Over a hundred thousand served: Skywave Linux Earns Open Source Excellence badge on SourceForge
Skywave Linux... What's That?
Skywave Linux is an operating system using bleeding-edge technology
to robustly access broadcast, utility, military, and amateur radio signals from
almost anywhere in the world, including countries with restrictive internet
environments. Skywave Linux is set up to connect easily to a large network of
state of the art software defined radio (SDR) servers, making it possible to
enjoy high performance SDR operation without putting up your own large antennas or
on-site radio hardware. All you need to do is boot the system on a computer
with internet connectivity, find a remote SDR server in your region of interest,
and tune across the spectrum to find signals. Skywave Linux can also operate
numerous types of SDR hardware, plugged into the your computer or on the local
network. Downloading, installing and configuring SDR software can be difficult
for many computer users; Skywave Linux eliminates the hassle by including
several applications installed, configured, and ready to run.
Skywave Linux: Great apps for many kinds of SDR hardware.
Skywave Linux v4.4: Available in GNOME and i3.
Supported SDR Types
Several types of software defined radios are supported by Skywave Linux:
WebSDR servers are located all over
the world and provide easy access to the global airwaves through the web browser.
In Skywave Linux, the web browser is packed with a curated set of bookmarks
linking to the best servers. Thus, a moderately broad internet connection is
all one needs to enjoy clean, stable, AM / FM / SSB reception using this cutting
edge technology. WebSDR servers at the
University of Twente (NL)
and G4FPH, Stafford (UK)
are particularly good, for example.
KiwiSDR servers are a popular type of
internet accessible radio, with hundreds operating at any time. Use the curated
set of web browser bookmarks to access several excellent sites around the world,
such as the server in Victoria, British Columbia (Canada).
devices used on the local computer system. Just plug-and-play!
are the main applications for receiving AM /
FM / SSB modes.
(FlightAware version) is for monitoring aircraft ADS-B transmissions. ADS-B
mapping is available with the help of Python3 libraries. ADS-B data is also
logged to an SQL compatible database for further analysis if desired.
VDLM2dec are multichannel
decoders for aeronautical VHF data modes. Each is capable of simultaneously
monitoring several channels
at once without scanning and also logging the data to an SQLite database file.
RTLSDR-Airband is a
hardware agnostic, multichannel monitor for AM or FM voice modes (not limited to
airband), capable of
simultaneously monitoring several channels without scanning, mixing and
locally (via PulseAudio) or to the internet (via Icecast server).
Ettus Research USRP devices,
offering advanced features and high performance. Their hardware can cover
frequencies from DC through 6 GHz in a diverse array of signal modes.
connects to a network of shared RFSPACE
SDRs. These are high performance radios, with advanced filtering and noise
reduction software. Like the shared HPSDRs mentioned above, they require
broadband internet connectivity for smooth operation.
and BladeRF offer higher performance than RTL-SDR
dongles. These devices feature stable and clean oscillators, sensitive front end
circuitry, superior RF filters, broader RF bandwidths, and higher resolution ADC
chipsets. CubicSDR and Gqrx are the applications built for running these devices.
The key to getting most SDR devices and software to function on Linux is
having proper drivers installed. Skywave Linux broadly supports these with
SoapySDR and Gr-OsmoSDR packages.
Decoders and Digimodes
For decoding RTTY, CW, PSK, WSPR, WSJT, RDS, and other digital radio
transmission modes, use the
applications. Weather satellite decoding is possible with
Noaa-apt for APT and
Glrpt for LRPT.
provides real-time satellite tracking data and doppler corrected tuning control
for Gqrx. In some cases it may be necessary to use the
PulseAudio Volume Control
application to select the best audio source and levels. Basic trunked radio
systems may be monitored using
Conventional radio and video broadcast streams are also supported in Skywave
Linux. VLC Media Player
provides global access to music, talk, news, free-speech, and religious stations
around the world. Editable playlists of IPTV and IPRADIO stations are located
on the internet - available through most search engines. There is a
sample radio playlist in the ~/Music folder.
Usage and Installation Options
Skywave Linux is intended to run as a live Linux environment, bootable from an iso file:
TimeShift is installed. From the live
environment, back up the system to a separate medium. Thence, restore
the backup as an uncompressed filesystem to the medium you want to operate
from in daily computing.
is another option, with the same method: back up to a separate medium then
restore onto your working medium.
Clone it to the hard drive as a regular, uncompressed operating system by
installing and using
In Windows, write the iso contents to a bootable USB or SD card using
In Linux or Windows, create a bootable USB or SD card using
YUMI and Ventoy are both capable of creating multiboot drives, so you can Use
multiple operating systems for different computing tasks. Also, they create
rewritable space to hold your data files or a casper-rw file for
persistent settings across reboots.
It is not recommended to burn an actual DVD to run any live computing environment.
It is far, far too slow! Use a flash drive or SSD. For ultimate performance,
clone the environment to a regular uncompressed file system.
The Skywave Linux Desktop and Rofi menu.
Tiling a web browser and CubicSDR window.
Receiving BBC Radio 4 Longwave via official
stream and actual longwave on an SDR.
Enjoy fewer hassles and more automation
in Skywave Linux 4.
Apps for Coders
Python, Go, Bash, Perl, and Ruby are installed and Neovim is the editor for
coding. It looks great. It is functional and streamlined for friction-free
workflow. Jupyter Notebook is also installed, and it supports creation, testing,
and sharing of applications written in Python, Go, and Bash. Just do it! Make
the next leap in software defined radio by writing the next generation of DSP
and firmware applications. Beginners and advanced coders will all enjoy the
software creation tools available in Skywave Linux.
Command Line Tools
Skywave Linux contains a plethora of efficient and fast command line tools.
Neovim and Nano are a pleasure to program in, in part, because
they are so fast.
Browsing the web is a breeze in text mode with
W3M. Navigate pages with Vim-like keys and
enjoy cleaner, stripped text using the
Surfraw is a search tool
providing well over a hundred different websites to access for information not
easy to find on the major portals. You can look for aircraft in flight by
registration or ADSB hex code, find answers to computing or math problems, or
even do lookups of slang phrases or rumors appearing in the news.
multiple Twitter feeds and displays them as a broadsheet in Firefox. here,
it is set up in "topics." You select a topic and watch five feeds, updated
at regular intervals.
Irssi is a terminal based
internet relay chat (irc) application for anyone wanting to go "old school"
in text based communication.
lf is a fast and efficient
terminal file manager. Navigate with Vim-like keys, with previews and user
configurable management commands.
and fd are tiny
yet very effective tools for searching and organizing files or text.
With these, you can reach into dozens or hundreds of files to recursively find
words, phrases, code, or even terminal command history.
Skywave Linux is a 64 bit system, built on a base of
Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, with
a few MATE Desktop applications and a very riced i3 Window Manager.
It is the additional digital signal processing, networking, and signal decoding
applications that set Skywave Linux apart from its original base distro. The
default username is skywave and there is no password in the default
It is sometimes necessary for users to make encrypted connections which
provide stronger privacy, security, and ability to circumvent censorship. For
applications are installed. Skywave Linux intends to bash holes in censorship
Skywave Linux thanks the talented developers who create Ubuntu, Gqrx, Cubic
SDR, Dump1090, Fldigi, WebSDR, and the many other components which help this
distribution to exist. Skywave Linux also thanks the end users for selecting
this distribution and hopes it is an asset to their radio monitoring endeavors.
Skywave Linux is provided as-is. No guarantees or warranties are applicable
to Skywave Linux. Skywave Linux is derived from Ubuntu Linux, but not endorsed by
or affiliated with Ubuntu or Canonical Ltd. End users bear all responsibility for
compliance with applicable regulations relating to communications monitoring.