Category: Thoughts and feelings


Hello all,

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted anything on my blog, and for that I apologize.

Having gained new employment as a software developer and being approached by Google, I have been extremely busy.

However, in order to give back to the community, I plan to release some code and teach you all how to build virtually anything in Python.
I will be using PyQt as it is extremely rich, easy enough to pick up, and if done right, you can have applications that will run on Windows too.
Obviously you wouldn’t want all your potential customers to have to download Qt and Python in order to get it to run, so I will also show you how to bundle your software up, ready to be installed and used.

So that’s what’s coming up,

Have a great afternoon!

I’m sure this title is bound to raise some eyebrows.

Torrents, love them or hate them, you will undoubtedly have used or know someone who uses torrents on regular basis.
It’s a rather simple but clever technology that allows the sharing of media, and information.
The problem is the lack of common sense and understanding surrounding torrents.

Most people that aren’t actively involved in the world of technology will hear the word torrent, and automatically think of the illegal pirating of software, music, movies and more.
The truth is however, that torrents aren’t biased, or black and white for that matter.

A quick look at any torrent site will show you the availability of hundreds and thousands of blockbuster movies and the latest hits to hit the charts. However, go to any Linux distribution website and you can legally download the newest OS by torrent.
Torrents have the potential, if used correctly, to make a marketing campaign a huge success.
A great example of this was the case of Iron Maiden late last year.

There was a huge increase in pirated music from Iron Maiden. Instead of trying to take people to court, they did something remarkable and that paid off.
Research was done to find out where the highest amount of pirated Iron Maiden music was being done, and then they organised a concert there knowing there was a huge fanbase right there.
This is just one of the ways torrents can be used to play in your favour.

However, in a nation often considered to be the perfect example of freedom and openness, they take a more drastic approach.

I am talking about the Netherlands, land of prostitution in the Red Light, legalized Cannabis (it’s not actually legal there, but that’s for a different time), partying for any occasion and tulips.
There exists a particular organization that fights for the rights of artists (supposedly), and they are at the forefront of the fight on torrents.
Early last year, the Dutch woke up to the somber realization that The Pirate Bay was no longer accessible.
All they seen was a message from their ISP’s stating they have been ordered by the Dutch Supreme Court to block TPB. The tone of the message clearly suggesting that even the ISP’s were extremely annoyed by this ruling.
It was a victory for Brein (the organization in question).

However, a study on Brein had showed that a remarkable amount software, music, movies etc at Brein was in fact…you guessed it…pirated.

However, Brein was not happy.
For Brein, ALL torrents were evil, and therefore must be stopped.
In a jaw-dropping recordbreaking courtcase, Brein attempted to censor the internet on a scale never seen before in the Netherlands, by asking for a ruling to block ALL torrent sites and activity.
And even more jaw dropping was the ruling.
Brein won, and the court ruled that all torrent sites are to be blocked.

Which leads me to a single question.
When the 3D printer became commercially available, the opportunities it provided were immense. Medical possibilities are amazing along with the way we manufacture products. However, in the United States, someone created the first successful 3D printed firearm.
Does that mean that 3D printers should be banned? It is essentially the same argument as the Torrent. Both have the ability to make incredible things, but can also be used with bad intent.
Instead of banning it, let’s look at what causes it? Could it not be the fact that 50 euro is extremely overpriced for a game, or perhaps that cinema tickets are far too expensive? Perhaps that Game of Thrones is only available on HBO might have something to do with the whole issue.

So what is the solution?

I cannot provide an answer to this complex dilemma, one thing I do know is that everybody has the right to free information and that under no circumstance should our internet be censored. After all, where does the censoring stop. And it is for that reason that I aim to provide the opportunity to download torrents within the Netherlands when the law is passed.

The internet is our internet, born from a free idea, given to the free people, for free. Therefore it should remain free.

 

I have been receiving quite a few messages lately suggesting I accept donations.
I’ve always been somewhat reluctant since I don’t want to be that guy that begs for money.

However, I would be extremely grateful for any donations.
Therefore, in the light of everything open-source, you can now make donations via BitCoin.

So, if you wish to make a donation, you can do so by sending it to: 1Mm7a38bATKB9xUxVVqwdywb3yb9jrvaPt

Thank you for your support!

Do you have your phone on silent at work, or have it charging upstairs?
Or perhaps you are listening to music whilst on your computer and don’t see your phone.
Either way, you most likely will be the victim of ‘the forgotten messages’.

Many attempts at resolving this issue have been going for quite some time now.
Usually it involves a server client running on your computer, and a client on your phone.
You know the type, those ugly Java cross platform apps?
Well, they always fall short in my opinion.

Take for example WhatsApp.
I don’t know anybody who doesn’t use WhatsApp.
Yet, despite the huge success and usage numbers, all the apps to show notifications on the desktop never seem to work with Whatsapp.
Instead, the developer adds support for different applications as he/she goes along, so it’s a case of hoping that your favourite app is included.

Well, that’s all changed now.
First KDE showed off a new application called KDE Connect, which would send messages to the desktop.
The problem is, if you are an Ubuntu user, or just a Linux user who doesn’t use KDE, you were essentially left in the dark.

But a new project has just began called LinConnect.
Once again a server/client set up, but this time specific to Linux.
The server application is CLI, but is simply a case of set up and never touch again. Three questions and it’s all done.
The Android application is also extremely easy to set up, and beats it’s competitors by not requiring an IP specifically (though there is an option for it), but scans the network for servers running LinConnect and allows you to connect to it.

But what makes LinConnect all the more special is that it does not limit itself to built in support of Apps, but instead uses the notification bar on Android phones.
This means that any app that gives you a notification on tray, will do so on your computer too.
And what’s more, it uses cache’s of thumbnails for the different apps.
The notifications are then displayed on your computer just like normal desktop apps, but with thumbnails too.
So that Whatsapp picture of your girlfriend will also pop up as part of the notification. Very slick.
If no picture is needed, it will show a picture representing the type of app.

The impressive thing is that when I have received an email through my phone, and the notification is displayed on my computer, I find it difficult to see whether it was sent as a notification from my phone, or Evolution.

The project is in very early development (Alpha), but I wouldn’t let that discourage you, as I have yet to encounter any bugs.

Check it out on the Play Store: LinConnect

You can install the client from there (it’s free)

And you can install the server for on your desktop here: LinConnect Server

Say goodbye to those messages you might have missed, but also realize that the excuse ‘oh sorry, I didn’t see your message’ is no longer applicable with this. Either way, have fun.

 

A lot of entertainment news has hit Linux over the years.
From XBMCbuntu some years back to the up and coming SteamOS, Linux is the place to be.

But as I was watching boring old standard TV a few weeks back, with my laptop by my side and the Wii (yes, I like the Wii) next to the TV, I thought to myself: ‘What if I had one place that would rule all of these’.

I mean, XBMC is great for all those movies, and the Wii is great for the old reliable games, and those great titles for the PC are on steam, why don’t I combine that.
The thing is, all of these products are perfect in what they do, but they don’t do all of it (though modern consoles have tried).
But ultimately, all of these can run on Linux. This would be the glue that would bind them.
So if you are intrigued into building the perfect entertainment system, then please read on and follow my journey.
Please note though, that this isn’t a guide, more of post that should spark some inspiration (though there may be an actual guide in the future.)

 

So my goals were simple.
1) I should be able to watch movies
2) I should be able to watch TV Shows
3) I should be able to listen to music
4) I should be able to play console games
5) I should be able to play PC games
6) All should be integrated
7) All should be controlled with a controller (wherever possible)

The first few goals are very simple to do, but the latter (controller), that would be a real challenge, especially considering not all PC games are controller compatible, especially when things must be typed in.
The main aim with the controller would be to play Crusader Kings II with a controller (note that this game is entirely played with a keyboard and mouse for obvious reasons).

Before I begin, it’s worth noting that you need to have some hardware, but the limit is entirely up to you, just note that the better hardware, the more you gain.
In my case I had a spare all-in-one computer, since I wanted to just have that by the bed to be lazy. But, if you are going to use your widescreen TV (you want that right?) then you might opt for a fairly small and not so noisy computer. Something you can hide away behind the TV.
For what I will describe, the Raspberry Pi won’t cut it, unless you are willing to sacrifice some things.

For my Linux platform, I chose Ubuntu 13.04.
My reason is that it is out of the box compatible with most Linux applications, requires least amount of set up and I’m a big Ubuntu fan.
You could also opt for XBMCbuntu which is an Ubuntu spin-off with XBMC as it’s focus. It uses XFCE as it’s Desktop environment (which you will almost never see), so you save on that juice.

After I installed Ubuntu, my first step was to install XBMC.
If you don’t know what XBMC is, let me give it a well-deserved introduction.
XBMC stands for XBox Media Center, and started life of as that, a media center for the original Xbox.
But it soon stood all on it’s own, and is the best (in my opinion) open-source media center which sports not only those features you expect out of the box, but also add-ons created by many people to make it even more powerful.

XBMC is available for free here: xbmc.org

Once XBMC was installed, I first created two folders inside my Videos folder: ‘Movies’ and ‘TV Shows’.
I threw my collection of Movies into the movies folder, and TV shows into it’s corresponding folders, and each individual movie was placed in it’s own folder bearing the name of the movie. For instance ‘Zodiac.mp4’ would go into a folder called ‘Zodiac’ which was located in the Movies folder I had created earlier.
For TV Shows it was essentially the same, except, all episodes of a season were all dropped into a folder with the name of the TV show, not in separate season folders.
I will explain why in a moment.

After this, I dropped all my Music into the Music folder.
I didn’t bother with Pictures.

Once that was done, I selected Movies on the main screen and was asked for a ‘source’ for these files.
At this point, I used XBMC’s file manager to navigate to the Videos>Movies folder, and then, I selected the option that the movies were in the folders by their respective name.
I did the same for TV Shows.
After that was done, it automagically added the movies and tv shows to the list and they were now selectable through the ‘Movies’ or ‘TV Shows’ option at the home screen. And because the titles were in their right folders, it got all the information from the internet, so I was able to see a screenshot, and description of the movies in the list. NICE!

My next step was gaming – retro-style!
I wanted to be able to play all those old classics.
From the original Mario on the NES, Final Fantasy III on the SNES, and even Gran Turismo II on the original PlayStation.
For this to work, I began with the easy bit.
I created a folder in my Home folder called ‘ROMS’, and in there I created the folders ‘NES’, ‘SNES’, and ‘PS1’.

The next step was to get the emulators.
There are a lot to choose from, and to find the one best suited for you, have a look on Google, but here is what I used.
For the NES I installed FCEUX.
For the SNES I installed ZSNES.
And for the PlayStation I installed PCSX.
For more emulators, try this site: http://www.zophar.net/linux.html

Whichever emulator you install, please make a note of where the binary gets placed. They tend to install them in a few different places but if you are unsure, try searching for it using the search feature in Nautilus File Browser, or Google. You will need to know this later.

Ok, so next we go into XBMC and I then selected Programs, then Add-ons.
A list appeared with a few add-ons that were installed, but I selected ‘Get more…’
In that big list that appears, you will want to look for ROM Collection Browser.
Select it, and select install. That’s it.
Next time you go to Programs, it will appear in the list.
So, that’s what I did next.
The thing is, right at that moment, we have no games, and no emulators to even run them on, so it will be blank.
You probably will find that on the first run, it will ask you to create a collection. If not, press ‘c’ on your keyboard and create a new collection.
Here it will ask you some questions, most of which you can leave empty, but you will want to select the correct collection type (NES, SNES, PlayStation) and select the source.
One thing I found unclear, so I will try and save you some confusion is that the screens for the location of the emulator and the roms is identical, and it makes you think it didn’t take your first imput.
So, keep a close eye on the top when you get to this step.
If it asks for the emulator, then that location of the binary you wrote down comes in here, just browse down the location of the binary and click it.
Then when it asks for the location of the ROMS, select ~/ROMS/NES for instance. This is where our games will be.
The rest can be left as it is for now.
It will also ask you for extensions of files.
Have a look through the ROMS or copies of the games you have, and type the asterisk (*) followed by a dot (.) and finally the extenstion. Do this for both upper and lowercase. So for instance, I had two type of files, ones that ended in .bin, and those that ended in .img.
So, here I entered this: *.bin, *.BIN, *.img, *.IMG
Linux is case-sensitive, so by having added both the upper and lowercase, I stop the chances of the files not being added.
Any files inside the ROM folders that don’t have these extensions, will NOT be added to the list.
To add a game at a later date, press ‘c’ on the rom list screen and select ‘import games’, then click on the down arrow on the small box that comes up to change from ‘ALL’ to either ‘NES’, ‘SNES’, ‘PLayStation’ or whatever list you have added and whose game types you want to add.
To make a new list for a new type of console, press ‘c’ and opt for a new collection.

But, the console games aren’t entirely ready just yet.
The problem is that if you start the game now, you might find the controller not to work.
So that’s what I tackled next.

Outside of XBMC, open the emulator, and usually at the top where you have file, edit etc, you want to look for an option for joypads.
Open that up and configure your joystick.
I can’t really help you here since I don’t know which emulator you use, but it should be straight forward.
Whilst you’re there, also set the option for full-screen mode since that was my next step.

Okay, at this point, go on, test it out.
Inside XBMC, open ROM manager, press up on your keyboard to set filtering options, select a game and press enter.
If all was well, like with me, XBMC should go into windowed-mode and a full-screen game should appear.
If you want to go back, simply hit ESC and XBMC goes back to full-screen.

Okay.
Next step was for all those PC games.

This is easy, install Steam if you haven’t already done so, and click on ‘Big Picture’ in the top-right hand corner.
Now Steam looks more like a media center, and next I clicked on the gear at the top to enter the settings, clicked on controller, and then the option to edit the controls.
Just click on the list and configure each button, and at the end click done.
Steam is now compatible and can be controlled with your controller.

But I still have to use my keyboard and mouse when using Crusader Kings II.
I went ahead to fix that next.
For this, I went for AntiMicro.
This application basically maps controller buttons to keyboard input, or mouse input.
I simply created a ‘Crusader Kings II’ profile, then pressed a button on my joypad to see which button that was (it lights up the button you pressed), and mapped that to keyboard keys. I did the same for the digital sticks to map mouse movements, tested, and done! Then saved the file.
Now Crusader Kings works perfectly fine (still not the same as keyboard and mouse but that’s expected).
I could do this for every game I want and fire it up when I play.

The exciting moment came when I installed AutoKey for XBMC.
With this add-on, I was able to start Steam right from XBMC, and when it closed, it would come back to XBMC. Therefore, all integrated.
The details of which I got from here: Integrating Steam and XBMC

But for some bonus points, there was one factor that would limit people, so allow me to share.
I am obliged to say that I tell you this since knowledge is power and all that.
So that out of the way, let’s add even more crunch.

What you might want to do next is add 1Channel to XBMC.
1Channel is an add-on that allows you to watch any movie, or TV Show through XBMC from the internet.
It saves space on your hard-drive, and it still has support of those descriptions and pictures.
If you want to add it, it’s probably better to follow the guide here since it has pictures and does a great job at explaining.

With all this done, I accomplished all my goals.
And since I also mapped AntiMicro for XBMC, I can stay in bed and watch a movie, play a game, listen to music and even talk to my friends without leaving my bed.

Now all I need to do is build a servant robot and I’ll never see daylight again.

I hope to find the time to actually build this again and record the steps, but this was more a sharing of my ramblings.

So, why not have a go too, and show all your friends

Happy New Year everybody!

It’s already 2013 and I’m glad to see that you all survived the invisible apocalypse of December the 21st 2012.
2012 has been a strange year in the world of Linux.
We saw no real major change in the world of Linux until the last few months.
And those changes weren’t small either, in fact they were huge!

First we seen Valve’s closed testing of Steam, an app which has been dreamed of for quite some time now.
It has since then moved into open beta and it’s everything we have expected.
Originally we all thought Valve decided to cater for us Linux fans but with the announcement of the Steam gaming console, it is fairly obvious why the move had been made.
However, regardless of the motives, we now have Steam and it works very well.

The end of the year also finished rather ominous when Canonical announced that it was going to announce the unveiling of a new exciting product but wouldn’t reveal what until early January.
All kinds of ideas of what it could be started flooding the internet.
Some said it could be an Ubuntu gaming console, and others had even more fantastic ideas.
However, the unveiling was in my opinion even more amazing than all of them.
We were introduced to the Ubuntu Phone.

When I first learned about it I was excited but also slightly worried.
I love Android at the moment but would give it up in a moments notice for an Ubuntu Phone.
And that’s not because I’m an Ubuntu fanboy because I’m not, but because it’s pure Linux.
For those of you who don’t know the difference in terms of Linux inclusion for these phones, let me quickly explain.
It’s often said that Android is a Linux phone, which is technically correct, but not as much as you might hope.
The underlying kernel is in fact Linux, the same as on a computer.
However, what makes Android work is a form of Java.
The entire operating system is actually running Java, which slows it down slightly and let’s be fair, is not Linux.
Ubuntu however are going to cut out Java and make it a complete Linux phone.

The only issue I had was that like so many others I want it, and I want it preferably right now!
But I’m not the wealthiest of people and to buy yet another phone when I really can’t afford it, was slightly worrying.
But, it turns out you don’t have to buy a new phone at all!
In fact, if you have a shiny Samsung Nexus then you can download Ubuntu OS towards the end of February and load it right onto the device for nothing.
You will have an Ubuntu Phone before anyone else and for absolutely nothing.
And even if you have an older phone (like me), then don’t worry, Ubuntu have said they will be ensuring that this OS runs on older hardware too, although you will have to sacrifice the docking to a desktop experience.
Please note that February’s release will have some features missing as they are still working on it, but the majority of the features are already working and all the phone services (calling, texting etc) will work. However, whether a marketplace is working yet is unclear, so it might mean not having any apps to put on there yet. But we will see.

So what will 2013 bring?

Well, the Ubuntu Phone and of course improvements to Steam.
We will also see two new releases to Ubuntu desktop and perhaps even Ubuntu TV.
So if you are a fan of Ubuntu, I think this year will be the year where you can fill your house with everything Ubuntu.
And for Linux as a whole?
I don’t think it will be the year of the Linux desktop.
I say this because I think that ship sailed a long time ago.
Although I personally cannot see the death of computers for tablets for instance (which I feel is now declining), I do think that the desktop is not as important as it once was.
The time that the race for the desktop was important was the days before smartphones, and now that we can get our information and entertainment from many sources, I think the desktop has to share it’s world.

But what about this blog?

Well, I have many personal projects going on at the moment and I think there will be some new ones heading my way. But I like to share my knowledge and I want to see everyone having a brighter future so I have some ideas lined up for you.

Firstly I will be making a series entirely dedicated to the new user.
I will be covering everything from using the desktops (Unity, Gnome3 and KDE) as well as using the terminal, administration and a few more things to put the new user in charge of his/her system.
But for those that are already familiar with these things, and those hoping to make a career out of Linux, I want to try something interesting too.

I will be creating an LPI1 category.
Here I will be showing everything you need to know about Linux for Junior Linux Admins, and that will help you to get an LPI certificate.
Now you most likely will need to read books etc too, but I will try and cover every subject that would come up in an exam, and all I will ask back for it is a cup of coffee if we ever cross paths, that’s not a bad deal is it?

So all in all, let’s make this a great year and I hope we can celebrate it together

I am slightly behind with this news article, but if you weren’t yet aware let me explain about the news.

As you might be aware, Valve has begun their work on a Linux client for the popular game service Steam.
And not too long ago they were looking for experienced Linux users for their closed beta.
I signed up like thousands of others but did not make the cut.

The beta started a few days ago and some users on Reddit have already breached it.

This breach allows non-beta accounts to access the Steam client and use it.
BUT, before you get too excited, Valve already discovered this breach and it’s not much use anymore.
You are able to use this client to run games you already have installed on your system using the ‘Add non-Steam Games’ feature. But games on Steam for Linux are unavailable for those who do not have a non-beta account.

The question has become whether this will have repercussions or not.
Will this breach make Valve think again about Linux and it’s users?
My personal opinion is that this will make no change to their idea of Linux users at all.
The reason for this is that anyone who signed up for the beta will have been asked how many years experience they have with Linux, and those with longer experience had more of a chance to gain access. Also, those attending Ubuntu Developer Summit gained automatic entry.
Therefore, for Valve to be annoyed by this seems illogical, after all, any Linux user with more than 7 years Linux experience will be a hacker.

Then the question becomes, was this a publicity stunt?
Yes, this question has also come up, and I think it has already been answered.
I don’t think it is, purely because they closed this loophole very quickly and if it was a publicity stunt, they would have allowed it to be used, or at least by a few more people.

But, regardless of the limited functionality for non-beta users, let’s have a look at what to expect and what is already available.

Finally we can have our own Steam icon on the panel as expected, which integrates perfectly with Ubuntu, allowing you to access your friends list, store, library and more by a right-click on the icon. Unfortunately I couldn’t show you the quick-list, but here you see the icon in full glory on the bar.

"The Steam Icon"

Once you click it however, you get an error because you are not a beta user (at the bottom you will find the work around) as you can see below.

After you run the command from the terminal to gain access you will find it in it’s full beauty.
This is exactly the same as you can see in the Windows client.

What you will notice is in the top right corner you see ‘Big Picture’.
This allows you to switch to a full-screen mode which is similar to what you expect from a console version or a media center like XBMC or the like.
It was a little laggy at loading (Intel integrated graphics) but once you get to the main screen it was very responsive and fluid.
This feature is absolutely gorgeous and I can imagine many will use it a lot.

As part of the work around it was initially possible to install games like Team Fortress 2 using a terminal command. However, whilst it begins installing, it will stop with an error about the servers being busy.
I suspect that this is a polite way of Valve telling the hackers they won’t get very far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, this is not going to allow you to download and install Games.
However, it is a nice glimpse into what we can expect from Valve very soon.
And if (like me) you want your games that you already own organised neatly, then you will find some use in Steam now, as you are able to play games you have added manually.

To install Steam Beta, get access, and attempt to install TF2 yourself:

Firstly open up a terminal and you can install the client by using these commands:

wget http://media.steampowered.com/client/installer/steam.deb

This will download the client, to install:

sudo dpkg -i steam.deb && sudo apt-get install -f

If you are using 64-bit Ubuntu, you will need the extra 32bit library and run the following command:

sudo apt-get install libjpeg-turbo8:i386 libcurl3-gnutls:i386 libogg0:i386 libpixman-1-0:i386 libsdl1.2debian:i386 libtheora0:i386 libvorbis0a:i386 libvorbisenc2:i386 libvorbisfile3:i386 libasound2:i386 libc6:i386 libgcc1:i386 libstdc++6:i386 libx11-6:i386 libxau6:i386 libxcb1:i386 libxdmcp6:i386

Once you have done that, you can run steam by using this command (please do not run it from the icon as this will not work):

steam steam://open/games

This will allow you to enter Steam without errors about being a non-beta user.

If you want to have a go at installing TF2 or at least trying, the command is as followed and needs to once again be entered in a terminal:

steam -dev steam://install/440

This resulted in a failed install for me, but feel free to try yourself.

A few years ago a picture was leaked from a Microsoft course for businesses selling computers.
The picture showed a slideshow regarding Linux. It gave mythological ‘facts’ about the limitations of Linux compared to Windows.
Mentions of no MP3 player compatibility, no DVD support and Word documents support, there was also the lack of games.

Nowadays we know that MP3 players work perfect and DVD support is most often out of the box.
But gaming seems to still be a reason for many people to not use Linux.

I want to introduce those new to Linux to the choices they have for gaming on Linux.
It’s actually a lot easier than you may think.

So, let’s see what options we have!

Native Linux Games

By native we mean games that were made for Linux.
These usually come in the form of .deb files (or .rpm if your using a RedHat based system) a .bin file or a .run file.
The good side to this is that there are no difficult steps to follow, and you know they run optimally on Linux.

The downside to native Linux games are…well…the real popular games are mostly absent in this list.
But really, that depends on what type of person you are.
I have to admit, I play games neither for their graphics, nor their popularity.
If a game has a great story, or is just great fun to play, then I’m very interested.

If you are a person who absolutely loves first person shooters. Then Linux is heaven for you. As the amount of FPS in the Software Center and websites for Linux is rediculous.
But, if you are a person who wants to keep up with the latest trends in games, then you will find Linux somewhat lacking.
But, there are other options for you.

Wine

Wine stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator.
And what it does not do (since so many people seem to think this), is to emulate Windows a bit like VirtualBox or VMWare.
What it does is convert the signals it gets from programs or games to native Linux equivalents.
This makes sense, since many report that many programs and games designed for Windows run better through Wine. This would not happen if it was an emulator since it would require the Windows system resources which run on top of the Linux ones, making it do more than Windows alone, and therefore run slower.

However, Wine runs Windows apps on Linux, that’s the point.
But before you get all excited, this does not mean that whatever you throw at it will work.
There are a few programs and apps that simply do not work.
Luckily for you, Wine has come a long way since it’s beginnings and there is a far greater chance in something working, than not working.

The upside to Wine is that it’s free, works for games and programs alike and has a fantastic community behind it.
They have an AppDB(Database) which means you can search for a program or game on there to see if it works well or not.

The downside to Wine is that it’s not for the faint hearted.
Whilst it’s not rocket science and if your quite comfortable on Linux it’s not too difficult to use, for new beginners it’s quite difficult.
Also, it’s fairly bare boned.
Especially with games you will find that you need to install extra components such as DirectX in order to get games to work.

Crossover Games (Non-free)

If you are willing to pay money to get games to work with minimal trouble and some commercial support for when it’s not working, then maybe Crossover Games is something worth considering.
Crossover Games is an application built on top of Wine.
It allows you to select a game from a list within the application (not all games are listed) and follow three small steps and it will set up the game with the correct version of Wine, all necessary drivers or additional programs it needs, and without needing to grab headache tablets your game will be set up ready for you to play.
You can also visit their site (all links at the bottom of this post) and if you find a game you want to install, there is a possibility you only have to click on a button on the page and it will install it for you. It couldn’t be easier.

The upside to Crossover Games is the ease with which you can get games to install and work. You don’t need to worry about using Wine, installing extra components since it’s all done for you. You also get great support, and because you pay, it’s like any commercial support, it is answered as quickly as possible.

The downside to Crossover Games is that it costs money. Although there is a demo available, the fact that it’s based on Wine (which is free) and you basically pay to ease it’s use, makes you want to think again. Don’t get me wrong, support is good, and I have used it happily for sometime, but if you already paid for the game, you might not want to pay for having to play it.

PlayOnLinux

PlayOnLinux is like Crossover Games in it’s aim, except it is built by a community rather than a company, it doesn’t have commercial support and it’s free.
PlayOnLinux is also built on top of Wine, and makes installing games a breeze.
You select a game from the list, and it will install the correct version of Wine, necessary drivers and components and makes it ready for you so you can just play the game rather than trying to get it to work.
Sometimes you will have a game that isn’t listed, and if you find it works on Wine through their AppDB, you also have the option to install it manually.

The upside of PlayOnLinux is the ease with which you can install games, and it’s great community support. The list of games is big and always growing with the latest games on the list. I also find an upside that you can remove the shortcuts on your Desktop if you like since it makes a nice list of the games you have installed available when you open PlayOnLinux, and you can just click on one and then click on Play to start the game.

The downside to PlayOnLinux is it’s support. Some installers are not always clear or sometimes outdated. However 99% of the times it works perfectly.

My recommended choice:

Since native Linux games are obviously the best choice, I’m going to exclude that from my choice as it would always be number one.

Out of the remaining three my choice would be:

PlayOnLinux

I have found myself using PlayOnLinux for all Windows games that work.
If a game is not in the list, I install it using PlayOnLinux manually just for organisation.
When a game is listed it’s a case of Next Next Next Finish and you can’t argue with that.
Whether you play World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Call of Duty series, Fifa or anything else, you will find PlayOnLinux perfect!

Regarding non-listed games:
If you have a game and it’s not in the list, don’t dispair. Go to the Wine AppDB in the link at the bottom and check whether it works, and on which version of Wine.
Then using PlayOnLinux in the games list at the bottom click on the link for non-listed programs and set up a new prefix (a prefix prevents one messed up app from messing up others), select the version of Wine to use, what extra components you need and then install the game.

Please note that the version of PlayOnLinux in the Ubuntu Software Center is almost always out of date, so please use the link at the bottom to use the newest version.

Links

Native Linux Games

www.lgdb.org
http://www.penguspy.com
http://www.happypenguin.org/
www.humblebundle.com

Wine

http://www.winehq.org/

http://appdb.winehq.org/

Crossover Games

http://www.codeweavers.com/products/cxgames/

PlayOnLinux

http://www.playonlinux.com/en/
http://www.playonlinux.com/en/download.html

N.B. Unfortunately this guide no longer works.
Paltalk now does not work due to the discontinuation of Prism.
Also, Wine no longer works with the latest version of Paltalk.

I seem to be writing a lot of tutorials on possible fixes for Paltalk on Linux.
It seems to be a big issue as most of my traffic shows thats the number one topic.

Unfortunately, the people at the top of Paltalk seem to have a real dislike to the Linux community, and it’s not exactly a smartly built application.

First of all, Paltalk has a reliance of Internet Explorer. Without having that installed, you cannot look at the chatroom lists, or enter the rooms.
Luckily, Wine has this issue fixed since Winetricks allows you to install IE on Wine.
But it seems that whenever a new version is released (which lately NEEDS to be updated), it no longer works with Wine.

The current state of Paltalk through Wine is as follows, it will install, it will run, and if you followed my other tutorial on getting it to run, you can enter rooms and do what you do on Windows.
However, it’s very unpredictable as it seems to crash randomly.

Paltalk will not support Linux, and their answer to a Linux version is that Paltalk Express is a perfect version for us.
Yeah right!

I have given up on trying to get it stable on Wine, and now I am going to leave it with Express.

Paltalk Express

You are probably wondering why on earth I am providing a tutorial for a browser based service.
Firstly, we might aswell make it look partly app-like, and secondly, a lot of people have issues with it I have a fix for.

You can use your browser to go to Paltalk Express, but I would recommend downloading Mozilla Prism.
Opening Prism will allow you to create a webapp from a site. Simply enter Paltalk as the name, and the url as http://express.paltalk.com.
Tick the box to create a desktop shortcut and that’s that.

Now let me adress a problem a lot of people have.

The mic or camera feature does not work!

This is incorrect, and easy to fix.

The problem is that Flash does not always ask you whether you give permission for cam and mic, so we need to tell Flash it’s fine to use.

Go to this site: http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager06.html

You will see a long list of websites in the box, scroll down until you get mentions of ‘express.paltalk.com’.
Highlight that and tick the box saying ‘Always allow’…do not select ‘Always Ask’ since this will NOT work.
Go to the other tabs and do the same.

Now when you log into Paltalk Express, you can use mic, and cam.

Enjoy

A while ago I finished a product called AppBackup.

Now you are probably wondering what that is.
If you have AppBackup on your iPhone, don’t get mixed up, they are no way related, it’s just a coincidence in the names.

AppBackup takes the frustration out of reinstalling or installing new Debian based systems.

How many times have you installed Linux on your computer, or had to reinstall it, and spend hours reinstalling all those great applications you love?

Now, we have Ubuntu One, Dropbox, and many MANY cloud storage systems to take care of moving our personal files from one place to the next.
But seriously, no backup for our applications?!

That was something I had to change…introducing, AppBackup.

What AppBackup does is use your apt-get repository to create a list of your installed applications, then sends that to Dropbox.
Then, it creates a cronjob to ensure this happens hourly, so you don’t need to do it yourself.

Then when you format/reinstall/install debian on another system, AppBackup will take the list from your Dropbox, and reinstall alllllll those applications*.

Does that make things easier or what?!

And come on, it’s award winning, that counts for something surely?

*Only able to reinstall applications that have been installed using repositories. If you have used third-party repositories, please ensure they are added to the list before restoring your applications, otherwise it will not install those packages.

So without further time wasting;

You can download AppBackup in two formats, just a single python file, and a packaged Debian file for easy install.

Please note, that after it has been installed, it will need to be ran for the first time to set up.
You will also need a Dropbox account and the Dropbox app installed for this to work (available from dropbox.com and the Software Center).

For the python file: http://db.tt/Fp5stRKR

For the Debian package: http://db.tt/4iAkyBLX

 

Enjoy!