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Tag Archives: Windows

nogui.wordpress.com now boasts the all new Linux Gaming Corner. A Section of the site dedicated to gamers and gaming on the Linux platform. I’ll be adding views and reviews as well as tips and advice on how to get games running under Linux.

So, to kick things off, a quick review on one of my favourite indie games – VVVVVV.

VVVVVV is a charmingly retro 2D platform/puzzle game from award-winning independent game designer Terry Cavanagh

In the game, the player assumes the role of Captain Viridian who must search and rescue the lost crew of her ship after becoming stranded in an alternate dimension. In VVVVVV the player is not able to jump, and the player must flip gravity to fall up/down the screen in order to overcome obstacles.

The gravity flipping control mechanism which forms the core concept of the game becomes second nature after a short period.

You will die a lot playing this game (My completed game file has a death count of over 1000). The game allows for this by providing very frequent checkpoints (re-spawn points) and instant re-spawn upon dieing – (no last life or game-over). The death/re-spawn cycle allows you the practice needed to perfect the required twitch gaming reflexes needed in some of the games more fiendish sections

But, contrary to what you might think, In VVVVVV dieing repeatedly does not frustrate or infuriate. You feel as though you learned something from each death, or it got you one step closer to overcoming the challenge and reaching that next checkpoint. And when you do progress and reach that next checkpoint, the sense of achievement is extremely satisfying (for a game! :-))

Game play takes place in a free roaming map, that can be retraced, similar to Super Metroid. This allows the player the freedom to take their own approach- Undoubtedly, very few players would play through the game in the exact same order, as there are so many routes from A to B.

Getting around is aided by conveniently placed teleporters which will allow fast travel from one to any other. Which adds nicely to replay value – allowing players to quickly travel to unobtained trinkets or unexplored areas of the map.

Graphically, The game is heavily inspired by the 8-bit era, and is therefore duly simplistic. but the graphics are clear, concise and have charm, which is very appropriate for a game of this nature, and goes some way to proving that gameplay is what matters.

The music in VVVVVV, scored by Magnus PĂ„lsson is fantastic. Again has a very retro feel, consisting entirely of chiptune, it sets the pace for the game very nicely, from slower exploration stages to high energy fast paced sections. Truthfully, I fire up VVVVVV and run it in the background just so I can listen to the music while working on my computer – that is how much I love the it!

In terms of longevity, the game can be completed in < 3hrs, however uncovering every last piece of the map will take longer, as will collecting all the trinkets (collectibles which reward the player with a jukebox facility on the ship), some of which are fiendishly hard to get.

In all a hugely enjoyable, quirky game that will have you hooked almost instantly.
If you can look past the old school look and feel of the game, an absolute gem is waiting to be discovered underneath, and with its low system requirements, will run on almost any computer.

Getting it running on Linux

Originally written in Flash, VVVVVV was ported to C++ and Linux binaries made officially available in both 32 and 64bit.

Running the game is simply a matter of extracting the archive and executing the script VVVVVV. Type ./VVVVVV at a terminal from that directory.

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Being a gamer on linux can be a cold, unforgiving place. Sure, there is some great work being done in the opensource community to bring new games to linux and facilitate compatibility usually older Windows titles to linux, but often projects get abandoned or shelved and support can be lacking…

The commercial Indie game market however is a shining example of how linux compatibility can be for the benefit of all! developers and gamers alike!

And when the benevolent fellows over at The Humble Bundle get involved for the good of charity, it can only be a good thing.

The bundle allows gamers to purchase a collection of commercially available indie games for whatever price they see fit. choosing how to spread there donation between the devs who brought you the games, and charitable organisations. And whats best, all titles included in the bundle are Windows AND Linux compatible – and you are entitled to both formats, DRM free

The current bundle bundle – “The Frozen Synapse Bundle” includes Frozen Synapse (predictably), Spacechem, and Trauma – as well as the entire FrozenByte bundle, if you donate above the average amount.

All games are interesting and well worth playing! support indie developers and charity by playing games! Get it NOW! while you can – these bundles are made available to a limited time only.

The Frozen Synapse bundle will expire TODAY! GO! GET! NOW! QUICK!

p2p

Wondering which peer-2-peer method is best for you? I’ll be looking at some of the most popular, and rating them in different areas. It appears that this post got a little longer than i had originally intended, but i didnt want to cut anything because this is good stuff. Read on…

What do you want to download?

The first question i shall ask is: what do you want to download? It is true that some networks/protocols are better for certain content than others. Here is a quick rule of thumb.

Anime – IRC, FTP
I find that Amine is best obtained from either IRC, or FTP. Most fansub groups maintain there releases through these two methods, so it tends to be the most organised. I find torrents can contain a mish mash of different dubs and subs and differing file types and are best avoided.

Comics – IRC, Rapidshare
Comics are Usually released as .cbr or .cbz files. Rapidshare is the best way to go. many rapidshare forums have threads listing thousands of issues, very well organised.

Music – Soulseek, WinMX
Soulseek Wins. Not the most graceful or effective p2p tool, but there is so much rare and hard to find music on here, it just cant be overlooked.

Current TV – Torrents, Gnutella, FTP, IRC
Torrents and IRC are best for current TV – usually encoded and uploaded within hours of airing. Torrents are probably top because it is the most rapid distribution method, allowing a file to proliferate in mere hours.

Current movies – Torrents, IRC, Rapidshare
Again, Torrents are very good for movie releases. The problem lies in finding high quality encodes with high quality sources. ‘Now Showing’ films at the cinema are unlikely to be good quality downloads (Cams – recorded in the cinema on handcams)

Games – Torrents
Games are widely available on all p2p methods. OF course, with games and software, viruses are a significant threat. this goes without saying, but always scan files with up-to-date AV before opening. and download from a trustworthy source – either a private torrent tracker or private FTP are good. Also read torrent comments to see what other users have said about the file.

Old stuff (TV, music, movies – FTP, Rapidshare, Gnutella,
If you’re lucky to enough to meet someone who archives a show on his FTP, then congratulations. Otherwise RS and Gnutella can be the way to go. Also, entire series and older stuff is released as torrents, but there will be fewer seeds on unpopular and less up to date stuff.

*about Newsgroups*
I have personally never used newsgroups, but my understanding is that you can get almost anything from them. I once spent weeks scouring the internet, every (free) filesharing method i knew of looking for a particular file – no luck, it just was not available, simple as that. However a friend of mine who is a subscribed newsgroup user *DID* find the file for me. And in just a day he had brought it into work for me! Needless to say, I wasted no time and uploaded it again in torrent form so more people could use it.

The above list is just an illustration, and will help you choose a network/protocol to find what you are looking for. But you wont find many people who just stick to one method, it makes no sense to limit yourself.

Ease of use

This is an important point. some P2P setups are not well suited for beginners, of course, savvy users can quickly move past this topic, but I have known many ppl stick with kazaa and bearshare – not because they dont know of something better, they just dont know how to do it. Here is how I rank the p2p methods in terms of ease of use.

1. Gnutella clients/Soulseek/WinMX

Very easy to use. download, install, and launch the client. Easy to use tabs including search and current downloads/uploads. Users must setup a share folder and share content or risk being banned by other peers

2. Rapidshare

In simple terms an HTTP file server where other users have added files. Visit a link, click download, wait for an alotted time, and you’re browser will download the file. The problem is, most downloads are split .rar archives, and only 1 file can be downloaded at a time, which makes downloading by hand very tedious. Use an automation tool such as Tucan(cross format, highly recommended) or Rdown(firefox extension) which allows you to paste all your links, and then automates the downloading.

3. FTP

FTP is very easy to use – the difficult part is getting access to the server! FTPs are private servers,so you need to know somebody who can give you access, or contribute in some way to earn access. If you do have access, there are numerous programs that will alow you to upload and download files. It works in a similar way to moving files around your own computer, just a bit slower =)

4. Torrents

Torrents are generally easy to use. The reason its in fourth place, is because sometimes it can be hard to fix problems when using torrents.

Download a client – i recommend utorrent to windows users. In linux I like rtorrent, but its a bit hard to use. Something like Transmission or ktorrent are both good.

Find a good site to source your torrents, download the small .torrent files. open them using your client and away you go.

5. DC

From what I understand, a DC client allows a user to connect to a wide number of hubs. A search facility can the be used to locate files from the connected hubs. Most hubs require clients to share a certain number of gigs/files in order to connect. Can require configuration in order to get working correctly

6. IRC

Most people know of IRC for chatting, but there is a huge file sharing community on IRC. The problem is learning how to use it. IRC is probably the least accessible file sharing protocol I know, but also one of my favourite. You’ll need to register on a given IRC network, identify, connect a chan that is serving files, wait for triggers regarding files, and then use a command line interface similar to linux’s BASH in order to get files. There is also a lot of etiquette that comes into play when using IRC – fail to follow procedure and you could find yourself banned.

So yes, IRC has the steepest learning curve, but is actually a lot of fun to use – I will dedicate an entire post to this topic in the future so watch out.

Need your files right now?

It is hard to be definitive on the speed of a given protocol, because so much varies. For example (in no particular ranking):

Torrents
with torrents, a very new, or very old file will be slow, as there will be few peers sharing the entire file. But a mid-life torrent is usually very fast, and can max out the majority of modern connections. Also very popular files will download very quickly using torrents, but un popular or rare files can take ages.

Rapidshare
Rapidshare is perhaps the most consistent in terms of speed,and therefore the easiest to predict download time. The only problem is,its not the fastest. Free users are heavily restricted – only able to download 1 file at a time, and must wait a given number of seconds between downloading each 100mb segment of their download Rapidshare is an absolute horror to use without a program like Tucan.

IRC
Speeds here depend on the individual file server that you are connecting too, and by and large, transfer rates are very fast. The problem occurs when there are queues. Most bots or users on IRC will only serve a small number of files simultaneously, to prevent the connection getting overloaded (typically 2-4 slots) If you request a file when all slots are full,you’ll be placed into the queue to await a free slot. Even still, the bot will tend to give priority to Voiced users, Ops and personal friends, contributers, etc, which means, as a newbie, you could find yourself at the bottom of the queue for a long time as priority connections overtake you!

SoulSeek
I have never been impressed with the speeds on soulseek. Luckily this network specialises in music, which means small files. Soulseek is a bit out of date technologically – it only allows for connections between 2 peers for a given file, meaning that you cant download a single file from multiple users who all have the same file – you have to select the particular user and file, initiate the download and potentially sit in a queue until a download spot becomes available.

FTP
Again, speed is dependant on the FTP servers connection and its current load – normally you will find that FTP transfers are very fast. The problem is, not many of us are blessed with knowing people kind enough to share they’re beloved FTP server with you. Yes, You’ll need IP address, username and password in order to download from an FTP.

Gnutella
Allows distributed distribution among many peers, meaning many parts of one file can be downloaded from many sources. At the user end, it appears somewhat similar to soulseek, but the way files are actually transfered is mare akin to torrents. Gnutella, despite its name, is not associated with the GNU project, but many Gnutella clients are realeased under the GNU GPL licence.

Anonimity and security

None of the above protocols are inately anonimous, meaning there is a chance (if you use p2p download copywritten material) that you can be identified and prosicuted. some torrent clients encrypt data, but this is normally a measure against traffic shaping which is a common strategy by facist ISPs (i used to work for an ISP – all they care about is the lost bandwitdth and server load that p2p causes)

However there are ways to make these methods anonimous.for example, connecting through Tor – a distibuted proxy which bounces connections through many computers, thus masking your IP address. Another is a piece of software called peer guardian which again, supposedly protects users when connecting to p2p networks.

There are however, a new breed file sharing protocols/networks which are innately anonymous and do not broadcast IPs, effectively making you untraceable. Such examples include GNUnet and Freenet

As far as security against viruses and malware goes. There is no way to be certain a file is clean. common sense prevails. Non executable media is more likely to be safe – i.e. video files, plain text files or music. But that does not mean you are safe. some media files will attempt to download trojans mascarading as codecs to name just one. Be extremely careful downloading any software or games. The safest places for these downloads are private torrent trackers and private FTPs. Windows users: always run up-to-date AV and scan everything once downloaded.

My advice is, if you use a spare machine as a downoading workhorse – do the sensible thing and run linux on it!

Conclusion

There is no single method which is the best. For most people, torrents or the Gnutella network will be adequate. I myself Use a selection torrents and rapidshare, occasionally firing up nicotine (linux soulseek client) when i’m looking for music. try them all, see which you like. feel free to leave comments and share your own experiences.

gpokr

It cant have escaped too many Linux users that, the majority of poker/gambling websites seem to prevent access from Linux computers.

And its not simply an incompatibility issue, they purposefully reject Linux connections, even when Linux is technically able to run the site – Java, Flash whatever.

Well, here is a site that DOES work in Linux. Its a free-play site, so don’t expect to clean up in here – its just for practice/fun.

www.gpokr.com is built using the google web toolkit and programmed in Java, AJAX, and GWT. Not quite as flashy as some of the poker sites out there, but more than playable – even fits nicely on the screen resolution of the eeepc900 – as long as you hit f11 for full screen.

vlc_ascii
This is SO cool, even if its usefulness is somewhat limited. VLC, and also Mplayer support video output in the form of ASCII characters which can be viewed through a terminal window, tty,or even a remote session via ssh.

The main use i can imagine for this is if you run a NAT/torrent workhorse without X server,you could ssh to it and actually check media files.

To activate in VLC, go to Tools>Preferences>Video and then select ASCII from the outputs drop down. Colour ASCII is also available.”

sony_video_player

If you’re a linux user, and own a Sony MP3 player, Sony couldnt care less about you. Even if you are a Windows user, the syncing software provided by sony (connect and sonicstage) are possibly the two worst pieces of software I have ever encountered – so I was overjoyed to discover this project.

JSymphonic is a Java program for synchronising and transferring music to and from Sony MP3 players. Being java based, it is platform independent, able to run on any machine that handles java. Supports generation 3 onwards, which covers almost everyone. If you havea sony player you NEED this. say goodbye to sonys awful software forever.

Peep the excellent documentation right here

I’m pretty sure that most linux users must have been introduced to computers using windows before finally reaching enlightenment, i certainly know I was. So here is a little selection of apps and utils that I put together when I was a Windows user. check it out, because there is some pretty cool stuff here. Word of warning, the stuff on here is a little netbook/EEE specific, but still worth a look even if you’re not on that hardware

Launchy
Launchy is a program that allows applications and directories to be accessed with a simple keyboard shortcut.

Call launchy by pressing Alt+Space, start typing an application, press enter

Simply press Alt+Space, and start typing the name of the application or folder, Launchy will usually guess correctly after just two or 3 characters have been typed. If launchy guessed wrong, just select your choice from a drop down (launchy will remember your choices for next time) or press escape to dismiss the active window. Say good bye to the start button forever!

EEECTL
EEECTL is a utility which allows you to overclock, or underclock the CPU of the ASUS EEE PC.

In addition, it also provides a reading of the CPU temperature, allows control of the system fan, and also screen brightness

Fully configurable - you can set your own profiles for clockspeed, fanspeed and screen brightnessThe software can be modified via a .ini file, allowing individual users to set their own parameters. This means custom profiles can be created allowing users to overclock or underclock as much as they want (at their own risk ofcourse).

The program was written for the EEEPC 700 series, but is compatible with all celeron M based EEEs – head over to http://www.eeeuser.com forums for more advice on this program, as well as pre altered .ini files best suited to your model.

Perfect for squeezing a little extra performance or a little extra battery life out of your machine, depending on your needs.

Be warned, some configurations can lead to system instability

Bat Stats
As all netbook users know, battery life is important. with such a portable device, its very common to find yourself a long way from the nearest power outlet. so for this reason, its important to have accurate battery life indicator.

One problem that many laptops suffer from, is the lack of a ‘smart’ battery, often leading to battery indicators being wildly inacurrate.

One program that overcomes this problem is batstats. It works by profiling a battery once (letting it run down from a full charge, timing it, and recording voltage levels each minute). This allows the software to accurately assess your batterys remaining charge in minutes and percentage by cross referencing it against the recorded data.

batstats was written for the EEE PC, but will work just as well on any laptop (so long as a custom battery profile has been created.

Batstats will also act as a ‘low battery alarm’ and ’emergency shutdown’ – meaning you can disable the Windows power management options for this.

batstats1batstatsThe only shortfalling of this program is that, aesthetically, it is somewhat ugly, but the tray icon is fine, and once configured, you shouldnt ever need to open the main program again.

I highly recommend this program to anyone using a ‘dumb’ battery in their netbook.

More of these coming soon.