27 December 2007

Linux games: best of breed

While I find such lists of must have games an interesting read and I think is wonderful to have all those games (big thank you to all packagers), my opinion is that the focus should be on a "best of breed" selection and promotion of this particular selection.

 These days I play a lot less than I used to and my area of interest (and expertise, if I may say that) has closed a lot (and is badly represented by the available Free Linux games) but I see a lot of redundancy, for example Alien Arena, Cube, Cube 2 "Sauerbraten", Digital Paint's Paintball, Nexuiz, Open Arena, Tremulous, Urban Terror, Warsow and World of Padman are all the same for me: they are First Person Shooters. They all have they own particularities, strengths and weakness (sometime even the same engines), but for a non hardcore gamer like me, the similarities are more than the differences.
And yes, if I am an expert in one of them, I will be pretty good in the others, but honestly, I will never be an expert in the area, I play FPS games only occasionally.

What is the best of the FPS genre? I really don't know, I mostly play Open Arena because this is what I am most used to from the Quake 3 legacy.

 I understand defining "best of breed" is very hard, each person has his own option. And also defining what "breed" is hard but important in this: for example for the "Strategy" genre, Battle for Wesnoth is "the best", but refining the genre in turn based and strategy, then Wesnoth is the best TBS with something else (Widelands and Glest are my current favorites) for RTS.

So, what are your favorite genres? The favorite games in those genres?

24 December 2007

Glest - a promising 3D Real Time strategy game

[glest]Winter holidays: some are on vacancy, some are happy, some are relaxing, so I think a little post about a game is on topic.

Glest is a free 3D RTS (real time strategy) game available one yum away for your Fedora desktop:

yum install glest

I hate to use that label, as it usually indicate a game with a great potential which lacks some fundamental features (and there are no signs about them in the near future), but Glest is a promising game.

[glest]The good part: is easy to learn, with a classic Warcraft feel, nice graphics, a good concept of two factions, magic versus tech, 3D with a modern look, balanced research tree, unique units and buildings and more. It has lot of the things needed to become "the" Free RTS.
On top of that, it can be easily extended and modded: new maps, units, factions.

[glest]But, as I said, it is "promising", despite being at version 2.0.1 (with a 3.0 in alpha stage) it lacks so many things: event making the screenshots for this post was a pain - edit a config file to change the mode to windowed and modify the screen resolution, no GUI for this and no screenshot key.
Some notable missing features: no network play, no savegames, no campaign. Aa a 3D game, it may tax your computer heavily, so an in-game resolution selector is, I think, a must have, and, again for a 3D game, I expect as a must the ability to change the view, rotate the camera and zoom in and out.

But install, play and judge for yourself, I am a RTS wuss, I got my ass kicked big time in Glest.

21 December 2007

The real question: who's your daddy?

Everyone talks about Matthew Szulik stepping down as Red Hat CEO and being replaced by Jim Whitehurst. Max inform us Jim uses Linux, even Fedora, at home, but I think the real question is what OS does his father run on the desktop?
After all, maybe 2008 will be the year of the desktop Linux :p

20 December 2007

D-Link tech suport

I had recently a boring task (it took me away from some cool clipart work) to configure a hotspot with 3 Access Points put in WDS mode to increase the area covered. It was very consuming as they have to be put in large a building with thick walls and my experience in the area was not that great.

Skipping the useless details (about how it worked well with 2 APs and bad with 3 APs and how all the documentation talks only about using 2 APs), I didn't find anything useful in the manufacturer (D-Link) Knowledge Base, so I used the contact form on the support website to ask for advice.
The reply was quick, but totally useless, with 3 advices:

  • - turn off security; Why would a sane person leave the wireless network open?
  • - change the channel number; I may try this, but I see no point: the hotspot is in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to produce interferences;
  • - and the most useless one: they recommend the demo of a Windows-only software which "simplifies Microsoft Networking and may allow you to trouble shoot your network on your own" (emphasis mine). Duh! The contact form asked for the OS (info not needed for setting up an AP with a web interface) and I specified Linux and I don't need there Windows file and printer sharing

19 December 2007

A new release name

The process for Fedora 9 release name has started, this time much earlier, hopefully early enough to allow artwork and marketing to tune up the message.
For now, we are in the collecting stage on the devel mailing list, it will be followed by a legal cleaning and a public vote.

If I am asked, I tend to go for a darker and aggressive name, but from the proposals so far, I like best the completely opposite "unicorn" (even if I don't have any idea on how it could be implemented in a good desktop theming, I can thing only at excessively cheesy things).
However, I think I would like some more complex names, I find "Pink Unicorn" a better name than just "Unicorn" (and, of course, "Unbelievable Unicorn" much worse).

Hero by accident

This is how an obscure blogger, writing on an obscure blog can get the most know Romanian blogger by accident (pun intended).

Long story short: afternoon, Sunday December 16, a Bucharest covered in snow. A Romanian ministry drives his car, returning from a party, loses control of his car, hit another car and a pedestrian (supposedly on the pedestrian crossing ans supposedly hit only lightly).
A newspaper get a clue, but is not able to verify the story: the ministry denies everything, the police denies it, the ambulance service does not confirm any victim, in what seems to be the perfect cover-up, so no story get in the press.

And here goes the real accident: a young girl passes by, see the cars crashed, makes some photos with her mobile phone, learn about the ministry's involvement, takes more photos and get home and blog about them (link in Romanian language).

The newspaper learn about her blog post, use it as a confirmation for the story and the truth start to be revealed and new witnesses get courage to talk : first the ministry acknowledge he was in the city, then he acknowledge he was involved in a car incident but without any victim, then the police acknowledge a car incident without victims happened, then 30 hours later (!!!) the ministry get to the police to tell his story, then the ambulance service acknowledge it was called at the accident, then the police acknowledge they got an emergency (112) call, then they acknowledge a victim.

Today, 3 days after the incident, it is on the first page on all traditional media. And all this because of a pesky blogger with a camera on the mobile phone.

07 December 2007

Narro: a web based translation tool

Narro is a web-based translation tool (with a Romanian interface) made by alexxed and used to translate some applications (OpenOffice.org, Firefox and Thunderbird) to Romanian, it is a wonderful tool and it grow on me each day.

To demonstrate how much it grew on me lately: I do not use any desktop application translated into my native language (and don't plan to start using), I prefer any time the default, English version. However, there are times when I so unmotivated, bored and sucked of energy, that I am not in the mood do do anything. But in those times, I find myself going to Narro and translating some strings...

And here is a psychological observation from using the tool: OpenOffice.org is translated about 18%, Firefox 3 90% and Thunderbird 2 93%.
If very un-fulfilling to translate OOo strings: it is such a behemoth (70,336 strings) that even if you translate a lot of strings the result is unnoticeable and its status at 18% makes the end look so far and unattainable.
By the contrary, with FF and TB you can easily see the light at the end of the tunnel, half an hour of contributing makes a difference so the process is much more motivating.

So guess where I am translating most of the time...

28 November 2007

No more bug reports from me

Inkscape changed the bug tracking system from SourceForge to Launchpad: I don't feel compelled to create an account at the closed system from Ubuntu only to be able to make a bug report and occasionally some triaging (I used to do that on sf.net), so for the time being I will step back and become a simple user.
This is somewhat unfortunate, there are bugs that bother me a lot: the autopackaged nightly builds don't work on Fedora since F8 was released due to bad dependency requirements and reporting on the mailing list seems not enough (for those wondering, this is the reason I didn't published any Inkscape tutorial lately: I want but I objectively can't, the stable version has an obsolete GUI, is OK for own usage but not for public tutorials).

27 November 2007

IcedTea and games

Has everyone read the new interview about IcedTea and Free Java in Fedora 8?

Update: as Hans points out in the comments, the game was already packaged for Fedora (my mistake was to look only at the games spin live DVD).

Here is my anecdotal experience with it: being bored, I was looking at a list of Free games when I noticed FreeCol, a game based on the old Colonization, the screenshots were nice but the game written in Java. So my curiosity exploded: does it work in Fedora with IcedTea? Yes, it worked very well, see the screenshot below (so the next step was to add it to our games whishlist.


23 November 2007

UFO: Alien Invasion

ufo:aiI have strong feelings about this game, so I'll start by stating my bias: I was introduced to the X-COM series with UFO2 X-COM: Terror from the Deep, which I liked a lot and played for years. After that, I tried X-COM: Apocalypse and not liked it enough: it was too complicated, too hard and had too brighter graphics (which have not helped with the mood). Only after that I discovered X-COM: UFO Defense (A.K.A.: UFO: Enemy Unkonwn), the first game of the series, which was about the same as TFTD but smaller and uglier.
Later I tried the demos of a two spin-offs, X-COM: Interceptor and X-COM: Enforcer and did not liked them: they were different kind of games.

ufo:aiEnter Open Source clones: I found UFO2000, a Free implementation (with multiplayer!) of the battlescape portion of UFO1 but nothing more and UFO: Alien Invasion about which I will talk in depth.

The franchise was revived with UFO: Aftermath, a games I skipped without even looking at a demo, based on reviews with its two sequels: UFO: Aftershock and UFO: Afterlight.

ufo:aiNow back at UFO: Alien Invasion. It uses a heavily modified Quake II engine and despite this it manages to re-capture the feeling of the classic UFO: Enemy Unkonwn.
My first encounter with the game was years ago, when I saw a small preview, containing (IIRC) only a single battlescape area, with fixed team, no inventory management, no bases, no geoscape, no strategy.

ufo:aiI keept in my mind and checked the progress from time to time, in 2004 the project had the so-called "x-mas release", another tech demo. I was so disappointed by its status that I totally lost my confidence in the project and completely forgot about it for a long time.

ufo:aiA few days ago I got a reminder about the game and went to the website and noticed the release number, 2.1.1, which gave me hope. Also, the screenshots look cool. Do I downloaded the binary installer (the game is not yet packaged in Fedora, but is on the whishlist and the Loki installer is working).

For about a few days I play it heavily and I like it: the look and feel, the engine, the implementation, the attention to detail, the faithfulness to the original, the improvements. Instead of a long review, here are some more shiny pictures:

ufo:ai ufo:ai ufo:ai ufo:ai

But the conclusion is not very optimistic: I played it for a few days already, but the games does not appear winnable. It is so complete in some areas that it hurts, it could be the best Linux game I ever saw.
The hopes? According to the TODO, the developers evaluate even an engine change, so fat chance to ever see the game in a "complete" stage.

Now back with me to the playing field to see what happens next (not much, I think I exhausted the research tree)...

16 November 2007


Naturally, I tried the Fedora Games Live DVD (is easier than downloading all your games to your Fedora desktop, try them and remove) and one of the few I could see me playing is Widelands.
It is basically a reimplementation of the classic Settlers II which I used to like and play about 10 years ago, but with a slightly worse interface, a bit more buggy and with less maps. However, it has the same look and feel and some additional benefits: larger screen resolutions, network play, freedom...


09 November 2007

Free beer, free software, free stuff

As announced we held yesterday a Fedora release party, celebrating the F8 release and the launch of a forum hosted by the Romanian Fedora users community. A bunch of Fedora users gathered, we had some Debian and BSD friends, spent a good time with good talks, beers and cool stuff (free stickers as a give away).

f8 f8 f8 f8

Enjoy a lot more photos from ajoian and wolfy.

08 November 2007

Countdown to Werewolf

[countdown]Only a few hours are remaining until the mighty beast will be unleashed upon the world! Prepare yourself or run away in terror...

Of course, all the cool kids already run it for at least a couple of days already (as smolt tell us):


Of course, the about the same amount of hours (plus one hour) until the Romanian release party!

07 November 2007

Release Party. Fedora. Romania

This is a bilingual post, jump directly to the [en] English or [ro] Romanian section:


[ro]Folosind lansarea Fedora 8 drept scuza, comunitatea utilizatorilor Fedora din Romania organizeaza citeva evenimente: deschiderea unui forum si un release party.
Pentru cei care doresc sa participe la party, acesta va avea loc joi 8 noiembrie incepind de la orele 18-19, ultimele amanunte sint in curs de finalizare in cadrul unei discutii deschise in proaspatul nostru forum.

[en]Using the Fedora 8 release as an excuse, the Romanian Fedora din users community have a few events: the launch of a forum and a release party.
If you want to come to the party, it will start Thursday 8 November around 18-19, the last details are still not finalized stay, read more in an open thread from our fresh forum.

06 November 2007


For about a week I have this metaphor in my head crying to get out but didn't find the time so far to draw it:

fedora spins

Simple enough: a great distro is like a Swiss Army Knife and the various spins like its tools: good for specific needs.

I have an additional idea for this image: a different and cooler looking perspective but that is harder to draw and it does not cry as loud as the basic idea (and I still have some thing in the queue).

note: I know I could spend more time and make the metal have a more realistic look, but I do not shoot for extremely realistic images.

05 November 2007

Recycle Bin

 Sunday night I was killing some time in front of the TV and between a crazy anime (NDB) and a Seinfeld re-run I stopped for a few minutes on a local station looking at a contest-show "Te crezi mai destept" ("Do you think you are smarter"). There some adults are asked question from the primary school for a money prize and when they fail to answer have to declare "I am not smarter than a 5-th grader".

Here is a women, she choose "Informatics" as a domain and receive the question "How is called the trash can on your computer's desktop" (in Romanian, "cosul de gunoi"). At this point my reaction was to imagine what would happen if I was asked the same question. I know the expected answer, and the only winning option, would be "Recycle Bin" (in English). But I am a GNOME user, and for me the real answer is Trash. So what I would do? Certainly, I would not overcome my geekiness and lecture them about how not all the computers run Windows, how the trash can may have various names, how my own is not called Recycle Bin and how I know their wanted answer but they are stupid.

A moral of this story? Sure, I have a couple:

  • monoculture: real people know computer=Windows, no other OSes exists
  • localization: yup, Windows was localized in Romanian, but nobody cares about that, Recycle Bin is Recycle Bin, not Cosul de Gunoi


I got a few request for a LightScribe version of the Werewolf CD art stuff (along with request for super ink saving), the job seemed easy enough, the devices are cheap and available everywhere, so here is it (keep in mind that I don't own a LightScribe enabled writer and don't have experience with it, I used the size as ivazquez told me and the colors as I guessed):

cdart cdart cdart

02 November 2007

Games: retro style

Somewhat a continuation of my first games cartoon has a "retro" style (in fact, is not very original, it is based on something I made a few weeks ago but with a different perspective):

fedora games

And how about the DVD cover?

Over and over I talked lately about Fedora CD/DVD labels and envelopes and I received a lot of positive feedback and praises (both directly as blog comments and via email).

One very interesting question I got from Radu is: nobody uses these days DVDs in the classic case? He gives some examples for X/OS, Mandriva, CentOS and Slackware and even gives a nice mockup based on my graphics:

dvd case

So what people think about this? Are the classic DVD cases out of fashion? Do we need or want them?

I can see some of their strong points: such a case is good for shipping and it provide additional value, you see the DVD a lot more as a tangible object but I also see the other face of the coin: they cost a bit more compare with a simple paper envelope and, most important, take a lot more space.
Also the DVD cover is large and it provides a lot of space for marketing slogans, an outline of the most important features, even for screenshots.

01 November 2007

More CDart stuff

Surprised by the positive reaction of my Werewolf CD/DVD labels silliness (it was not intended to be more than silliness) I think there is the case for some more:

note: the SVGs will not look correctly with the crappy Firefox 2.0.x (it does not show blur or masks) so to get the idea use Inkscape of a Firefox 4 pre-release.

[cdart] [cdart]

I went overboard with blur and gradients ant the images above may be very bad for print, so here are a couple of lighter versions:
[cdart] [cdart] [cdart] [cdart]

31 October 2007


I promised yesterday a Fedora Games related cartoon, not is the time to keep my word:

[fedora games werewolf]

Did you know we have a strong Games SIG and one of the awesome things coming in Fedora 8 will be an official games spin in the format of a live DVD (and maybe a live CD also)?

30 October 2007

Werewolf notebook stickers

Initially I planed to post today a game themed Werewolf cartoon, but considering the succes of the recent Fedora Certificate of Authenticity and the older Fedora notebook stickers I decided to make a few Werewolf themed notebook stickers and re-schedule the games cartoon for tomorrow (which help me a lot, I still have to work a bit on it).

fedora fedora fedora

As usual, SVG sources are included.

29 October 2007

Fedora Certificate of Authenticity

Based upon an Ubuntu design (thangs guys for making it GPL) here is the Fedora Certificate of Authenticity your computer case is waiting for:

[fedora certificate of authenticity]
SVG source included

note: I changed the fonts to better match our branding and converted text to path.

26 October 2007

Werewolf CD/DVD labels

Silliness of the day: CD/DVD labels with the lycanthrope, both in Black&White and full color, complete with transparent areas and SVG sources (the PNG thumbnails simulate the silver surface with a gradient):

fedora cdart fedora cdart

Scary Haloween with Werewolves

I planned to show this cartoon out only next, in time for Halloween, but as it was unveiled already in another place, here is it:

(source available as SVG, made with Inkscape)

25 October 2007

Fedora, bananas, what's in my mind?

Exercise to the reader: what I wanted to say with this image?

(note: source available as SVG for your enjoyment and remixes)

And the winner is:
Marland V. Pittman said...
"I believe you are saying that Ubuntu consumes all the innovation that Fedora puts out."

GIMP 2.4 released!

[gimp 2.4]The other day I blogged about my GIMP 2.4 new features review and in a wonderful (and not planned) turn of events, just a day after the review was published, Gimp 2.4 got released!