Posted by: duskfire | April 23, 2014

Finally coming back

Yes, it has been much, much longer than I expected since my last post. I really haven’t done as much as I should on Linux lately.

I was playing Path of Exile on Windows for a few weeks. It’s a pretty good game with a few minor flaws but I ended up becoming frustrated with the quick rate of mob and map respawn. If you forget to make a portal close to where you die, returning through several map areas is an exercise in futility; the map is likely to be completely randomized again with all mobs having respawned. I know my character  builds weren’t very good, but I can handle repeatedly dying at a boss. Having to fight my way back again through 2 or 3 huge areas, taking half an hour just to get close to where I last died….makes the game no longer fun at all.

Currently I have started to play Skyrim again after 2 years away. It seems just as much fun as it was then. I am still using Windows 8 on my main laptop, but Skyrim is one of those games that runs perfectly well using wine and the Windows version of Steam.

The last week of March, I once again attempted to get DBGL running on a 64 bit Linux system, and this time it worked. DBGL is my favorite front-end to the awesome DOSBox program. It requires Java, and a few sdl libraries if you are on Linux, but I’ve never had trouble finding them in the repositories. The 64-bit version seems to run just fine, I’m not sure why there was a problem with it the last time I tried.

I’ve finally started creating a blogging schedule for the next few months, which will aid me in getting back to a regular posting schedule. I also decided to tweak my reviewing standards. Many of my reviews seem a little short. I’m going to try to put more details into each one while keeping the same overall set of headings.

I am running Xubuntu 14.04 on my secondary laptop, and will put up a review fairly soon. More reviews are definitely planned for the future.

Posted by: duskfire | December 21, 2013

First steps

So on the 15th of this month, I installed Linux Mint 16 on this new laptop, using the 64 bit version. It’s now dual-booting with Windows 8. All in all, the process went well.

The question remains, though: How many things that I used to need Windows for can be done through Linux nowadays?

1. I have gotten Netflix running in Firefox. Quality seems relatively good.  See here for the current instructions on how-to.


2. Steam for Linux seems to work okay, I can run Portal and Crusader Kings 2 with no obvious glitches.

3. FIXED: Trying to run Steam for Windows via wine doesn’t work out well at the moment. There’s a bug whereby it needs a DNS lookup library to access the internet, and even after I installed lib32nss-mdns, it still wouldn’t connect for updates. This was using Crossover 13.01, the most recent version. I haven’t tried earlier versions yet.

4. PlayOnLinux probably works fine, but I tried to install DC Universe and it just would not run.

At this point, I’m wondering whether the troubles I have had in the past using a 64-bit OS while running the Windows’ version of Steam are still around. I’d like to install a 32 bit version of Linux and will test a couple of options this weekend. Linux Mint 32-bit was a no-go, I could not get the boot manager for Windows 8 to see any EFI file for it, and I’m reluctant to use Legacy Boot unless I have no other option.

So in one of those curious coincidences, right after I published this post, I checked for updates. It just so happens that one of the updates was for the “libnss3″ libraries that were causing me trouble with Steam for Windows on 64 bit Linux.

After applying all updates, Steam runs fine using Crossover 13.01, and I played Faerie Solitaire, a fairly simple game. I will investigate other more complex graphical games today and tomorrow and post a few results below:

Morrowind – runs, with a minor issue (lower resolution)

Civilization 3 Complete – runs, with the same issue

Skyrim – runs quite well, exits Steam cleanly

Kingdoms of Amalur – not tested

Romance of Rome – runs

Final Fantasy 7 – will not run

Titan Quest – runs, but doesn’t exit Steam cleanly

Posted by: duskfire | December 10, 2013

openSUSE hits a snag

I was going to install openSUSE 13.1 on my old Gateway and report on it, but the 32 bit version doesn’t seem to have any wireless networking wizard in the live version at all. I’m not sure why that is, but since most other recent distros have been able to let me get connected while running live, I just have to conclude that openSUSE dropped the ball this time. I’ve tried both KDE and GNOME editions and in each case, the “wireless” tab is greyed out in Network Manager when I attempt to add a new connection.

Not only that, but with the KDE edition, it seemed very sluggish in live mode – again, behavior which has never shown up in any distribution I’ve tried before. The laptop I’m using only has 2 GB of RAM but that can’t really be the issue – I’ve run KDE live before and it wasn’t noticeably slow.

From what I can tell, the WiFi problem doesn’t affect everyone – but since I’m not willing to try it on my main laptop, it does affect me. I’ve been told this is a bug left over from 12.3. Some folks have tried to give me helpful suggestions, but I’m not really willing to spend too much time fixing the issue. In the meantime, I have installed Fedora 20 (Beta). They will release it soon, and I thought I would check in to see how it looks these days. So far everything works well, and there seem to several neat new features introduced since version 18, which was the last one I reviewed. I’m running the default GNOME 3 edition this time around.

I am also considering the idea of just installing openSUSE from the main DVD. I haven’t made up my mind just yet.

My other project this weekend is going to be an attempt to install Linux Mint 16 in a dual boot setup alongside Windows 8 on the new laptop.

Posted by: duskfire | December 9, 2013

New Laptop and Windows 8

If you had told me six months ago that the next laptop I ended up with would be very similar to the old one that died last spring, I probably would not have believed you. Yet, here I am.  It is an HP Pavillion, with a 17.3″ screen, 8 GB of RAM, a 750 GB capacity hard drive and an AMD processor (Elite Quad Core A10-5750M). It uses the AMD Radeon HD 8650G graphics card. It’s running Windows 8, of course. I picked it up from Walmart at a discount, and most reviews seem to be pretty positive. I should note that it does not have a touchscreen.

Even though I strongly prefer using Linux, my old laptop ran Windows 7, and at work that’s what I use. Windows 7 is really very good, it is Microsoft’s best operating system version by far, and it’s a pleasure to use.

Windows 8 is so VERY different than that. Subjectively so far, it jumps into my way whenever I try to do anything. I’ve been using it in desktop mode whenever possible. It works fine, and lets me play the games I want to, but I don’t appreciate having to constantly switch between the desktop and the tile interface that Windows 8 is trying to get us accustomed to use.

Putting Linux on this is definitely possible, only a little more complicated than before. I have enabled Legacy Boot and made a couple of attempts to boot from a flash drive. I tried 4 different editions of Linux: Linux Mint 16 32 bit, Ubuntu 13.10 64 bit, Kubuntu 13.10 32 bit, and Linux Mint 16 64 bit. I had the best success with Linux Mint 64 bit, which booted up and seems to run in live mode perfectly. Ubuntu 64 bit booted up, but the resolution was off and the only option seemed to be to choose to install, since the dock was off screen. I’m thinking that I picked the wrong file in the /boot folder. I might try to get Kubuntu 64 bit to run also, just to see if it will.

Also, when I enabled Legacy Boot, I made the USB flash drive the priority for both Legacy and Secure Boot. Despite this, I have found that you cannot just turn the computer on with the flash drive in and assume it will use that drive’s bootable OS. You must hit the Escape key to bring up the boot menu choices and manually select the flash drive (which is listed first).

My next post will go into more detail about the process, since I suspect that most HP Pavillions these days will be using this same method.

Posted by: duskfire | November 30, 2013

New reviews are incoming

I’ve taken a longer break from blogging than I intended. Since Ubuntu 13.10 came out on October 17, I installed it and used it until the Release Candidate for Linux Mint 16 came out. I’ve been using that ever since. I just didn’t feel like writing a review for Ubuntu. It’s pretty good, actually, but I think I’ll wait until the LTS release next spring to write up a review.

The main reason I haven’t blogged is that I’ve been distracted playing Baldur’s Gate 1 and a few other games too (such as Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Icewind Dale, Heroes of Might and Magic 3, and Planescape: Torment). To play them, I installed PlayonLinux. I am very impressed with PlayonLinux so far, and if you are unwilling or unable to buy Codeweaver’s excellent product (Crossover Linux), i think it’s a better option than just using vanilla wine. One thing I found it necessary to do was to make the dock (or the taskbar) auto-hide. If you don’t do this, many games in fullscreen are partially off screen due to the dock being still shown.

Two weeks ago, I moved 2 of my hard drives around – I’d had an 80 gig with Crunchbang on it, but the laptop it was in wasn’t so good. I took it out and put it into my main laptop (a Gateway M460, with 0.5 GB RAM more than the other one and no screen issues). I’ve now installed Linux Mint 16 RC onto that. Linux Mint only released this RC on the15th, but I didn’t want to wait until the final release.  Crunchbang is an excellent distribution (especially for lower end computers), but I still find Linux Mint to be my “go to” standard when I just want to use the laptop.

The main reason I changed hard drives around was that with more than 3 or 4 Windows games, plus all the DOS and Linux games, my 40 GB drive was actually filling up too fast!

I’m expecting to get a brand new laptop very soon, probably at the upcoming Cyber Monday sales. It will definitely have Windows 8 pre-installed on it, but that won’t take too long to blow away…I will have to make a newer list of distributions that I plan to review. I’m hoping that I can dual-boot Linux Mint (for long term use) with whichever distribution I’m reviewing at the time.

OpenSUSE 13.1 is one of many distributions that I’m interested in checking out, and of course Linux Mint 16 is due soon. The RC for Linux Mint has been doing just fine on this old laptop. I also want to review Fedora 20 when it is released next month.

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