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Saturday, 27 September 2014

Introduction

This post just highlights some of the other articles that I have been writing at linux.about.com.

Every week I have started writing a news roundup highlighting Linux based articles that I think will be useful to the wider community including general news and tutorials.

In addition I have started setting the scene for new Linux users by showing how to set up Linux in a virtual machine, how to use the Unity Launcher and Dashboard and by providing a list of things to do after installing Linux.

I have focussed on Ubuntu to start with as that is one of the easier distributions to get used to but the articles will become more and more generic for other distributions and there will be some more technical stuff as time goes on.

How to fix the BASH Shellshock Bug

The big news of the week is the major bug in BASH that could leave your system vulnerable to attack.

Most home Linux users probably wouldn't fall foul of this bug as it requires access to the shell in the first place but you should patch your systems and keep them up to date anyway.

About Linux Weekly News

15th September 2014 - The End Of The Road For Bodhi

Jeff Hoogland had announced that he was taking a less active role in Bodhi Linux and therefore it was predicted that Bodhi would stop being developed.

Another big story was the news that Turin would be swapping Windows XP for Ubuntu.

Matt Hartley discussed the myths that often touted about Linux and Dedoimedo looked at Plasma 5.

Also in the weekly news that week were guides showing how to set up a command line Twitter client and how to set up SSH using Linux.


22nd September 2014 - Bodhi's Demise Greatly Exaggerated

A week is a long time in Linux. Jeff Hoogland announced that Bodhi was not going to be coming to an end and that new people had stepped forward to help with the project.

Dedoimedo asked the question "Has the Linux arena become boring?". Read the news roundup and then the article and then come back here and comment.

Datamation had an article questioning the viability of Linux gaming as many games developers are seeing less than adequate sales growth from the Linux platform.

In a week that included Microsoft buying Minecraft the news was a bit doom and gloom but there was a positive upbeat as it is unlikely that Minecraft will cease to exist on the Linux platform.

Tutorials included links to the PlayOnLinux articles found on this site and how to install and run Android applications on your Linux computer.


How To Guides

How to install Ubuntu in a virtual machine using Windows


If you have Windows and you want to try Linux out for the first time then trying Ubuntu out in a virtual machine might be a good start.

30 things to do after installing Ubuntu


After you have installed Ubuntu you might be wondering what you should do next. This article has 30 items of which some of them must be done and others are nice to haves.

The first few items actually look at learning how to use Ubuntu whereas later on it looks at setting up things like Skype, Dropbox and Netflix.

The final few steps are more about support and further development and also a little bit about entertainment such as listening to the Ubuntu UK Podcast.

The complete guide to the Unity Launcher


Ubuntu's Unity desktop might be confusing for new users. This article shows you how the launcher works including how to set up new launcher icons, what all the symbols mean, why the icons flash sometimes and how to hide the launcher altogether.

The complete guide to the Unity Dash


Having learned how to use the Unity Launcher the next step is to understand the Dash.

This guide looks at all the different scopes, how to filter the scopes and how to integrate online accounts and various other applications into the Dash.

How to choose a distribution


This week has been a bit fraught for System Admins with the Shellshock bug coming to the fore. One thing that has become prevalent is that it is important to know how well your system is supported.

This guide takes a unique twist on the way you might decide to choose the best Linux distribution by looking at distributions in a tree type structure where the top of the tree is the base distribution and the branches are derivatives. The further you get from the top of the tree the harder it is to keep up to date and get support.





8 Linux News Articles and How To Guides

Introduction

This post just highlights some of the other articles that I have been writing at linux.about.com.

Every week I have started writing a news roundup highlighting Linux based articles that I think will be useful to the wider community including general news and tutorials.

In addition I have started setting the scene for new Linux users by showing how to set up Linux in a virtual machine, how to use the Unity Launcher and Dashboard and by providing a list of things to do after installing Linux.

I have focussed on Ubuntu to start with as that is one of the easier distributions to get used to but the articles will become more and more generic for other distributions and there will be some more technical stuff as time goes on.

How to fix the BASH Shellshock Bug

The big news of the week is the major bug in BASH that could leave your system vulnerable to attack.

Most home Linux users probably wouldn't fall foul of this bug as it requires access to the shell in the first place but you should patch your systems and keep them up to date anyway.

About Linux Weekly News

15th September 2014 - The End Of The Road For Bodhi

Jeff Hoogland had announced that he was taking a less active role in Bodhi Linux and therefore it was predicted that Bodhi would stop being developed.

Another big story was the news that Turin would be swapping Windows XP for Ubuntu.

Matt Hartley discussed the myths that often touted about Linux and Dedoimedo looked at Plasma 5.

Also in the weekly news that week were guides showing how to set up a command line Twitter client and how to set up SSH using Linux.


22nd September 2014 - Bodhi's Demise Greatly Exaggerated

A week is a long time in Linux. Jeff Hoogland announced that Bodhi was not going to be coming to an end and that new people had stepped forward to help with the project.

Dedoimedo asked the question "Has the Linux arena become boring?". Read the news roundup and then the article and then come back here and comment.

Datamation had an article questioning the viability of Linux gaming as many games developers are seeing less than adequate sales growth from the Linux platform.

In a week that included Microsoft buying Minecraft the news was a bit doom and gloom but there was a positive upbeat as it is unlikely that Minecraft will cease to exist on the Linux platform.

Tutorials included links to the PlayOnLinux articles found on this site and how to install and run Android applications on your Linux computer.


How To Guides

How to install Ubuntu in a virtual machine using Windows


If you have Windows and you want to try Linux out for the first time then trying Ubuntu out in a virtual machine might be a good start.

30 things to do after installing Ubuntu


After you have installed Ubuntu you might be wondering what you should do next. This article has 30 items of which some of them must be done and others are nice to haves.

The first few items actually look at learning how to use Ubuntu whereas later on it looks at setting up things like Skype, Dropbox and Netflix.

The final few steps are more about support and further development and also a little bit about entertainment such as listening to the Ubuntu UK Podcast.

The complete guide to the Unity Launcher


Ubuntu's Unity desktop might be confusing for new users. This article shows you how the launcher works including how to set up new launcher icons, what all the symbols mean, why the icons flash sometimes and how to hide the launcher altogether.

The complete guide to the Unity Dash


Having learned how to use the Unity Launcher the next step is to understand the Dash.

This guide looks at all the different scopes, how to filter the scopes and how to integrate online accounts and various other applications into the Dash.

How to choose a distribution


This week has been a bit fraught for System Admins with the Shellshock bug coming to the fore. One thing that has become prevalent is that it is important to know how well your system is supported.

This guide takes a unique twist on the way you might decide to choose the best Linux distribution by looking at distributions in a tree type structure where the top of the tree is the base distribution and the branches are derivatives. The further you get from the top of the tree the harder it is to keep up to date and get support.





Posted at 18:18 |  by Gary Newell

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Introduction

Continuing with the series looking at retrogaming with Linux here is an article showing how to play classic Windows games using PlayOnLinux. (and this process will work with newer games as well).

PlayOnLinux

PlayOnLinux is available for most distros and can be installed via the resident graphical package manager such as the Software Centre, Software Manager, Yast or Synaptic.

PlayOnLinux provides a nice user interface that makes using WINE and DOSbox easier.









Installing Windows Games


This article is going to show how to install a game either from a CD/DVD or from a folder.

When you first load PlayOnLinux you will see a list of applications that you have already set up (and if you followed my guide to setting up DOS games within PlayOnLinux then you will have some).

To install a Windows game click on the "Install a program" link.



The installation screen has a list of categories that you can choose from. If you select the games category a list of games will appear.

It is worth checking down the list to see if the game you wish to install is there as it speeds up the process slightly.

Note that if you don't have access to either a CD/DVD or a downloaded program then you won't be able to install the game. There is a caviat to that because there are games listed via GOG.com which will take you through the process of buying the games and downloading them.

For this article we are going to install the game manually. In order to do so click "Install a non-listed program".


A welcome screen will appear but you can just press the Next button to move on.

You can now choose to install or update an existing installation. Generally you will want to click the install option but if you get half way through and there is an issue then you will be better off clicking the update as this saves creating another virtual drive.

For this guide select the install option and click Next.


Enter the name of the application you wish to install. For this tutorial I will be installing "Championship Manager 01/02" which is a classic football management game and probably the best I have ever played. 

The good news is that you can play it as well because EIDOS who created the game have allowed for it to be downloaded for free.


The game will be downloaded as an ISO. After downloading the ISO you can either burn it to a CD using Brasero and insert it into the drive or you can mount the ISO as if it is a CD.

To mount the ISO as if it is a CD open a terminal window and type the following:

sudo mount -o loop /path/to/ISO /cdrom

Of course if you have another game that you want to install insert the CD into the drive.

Click Next within the PlayOnLinux Wizard after entering the name of the game.





You now have the opportunity to choose the version of WINE to be used, configure WINE or install extra libraries.

If your game is pre-2001/2002 then it is possible that it was made for Windows ME or before and it may not work with Windows XP which is the default machine type for PlayOnLinux.

Championship Manager was built for Windows 98/ME and therefore the configure WINE checkbox needs to be checked.

Click Next to continue.




Before you can configure WINE you have to choose whether you are installing a 32-bit or 64-bit application.

All older games will be 32-bit but some modern games might be 64-bit.

For Championship Manager it is definitely 32-bit.  Click Next to continue.




The WINE configuration utility will now load. From the Applications tab change  the Windows version to something prior to Windows XP. 

Windows ME was a truly awful operating system but Championship Manager runs using it.

Click "OK" to continue.




This is the point where you choose where to install from. You can either choose the CD/DVD or you can select another file. The select another file option lets you choose from files stored elsewhere on your computer.

For Championship Manager I mounted the CD-ROM (I actually own the original disk but I am writing this guide as if I downloaded it as I know most people won't have the disk).

Select the CD-ROM and click Next.



After choosing the CD-Rom you will be required to choose the setup file in order to install the application.

Click the "Browse" button and navigate to the /cdrom folder on your computer and choose "Setup.exe". Click Next.





The game's installer should now kick in. Each game will have its own installer and generally it is the case of installing the same options as if you were installing it on Windows.









The setup for Championship Manager requires you to choose your installation language, accept the agreement, choose a destination folder, determine how many of the files to copy from the CD and select a program folder.

The game will be now be installed.

An important part of the installation is when it asks whether you want to install DirectX. The answer to that question is pretty much always no. WINE already has DirectX catered for.


After the installation has finished you will be asked to choose which program to create a shortcut for within PlayOnLinux.

Choose the correct program and click Next. For Championship Manager select the cm0102.exe file.

Note that this will create a shortcut on your desktop. If you would prefer not to have a shortcut click the "I don't want to make a shortcut" option.


Finally enter the name of the shortcut that will appear on your desktop.

That is it. You can run the game either from within PlayOnLinux or from the shortcut on the desktop.










And then there is trouble... 256 colours

Some games from prehistoric times required 256 colours and no more. There are ways to do this in Linux but it requires changing the XORG.conf file and restarting X which isn't ideal.

A workaround to this is to create a virtual machine and install a very basic version of Linux on it and then install PlayOnLinux and the game within the virtual machine.

You can then set the number of colours for the virtual machine to 256 colours.

Windows users might be smugly thinking that this is a lot of hassle to play a game but running DOS games and older Windows games is a nightmare using Windows 8 (virtually impossible in some cases).

Summary

PlayOnLinux and WINE are great for playing games within Linux and although Steam and GOG.com have done a great deal in trying to bring native games to Linux there will always be a place for WINE.

Thankyou for reading










How to play classic Windows games using PlayOnLinux

Introduction

Continuing with the series looking at retrogaming with Linux here is an article showing how to play classic Windows games using PlayOnLinux. (and this process will work with newer games as well).

PlayOnLinux

PlayOnLinux is available for most distros and can be installed via the resident graphical package manager such as the Software Centre, Software Manager, Yast or Synaptic.

PlayOnLinux provides a nice user interface that makes using WINE and DOSbox easier.









Installing Windows Games


This article is going to show how to install a game either from a CD/DVD or from a folder.

When you first load PlayOnLinux you will see a list of applications that you have already set up (and if you followed my guide to setting up DOS games within PlayOnLinux then you will have some).

To install a Windows game click on the "Install a program" link.



The installation screen has a list of categories that you can choose from. If you select the games category a list of games will appear.

It is worth checking down the list to see if the game you wish to install is there as it speeds up the process slightly.

Note that if you don't have access to either a CD/DVD or a downloaded program then you won't be able to install the game. There is a caviat to that because there are games listed via GOG.com which will take you through the process of buying the games and downloading them.

For this article we are going to install the game manually. In order to do so click "Install a non-listed program".


A welcome screen will appear but you can just press the Next button to move on.

You can now choose to install or update an existing installation. Generally you will want to click the install option but if you get half way through and there is an issue then you will be better off clicking the update as this saves creating another virtual drive.

For this guide select the install option and click Next.


Enter the name of the application you wish to install. For this tutorial I will be installing "Championship Manager 01/02" which is a classic football management game and probably the best I have ever played. 

The good news is that you can play it as well because EIDOS who created the game have allowed for it to be downloaded for free.


The game will be downloaded as an ISO. After downloading the ISO you can either burn it to a CD using Brasero and insert it into the drive or you can mount the ISO as if it is a CD.

To mount the ISO as if it is a CD open a terminal window and type the following:

sudo mount -o loop /path/to/ISO /cdrom

Of course if you have another game that you want to install insert the CD into the drive.

Click Next within the PlayOnLinux Wizard after entering the name of the game.





You now have the opportunity to choose the version of WINE to be used, configure WINE or install extra libraries.

If your game is pre-2001/2002 then it is possible that it was made for Windows ME or before and it may not work with Windows XP which is the default machine type for PlayOnLinux.

Championship Manager was built for Windows 98/ME and therefore the configure WINE checkbox needs to be checked.

Click Next to continue.




Before you can configure WINE you have to choose whether you are installing a 32-bit or 64-bit application.

All older games will be 32-bit but some modern games might be 64-bit.

For Championship Manager it is definitely 32-bit.  Click Next to continue.




The WINE configuration utility will now load. From the Applications tab change  the Windows version to something prior to Windows XP. 

Windows ME was a truly awful operating system but Championship Manager runs using it.

Click "OK" to continue.




This is the point where you choose where to install from. You can either choose the CD/DVD or you can select another file. The select another file option lets you choose from files stored elsewhere on your computer.

For Championship Manager I mounted the CD-ROM (I actually own the original disk but I am writing this guide as if I downloaded it as I know most people won't have the disk).

Select the CD-ROM and click Next.



After choosing the CD-Rom you will be required to choose the setup file in order to install the application.

Click the "Browse" button and navigate to the /cdrom folder on your computer and choose "Setup.exe". Click Next.





The game's installer should now kick in. Each game will have its own installer and generally it is the case of installing the same options as if you were installing it on Windows.









The setup for Championship Manager requires you to choose your installation language, accept the agreement, choose a destination folder, determine how many of the files to copy from the CD and select a program folder.

The game will be now be installed.

An important part of the installation is when it asks whether you want to install DirectX. The answer to that question is pretty much always no. WINE already has DirectX catered for.


After the installation has finished you will be asked to choose which program to create a shortcut for within PlayOnLinux.

Choose the correct program and click Next. For Championship Manager select the cm0102.exe file.

Note that this will create a shortcut on your desktop. If you would prefer not to have a shortcut click the "I don't want to make a shortcut" option.


Finally enter the name of the shortcut that will appear on your desktop.

That is it. You can run the game either from within PlayOnLinux or from the shortcut on the desktop.










And then there is trouble... 256 colours

Some games from prehistoric times required 256 colours and no more. There are ways to do this in Linux but it requires changing the XORG.conf file and restarting X which isn't ideal.

A workaround to this is to create a virtual machine and install a very basic version of Linux on it and then install PlayOnLinux and the game within the virtual machine.

You can then set the number of colours for the virtual machine to 256 colours.

Windows users might be smugly thinking that this is a lot of hassle to play a game but running DOS games and older Windows games is a nightmare using Windows 8 (virtually impossible in some cases).

Summary

PlayOnLinux and WINE are great for playing games within Linux and although Steam and GOG.com have done a great deal in trying to bring native games to Linux there will always be a place for WINE.

Thankyou for reading










Posted at 22:39 |  by Gary Newell

Friday, 19 September 2014

Introduction

Wow that is some title isn't it?

Last week I wrote an article about retrogaming with Linux. In that article I highlighted how to play native Linux games downloaded from GOG.com and how to play Windows games using WINE.

The retrogaming article also looked at how to set up games controllers so that they aren't so sensitive on older games.

This time I am going to look at playing some classic DOS games using DOSbox.

Installing dosbox

DOSBox should be available for most distributions.

If you are using Ubuntu, MINT or an equivalent then you will be able to install DOSbox from the software centre/software manager.

For other distributions you can use the equivalent graphical package manager or one of the command line tools such as apt, zypper or yum.



Setting up dosbox


























Before you start to worry about playing games you should set up a folder structure on your computer which will be loaded as a drive into dosbox.

Open the file manager on your computer and under your home folder create a new folder called games. (i.e. /home/gary/games)

Now from the home folder press CTRL and H to show hidden folders. Note that there should be a folder called .dosbox.

Open the .dosbox folder. There is a file called dosbox.conf (there will be a version number, i.e. dosbox-0.74.conf).

Open the dosbox.conf file in a text editor. The file contains all the settings that you might need such as being able to choose between windowed and full screen mode.

The bit that we are interested in though is at the bottom and is titled [autoexec].

Underneath the [autoexec] section type the follow:

mount c ~/games

Now save the file.

Downloading free games

There are a number of websites available where you can legally download free games.

The one I found to be pretty good is:

http://www.bestoldgames.net/eng/old-games/simcity-2000.php


To get Sim City 2000 click on the link above. If you would prefer another game then do a search on that site or browse the listings.

After the file has completed downloading open the compressed file and extract the contents to your games folder. (hint rename the folder to be a maximum of 8 characters)

Open a terminal window and type the following:

dosbox

To find your games type c:\ and press return and then type dir to get a directory listing.

Now navigate into the folder of your choice. For example in the image above I have put Sim City into SC2000.

To navigate in DOS use the cd command as follows:

cd sc2000

To get a list of files in a folder type DIR

The file to run for Sim City 2000 is sc2000.exe.

Type sc2000.exe and press return.


Summary

You may be wondering why I am releasing this article at the same time that I released another article showing how to play DOS games using PlayOnLinux.

I have been messing around with different ways to do things like this all week including trying different dosbox graphical user interfaces.

I had written 90% of this article prior to the PlayOnLinux article but I knew there would be an easier way than opening a DOS window and navigating via the command line.

This article is therefore being released to show how to use DOSbox but I would recommend the PlayOnLinux method.
    



 

Play classic titles such as Sim City and Prince Of Persia For Free In Linux Using dosbox

Introduction

Wow that is some title isn't it?

Last week I wrote an article about retrogaming with Linux. In that article I highlighted how to play native Linux games downloaded from GOG.com and how to play Windows games using WINE.

The retrogaming article also looked at how to set up games controllers so that they aren't so sensitive on older games.

This time I am going to look at playing some classic DOS games using DOSbox.

Installing dosbox

DOSBox should be available for most distributions.

If you are using Ubuntu, MINT or an equivalent then you will be able to install DOSbox from the software centre/software manager.

For other distributions you can use the equivalent graphical package manager or one of the command line tools such as apt, zypper or yum.



Setting up dosbox


























Before you start to worry about playing games you should set up a folder structure on your computer which will be loaded as a drive into dosbox.

Open the file manager on your computer and under your home folder create a new folder called games. (i.e. /home/gary/games)

Now from the home folder press CTRL and H to show hidden folders. Note that there should be a folder called .dosbox.

Open the .dosbox folder. There is a file called dosbox.conf (there will be a version number, i.e. dosbox-0.74.conf).

Open the dosbox.conf file in a text editor. The file contains all the settings that you might need such as being able to choose between windowed and full screen mode.

The bit that we are interested in though is at the bottom and is titled [autoexec].

Underneath the [autoexec] section type the follow:

mount c ~/games

Now save the file.

Downloading free games

There are a number of websites available where you can legally download free games.

The one I found to be pretty good is:

http://www.bestoldgames.net/eng/old-games/simcity-2000.php


To get Sim City 2000 click on the link above. If you would prefer another game then do a search on that site or browse the listings.

After the file has completed downloading open the compressed file and extract the contents to your games folder. (hint rename the folder to be a maximum of 8 characters)

Open a terminal window and type the following:

dosbox

To find your games type c:\ and press return and then type dir to get a directory listing.

Now navigate into the folder of your choice. For example in the image above I have put Sim City into SC2000.

To navigate in DOS use the cd command as follows:

cd sc2000

To get a list of files in a folder type DIR

The file to run for Sim City 2000 is sc2000.exe.

Type sc2000.exe and press return.


Summary

You may be wondering why I am releasing this article at the same time that I released another article showing how to play DOS games using PlayOnLinux.

I have been messing around with different ways to do things like this all week including trying different dosbox graphical user interfaces.

I had written 90% of this article prior to the PlayOnLinux article but I knew there would be an easier way than opening a DOS window and navigating via the command line.

This article is therefore being released to show how to use DOSbox but I would recommend the PlayOnLinux method.
    



 

Posted at 23:11 |  by Gary Newell

Introduction

A common way to play DOS games within Linux is to use a program called DOSbox.

The Everyday Linux User website is all about making things easier and therefore I try to keep command line options to the minimum and that includes DOS commands.

Therefore I am going to show you how to use PlayOnLinux to install and play DOS games.

The advantages to running DOS games in this way is that you can create separate virtual drives for each game and you will be able to load all the games from one application.

In addition if you decided to install Windows only games using PlayOnLinux you won't have to switch applications.  

Download Sim City 2000

Sim City 2000 is now available for free. The site that I am linking to has a number of DOS based games available and they are all legally available.

To download a working version of Sim City 2000 visit the following link:

http://www.bestoldgames.net/eng/old-games/simcity-2000.php

After downloading the file, open the compressed folder and extract the files to your downloads folder.

PlayOnLinux

PlayOnLinux is available for most distributions.

If you are using Ubuntu or Mint then it will be available in the Software Centre and for other distributions it will be in the equivalent package managers.







The first thing that we need to do for playing DOS games is to make sure that there is a version of WINE installed that includes DOS support.

Click on the "Tools" menu and then select "Manage WINE Versions".





















Scroll down the "Available Wine versions" list and add the latest version of WINE that includes DOS support by press the > arrow. (1.4-dos_support_0.6).

A window will appear which will allow you to install the specific version of WINE that you selected.

Click "Next" to continue.




When you install Windows programs via PlayOnLinux you do so by clicking the "Install a program" link.

If however the game you are installing doesn't require an installer then this method doesn't work.

Sim City and many other DOS games don't require an installer and so you have to use the method I will explain below.

Click "Install a program"




There is a default configuration but it is worth leaving this alone.

For installing Sim City 2000 click the New button at the bottom of the screen.






The virtual drive creator screen will be displayed.

Click "Next" to continue.












Choose whether you want to create a 32 bit or 64 bit installation.

For DOS based games you will only need 32 bit installations.

Click "Next" to continue.








You will now be asked which version of WINE you would like to use.

Select the version of WINE with DOS support that you installed earlier.

Click "Next" to continue.








The next step is to give your virtual drive a name.

I would go with the name of the game as it keeps things simple.

Note that in the screenshot the name has spaces but you can't have spaces in the name. (Use underscores instead).

Press "Next" to continue.
























With the virtual drive created the next step is to copy the games' program files over to the virtual drive. To do this select your virtual drive name and click on the "Miscellaneous" tab.

Now click on the "Open virtual drive's directory" button. This will open a file manager.

Navigate to drive_c and then into the "program files" folder.

Select "File" and then "New Window" from the menu so that you have two copies of the file manager open.

In one of the file managers select the downloads folder and drag the "Sim City 2000" folder over to the "Program Files" folder in the other file manager.

Click on the "General" tab.






















Click the "Make a new shortcut from this virtual drive" tab.

All you have to do now is select the executable that runs the game.

Note that there is an install.exe but DOS games often had these for setting up sound and controllers. They weren't required to actually install the games.

For Sim City 2000 click on the "sc2000.exe" link.





Finally give your shortcut a name (i.e. the name of the game) and click "Next".

Close the configuration screen and now in the main PlayOnLinux window you should see a shortcut for Sim City 2000 (Or whatever you called the shortcut).

Simply click on the shortcut and press "Run".



The game will always load in full screen mode.

This might be annoying for some people as they prefer to run games in a window.

Press Alt and Enter to switch to Windowed mode.






I have tried other games on the site including "Prince Of Persia" and "Pinball Fantasies" and this method works for every DOS game that I have tried.



Summary

Playing games that requires joysticks work with most gamepads including the XBOX 360 and the OUYA.

The sensitivity of the joypads may be too high for certain games. In my last article about Retrogaming with Linux I highlighted a way to get modern joypads to work with older games.

I am going to continue with the theme of retrogaming for a bit longer.

The next article will show how to install Windows games using PlayOnLinux and then there will be reviews of game centric distros.

Other articles

I have also been writing for About.com recently.

Check out the following articles:

Thankyou for reading










Play Sim City 2000 And Other DOS Games For Free On Linux With PlayOnLinux

Introduction

A common way to play DOS games within Linux is to use a program called DOSbox.

The Everyday Linux User website is all about making things easier and therefore I try to keep command line options to the minimum and that includes DOS commands.

Therefore I am going to show you how to use PlayOnLinux to install and play DOS games.

The advantages to running DOS games in this way is that you can create separate virtual drives for each game and you will be able to load all the games from one application.

In addition if you decided to install Windows only games using PlayOnLinux you won't have to switch applications.  

Download Sim City 2000

Sim City 2000 is now available for free. The site that I am linking to has a number of DOS based games available and they are all legally available.

To download a working version of Sim City 2000 visit the following link:

http://www.bestoldgames.net/eng/old-games/simcity-2000.php

After downloading the file, open the compressed folder and extract the files to your downloads folder.

PlayOnLinux

PlayOnLinux is available for most distributions.

If you are using Ubuntu or Mint then it will be available in the Software Centre and for other distributions it will be in the equivalent package managers.







The first thing that we need to do for playing DOS games is to make sure that there is a version of WINE installed that includes DOS support.

Click on the "Tools" menu and then select "Manage WINE Versions".





















Scroll down the "Available Wine versions" list and add the latest version of WINE that includes DOS support by press the > arrow. (1.4-dos_support_0.6).

A window will appear which will allow you to install the specific version of WINE that you selected.

Click "Next" to continue.




When you install Windows programs via PlayOnLinux you do so by clicking the "Install a program" link.

If however the game you are installing doesn't require an installer then this method doesn't work.

Sim City and many other DOS games don't require an installer and so you have to use the method I will explain below.

Click "Install a program"




There is a default configuration but it is worth leaving this alone.

For installing Sim City 2000 click the New button at the bottom of the screen.






The virtual drive creator screen will be displayed.

Click "Next" to continue.












Choose whether you want to create a 32 bit or 64 bit installation.

For DOS based games you will only need 32 bit installations.

Click "Next" to continue.








You will now be asked which version of WINE you would like to use.

Select the version of WINE with DOS support that you installed earlier.

Click "Next" to continue.








The next step is to give your virtual drive a name.

I would go with the name of the game as it keeps things simple.

Note that in the screenshot the name has spaces but you can't have spaces in the name. (Use underscores instead).

Press "Next" to continue.
























With the virtual drive created the next step is to copy the games' program files over to the virtual drive. To do this select your virtual drive name and click on the "Miscellaneous" tab.

Now click on the "Open virtual drive's directory" button. This will open a file manager.

Navigate to drive_c and then into the "program files" folder.

Select "File" and then "New Window" from the menu so that you have two copies of the file manager open.

In one of the file managers select the downloads folder and drag the "Sim City 2000" folder over to the "Program Files" folder in the other file manager.

Click on the "General" tab.






















Click the "Make a new shortcut from this virtual drive" tab.

All you have to do now is select the executable that runs the game.

Note that there is an install.exe but DOS games often had these for setting up sound and controllers. They weren't required to actually install the games.

For Sim City 2000 click on the "sc2000.exe" link.





Finally give your shortcut a name (i.e. the name of the game) and click "Next".

Close the configuration screen and now in the main PlayOnLinux window you should see a shortcut for Sim City 2000 (Or whatever you called the shortcut).

Simply click on the shortcut and press "Run".



The game will always load in full screen mode.

This might be annoying for some people as they prefer to run games in a window.

Press Alt and Enter to switch to Windowed mode.






I have tried other games on the site including "Prince Of Persia" and "Pinball Fantasies" and this method works for every DOS game that I have tried.



Summary

Playing games that requires joysticks work with most gamepads including the XBOX 360 and the OUYA.

The sensitivity of the joypads may be too high for certain games. In my last article about Retrogaming with Linux I highlighted a way to get modern joypads to work with older games.

I am going to continue with the theme of retrogaming for a bit longer.

The next article will show how to install Windows games using PlayOnLinux and then there will be reviews of game centric distros.

Other articles

I have also been writing for About.com recently.

Check out the following articles:

Thankyou for reading










Posted at 22:52 |  by Gary Newell

Friday, 12 September 2014

Introduction

You might be surprised to learn that outside of work, bringing up three children and a dog and writing about Linux that I try to find time for other hobbies such as being a navigator at classic car rallies and playing old computer games.

This article looks at the options available for potential retrogamers using a fairly standard Linux Mint or Ubuntu setup.

There are already specialist Linux distributions available for playing computer games such as Puppy Arcade. If you just want to play games casually then running a whole distribution to do so might seem a bit overkill.

I have written other articles in the past about games emulation and in one of my earliest articles I showed how to set up the Sinclair Spectrum in Linux Mint 13.

Generally when people think of retrogaming they think of games emulators and ROMS. They will also think of old consoles such as the Atari 2600, Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64, NES, SNES, Megadrive and Dreamcast.

Old Windows games can also be considered retro and there are some great examples of games that used to work in DOS or on the earliest versions of Windows such as Sim City, Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder and Wolfenstein 3D.

A few years ago I used to own a number of consoles including all those listed above as well as an Atari ST, Gamecube, Playstation 1 and N64. I still have a Gamegear, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance.

Unfortunately space was at a premium and so I reduced my collection but in order to do so I bought a Raspberry PI. The Raspberry PI is great for games emulation up to a point but you certainly need patience when setting it up.

My wife bought me an OUYA last Christmas which lets me play Android style games on a television. The OUYA has a large number of games emulators available for it and I find it works much better than the Raspberry PI for this purpose. The Raspberry PI is much more suited to repetitive tasks without a GUI. I therefore now use my Raspberry PI for other purposes and the OUYA for retrogaming using emulation.

For retrogaming with old DOS and Windows games I use my best Linux laptop.

GOG.com


STEAM has been hailed as a Linux revelation as it has brought main stream gaming to Linux.

Before STEAM arrived on the scene however GOG.com (Good Old Games) were providing games that worked very well in WINE and recently they announced that they were releasing games for LINUX.

The Linux games library is fairly small at the moment with just under 100 games available.

Titles include Witcher 2, Duke Nukem 3D, Flatout 2, Pinball World, Crystal Caves and The Hugo Trilogy. Prices for the Linux games range from free to £13.

To test out the Linux games I downloaded "Stargunner" which is one of the free games.














You have to sign up for an account in order to download the free games and you are basically sent through the same purchasing procedure although of course you end up paying nothing.

After purchasing the game (even though it is free) you can go to your accounts area and download the game. The game format is provided as a .deb file.

To install the game all you have to do is double click on the .deb file and the GDebi package installer will do the rest. (This is all of course assuming that you are using a Debian based distribution such as Debian, Ubuntu, Mint etc).

When you start the game it loads in dosbox which is a DOS emulator. The game loads in full screen mode which is probably fine for most people but you can make it open in windowed mode by following these steps:

  1. Open a terminal window
  2. Enter cd "/opt/GOG Games/Stargunner"
  3. Enter sudo nano dosbox_stargun.conf"
  4. Find the line that says fullscreen=true and replace the true with false
  5. Press CTRL + O and then CTRL + X to save the file
If you are using Mint then you should have an icon for the game on your desktop. Double click on the file. Ubuntu users will find an icon in the dash.

Controllers

The main problem you will have at this stage is that you can only control the game with the keyboard controls.

It is worth noting that whilst a game is open within dosbox that if you press F1 it will provide you a list of other options. For example pressing F4 will let you decide which controller you wish to use (keyboard, mouse, joystick etc).

If you choose to control via joystick then it will ask you to calibrate your joystick.

I have three joysticks available to me:
  • XBOX 360 Controller (Wired and Wireless)
  • WII Remote
  • OUYA Controller


Plugging the XBOX 360 Controller in using the USB port is the easiest way to get started and if you have one of those then I recommend using it.

The OUYA controller is fairly straight forward as well. If your computer has bluetooth available then all you have to do is search for a new bluetooth device and then hold in the OUYA controller power button until the device is found.

The WII remote is a bit different and I found it difficult to set up.

I think most bluetooth or USB based joypads would work well enough.

Calibrating Joysticks

To calibrate your joysticks and joypads install jstest-gtk.

jstest-gtk is available from the software manager or software centre.

Simply search for jstest-gtk and click install.



jstest-gtk can be launched from the menu in Linux Mint or via the dash in Ubuntu by searching for jstest-gtk.

Make sure you have the controller plugged in. If it isn't plug it in and click refresh. Click on properties to start calibrating.


To test out the current calibration rotate the joysticks and press all the buttons on your joystick.

All the button presses should light up a number button.

The left joystick on an XBOX controller or the OUYA controller will move the cross on the left hand axes dial.

If something doesn't seem right click on the calibrate button.






Press the Start Calibration button to start the calibration and you will be asked to perform various tasks such as rotating the joysticks and pressing all the buttons.














WINE

If 100 games isn't enough for you (and it really isn't for me) then you can also try out the Windows games at GOG.com by installing WINE. You can also install your own Windows and DOS games that you have on CD/DVD.

You can install WINE from the Software Manager.






All you have to do to install a game is find the setup program, right click and select open with WINE Windows Program Loader.

Once the game has been installed it is likely that an icon will have appeared on your desktop. If it hasn't then you should be able to run the program from the menu or dash depending on your distribution.

There are other programs that you might wish to run such as WINE Graphic Mode Setup.





This application lets you determine whether the program opens full screen and the graphics mode it uses.

The Advanced Settings screen lets you choose the window resolution (Note that choosing a smaller resolution in Mint made my bottom panel move halfway up the screen).

The scaling engine is probably the most useful feature as it lets you set the size the game appears in Windowed mode.





The main issue I found with WINE games (and I tried about a dozen of them) is that the joystick sensitivity is crazy on older games.

There is a program called WINE Control which can be ran from the terminal which lets you test the calibration of the joystick and certain games have a joystick calibration option which came as part of the installation.

Neither of these options fix the sensitivity issues and this is because modern joypads have far more axis than older joysticks from the past. 

QJoyPad


In order to get the joysticks to work properly with older WINE games I used an application called QJoyPad.

QJoyPad is not available from the default repositories and you will need to follow this guide in order to set up the getdeb repository.

I recommend following option 2 as option 1 still appears to be pointing at an older version.

When you have the repository set up open a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install qjoypad

QJoyPad is a GUI application and can be ran from the menu or dash (depending on your distribution and desktop environment) and the screenshot is shown above.

QJoyPad lets you map each direction on your joystick/joypad to a key on the keyboard.

Press "Quick Set" to map the keys.

You will be asked to select an axis on the joypad and then you will be asked to map that axis to a key on the keyboard.

The point of this is to press up on the joystick and select a key, press down on the joystick and select a key, press left and select a key, press right and select a key, press fire and select a key. Each joystick function has a key on the keyboard assigned to it.


Remember that older games only had a 4 (or 8) directional joystick and a couple of buttons. All you need to do now is select keyboard as the input device within the game and remap the keys.

The game will ask you to choose the key for up when remapping the keys and instead on pressing a key on the keyboard you press up on the joystick. Similarly when it asks for the down key press down on the joystick and so on.

You will find that old games play much better using this method than using the joystick in its full glory.

Summary



This is only the first part of this series and I have only just touched on the subject of gaming thus far.

In the next article I will be looking more closely at PlayOnLinux and WINE and I will also look at some of the games emulators that are out there.

In future articles I will be looking at distributions specifically designed for playing games.

Thankyou for reading.


























Retrogaming With Linux

Introduction

You might be surprised to learn that outside of work, bringing up three children and a dog and writing about Linux that I try to find time for other hobbies such as being a navigator at classic car rallies and playing old computer games.

This article looks at the options available for potential retrogamers using a fairly standard Linux Mint or Ubuntu setup.

There are already specialist Linux distributions available for playing computer games such as Puppy Arcade. If you just want to play games casually then running a whole distribution to do so might seem a bit overkill.

I have written other articles in the past about games emulation and in one of my earliest articles I showed how to set up the Sinclair Spectrum in Linux Mint 13.

Generally when people think of retrogaming they think of games emulators and ROMS. They will also think of old consoles such as the Atari 2600, Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64, NES, SNES, Megadrive and Dreamcast.

Old Windows games can also be considered retro and there are some great examples of games that used to work in DOS or on the earliest versions of Windows such as Sim City, Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder and Wolfenstein 3D.

A few years ago I used to own a number of consoles including all those listed above as well as an Atari ST, Gamecube, Playstation 1 and N64. I still have a Gamegear, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance.

Unfortunately space was at a premium and so I reduced my collection but in order to do so I bought a Raspberry PI. The Raspberry PI is great for games emulation up to a point but you certainly need patience when setting it up.

My wife bought me an OUYA last Christmas which lets me play Android style games on a television. The OUYA has a large number of games emulators available for it and I find it works much better than the Raspberry PI for this purpose. The Raspberry PI is much more suited to repetitive tasks without a GUI. I therefore now use my Raspberry PI for other purposes and the OUYA for retrogaming using emulation.

For retrogaming with old DOS and Windows games I use my best Linux laptop.

GOG.com


STEAM has been hailed as a Linux revelation as it has brought main stream gaming to Linux.

Before STEAM arrived on the scene however GOG.com (Good Old Games) were providing games that worked very well in WINE and recently they announced that they were releasing games for LINUX.

The Linux games library is fairly small at the moment with just under 100 games available.

Titles include Witcher 2, Duke Nukem 3D, Flatout 2, Pinball World, Crystal Caves and The Hugo Trilogy. Prices for the Linux games range from free to £13.

To test out the Linux games I downloaded "Stargunner" which is one of the free games.














You have to sign up for an account in order to download the free games and you are basically sent through the same purchasing procedure although of course you end up paying nothing.

After purchasing the game (even though it is free) you can go to your accounts area and download the game. The game format is provided as a .deb file.

To install the game all you have to do is double click on the .deb file and the GDebi package installer will do the rest. (This is all of course assuming that you are using a Debian based distribution such as Debian, Ubuntu, Mint etc).

When you start the game it loads in dosbox which is a DOS emulator. The game loads in full screen mode which is probably fine for most people but you can make it open in windowed mode by following these steps:

  1. Open a terminal window
  2. Enter cd "/opt/GOG Games/Stargunner"
  3. Enter sudo nano dosbox_stargun.conf"
  4. Find the line that says fullscreen=true and replace the true with false
  5. Press CTRL + O and then CTRL + X to save the file
If you are using Mint then you should have an icon for the game on your desktop. Double click on the file. Ubuntu users will find an icon in the dash.

Controllers

The main problem you will have at this stage is that you can only control the game with the keyboard controls.

It is worth noting that whilst a game is open within dosbox that if you press F1 it will provide you a list of other options. For example pressing F4 will let you decide which controller you wish to use (keyboard, mouse, joystick etc).

If you choose to control via joystick then it will ask you to calibrate your joystick.

I have three joysticks available to me:
  • XBOX 360 Controller (Wired and Wireless)
  • WII Remote
  • OUYA Controller


Plugging the XBOX 360 Controller in using the USB port is the easiest way to get started and if you have one of those then I recommend using it.

The OUYA controller is fairly straight forward as well. If your computer has bluetooth available then all you have to do is search for a new bluetooth device and then hold in the OUYA controller power button until the device is found.

The WII remote is a bit different and I found it difficult to set up.

I think most bluetooth or USB based joypads would work well enough.

Calibrating Joysticks

To calibrate your joysticks and joypads install jstest-gtk.

jstest-gtk is available from the software manager or software centre.

Simply search for jstest-gtk and click install.



jstest-gtk can be launched from the menu in Linux Mint or via the dash in Ubuntu by searching for jstest-gtk.

Make sure you have the controller plugged in. If it isn't plug it in and click refresh. Click on properties to start calibrating.


To test out the current calibration rotate the joysticks and press all the buttons on your joystick.

All the button presses should light up a number button.

The left joystick on an XBOX controller or the OUYA controller will move the cross on the left hand axes dial.

If something doesn't seem right click on the calibrate button.






Press the Start Calibration button to start the calibration and you will be asked to perform various tasks such as rotating the joysticks and pressing all the buttons.














WINE

If 100 games isn't enough for you (and it really isn't for me) then you can also try out the Windows games at GOG.com by installing WINE. You can also install your own Windows and DOS games that you have on CD/DVD.

You can install WINE from the Software Manager.






All you have to do to install a game is find the setup program, right click and select open with WINE Windows Program Loader.

Once the game has been installed it is likely that an icon will have appeared on your desktop. If it hasn't then you should be able to run the program from the menu or dash depending on your distribution.

There are other programs that you might wish to run such as WINE Graphic Mode Setup.





This application lets you determine whether the program opens full screen and the graphics mode it uses.

The Advanced Settings screen lets you choose the window resolution (Note that choosing a smaller resolution in Mint made my bottom panel move halfway up the screen).

The scaling engine is probably the most useful feature as it lets you set the size the game appears in Windowed mode.





The main issue I found with WINE games (and I tried about a dozen of them) is that the joystick sensitivity is crazy on older games.

There is a program called WINE Control which can be ran from the terminal which lets you test the calibration of the joystick and certain games have a joystick calibration option which came as part of the installation.

Neither of these options fix the sensitivity issues and this is because modern joypads have far more axis than older joysticks from the past. 

QJoyPad


In order to get the joysticks to work properly with older WINE games I used an application called QJoyPad.

QJoyPad is not available from the default repositories and you will need to follow this guide in order to set up the getdeb repository.

I recommend following option 2 as option 1 still appears to be pointing at an older version.

When you have the repository set up open a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install qjoypad

QJoyPad is a GUI application and can be ran from the menu or dash (depending on your distribution and desktop environment) and the screenshot is shown above.

QJoyPad lets you map each direction on your joystick/joypad to a key on the keyboard.

Press "Quick Set" to map the keys.

You will be asked to select an axis on the joypad and then you will be asked to map that axis to a key on the keyboard.

The point of this is to press up on the joystick and select a key, press down on the joystick and select a key, press left and select a key, press right and select a key, press fire and select a key. Each joystick function has a key on the keyboard assigned to it.


Remember that older games only had a 4 (or 8) directional joystick and a couple of buttons. All you need to do now is select keyboard as the input device within the game and remap the keys.

The game will ask you to choose the key for up when remapping the keys and instead on pressing a key on the keyboard you press up on the joystick. Similarly when it asks for the down key press down on the joystick and so on.

You will find that old games play much better using this method than using the joystick in its full glory.

Summary



This is only the first part of this series and I have only just touched on the subject of gaming thus far.

In the next article I will be looking more closely at PlayOnLinux and WINE and I will also look at some of the games emulators that are out there.

In future articles I will be looking at distributions specifically designed for playing games.

Thankyou for reading.


























Posted at 00:26 |  by Gary Newell

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