Back in 2004, I wrote a guide for getting the game Zork Grand Inquisitor running on Windows XP. The game didn’t work well without the guide because it was originally designed for Windows 98. I’ve been a fan of the Zork series for almost 10 years now. After receiving a message from another Zork fan in regards to that guide I wrote, I decided that it was time to look into the games again. With a few changes, the more modern games in the series are supported under Windows XP and possibly Vista. That’s when I had an idea. With Wine, DOSBox and Frotz, it should be possible to run any Zork game on Linux and Mac OS X too. With that, it becomes feasible to run any game in the Zork series on any major operating system. That’s a big task. I began a project to work on making that idea a reality. I’m not alone though. I’m receiving some help and hosting from DAT, the maintainer of the only Zork website still active, The Zork Library.
The guides are currently at http://www.kevinbecker.net/zorkguides and will soon be hosted on http://www.thezorklibrary.com as well. The project is a work in progress and needs help on the configurations I can’t test myself, mainly Mac OS X and Vista. Help with writing the guides and testing them, as well as comments and questions would be greatly appreciated!
As many of you know, Ubuntu 7.10 was released last week. I wrote up a little guide for Jonathan on some things I recommend setting up post-install and he thought I should post it here. If you’re unfamiliar with Ubuntu, read this review of the operating system. So here’s the guide, modified slightly:
Ubuntu 7.10 Post-Install Guide v1.1
Do This First — Enable All Software Repositories:
1. Open up Synaptic Package Manager (System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager).
2. Go to Settings->Repositories.
3. Check all boxes under “Downloadable from the Internet” in the “Ubuntu Software” tab and under “Ubuntu Updates” in the “Updates” tabs, then press Close.
4. Press Reload button to reload the repository cache.
Recommended Software Packages to Install, In No Particular Order:
ubuntu-restricted-extras — A collection of common “non-free” software, like flash, mp3, dvd playback, java, rar, microsoft fonts and lots of codecs.
gnome-themes-extra — More themes for gnome
nvidia-glx-new — The latest, greatest nvidia driver for the 8000 series of cards. Ubuntu may prompt you to add this during the install, which takes care of this for you.
amarok — An excellent music-library-based music player similar to iTunes (except that it doesn’t suck like iTunes).
audacious — A simple winamp-style music player.
jokosher — An excellent audio editor.
ardour-i686 — An excellent audio editor, optimized for i686.
armagetronad — Tron light cycles in 3D!
vlc — A simple and effective video player just like the windows version.
mplayer-nogui — A GUI-less video player. uses the keyboard for controls. very 1337.
warsow — You already know what this is!
kate — The text editor of choice (though GNOME’s text editor “gedit” is of comparable quality these days)
k3b — A CD/DVD burner similar to Nero that’s better than the one installed by default.
emacs — Just kidding! I’d never recommend that!
katapult — A keystroke application launcher, similar to Launchy on Windows or Quicksilver on OS X. Add it to the startup items by going to “System->Preferences->Startup Items” and adding the command “katapult” after installing it.
deluge — Excellent bittorrent client, comparable to uTorrent on windows
1. I’ve never used jokosher or ardour, but they’re supposed to be the best out there for creating/mixing audio on Linux. Ardour is the more powerful and complex of the two. Give them a try for making your music. Check out http://ardour.org and http://jokosher.org for help using them.
2. If these packages prompt you that dependencies need to be installed, just ok it.
Compiz Fusion in 5 Easy Steps:
1. First you need the nvidia driver installed, as recommended above. So install nvidia-glx-new and reboot. As mentioned above, Ubuntu may prompt you to add this during the install, which takes care of this step for you.
2. Some of compiz will already be installed, so just install compizconfig-settings-manager and emerald from Synaptic Package Manager (System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager)
3. Go to the Appearance Settings (System->Preferences->Appearance) and go to the Desktop Effects tab to enable compiz.
4. Run the Compizconfig Settings Manager to configure compiz.
Common Things to Explore and Tweak:
Desktop Theme Options — found in System->Preferences->Appearance
Display Options — found in “System->Administration->Screens and Graphics” (only needed if it didn’t autodetect the right resolution/refresh rate)
Firefox extension browser and install wizard — in Firefox, go to Tools->Add-Ons, go to the Extensions tab and click on the “Install Ubuntu Add-ons” link on the bottom right.
Install some programs — either via the “Applications->Add/Remove Programs” fancy user-friendly interface or the “System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager” powerful list interface.
Changing default program for a file type — right click on file, go to Properties, go to the “Open With” tab in the window that pops up and select the program.
Installing a printer — Just plug it in! That’s all!
For a while now, despite the fact that I’m not a fan of Mac OS X, there’s been one thing I’ve been envious of. Parallels Desktop… or more specifically, its Coherence Mode. Parallels is a virtualization server that allows you to run one OS in another. That alone isn’t very special. There’s tons of programs that can do that in linux, like VMWare, VirtualBox, KVM and of course QEMU. The special thing that the Mac OS X version of Parallels has is coherence mode. This mode allows you to not show the entire Windows desktop. You can view individual windows as just windows, so it is as if they are running natively under Mac OS X. This is an excellent feature that makes virtualization even easier and quicker (less processing of unused desktop space and windows). Parallels has said for a while that they’ll update their linux version to add coherence mode, but it doesn’t seem like they will do so anytime soon.
Fortunately, that no longer matters. With a little trickery of QEMU, the kvm paravirtualization drivers in the latest linux kernel (2.6.20 as of this writing), and a little program called rdesktop, linux can do the same. The Ubuntu Wiki details setting up Windows XP in QEMU (for the creation of the virtual machine) and then setting up rdesktop (for the creation of our very own “coherence mode”). It must be noted that these walkthroughs on the Ubuntu Wiki are designed for Ubuntu 7.04 only, because it is the first version to include kernel 2.6.20 and its paravirtualization support.
I can’t say yet how well it works, but I plan to set this up once my projects are over next week and I’m “studying” for exams. I’ll report back on how it went.
Once I’m working full time and have some extra cash (hopefully fall 2007), I will definitely be building a Linux MCE box. Linux media Center Edition is so hot. I can’t wait! Watch the video and be impressed.
I know a recent post echoed some bashing of Dell’s customer service, and rightly so. But I have to applaud them when they do something right, very right, for once. Dell recently created an Ideastorm website, where users make suggestions to Dell and then vote on the suggestions of others. Overwhelmingly, selling computers preinstalled with Linux was the suggestion(s) with the highest votes. One of the many suggestions regarding preinstalled Linux already has over 110,000 votes. In a surpising, but good move from Dell, they’ve decided to investigate further. They’re doing this through the Linux Learnings Survey. In it they’re asking users about exactly what they want out of a preinstalled Linux system. Make sure to participate and hopefully Dell will start selling Linux systems, which would make the adoption of Linux much easier for everyone. A big hurdle for Linux is people getting it installed and working on their hardware. This would eliminate that problem. So good going Dell!