Your welcome, I'm glad to help as I would not be able to do many things without similar assistance from others as I was learning.
Ubuntu is a Linux distribution that is focused on being easy to use. You can download a copy free from http://www.ubuntu.com/. This is the main site for this distribution and has a lot of info about getting started. That said there are multiple variants of Ubuntu that are available to do specific tasks. The folks over at http://www.linuxcnc.org/ have created a modified version of Ubuntu that adds a bunch of CNC related applications. The most notable of these are EMC2 and it's AXIS front end. I use EMC2 and AXIS to drive an older Shopbot 4'x8' CNC router. They can also be used to run a Rockcliff machine if you do not want to use MACH3 (Windows based machine control) or TurboCNC (DOS based machine control software).
"WINE" is a project that allows Linux users to run some Windows applications under Linux. I use it to run Vectric's Aspire CAD/CAM software and Google Sketchup on my Ubuntu Linux desktop.
I have used Dollar Store anti-skid place mats when hand routing and find that they work well as long as I'm not making any through cuts. I see 2 problems with using them on a CNC machine. First they tend to be about 1/8" thick and "squishy" so as the router bit plunges into the workpiece the underlying mat may deform slightly causing the cut to be off as the workpiece shifts position. The second problem that I would expect would be that when cutting out the part the mat could foul the bit. this could be nothing more than melting the anti-skid coating to the bit gumming it up or as bad as the strands inside the mat getting caught on the spinning bit and wrapping around the axle. This would be very dangerous to anyone in the room as well as to your CNC Machine. The mat could get tangled int he bit that is spinning at 10,000 RPM (or faster) and start flinging things around the room at high velocity.
I often use double sided "turners" tape to hold my work pieces to the spoil board. I try to place the tape where the bit will not contact it when it does the through cuts but I have cut through the tape on occasion and only had to clean the bit and sand the part a bit to clean up. I get it from Rockler or Woodcraft. I have tried a few different types of double sided tape but not had good luck with them. the various types of Carpet tape were the worst, It refused to hold securely. The foam tapes hold better than plane carpet tape but suffer from the same flexing problem I mentioned above.
Rockcliff Machine Model A (built fall 2008)
- Baltic Birch Construction
- Probotix 3 Axis kit with Red Motors
- Bosch Colt VS with upgraded Collet
- Mach3 / Vectric Aspire