March 7, 2005

Ham and Wine go well together

Author: Joe Barr

Wine -- the open source
implementation of the Windows API on X and Unix -- is a
tool that you may never need. Its development seems to have been
driven primarily by games and office suites available on the
Windows platform, but not on Linux. Since I'm happy with the games
available natively to Linux, and I don't have much need for office
suites, that means I haven't been watching Wine
mature over the years. But now I've got an itch that I can
only scratch with a shareware app for Windows, so I thought it was
time I installed Wine to see if it could bring some relief.

I've just gotten my ham radio license, and have become interested in
Linux software for amateur radio. There is quite a bit, from applications for generating Morse code to others for sending
and receiving fax, RTTY, PSK31, slow scan TV, and more. But my itch
has to with continuous wave (CW), the original emissions type for radio and for hams. I searched in vain for a CW decoder for Linux.

I did find a shareware application for Windows, though, called
CwGet, which does some fairly sophisticated work with the sound card in
order to decode the Morse code you feed it. Think Audacity and
you'll know what I mean. The app consists of three sizable windows:
the top window is a spectrum display, the second contains the
decoded text of signals you've tuned, and the third is a
time-domain display of the sounds received.

Everything I read said "this is what you want." But of course
it isn't, because I don't run Windows. It was just about this time
that the
news
about Microsoft blocking users running Wine from downloading
updates and tools from their site began to spread. All the sudden I
wondered -- if Wine is good enough to have Microsoft blocking it, could it
run CwGet?

I found Wine in Synaptic and installed the latest version from
the Debian repositories. Things didn't go well. I checked on the
#winehq IRC channel on the Freenode network and learned that the
Debian version is broken. I was told to follow the directions for
Debian on the WineHQ
download page
instead.

The instructions given were to add the WineHQ repository to
Synaptic, do a reload, and install Wine. So I removed the version
of Wine that was broken, and installed the official WineHQ version
in its place. Would the official
version of Wine go where the Debian version would not?

I downloaded and unzipped CwGet. Then I used Wine to
install it, by entering wine setup.exe in the same
directory I unzipped it in. The install ran without a hitch, right up until the very end. The last pop-up window in the installation process asks if you want to view the Change History and the Help file. The Change History displayed just fine, but there was a problem trying to execute the Help file and I got an error message instead of Help. As described further down, glitches with Help turned out to be my only problem.

Click to enlarge

I used an audio cable with a mini-jack at each end to connect my Yaesu FRG-7700 receiver to the Line In port on my SoundBlaster Live! card.
Then I found a ham band with some CW activity and started CwGet. I was amazed when I saw the CW being decoded real time, as I heard it, but there it was. Yes, CwGet would work on Linux, thanks to
Wine.

There were a couple of glitches, both of them having to do with the Help function. First of all, Help doesn't show anything if I don't start Wine in the program directory that contains CwGet
and its help file. And even when I do start it from there, the images don't display properly and text that you have to scroll to in order to display it is smudged and illegible. If there are tweaks for Wine or the Wine configuration you can make to resolve those issues, I haven't found them.

I'm pleasantly surprised with the progress Wine has made since the last time I looked at it. I think I'll be using it more often, now that I've registered CwGet.

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