Things are looking up for Linux game support

22 10 2007

While Linux probably isn’t quite ready to be a operating system choice for gamers, Linux users who happen to want to game are in for a treat.

Recently released was a native client for Enemy Territory: Quake Wars which I have been having fun playing the last couple of days. Many people have been claiming it as a BF2 rip off (mostly BF2 players) however the gameplay itself is completely different even if there are quite a few similarities (plus BF wasn’t the first game to implement its class system or vehicles, just one of the more memorable, also its something that UT2003 already did). Its a much faster passed game so there is very little waiting in a corner waiting for someone to come and capture a flag or running across the map for 5 min until you get to one, although a lot of the team play has been stripped down but this just makes it play more like a standard FPS which isn’t bad, just different. There is a list of important to note differences for BF players here.

And out next month is Unreal Tournament 3 which is getting a native client, theres a Windows beta demo out and a Linux one on its way, when ETQW is mentioned people generally cry that UT3 is better, personally I’m going to buy both although its hard to tell from prerelease hype and a beta demo exactly how good a game is going to be. They both seem like great games, and since UT3 has both FPS and BF style gameplay it should be flexible enough to keep interest.

Source games such as Team Fortress 2 are working great under WINE with the same performance as under Windows (You might loose %5 but make up for it with lower lag, the advanced shaders can apparently be enabled with a setting if you want), with the whole Orange Box going for $50USD (About $56 AUD thanks to America ruining its economy). The latest version of Wine 0.9.47 runs Steam great, although I did run into a problem with purchasing Orange Box through PayPal since it opened PayPal in Firefox but then Firefox wouldn’t execute the steam://paypal/return command, I was worried for a while that it was going to charge me without adding the game but PayPal showed no payment, I coped out and booted to a windows partition and brought it through there but its probably possible to manually pass the command with something like “wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Steam/Steam.exe paypal/return” or set the protocol association in Firefox to run the command but I haven’t looked at it too much. now I’m awaiting my TF2 and HL2E2 download, already beat Portal which was a fun game although a bit too short hoping there is a squeal in the not too distant future. Valve recently posted that job for a Linux games programmer and have already ported source to use OpenGL for the PS2 so we could see a native Linux client in the future.

EDIT: I just tried HL2:E2 seems to have some graphical problems with the shaders turning everything bright colours, running without them causes crashes however you can run with the game in DirectX 8 mode and loose some graphical detail, this is probably something that will be fixed fairly soon since it seems like a simple bug, they already fixed some similar problems with Portal.
EDIT2: Use wine 0.9.46 not 0.9.47 this works without the -dxlevel 80 flag, I had the same problem with TF2 that I did on HL2E2, works great with 0.9.46.

Wine’s seems to have most of DirectX emulated, the main problem is a few minor bugs that crop up in games, such as the mouse cursor being stuck or leaving the window etc… Most of the bugs that are left are minor but make games unplayable and are often specific to only the one game. Unfortunately there are enough of these that most games don’t run but its certainly getting there, presumably a lot of these are in the target for Wine 1.0

Wine is improving quite fast, probably faster than new specifications are being produced and with many games ensuring that DX9 is supported due to the slow adoption of DX10 and with the OpenGL 3.0 specification approaching release its might make implementing the DirectX>OpenGL wrapper a whole lot quicker since it seems to support many of the same features, we could see WINE running more games off the shelf than ones that don’t within a few years.

Virtualization could also be another great way to run games under Linux but with %100 compatibility although requiring a copy of Windows, all that would be needed is a way to allow direct access to the video card, this can actually be done under Xen but requires a 2nd video card since the first one will be locked by the BIOS at boot. Alternatively a DirectX>OpenGL wrapper in the windows install could work, I hear this is how parallels works using the WINE one, but it might sacrifice some compatibility and speed. OpenGL can already run from a virtualized environment with VMGL, with this and WINE’s DirectX it might even be possible already. Maybe some official support from nVidia/ATI would expedite things.

Theres some interesting history about WINE’s DirectX implementation and information about a DirectX 10 implementation being underway here.





mekodinosad, spam? Sad dinosaur? the Terrorists?

2 10 2007

My post on UNIX permissions received an odd comment “Hola faretaste mekodinosad”, at the time I didn’t think much of it other than wonder what I did to make Dino sad, however I recently did a Google search of it.

That came up with over 7,000 hits with the same phrase including a post from another blog who noticed it, it seems to be down from 17,000 hit from when they searched for it possibly because its being filtered out as spam.

According to the comments on the other post, the first 2 words apparently translate as Hello westerner (fair skinned), the 3rd word seems to be some kind of holy threat if you interpret the results the other post found from the Quran search tool. However I’m not too sure of the translation posted above or that fact that it is in Arabic since the phonetic translator doesn’t match anything from the phrase above.

Searching for the username “AnferTuto” returns 50,000 results.
There are thousands of profiles from various blogs, social networking sites and forums. As well as posts with the phrase above.

Most of the profiles don’t seem to have any posts linked with them.

The email address “hfiifiihhiir@gawab.com” is linked to it and returns 19 results, from various profiles (nice to know these websites show the email address publicly and in plain text format, spammers fire up your harvesters).

The ip address 62.231.243.138 from the original post shows up on search results in various antispam sites, also quite a few wiki user pages listed as a vandal. Also project honeypot shows it is being used as a spam relay here. It would indicate that the address itself is an open relay, a nmap port scan of the system shows similar ports open to the ones that spammers leave filterd from when I have port scanned addresses from spam emails in the past.

The other ip address listed in the comments “71.90.130.103″, only returns search results form the other blog comment and also a list of proxy servers.

The ip addresses are most likely both relays or public proxies.

In addition to “Hola faretaste mekodinosad” the phrase “Hola mardena! falikotrepat” is used in some places and returns about 4,000 results.

Chances are this is just a spammer, but why send that phrase, there aren’t any links to anything and the username is used only for these obscure posts, possibly they are some kind of test phrases to see how well the software is working and the time it takes things to get indexed by google or blocked by antispam, still you might as well test it with real content, maybe some kind of spammers tag. Maybe the software was supposed to attach some links after the message but broke (I would assume you would test it once or twice before posting to 50,000 sites).

As for the theory that its some message to terrorist sleeper agents, they would have to know to look for it and be able to workout the specific details from the message which would mean it would have needed to be worked out before hand. If you where going to do something like that it would be better to plan some form of secure communication such as Tor, encrypted messages or a darknet like Freenet. Also the shear number of posts would make it very easy to miss any other messages such as the 2nd one.

Its also possible that it is some kind of anti-internet/religious hate message.





When solutions to problems just confuse and anoy

1 10 2007

I just spent 2 days trouble shooting my network connection (well actually I spent a majority of it playing and ignoring the problem but anyway). (Linux client beta testing for X³ is soon)

My system had been working fine for years without issues, then I swapped the harddrive for a slightly bigger one, I basically reinstalled Windows then booted to the Ubuntu LiveCD, made the ext3 partition and rsynced my Linux install across and fixed the fstab/grub entries. Then my internet under Linux just stopped working, but of course not right away because that would be explainable, it worked for a couple of boots, enough time for me to download the almost 1Gb worth of crap I need to make my Windows install actually usable (250mb SP2, 50mb nVidia drivers, 23Mb SoundMax audio drivers – which where a pain to find because they show up as a Intel ICH8 82801H in Linux and you need the drivers that are specific to your manufacture even though it the same chipset on everything, Firefox, Antivirus, VideoLan, putty, DaemonTools, Pidgin, 7-Zip, etc…), and people think Linux is hard to install? :/

After all that had downloaded, I rebooted to Windows and installed it. Then going back to Linux, no internet connection

Network worked fine under Windows.
At first I though it was DHCP/DNS problems, but setting the ip address manually didn’t help, it wouldn’t bind the ADSL modem or server. I considered the possibility that the kernel had been updated and just broken horribly or some other related package, but I booted off the LiveCD which I know works fine, set the IP manually and it wouldn’t work. Considered the possibility that I had somehow screwed my connection to work for windows only, but my other computer ran fine.

Spent ages swapping cables in case the wire was broken and Linux was somehow more picky about faulty cables and rebooting everything I could. Disabled all the dhcp/dns server/clients in case some weird network voodoo was happening.

Then strangely I noticed that the light on the router wasn’t lit while under Linux, but only under Linux, rebooting to windows it would magically light up.

ethtool reported it as link not found, so it didn’t appear that there was some magic command to make the interface spring back into life (I had already tried ifconfig up etc…).

Vaguely remembered having a similar problem once before, years ago when I got the mobo.
Pulled out the power out from the back of the computer (I had turned it off and rebooted many times).
Plugged it back it.

Like magic everything is working again :/

At best guess, when I installed the windows NIC driver (after downloading it from the working Linux connection) it strewed up the interface somehow that is only a problem in Linux and only completely loosing power manages to fully reset it (It had been stuck like it for about 4 days, with my turning it off overnight), it would explain why I remember something similar happing when I forst got it since I would have needed to install the NIC drivers then too. For reference the mobo is an Asus P5B with a “03:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168B PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller (rev 01)”. [EDIT: Looks like the problem is the wake on lan feature but it doesn’t happen every time I shutdown Windows like the article says it does, there does seem to be a solution though, http://gentoo-wiki.com/HARDWARE_RTL8168]

It also reminded me of several years before when I had a failing motherboard, firstly the CMOS kept loosing the setting even though I replaced the battery, so it required me to push F1 at boot to continue. But the USB keyboard wouldn’t work for some odd reason, so I tried a PS2 one. It worked but only if I pressed it very fast… until next reboot. Then the USB one worked, once again only if I pushed it very fast… then next reboot it was back to the PS2 and so on. So every boot I had the little ritual of furiously hitting the F1 keys simultaneously on two separate keyboard hoping that it would be detected (about ⅓ of the time it would need to be rebooted to try agian). once it got past POST everything including both keyboards worked without problems.








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