Category: Ubuntu OS


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.

 

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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

I am rather excited about writing this one, especially with the passion I have for this game.

Paradox Interactive, the company behind grand-strategy games such as Europa Universalis III (and soon IV), Victoria II and Hearts of Iron III have made their debut on Linux.

For those who don’t know what grand-strategy involves or what makes Paradox a company worth noting, let me begin by explaining a little bit about their games before I continue.
The Strategy genre in gaming is a very broad one, and the term is very vague. Spanning from real-time strategy like Age of Empires franchise, to turn-based strategy like the Total War series and the Civilization series.
The majority of Paradox games and Crusader Kings II included falls something along the lines of the Total War series.
The idea is that you are a king of a nation and you effectively rule every aspect of the kingdom.
But here is where the grand-strategy comes in.
Unlike Total War, Crusader Kings II does not really have a set goal, other than survive that is.
Sure it has a scoring system, but that’s more for those who find such a thing important.

You rule your kingdom between 1066 and the 1300’s (that is if you have no add-ons), and your role includes choosing the people in your court, arranging marriages and betrothals, waging war, making peace, set taxes, change laws, keeping your subjects happy, keeping the dukes and counts happy.
But the real objective of this game is to keep your line alive.
You start with a king of your choosing, whether you pick king William the conqueror of England, or the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, it is up to you. But you can also go more low-profile and become a simple duke of a small region.
Then you marry, have children and rule.
However, make sure you keep having children to take over your kingdom or region when you pass to the realm of the dead, because if your direct line dies out, it’s game over.

Sound simple?

Not really, children could contract diseases and die early, or in my case, your 24 year old heir dies months before your king dies, leaving your 1 year old grandson to take over. And as you can imagine, nobles find that a nice opportunity to really stir up trouble.
And don’t think that brothers and cousins are nice either. They are more than happy to kill you and take over the crown.
And finally, make sure you think carefully about who you pick to give titles to, their descendants might make you regret that move 100 years later.

I wish I could write more about this but it will simply take up way too much time, but if you are the type of person who would love to be king, this is a game for you, but it’s definately not simple!

Now, let’s get to the point.

Paradox Interactive decided to be the first (major 3rd party) company to embrace Linux and release one of their best games for Linux.
They have also released all their current add-ons and expansions for the Linux version, and their up and coming ‘The Old Gods’ expansion pack will be released the same time as on Windows.
But, they have also announced that the up and coming title ‘Europa Universalis IV’ will also be released for Linux too.

Currently the game is available from Steam for $40.
But at the time of writing this article, there is a 50% off sale on this game directly from the Paradox site, for only $20.
The link for this is: http://www.paradoxplaza.com/games/crusader-kings-ii#buy_game-tab 
You will receive a Steam code when you purchase it, so all the usual Steam goodness is included.

Now finally, something worth noting is that I also have the Windows version of this game which I have ran through Wine for some time.
But unlike a lot of other games, this game is unbelievably smooth compared to it’s Wine equivalent.

If you have some issues with speed with this game, please go to your ‘Documents’ directory, navigate to the Paradox Interactive and then Crusader Kings II folder, and then open up the settings.txt file in Gedit (or vim or whatever you prefer) and turn off trees, this will help most definately.

I hope you enjoy the game as much as I do and why not look me up on Steam.
Feel free to add me: ViaNocturna85

Enjoy!

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

If you are getting a little bored by the ‘Steam posts’ lately, please do let me know, but I thought it would be nice to be ahead of the game.

If you are one of those people who is super-excited about Steam natively on Linux, then you will soon run out of excitement when you realise that most games, and the really popular ones, are not yet available for us Linux users.
So how cool would it be if we could play Windows games through Steam on Linux so you have all those features of Steam whilst playing those games, and having your Steam friends know that you are playing those games?

As you can imagine, we will be using Wine for this to be possible, and in particular: PlayOnLinux, when you are done you should have something like this:

As the screenshot above shows, here I have Europa Universalis III inside the native Steam client. This obviously isn’t an official Steam game, therefore it is limited. However, when you play the game, you still have the Steam features

And when you are playing this Wine game, it does show up in chat exactly what you are playing:

Note how it states that I am playing the non-Steam game Europa Universalis III.

Funny enough, this isn’t difficult to do, and has many advantages.
Rather than having your games scattered around, you can have all your games, Linux or Windows inside one client: Steam.
So let’s look how I did it.

For ease and convenience, I used PlayOnLinux.
This is a pretty Wine GUI and allows you to make seperate Wine bottles and install games from a list or manually with minimal effort. For more information on PlayOnLinux, have a look at another post as I won’t be covering that here.

If you have PlayOnLinux installed and have some games running on it, you are ready to go. I do recommend having a few games (or just one) installed through PlayOnLinux before you begin.

Begin by creating a directory in your home folder which I am calling ‘.POLGames’.
I am using the .(dot) in front of the folder name to keep it hidden and keep my home directory clean.

Next, you will want to keep that folder open, then fire up PlayOnLinux.
Select the game you want to add to Steam and click on ‘Create a shortcut’ on the right-hand panel.
This should have created a shortcut to that game on your Desktop.

Right-click on the shortcut and click on ‘Properties’ and then you should see ‘Command’ under the name, and description. This should be filled in by a line typically starting with ‘/usr/share/playonlinux –run …’.
Select that entire line and copy it (Ctrl+C) as we will need this later.
Then close that window and drag the shortcut to the directory we created, in my example ‘.POLGames’.

Now open Steam for Linux.

Click on ‘Library’ and at the bottom click on ‘+ ADD A GAME’ and then ‘Add a Non-Steam Game’.

You should have a window open which takes a moment to populate.
When it is done, look through this list and see if the game is listed and add it, if it is not listed, don’t worry, we will add it manually.

Click on ‘Browse’ and go to ‘/home/USERNAME/.POLGames/’ (if you used .POLGames, otherwise whatever you called the directory). You can move up a directory by clicking on the icon of a folder and an up arrow at the top.

You should find all the .desktop files of games you have added there earlier from the created shortcuts you placed in there earlier.

Select the game you want to add and click ‘Open’.

If all went well, then you should have it at the bottom of your games list.
If the name is incorrect, you can change it in a minute.

Next we need to change the run command since it will just open PlayOnLinux if you click ‘Play’.

Now right-click the game you added to the list in Steam and select ‘Properties’.
This should open the ‘shortcut’ menu.

Here you should see a button named ‘CHOOSE ICON…’, the name of the game, ‘Target’, ‘Start In…’ and a button named ‘CHANGE…’.
If the name of the game was incorrect, change it in the text-box underneath ‘CHOOSE ICON…’.
Now then, underneath target you need to remove what is in that box and replace it with the line we copied earlier from the PlayOnLinux shortcut command.
We can leave the rest alone, just click ‘CLOSE’.

Now you can click ‘PLAY’ and you are able to play the Windows game inside Steam.

Have fun!

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.

Since there seems to be some misinformation, misunderstanding and general confusion about viruses on Linux, I hope to be able to explain a few things.

As we all know, a virus is a program that has malicious intent.
There are many forms in which they appear, but there is not reason for me to explain the ins and outs of virii, so let’s crack on with the issue at hand.

I will be looking at the difference between the Windows OS and Linux OS (specifically Ubuntu). I would use Mac OSX too, but eventhough it’s a Unix operating system, I have not used it enough to be able to speak about it confidently.

Let me start off by dispelling one common held belief.

It’s often said that the reason for a lack in viruses on Linux is because such a small amount of users worldwide use Linux, it is better for virus programmers to target Windows than it is Linux.

Every part of this statement is false.
If you are a clever virus programmer, you are better off targeting Linux than you would be Windows.
Windows is a Desktop operating system which could render home users and businesses useless.
Whilst this seems a great idea, it’s not very clever.
Since the majority of worldwide servers run a Linux distrobution, targeting them would be far more interesting, since they are connected more vitally to others than any home computer or single business.
For instance, if you were to target a virus to the server of a major internet company, instead of it irritating the people in head office, you are now shutting the company down.

But Linux isn’t just servers and a few home computers. There is the Android OS, many car computers, robots and even space systems are running Linux.
In fact, I actually believe more people on this planet use Linux than any other OS.
Actually, if you are anti-Linux, I think you most likely are using Linux many times a day.

So with that myth dealt with let’s actually look at the real issue.

Let us look at the system structure on a Windows OS and it’s security, or lack of.
And I’m not just talking about anti-virus here by the way.

At it’s core, the file structure begins at the hard drive on which the OS is installed, this is usually C:
For comparison purposes, we will call this point ‘root’. Since everything starts from this point, root is possibly the best word for it.

From root, you typically find (on a 32bit system) the Windows folder, Program Files folder, Users folder, and perhaps some others.

When you enter the Windows folder, and head on over to the System32 folder, you will find a lot of files.
These files are the core of a Windows system.
If you have ever encountered the annoying Blue Screen of Death or unrecoverable system crashes, the most likely place where things have gone wrong is in this folder.

Now simply open a file which is vital to the system with Notepad, and change something and save it, or delete a few files (by the way this is for illustrative purposes, DO NOT DO THIS, I will not be held responsible) and congratulations, you have just broken Windows.
Simple isn’t it?

Let me just say before I get told how wrong I am, that I am building this on Windows XP and perhaps Vista. I have never used Windows 7, and Vista was extremely brief, so I expect things to have changed.

What this comes down to is simple security.

It’s all well having anti-viruses but if your system is so easy to tamper with, it’s like lying awake at night with a baseball bat in case burglars come in whilst leaving your front door open. You are more or less prolonging the inevitable.

Now let us look at Linux.

Linux begins at it’s root, actually known as root.
Root in Linux is not given a letter like in Windows, rather it’s symbol is a forward slash (/).
From this point, all the file structure starts.
Linux does not like to throw every important file in one general folder.
Every type of folder holds it’s specific type of file.
For instance, all the configuration files are held in /etc, and /usr hold application files.

However, it gets a little more complicated than that.

For those folders you always need an administration password.

There is also a folder in the root directory called /home.
Within this folder you will find folders named after the different users of the computer.
Going into these folders will hold all the personal files such as pictures, music, videos, etc etc.
But typically, hidden away are separate copies of configuration files and applications.
These do not require a password.

This serves multiple purposes.
Firstly, if for an application such as Emesene (a Linux Windows Live Messenger application) you have individual configuration files within your own home folder, it means that each person has their own login name shown, and other users aren’t shown.
Secondly, if something does not require the use of important administrative programs, then it would make more sense to have it in the home folder.

So let’s now look at how viruses can be made and how easy with each OS.
Technically speaking, if I wanted to just cause damage and nothing else, all I would need to do for Windows is to create an application that deletes files in the Windows folder.
Then I would have achieved my goal and usually without problems in security.

With Linux it’s a different story.
If I wanted to create damage, I would first have to think of where the damage has to be done.
If I simply wanted to damage users files, then I could write a script that deletes things in the users directory because that requires no administrator passwords.
However, it would make no change to the OS which would still run just as well.

If I wanted to damage the system and render it useless, then I rely on skill and the user being somewhat naive.

Firstly, I could write a script that would empty the harddrive.
Funnily, if you are running Linux, whilst still using it, you could empty the harddrive, although most Linux distributions no longer allow you to run the script needed, which for obvious reasons I’m not going to supply.

The issue with this is no matter whether you create a cunning app, or a script, it requires administration rights. Which in debian based systems is sudo and more server style OS’s as su.
They will then be asked for their password.

Now if someone is naive and hasn’t checked the code and just runs it, of course it will do damage.
But usually someone will have checked the code and warned others.
If they aren’t naive they won’t run it.

Also an added bonus that Linux has is their ideals for OpenSource.
Most software is written using scripts (like Bash) or languages (like Python) which most times have the sourcecode easily obtainable and open to scrutiny.
Meaning that the chances in passing a virus in even complex applications is very very small.

But you might also be wondering how anti-viruses work.
Even though that is slightly irrelevant to this article, I do want to explain.

Anti-virus software is not all magical with it’s ability to know what a program does and therefore stop it in it’s track.
In fact, it works totally different than that.

If you have anti-virus software you will have noticed that you hear that a database has been updated, or is not up to date.
What happens is the people who work for companies like Norton, and AVG, find out there is a new virus on the loose.
They scrutinize a copy of this virus and how it reacts.
Then they record it’s patterns in a database which is sent to you.
If you catch that virus it checks the database to see if it matches any in the database and then stops it.
So this also means that if you are the first person to get the newest most evil virus ever, your in trouble since it isn’t in the database.

Now there are many anti-virus software on the market for Windows, but only a couple for Linux.
Most of the basic reasons why I have outlined.

But there is also the point of arrival for the different OS’s.

Windows users are used to getting their software from a website, where, if we are honest, anybody could have created it for whatever purpose and even under different guises.

Linux doesn’t approach software this way.
Linux uses package management. Ubuntu uses the Ubuntu Software Centre, and Debian uses Synaptic for example.
These package managers are thoroughly checked so that you know that whatever software you download is safe.
Sometimes you download software from websites but this isn’t always encouraged, and usually someone warns you if it’s not safe.

Now these are not all the reasons for the reason why Linux viruses are rare, for they do exist.
But they are the most basic reasons.

My advice:
If you cannot find a piece of software you are after in the software centre or Synaptic, and have to download from a website.
First ensure it is safe by seeing what others have to say about it.
If someone promotes a script (as I have for Paltalk and Lotro) first see what others have said about it, and then if you have not enough information, read through the code, or have someone else read through it, to ensure that it’s safe to use.
And obviously, if a script or program asks you for your password, don’t just jump in and give it, find out why it needs it.

Since Beta 2 is in feature freeze right now (and basically in release candidate stage), I decided to check it out and see if it’s any different/better/worse.

Right off the bat I want to begin by talking about 12.04, just so we know what is at stake.

Ubuntu 12.04 was a Long Term Support version, and a lot of businesses were going to be using this version for quite some time. Therefore it had to be good, stable and a flagship Ubuntu version. Did it live up to expectations?

In my case…absolutely not.

I encountered many crashes, and worse of all, system crashes.
Add to that the incredibly slow boot times. And by slow I mean, turn laptop on, go set the kettle, pour tea out, go and have a shower, do a bit of shopping, then come back and the system has just loaded.
Okay, that might be a little exaggerated, but you get the idea.

Unity would switch between Unity 2D and 3D whenever it pleased it, applications took a while to start.

And sure it was pretty, but I prefer stability over prettiness.

That lead me to head to Linux Mint.

But I also thought it was beautiful, an example of where Unity was headed.
The user menu was coming along nicely and really allowed central control over everything.

It had good, and bad sides.

So, how does Ubuntu 12.10 fare?

Let me begin by mentioning it’s speed.
My laptop is notorious for being a rebel, it likes to cause trouble where others do not. Which is quite good since it allows me to really challenge stability.
And in the past boot ups have been around 3 minutes from cold.
Ubuntu 12.10 is a totally different beast.
At 15 seconds to boot to login, I think I encountered a mild cardiac arrest the first time I booted.
I have decided to keep Ubuntu 12.10 just for this alone, but I’m sure you aren’t as easy to please, so let’s continue.

This version of Ubuntu did make some big changes however, which take some getting used to.

The most radical of these is the now infamous Shopping Lens.

It seems almost everybody I speak to hates this with a passion.
Calling it everything from an invasion of privacy, to commercial adware.
I vowed to remove this feature as soon as I encountered it!
But wait one minute.

The Linux community is well known for being ‘cheap’, which I don’t think I agree with per se.
And having seen the integration of shopping results in the dash is quite a shock.

But I find it rather useful.
I don’t mind spending money, and some of the results that have come up in the dash were actually pretty good.
The main argument people have against this lens is that it seems to force people to see shopping results where they do not need it.
This is true, but I think it’s more for convenience.
Think about it, if you are able to find products without visiting Amazon for it, that’s pretty good. And what about if you are looking for a video and a result for a DVD comes up that you didn’t even know existed, would you have otherwise ever found it?

This lens is one of those, love it or loathe it features.
I am not arguing for or against it, because it is completely understandable if you don’t like it.
But I can live with it quite happily.

Other lenses are more refined, and the mix between local and remote content is just brilliant.
I love being able to find things through the dash that aren’t even on my computer.
Whether they be videos, tweets, Facebook statuses (will explain more) or applications.

What has really integrated well is social networking.
You are not just able to see tweets anymore.
Facebook statuses also appear. But what’s more than that, Facebook videos and pictures also appear, and have their own section, thus knowing what is a video, a picture or a status without it being in just one big clump.

Even small details have been worked on.
If you thought Ubuntu looked professional in previous versions, expect to have your mind blown.
It’s ever so subtle but everything seems crisp, and more refined than ever before.
The difficulty is in explaining how, that’s how subtle it is.
But it just looks so much more professional, all I can say is to check it out, it’s just great.

Firefox has also had a nice integration with certain pages that you were able to add in previous versions.
This feature means that if you visit sites like YouTube, OMGUbuntu or other sites you may get a dropdown box asking if you want to link the site.
After which you can open the page by searching for it in the Dash and clicking on the icon instead of having to open Firefox first and then heading to the site.
Very slick.

But not everything is great.

One of the most annoying changes is the user menu (you know, where your name is at the top and you click on it?).
Actually, let me rephrase that, the annoying change is where the user menu used to be.
Yes, that’s right, it’s totally gone!

Instead, you have the usual battery, network connection, Dropbox and MeMenu icons, followed by the clock, and then the settings gear icon.
That’s it.

By clicking on the Settings gear icon, you get access to a lot of the usual features such as System Settings and the shut down options.
You also have a help option and even a ‘About this Computer’ option.

And all the social options are in the MeMenu, so no complaints right?

Well yes there is, where on earth is Ubuntu One?
I use Ubuntu One a lot, and sometimes I want to add a folder to the sync options, but now I have to open the Dash, then type Ubuntu…and click on the icon (where the name appears but no icon for me).
Maybe I’m just moaning, but can you remember the day when there was no user option at the top?
I’ve grown fond and used to it, and it just seems…missing.

I am trying to find any more criticism but I’m really struggling to mention any, so I won’t.

As of writing this, there are a few features that are not working right (but not Ubuntu related) that are worth mentioning so you know what to expect.

Gwibber is still included and integrated as it was in previous versions, but it seems to dismiss whatever setting you set.
I like to only be told when someone mentions me on Twitter, and have set this setting, but Gwibber still reminds me every 10 minutes of the amount of new tweets and this isn’t just a little annoying, this is a huge pest!

Also, I am a huge fan of Emesene, and this is just broken right now.
Opening it results in a crash at login.
However, they seem to be on to it and they are fixing it.

But to conclude, let me first say that I am using a pre-released version (Beta 2) and have yet to encounter a single Ubuntu crash or even an error.
I can very confidently say that this is the best version of Ubuntu I have used and how this has become a normal version and not the LTS is beyond me.
If you are a business owner, please, do yourself a favour and perhaps consider 12.10 instead, I don’t think you will regret it, although you may encounter issues I have not had.

Ubuntu 12.10 is a gem, and a delight to use!

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

I have received a lot of comments about people who were not able to install Lotro on their machine.

In order to make this as easy as possible, I have written a small script which will automate the entire process for you.
Please note that you are pretty much a guinea pig since I already had LotRO installed, I wasn’t able to completely test the script. I have ran it without errors, but it was more overwriting my existing install.

Please feel free to read through the script before you use it (can’t be too safe) but please don’t complain about how ugly the code is, it hurts my feelings.

Also, I am not able fix problems with this script, it just automates the install, but I will add some common problems at the bottom of this page, if you encounter any problems, they may help out.
If you have a problem I haven’t covered, then feel free to comment.

How to use the script

First download the FULL installer from http://www.fileplanet.com/213014/210000/fileinfo/The-Lord-of-the-Rings-Online-Client-%28Free-Game%29 .

Then download the my script from https://dl.dropbox.com/u/4330555/lotroInstall.sh and place it in the SAME directory as the Lotro Windows installer.
The Lotro Windows installer must be unzipped and then make sure the script is in the same directory as the unzipped files.

Open a terminal and navigate to the directory in which these files are placed (E.g. if the unzipped files and the script is placed in a LOTRO folder inside the Downloads folder you would type ‘cd ~/Downloads/LOTRO’)
Then type ‘sh lotroInstall.sh’ and hit enter, then follow the instructions.

Possible issues

If you get the error ‘hardware texture compression support was not detected’, then this is a graphics card issue. This can be fixed by opening a terminal and typing ‘sudo apt-get install driconf’. After that, open driconf, click on the Image Quality tab and change the ‘Enable S3TC texture…’ setting to ‘Yes’.
After that it should load.

If you have a black screen but hear the music, or when you get to the character screen it all goes black:
Then your graphics settings are set too high.
This can be resolved like this (Although tedious):
First open Regedit by typing ‘regedit’ in a terminal and hitting enter.
Then go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software  > Wine > Direct3D (if it doesn’t exist, create it).
Create or change the key ‘DirectDrawRenderer’ to ‘gdi’.
Then go to a folder called ‘The Lord of the Rings Online’ inside your home folder. Not the one inside the .wine folder.
If you are unable to locate the folder, then search your home folder for a file named ‘UserPreferences.ini’.
Once you have located this, open it with your favourite text editor.
At the bottom of this file are the graphics options. Find all the options there that are set to ‘High’ and change them to ‘Low’.
Also change options like bloom and lighting to ‘Off’.
Save the file and try and login to LotRO using pyLotro and see if you still have this issue.

I hope this helps some people, and if it did, enjoy the game!