Mac Mini 6,2 + LinuxCNC [2.8 vs. 2.9?] + QtPlasmaC

21 Oct 2022 15:30 #254694 by dlv
Hi all.  I'm at a point in my plasma table project where I'm trying to decide how to proceed.  Specifically wrt the best LinuxCNC version to start with for QtPlasmaC.

This is for a Mesa 7i76E + Mesa THC build.  Ultimately driving a 5'x5' table & 60W torch.  I've got most of my controller electronics build completed.  I've used an old throwaway Gateway Celeron PC to do some initial motion control testing with on the Mesa board.  I used a "vanilla" LinuxCNC 2.8 install for that.  Actually started that about a year ago but project was put on hold for a while.   Now I'm re-engaging the project at the point I'm about to set up the computer I'll actually put into the case and want to set that up with QtPlasmaC.

As an aside, that computer is a Mac Mini late 2012 6,2 with 16GB ram.  This is an i7 2.3 Ghz quad core machine.   I'm assuming that's plenty powerful for running LinuxCNC, especially since I'm just driving a Mesa 7i76E with it.   There are cheaper options for sure, but I just had this lying around and it fits nicely in my enclosure.   Not much I found on using a mac mini for LinuxCNC.  Hoping it's a good choice.

The primary question and reason for posting here is that given the current state of things, which LinuxCNC version I should be using heading down this path for a solid LinuxCNC + QtPlasmaC install?

Would going with the official LinuxCNC 2.8 stable release be the safest bet?   It's expected given 2.9 is on Master and under development it might give some headaches.   That said I'm sure there's some improvements in the current state of QtPlasmaC & 2.9 on Master and maybe it's pretty close to a release and I should just go for it?

I'm just a little stuck on confusion I have from the documentation.  Trying to read all of it to understand the correct way to go.  Looking at the PlasmaC User Guide it talks about having a completely functional LinuxCNC installation *before* attempting to install and configure PlasmaC.  However I see forum posts saying QtPlasmaC is now included in the LinuxCNC installation and maybe that's not the case anymore?  Is inclusion only in 2.9 pre on Master or is it also in the stable 2.8 release?

I'm reading the LinuxCNC version 2.9.0-pre0-8052-g924f12f53 Documentation link but the "getting LinuxCNC" section refers to linuxcnc-2.8.2-buster release.  Is there a step I'm not getting about updating that to Master to get on 2.9?

I know wrapping my head around LinuxCNC + QtPlasmaC is going to be a journey.  Just want to be sure I make the right decision here to start that  journey.

Also this feels like a completely basic newbee question and I do apologize for that if it's addressed elsewhere I haven't found yet.  Hoping some of the experienced folks here might guide me through this initial confusion.  

Thanks in advance.   -dave

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21 Oct 2022 15:40 - 21 Oct 2022 15:59 #254695 by snowgoer540
QtPlasmaC requires 2.9.

I may be biased but I recommend this guide to get you there:

There are newer versions of this OS, but 19.4 will let you choose a package install if you like still, without the need to build your own packages every time there’s an update, etc.  MX Linux is really snappy and easier to use than the stock ISO distribution.   
Last edit: 21 Oct 2022 15:59 by snowgoer540.
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21 Oct 2022 21:19 #254726 by dlv
Snowgoer thank you for the response! MX Linux looks interesting. Based on Debian and 19.x appears to be Debian 10 (Buster). Uses apt which is good. Your guide looks very comprehensive and I will read it. My only concern with MX Linux would be whether or not it's got any issues with the h/w I plan to use (the mac mini). I'll look into that. I have read there are some additional drivers I'll need to install, namely for the Broadcom BlueTooth h/w in the mini. If I care about BT working that is, which is not a given. Plan to use a wired keyboard and mouse.
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22 Oct 2022 18:42 - 22 Oct 2022 18:44 #254787 by dlv
@snowgoer540 your guide is quite helpful. I went through it and succeeded at getting a MX Linux LinuxCNC 2.9 with QtPlasmaC installation with minimal grief.

FWIW I am not much of a Windows guy. I'm a retired Unix S/W developer and more of a Mac guy in preference. So some of the customization sections at the end were not for me but that's totally fine and I commend you for including them.   Many users will benefit from that. 

However I did run into a few things you might want to know about while installing on this Mac mini. Including having to install proprietary Broadcom drivers for the wifi to work.  I documented my experience and I'm attaching a PDF of my notes.   You can decide to use them as you wish.   You may not want to since I know your guide is targeted towards people installing on PC h/w.   That said I think the mini is a fine platform for this use.   My notes may be useful to someone else thinking the same.  Now I've got the actual journey in front of me of learning how to actually configure a working plasma machine.  Hopefully I won't be too much of a pest elsewhere in this forum.  

Cheers,   -dave 


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Last edit: 22 Oct 2022 18:44 by dlv.
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22 Oct 2022 23:53 #254810 by snowgoer540
Glad that you got it going with minimal grief! Thanks for taking notes and including them here, never know what people will need in the future.

Enjoy the journey, lots of fun stuff ahead, hopefully minimal frustrations. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.

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