Archive for the ‘Computer games’ Category


Linux Games

May 21, 2007


I promised an entry about my adventures with games and Linux, so I figured I should get on it.  I have had some interesting times.


Just to recap, I was attempting to use Crossover Office to port some of my games to a machine running Mepis 6.06.  My 30 day trial ran out and I wish I had something positive to report.  Age of Empires never did get running or even installed. 


A suggestion was made to quit whining about trying to run Windows games and try running games more native to Linux.  What a wonderful idea!


So I went looking for some Linux games that I might like.  Glest 2.0 looked very promising, but I never found a binary for it.  If you’re going to ask me to compile code, you should first have me perform exploratory brain surgery on you.  It would be just as painless.  I actually did find a somewhat fun RTS game called Bos wars.  And it is fun and runs very nicely…on Windows.


Somehow I got turned on to a game called Stepmania, and am looking forward to gaming myself into better shape.  This game has actually been pretty cool to play…in Windows.


In both of the above cases, the downfall is the installation process.  You simply can not install a game or program as easily in Linux as you can in Windows.  When you load a program into windows, you click the executable and it works.  When clicking it in Linux, that is not necessarily true.  I did consult various boards and support forums, and found lots of other people were asking about how to get Stepmania working and they either didn’t get answers or they were not answered in proper English.  Not that my Linux system would run it anyway, since there’s some problem with the video driver not rendering in 3D or something.


The trick seems to be to find something in a distro repository and then letting the package manager handle the installation.  And this is how I found an inferior substitute for Stepmania called Pydance.  I’ll give it a try, but it simply is not as rich as its other open source cousin.  However it does work and the Stepmania song library will work with some amount of effort.


So this makes me wonder: are there any games that would work better in Linux than Windows? 


One major attraction of a Linux system is that it seems to use less resources than the Windows counterpart.  I don’t need 256 mb RAM to have a decent system for surfing on the internet, doing email or writing a letter or two and listening to some podcasts.  I’m trying to figure out why the games are so lame. 


With more and more games being done online, this whole issue may become moot, anyway as those seem to be more willing to indulge different platforms.


In the meantime, I won’t be giving up my Windows machine any time soon.  At the same time, I do want to move a Linux machine in just to see if I can find enough uses for having one around to save an old crate from a landfill.




CrossOver Linux

April 10, 2007

In my continuing attempt to get a Linux machine into the realm of being functional and even perhaps useful and fun, I decided to take a look at the proprietary version of WINE, namely CrossOver Linux.  If the program proved easy enough and versatile enough, I would have no problems spending money on such a thing.  What’s $40 or so to be free of Windows or at least to make old machines new again? 


Fortunately, you can download a trial version to try for 30 days.  So I went ahead and downloaded the trial version.  Downloading proved to be simple enough after giving CodeWeavers my name and email address.  The file was about 19 mb so it easily fit on my thumbdrive.  This was then taken to a MEPIS machine that I have that is not networked at the present time.  I really would just like to have a stand-alone machine that can be productive, play some games and find its own fit in my technology milieu.   I hope this is not asking for too much.


One of the first things CrossOver promises is that is should be easy to install.  To this nOOb, that was not a very good promise.  “Easy to install” would mean seeing the icon after MEPIS detected my thumb drive and opened the directory and then me clicking on it and it installing.  That would be easy.  However, this thing had an icon that told me that it wanted to do something in command line mode.  Oops.  That isn’t good.


CrossOver’s directions and help on installation were imprecise and not very helpful.  However, I did find a command in the MEPIS menu that did the trick to getting this thing installed.  It actually took two tries before it began installing.  My machine is a bit on the slow order, at 866 Mhz, so this involved some waiting.  I went and had lunch while it did its thing.  After lunch, I decided to try to play around with it.


CrossOver does list several applications and games that it is supposedly compatible with.  At the beginning of running the program, it asks you to select some of these for installation.  Since I didn’t have installation discs for any of these and since I wasn’t networked, I went ahead and tried to install a couple of simple games that I had discs for.


Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is one I thought would be fairly simple and straight forward.  So I went ahead and directed CrossOver to attempt to install this game as an Unsupported Application in the menu.  CrossOver then created what they refer to as a “bottle” for this so it wouldn’t mess with program settings for programs that were supported.  The installation looked promising and proceeded fairly normally, if not a bit slowly.  At the end, CrossOver lets you know that it is simulating a restart to install the program.  However actually playing the game did not work.  I was informed that DirectDraw did not work in 16 bit mode, which Millionaire uses.  So I have no idea what that means as far as actually getting the game to work.


A second test involved an old copy of Backyard Baseball that one of my paras got from a box of General Mills cereal.  This is a surprisingly fun and addictive game, at least to me, which involves some real strategy and genuine skill plus some luck doesn’t hurt either.  Both Millionaire and Baseball are 1999-2000 games which puts them squarely within a Win98 capability.    Backyard Baseball installed fairly easily, and I was able to play this game normally.  I tried to play across two sessions and sure enough, it saved the info from my teams and my season.  So in this regard, CrossOver was successful.  The game play is essentially the same, although the “escape” button I used to keep from having to watch replays didn’t work and the exit function was not at all smooth.  In fact, I ended my session, logged back on and the CDRom was no where to be found and I had to use a paperclip to get the thing out.  Then it seemed okay with my CD drive.


More testing is in the works with some other game CDs that I have.  I’m wondering if not having Explorer 6 installed is going to prove problematic.  Hooking it up to the network isn’t too much of a problem, although it’s just an inconvenience.  I’m not holding out a big hope for more sophisticated games, though.  I’m just taking the program out for a leisurely stroll and there are already some problems cropping up.  I’m still learning about installing programs and then finding those that I’ve already installed.  My machine does have some limitations with processor speed, but 320 Mb RAM should be more than adequate. 


I will say that this is a more promising and easier application than WINE ever was, but we still have a ways to go before I’m convinced that it is worth $40.  I’ll try a few other applications or games in the near future (at least within the next 30 days) and I’ll let you know.  I actually have a few older Win9x games that sort of had issues with XP so it would be kind of cool to see some of these resurrected as well as if some of the few other games I have decide to work.





October 10, 2006



After however many months of trying to bend Linux to my will and do my bidding, namely trying to get online, I have finally done it.  Using Puppy Linux 2.10 to get this crippled laptop working, I am coming to you LIVE!

Sort of live, anyway.

The difference was,  in fact, what I said suring my last post; the AT&T proprietary software that only works with Windows had some information I had to dig out of it.

It still took a few rounds to get Puppy to play nice with my modem but hopefully that battle is behind me.  Thanks to the three of you following my trials tribulations and escapades with getting connected at home, which is such a key thing.  While I got every distro to work at work, I had other things to do at work like…you know…work!

Now I’ll have to see what I can get this puppy to do.  I still want WINE to work because quite frankly, Linux games suck.  Frozen buble can be sort of addictive, but I’m more partial to RTS games although frozen bubble can be addictive in its own way.




June 24, 2006


Because I know a thing or two about computers, folks frequently ask for my advice when picking out a new one.  The first thing I always ask is, "What do you want to do with it?"



Same should go with this Linux business.  What do I want to do with it?  The answer might help determine how successful I feel about using it.  Can Linux really do anything Windows can?  Will it always do those things better?  I'm about to find out.


First off, I need to do all the stuff you all do with your computers: surf the web, write email, write and print documents.  That's pretty basic.  But I also have a couple of specialized needs.


I'm trying to finish up an advanced degree, so I need to write papers and annotate references.  Endnote has been great at making that a much less painful process.  I need to have something like Endnote and it would be nice if a Linux version could read my Endnote databases.  The Cite and Write feature is a real winner in that regard.


Part of my academic work involves making some charts and graphs.  I've gotten good at getting what I need from Excel, but Open Office has not been quite as handy for that.  I think if open source really made a concerted drive to make stuff for students, we are the real future of open source adoption.  We're not lazy, we're just poor!


On the other end of the spectrum, I have two young kids with family spread across the U.S.  Making DVD's has been a great way to share with relatives, plus the boys love watching themselves.  In addition, video modeling is an emerging technology for teaching new skills to students with exceptionalities.  I have an analog capture card in addition to a firewire capture card.  Since my DV recorder crapped out, I've been using our VHS-C and converting to DVD.  Now that Windows is crapping out, it isn't even able to capture from the analog recorder without dropping gobs of frames.  Finding something that will do the job in Linux is a high priority for me. 


In addition to video, my wife likes to make slide shows of still images paired with music to send to relatives. She's huge into taking pictures, but she gets lost in any editing that is too sophisticated.  Adjusting brightness, cropping and red eye are her main needed tools.  And ripping CDs provides the music for these little slide shows, so I need something that can handle that.


As far as games, our needs our few.  However, the boys do have some Reader Rabbit type games they like, my wife is addicted to spider solitaire and I like The Sims and a few other sim-type games.  These are not high power games, but we like to have a wide variety for both kids and adults.


I've been using MS money 2003 for several years to track our finances and I have been using software to do our taxes each year.  I do most of my banking online and it would be nice to be able to download statements from the bank and integrate them with some financial software.  We have the typical credit cards, home loan, car loan, student loans and  and loans to track.  Debt reduction is a major goal and Money has a few tools towards that end.


So there you have it; some very basic needs of a typical computer-literate family.  Can Linux meet these diverse needs the same way Windows has these past years?  Can Linux do it all better?


That is the challenge that I hope to document here.