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IndustryArena Forum > Machine Controllers Software and Solutions > LinuxCNC (formerly EMC2) > LinuxCNC vs MachineKIT - [Is Machinekit] dead?
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  1. #1
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    Question LinuxCNC vs MachineKIT - [Is Machinekit] dead?

    Hello.

    First question, does somebody can briefly explain what's different between LinuxCNC and MachineKIT?

    I understand machinekit's community forked from LinuxCNC a lot time ago and tried to use a somewhat different HAL layer model which allowed them to create a working setup for Beagle Bone Black, but I don't exactly get it, there is a HAL in LinuxCNC as well, so why this is not possible with LinuxCNC?

    Nowdays, the machinekit's web-site is fairly broken and outdated.

    The main project on github of machinekit is archived and replaced by machinekit-cnc and machinekit-hal but I don't get to find any resource when or why this was done.

    Another set of questions I have are:

    - Is machinekit up to date with LinuxCNC?

    - Is machinekit maintained?

    - Is the BBB machinekit image still relevant (up-to-date)?

    - Should I consider BBB with machinekit for a CNC build? Or should I go for LinuxCNC with mesa cards?

  2. #2
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    Re: LinuxCNC vs MachineKIT - [Is Machinekit] dead?

    You're mostly right about the history of Machinekit AFAIK. The reason they broke off was because LinuxCNC took a long time to merge changes as they focused stability. Machinekit guys wanted to push the envelope and focus on small devices and multi-node setups. The big difference was MK had it's hal stack split from the "CNC" stack. They separated out the part of LinuxCNC that had to run close to hardware and real-time from stuff that could be done by a remote computer over a network. They did this because they were heavily focused on things like the beaglebone black, which has a tiny ARM CPU and like 1gb of RAM but it also had a special realtime processor which made it good for controlling hardware. The idea was that a small version of Linux and just the HAL side of LinuxCNC ran on the BBB, while some other computer somewhere else with better graphics can run the GUI and everything else. MK also had support for newer GUI toolkits...for a while anyway

    MK also did alot of really neat things with obscure hardware. MK splitting from LCNC was probably the worst thing either could have done. LCNC has the support and user base, MK had alot of the really talented people. MK failed pretty hard on keeping up with support for Mesa hardware and fell way behind LCNC when it came to stuff like that. They got so far behind that they dropped most of their own hal stack and they port LCNC straight into MK which is why the github has separate hal and CNC repos now. I was working on something nutty a few years back and spent alot of time with machinekit just to realize that support was just falling off a cliff and I had to drop what I was doing as it wouldn't work with LinuxCNC, Looks like the git repo is still somewhat active but the Google groups is dead. the fact that their main discussion happened on GG rather than a forum is probably what killed it.

    I would personally stay away from MK, without the key guys supporting the thing it's dead. LinuxCNC has moved on from the archaic GTK2 GUI's and now supports QT better than MK did. BBB's were never really a thing in LCNC but Rpi4's are. Oddly enough I don't think MK ever ran on an Rpi. Mesa makes a couple of cards specific to Rpi4's so if you're looking for a small footprint that might work well.

  3. #3
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    Re: LinuxCNC vs MachineKIT - [Is Machinekit] dead?

    One thing - Linuxcnc is getting tons of development. They just got it into Debian unstable. (actually - I think it might be in testing now too)

    This will allow you to apt-get install or use your favorite package manager to get it. Linuxcnc won't need a special iso to install.

    I am excited..

    sam

  4. #4
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    Re: LinuxCNC vs MachineKIT - [Is Machinekit] dead?

    Quote Originally Posted by samco View Post
    One thing - Linuxcnc is getting tons of development. They just got it into Debian unstable. (actually - I think it might be in testing now too)

    This will allow you to apt-get install or use your favorite package manager to get it. Linuxcnc won't need a special iso to install.

    I am excited..

    sam
    Well it hasn't ever really needed an ISO. It's not that hard to compile from source. Problem has usually been finding a realtime patched kernel but that's never been a problem with Arch, only Debian. Last I tried Debian I think RT kernels were available in the main repo, but Debian has never been my favorite distro.

  5. #5
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    Re: LinuxCNC vs MachineKIT - [Is Machinekit] dead?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blazini36 View Post
    Well it hasn't ever really needed an ISO. It's not that hard to compile from source. Problem has usually been finding a realtime patched kernel but that's never been a problem with Arch, only Debian. Last I tried Debian I think RT kernels were available in the main repo, but Debian has never been my favorite distro.
    Yes, Debian 11 (Bullseye), the current stable Debian version has the PREEMPT_RT real time kernel available in the repos. But you do need to compile Linuxcnc from source.
    As said its not that hard, just follow this recipe:
    https://www.qtpyvcp.com/install/bullseye.html
    Debian 12 (Bookworm) the current testing Debian version also includes Linuxcnc in the repos. Installing this also installs the PREEMPT_RT real time kernel as its a dependency. But this verison is just a snapshot a couple of months old. If you want the latest version of linuxcnc, you still have to compile from source but the dependency list is much reduced.
    I show you how in this video
    https://youtu.be/Oe4Hfq3G2_A

    So in summary, install bookworm from an iso (preferably a non-free version to include all the 3rd party drivers).
    https://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/u.../amd64/iso-cd/
    I find Rufus is the most reliable tool to burn to a USB. Then just type:
    Code:
    sudo apt install linuxcnc linuxcnc-dev mesaflash
    My recommendation would be to stick with Debian as that is th eofficial build and other distros (like Mint I used to use) often are not up to date with the Linux kernels and required version of Python 3.
    Rod Webster
    www.vehiclemods.net.au

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