want, just like in Windows.