Posted by: duskfire | January 22, 2017

State of Gaming on Linux

As 2017 gets underway, I think it would be useful to go over the current state of gaming potential while using Linux as your primary or exclusive home OS.

Steam and are two of the most well-known and respected online stores to purchase high quality games from. Each site has hundreds of games that can be directly installed on Linux, without needing to use wine or one of its easier-to-use wrapper appications (Crossover and PlayOnLinux). Most of these games are well-known, and cover all of the genres in gaming. You can get classic games from the 90s, or brand-new games from AAA publishers and indie ones. It is simply no longer the case that using Linux severely limits your game choices – no, what I have found the last few months is that the limitation, just like on Windows, is your graphics card!

I have so many games, probably more than I can become good at this year, but the newest ones strain my AMD graphics card. I run them in a window, but for the first time in years, I need to plan ahead and get a much better laptop with an above average card (Nvidia most likely).

screenshot-from-2017-01-08-18-05-13Some of those are being run through Crossover or PlayOnLinux, and there are a few that aren’t in this picture, such as Crusader Kings 2 and Rimworld, but obviously I am not hurting for games to occupy my spare time.

Posted by: duskfire | December 31, 2016

End of the Year thoughts

Well another year draws to a close. I have hardly written any posts this year, although several distributions had some good releases that I probably ought to have reviewed.

In addition to the new desktop I got, I also have another laptop and a second Nook device. The second laptop is an old Dell Latitude that was given to me, and currently it is running Manjaro Linux. I don’t use it daily, but Manjaro has been quite good so far.

The housemate who gave me my desktop also gifted me with a Samsung Galaxy Tab A Nook running Android 4.4.2. One major benefit to this is that I was able to install CyanogenMod on my older B&N Nook HD+ device since it is no longer under warranty. So it now is running Android 5.1.1 rather than the 4.0.4 stock that the Nook HD+ normally is stuck with. This is CyanogenMod 12.1 “ovation”. Unfortunately, CyanogenMod has been killed off recently after what apparently were disagreements internally in the company, and an attempt to commercialize it. I am now keeping an eye on alternatives to CM, and also the fork that has been announced, named LineageOS.

My main laptop has a lot of games on it now, many Linux-native versions. I usually play most of them in windowed form, because full-screen tends to overheat the machine (it doesn’t have a great graphics card). This week I also discovered that the front-end to DOSbox that I use extensively will no longer work properly under Linux Mint. It seems to be fine on Manjaro, so for now I am working on my Dell laptop.

Hopefully I will do more reviews in 2017, and discuss some games as well.

Posted by: duskfire | August 8, 2016

New desktop computer for Linux explorations

I recently was given a nice gift of a new desktop computer and Netgear wifi adapter. It’s not brand-new, but it did come with Windows 8, so it isn’t as old as the Gateway M460 laptop I have. It is a Gateway SX2110G-UW318 desktop, and I was able to get a surplus flat screen monitor for it. It has a 500 GB hard drive, 4 GB of RAM, and an integrated AMD HD 7100 graphics chip.

HOWEVER, it only has an AMD E1-1200 chip, which from my initial research seems to be not quite up to an Intel i3. To add insult to injury, the chip is soldered to the motherboard, so I cannot even pull it out and buy a faster one to replace it.

It might be possible to get a whole new motherboard, but I don’t know for sure. I’ll have to do more research on that. But it does explain why, when I upgraded it from Windows 8 to Win 10, it seemed to run slower than I had expected. At the moment it is dual-booting Win 10 with Linux Mint 18 Xfce. I had to disable Secure Boot in order to get my Netgear adapter to work right with it – and that was after using this page to get the driver!

On the positive side, however, this is a second computer and it is a 64-bit desktop. The laptop I use at home has too many documents and games for me to be comfortable changing anything on it simply to review other distributions. It is running Linux Mint KDE 17.3, and I am planning to wait for LM 18 KDE edition to come out in a couple of months before considering whether to back everything up and perform a clean install at that time. (The changeover from KDE 4.13 to KDE Plasma 5 is drastic enough that Clem, the leader of Linux Mint’s developers, has said that it is not possible to upgrade in place for KDE, in the way that they have recently made it possible to do with the Cinnamon and MATE editions.)
But with this computer, I can install and review many more distributions than on my much older 32-bit laptop. Also, since it is a desktop, I might try one of the BSDs. There is also the possibility of trying to do an Arch install, using my main laptop for wiki access and file copying.

I think I will start off by re-installing Mint 18 Xfce edition on the entire drive, and reviewing that one first.

Posted by: duskfire | March 12, 2016

First-Person Shooters on Linux, Part 1

This is the first of three posts discussing the current state of first-person shooter games that run on Linux. I have found at least 12 games that are FPS-only (as opposed to a hybrid). Here is the list of the games I intend to look at during the series:

Assault Cube, Open Arena, Nexuiz Classic, Sauerbraten, Red Eclipse, Warsow, Tremulous, Alien Arena, Wolfenstein Enemy Territory, Xonotic, Smokin’ Guns, World of Padman, Urban Terror, and possibly True Combat: Elite.

Nearly all of these games let you choose between full screen or window mode, however they do capture your mouse during play.

In this first article, I will be looking at the games that can be found in the Debian, Ubuntu, or Linux Mint repositories – specifically, the games Assault Cube,  Open Arena, Nexuiz, Sauerbraten, and Red Eclipse.

Assault Cube


Assault Cube is based on the original Cube engine, not the Cube2 one that a few others are using. It is a fairly small download compared to most other games, weighing in at under 60 MB. The environments and weapons you use are pretty realistic.  The most recent version is 1.2.02 (released in November of 2013) but the repositories are still using version 1.1. Single player mode provides 26 maps, but they are fairly small and feel claustrophobic to me. The graphics quality, window size, and many other settings can be adjusted. There are sound effects, but no music. In singleplayer mode you can choose from 2 to 32 “bots” to simulate a multiplayer game, and select how good they are, to adjust the difficulty.  You cannot play multiplayer using the old version, for that you will have to download and install the most recent version. Once you do, there are 12 game modes available to you. Many more maps can also be installed.

In addition to letting you download the most current version, the website also has a wiki, the community forums, and documentation. The wiki seems quite complete, and has German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and other translations available. The forums have recent activity.

Assault Cube is not available in the Fedora or RPMFusion  repositories, nor is it at the PlayDeb website.


(More pictures can be found at the AC website)

Open Arena


OpenArena is basically a clone of Quake 3 and uses the ioquake3 fork of the “id tech 3” engine. It is open source and cross platform. There are a lot of different game types to choose from. The version in the repositories is 0.8.8-9, which looks to be the same as the one you can obtain at their website. This version was released in February of 2012, and the website mentions that a 3.0 version is currently being worked on with lots of improvements. No release date is listed, but definitely something to keep an eye on!

I really enjoy this particular  game. The maps are very large and expansive, and you have “tricks” like certain platforms that throw you into the air. The guns and overall appearance are more futuristic than realistic. Open Arena takes up about 450 MB on my hard drive.

Open Arena has an active community with forums, a wiki, and a game manual.

Open Arena can also be found in the Fedora repositories.




The “Nexuiz” you find in the repositories is usually referred to as “Nexuiz Classic”, and is staying at version 2.5.2. What happened is that in 2010, one of the founders made a deal with a game company called Illfonic and they created a closed-source paid-for version of this game (released in 2012 for Xbox, PSN, and Steam). A lot of bad feelings resulted from this in the community. The game engine was changed for the commercial release, and the original game was forked into a new one called Xonotic, which I will discuss later. (It looks like the commercial version is no longer being developed and I don’t see it in the Steam store.) The singleplayer mode of Classic is more of a tutorial, with only 2 sections and a 3rd not released. The multiplayer mode offers a lot of servers, and there is music as well. The full game took up about 890 MB on my hard drive.

For me, the graphics and controls are quite good, but since Xonotic is a very active fork with a lot of support, I doubt I will be playing Nexuiz Classic much at all. The gameplay and mechanics also feel like Open Arena. If you had a lot of fun with it back in the days when it was truly one of the hottest FPS games on Linux, you might enjoy it more than I do.

Quitting the game is a bit hard to figure out in windowed mode because the Quit button at the bottom right (along with the Credits) does not reposition itself properly when you aren’t full-screen, making it hard to see.

I cannot find any official forums or wiki for Nexuiz Classic.

Nexuiz Classic can also be found in the Fedora repositories.




Sauerbraten is one of many games based on the Cube2 graphics engine. The latest version of the game (“Collect” edition) came out in January of 2013, and can be downloaded from the main website. The version in the Debian/Ubuntu repositories looks to be the same one.

There are 4 “campaigns” (i.e. single-player games), which seem fairly fun, although the usual “kill all enemies to open some new area” tends to be the rule. Backtracking is also something you’d need to get used to.

Sauerbraten has a FAQ page, a community forum, a wiki, and links to developer home pages, along with links to extra maps and a league homepage.

Sauerbraten can also be found in the Fedora repositories.


(single-player campaign, near the beginning)


multi-player Sauerbraten

Red Eclipse


Red Eclipse is the other game using the Cube2 graphics engine that is in the repositories. One of the main differences from Sauerbraten is that in Red Eclipse you have clips for the guns, and can reload.

Unfortunately, similar to Assault Cube, the version in the repositories is 1.4, which is old enough that you cannot play multi-player, only single player. The most recent edition is 1.5.3, “Aurora” and was released in July of 2015. It can be downloaded from the project’s website. After you have downloaded it, extract it, find the directory, and run “” either from command line or by double-clicking. Be patient, it takes several seconds to start up.

Red Eclipse not only lets you pick your avatar, you can customize it with a crown, top hat, horns, many many other vanity items, and you can color portions of it. The community forums appear to be quite active, and there is a wiki page, a FAQ page, a “how to install” page, and a guide (manual?).

Red Eclipse doesn’t appear in the Fedora or RPMFusion repositories.


I spent an hour or two with each game, and the two I like the most out of these five are Red Eclipse and Open Arena. I will keep them on my hard drive for awhile. Next time I will be looking at 4 further games in this genre, Warsow, Xonotic, World of Padman, and Tremulous.

Posted by: duskfire | March 8, 2016

Review plans for lightweight distros

April is coming up soon. In the Linux community these days, the end of April in even-numbered years means that Ubuntu Linux will release what is called an “LTS” version of their operating system.  LTS stands for Long Term Support, and unlike the other twice-yearly Ubuntu releases, the latest edition of Ubuntu will be supported for five years, as opposed to nine months for the three editions that are released in between.

I have been looking at various 32-bit distributions of Linux to see how to fit reviews in over the coming months. There are several which are based upon the Ubuntu LTS with some changes. Therefore, I’ve decided to put off reviewing them until after they release a new edition. These include Bodhi Linux, elementary Linux, Linux Lite, Neptune, and possibly one or two others. I think it wouldn’t be fair to look at a release that will be obsolete in 3 or 4 months. I also want to review the new edition of Lubuntu or Xubuntu. I looked at Xubuntu 2 years ago, but have never tried Lubuntu.

This plan still leaves me with at least eight distributions that I can review between now and May. Possible candidates include antiX, SparkyLinux, ROSA, Parsix, Zorin, Makulu, Simplicity, and a few others.

I also will fill in additional posts by covering Linux games on my primary laptop. I intend to start off with a series that looks at the current state of native Linux FPS games. I last discussed them over five years ago, very briefly, and haven’t really looked at them since. I’m talking about games such as Open Arena, Sauerbraten, Red Eclipse, Warsow, Xonotic, and others. They are fast-moving shooters that are multiplayer action-fests.

Older Posts »