Basic Linux systems as a weather computer

This page is under construction – please check back at a later date for the finished version.

Introduction

This page is about using very small and inexpensive computers running a version of the Linux operating system as a dedicated weather computer. Typically, everything about the computer has been miniaturised so that almost all of its components fit on to a single small circuit board, hence the generic name single-board computer (SBC). It’s important to remember that all of the SBCs discussed on this page run some version of Linux as the operating system, and not Windows. Linux performs much the same function as Windows in managing the detailed operation of the computer, but it’s fairly different from Windows under the skin. And, important to recognise, is that these SBCs all require software specially written to run under Linux — the standard weather software written specifically for Windows simply won’t run on an SBC. The good news is that Linux weather software does exist and with an increasing choice, although it will usually be simpler in nature.

One recent and well-publicised example of an SBC is the Raspberry Pi computer, which retails for under £30 (although that’s just the cost of the bare SBC computer board itself and, while this will depend on exactly how you plan to set up your SBC, usually you’ll need to add in the cost of a few simple accessories too, such as a basic case, mains adapter, oh and a display, should you require a separate display). You’ll perhaps already gather that this SBC approach does often require the user to be have an interest and at least modest experience  in setting up Linux systems and so may not be for everyone. That said, Meteobridge is one example of an SBC specially adapted for use as a weather computer and sold as a ready-to-run product with comprehensive instructions.

There are a couple of ways of buying an SBC