Posted by: duskfire | January 31, 2016

Coming back to the blog

Yeah, it has been well over a year since I last had anything to say here. That was because I have been using Windows 10 for quite awhile, and wasn’t really testing any distributions on my older laptop.  There are still a few new games that wouldn’t run on Linux and I switched over because my wife was playing them, Trove being the main one. I was also playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, and although I knew some people were running it on Linux I didn’t want to take a chance that I would not be able to.

Falling out of the habit of blogging is pretty easy – getting back into doing it is not so simple. The final item that really provided the push was a comment yesterday on an old article of mine, saying that a game I reviewed 5 years ago, MegaGlest, has a new release. MegaGlest is a cross-platform real-time strategy game.

I decided to install the Windows version and take a look at what it is like lately. That will be one of my next posts (in a few days). In addition, I am at a good point right now to re-install Linux on my primary laptop and use it exclusively. I am on a hiatus from all the games that don’t work on it, and I do miss using it. I intend to install Linux Mint 17.3 KDE edition, since that has always been my favorite distribution.

It has been several years since I looked at the best games in all genres that run on Linux, so MegaGlest will be only the first of many that I will take another look at, to see how they have improved.

There have been a few changes in the Linux distribution community since I last reviewed some – quite a few more distributions no longer offer a 32-bit edition, and until I dual-boot my main laptop that means the first few distro reviews I do will have to be on my older machine. I have been updating the list I maintain of distributions that I would like to review, and will discuss them soon.

Posted by: duskfire | October 26, 2014

Gaming on Linux 2014 – Part Three

One of the games I tried out for awhile recently is called Minetest. It’s very similar to the well known Minecraft, but of course has a lot fewer players. It is at this point primarily a game engine, with more fleshed out games existing as mods to the base install. The main mod I’ve found is called “carbone”. There is a “wasteland/survival” style mod as well, but I lost interest in that mod after a short while. Minetest has a wiki, and forums.

Although the community seems small, there are some interesting areas and several decent public servers. I looked into the one hosted by Linux It’s a huge world, with lots of buildings. I am not really sure how to communicate within the game, and I didn’t really see anyone else to talk to while I visited. But as an alternative to Minecraft I think it has some potential. If Java bothers you, Minetest is not just open source, it’s written in C++. It’s also free, so if the price of Minecraft was the thing holding you back, here you go.

Minetest can be found in the Debian, Mint, or Ubuntu repositories. There are two primary choices – Creative mode, and Enable Damage. In creative mode, you seem to be given a lot of tools and items to play with, in a 9 page inventory that is in addition to the main inventory.

morning of a new day

morning of a new day

One fork of Minetest already exists, although it seems mainly for Fedora and similar distributions. Called Voxelands, it’s intended as a self-contained game rather than just an engine onto which others add their mods. I haven’t had much chance to look at it, but I plan to check it out when I test out Fedora’s next edition (21),  which probably will not be until next year.


I have also gotten Diablo 3 to run (mostly) via the excellent PlayonLinux program. I was having a few difficulties with it until I changed the video options so that it runs in a window. After that, I’ve been able to run it for hours at a time. There is still the very occasional crash, but prior to this, it would freeze up almost any time I kept it running more than 45 minutes.

deciding on which bounty to take

Which bounty should I take?

The old game Civilization 2 plays easily under Wine, with no need for Crossover or PlayOnLinux. When it starts up, the screen is black, but just click anywhere once and the first choice will appear, and the game plays fine after that. I also have Civ 3 and 5 on Steam (and Civ 5 has a Linux version on Steam now), but each version has its own charm.

Beginning of a game as English

Beginning of a game as the English

If you are a fan of Dwarf Fortress, not only does it have a Linux port, but the creators of the so-called Lazy Newb Pack have a version native to Linux as well. There’s usually a short delay between the release of a new Dwarf Fortress version and the LNP for Linux.

There are several other Linux games in the repositories that I am likely to look at soon. OpenTTD, Simutrans, MegaGlest, 0 A.D, 7 Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries, these are fairly old but might still be worth playing.


Posted by: duskfire | August 30, 2014

Gaming on Linux 2014 – Part Two

I’ve been slacking off, sorry!



I figure I should put up a quick post to get back into the habit. I’ve been running Mint 17 (KDE edition) on my main laptop as soon as it was released. I haven’t had any serious issues so far. There’s occasional loss of my wireless connection, but that seems to be a kernel problem, and either jumping to the latest kernel or waiting a while and attempting to reconnect have solved the problem every time.

For some reason, the 13.1.2 version of Crossover Linux will not install due to unknown dependencies missing. It was fine on Mint 16. Thanks to PlayOnLinux, this hasn’t been a terrible problem, but I should get back to figuring out how to install it soon.

I used this article  to install the most recent version of PlayonLinux (4.2.4) from their PPA. The exact commands might not work if you’re reading this months after August 2014.

At the moment, I have the following games installed and running fine:

Diablo 2, Banished, Baldur’s Gate, Master of Orion 1 and 2, Torchlight, and Darklands.

I had a few other old games too, but uninstalled them because I wasn’t playing them very much. I can tell you that nearly every game from has an install script in PlayOnLinux and they work fine. I also recently put Steam for Linux back on the laptop, to play Crusader Kings or Civilization V when I get around to re-installing them.

There are native games in the repositories that I either haven’t tried at all yet (e.g. 7 Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries) or haven’t checked out in several years. I’ll have to create a schedule so I have a good list of games to blog about.

I also have been playing a lot of Nethack (pretty much just the Nethack4 variant), and some Angband and Sil (an Angband variant).

What all of this means is, that from a practical point of view, I can already play so many great games that I enjoy, that it really does not bother me that there are other newer games that don’t run well on Linux yet. Nobody has the time to play everything, after all.

Posted by: duskfire | June 2, 2014

Update on Linux Mint 17

I actually think I have overcome the issue that I was having with losing wifi connection!

Earlier I had considered installing an older kernel (the 3.11 series that is in LMDE seemed a good bet), but I ended up installing the latest one instead. My problems with losing wifi were with 3.13.0-24, and I found out in the Update Manager that 3.13.0-27 was available. I installed it, rebooted, and that was last night. Haven’t lost connection over a 6 hour period.

So last night I installed TERA Online (using Crossover Linux instead of PlayonLinux). I am going to try it on Crossover because it really lagged on PoL and I want to see if there is a difference. I also added PlayOnLinux and DBGL to the mix, since I can use Mint 17 once again. Also, looks like I could be writing a review for Mint 17 after all.

Of course, right now I only have about 350 GB available on each system. I only installed LMDE alongside Mint 17 in order to have a Mint that could stay connected. LMDE is a decent distro but I much prefer using the main edition.

One of the other things I was doing today was once again trying to decide what distributions I wanted to review. I’m slightly astonished to see that there a few that are available only in a 64-bit edition! Sabayon, for instance, as well as Chakra and KaOS, 2 pure KDE distros.

What I think I may do now is install one of them to replace LMDE so that I can review it. I already wrote down which partitions on my /dev/sda drive are dedicated to LMDE and its swap, so if I replace it I will know where to target on the drive.

Posted by: duskfire | June 1, 2014

A First Look at Pinguy Linux

While I was awaiting the final release of Linux Mint 17, I decided to start looking at several other distributions that I had not given much thought to before. The first one on my list was Pinguy Linux. Pinguy is based on Ubuntu, with a lot of customization. When I first installed Pinguy I was pretty impressed with what I saw. In fact, I was wondering whether it could possibly replace my beloved Linux Mint as my standard distribution. The short answer: not yet. Why not? Read on.

For some reason, the developers only term the LTS releases as Full, while ones released in between are called Beta (even when they are based upon a Ubuntu regular release). I used Pinguy 14.04 on my older Gateway M460 laptop that has 2 GB of RAM and an integrated video card.


Pinguy uses the Ubiquity installer from Ubuntu. Installation was quite easy, but I doubt you will need to check the box for 3rd party media, they get installed anyway much like Linux Mint. This is the most recent version of Ubiquity, including support for LVM and encryption should you desire. Your password does get a strength check, and you do not need to re-enter your wireless password when you first boot up.


Pinguy Linux uses a customized GNOME 3 desktop with added Docky, the whisker menu up at the top left, and Conky ready to go. The applications you find in Docky are Firefox, Thunderbird, Xchat, Clementine (music player), VLC (media player), Synaptic package manager, a tweak tool, and the Terminal. Along the top left are the main menu and the currently open program. Over to the right you find GNOME Do, Variety (wallpaper manager), the software updater, the calendar/clock, wireless and volume settings, and finally the control to log out or shutdown the system. Moving the mouse along the left edge of the screen reveals several folders, as seen here:

Workspace 1_004

This is a very convenient way to get to the most used directories in your system, and it stays hidden when not needed. This seems to be a change from previous editions. Also, if you press the Windows/Tux key, the main GNOME grid of applications is accessible. Empathy, Shotwell, LibreOffice Writer, Gnome help, and Firefox are easily started with the left side dock.

Variety, a desktop background switcher, seems to be a very convenient method to really avoid boring wallpaper. It downloads a bunch every so often and changes them out every 10 minutes, or less frequently if you change a setting.

Conky is set up for you, and the control for it is found in the “Other” menu category.

However, much as I like many of the features that distinguish Pinguy from most other Ubuntu based distros, there are a few issues that I have, one being the dealbreaker. I don’t think that installing 15 extensions into Firefox is good at all. You can notice 4 of them right on the toolbar when Firefox opens.

Add-ons Manager - Mozilla Firefox

There’s also a number of minor but puzzling questions I have – why is Synaptic on the Dock rather than Ubuntu Software Center? Why isn’t the Software Center listed in one of the main categories? What’s UNetbootin doing there – sure it’s useful, but really, how often does someone create bootable disks? Why is there a distinction between “Other” and “Sundry” and couldn’t some of the latter go into “Acessories” ? Why are there 2 different Tweak tools?


Most of the software installed is great for the typical user, even some less well known ones such as Calibre and Handbrake.

Here’s the menu list:

Accessories: Backups, Contacts, Files, Gedit, GNOME Do, Image Viewer, Shutter, Variety

Games: PlayOnLinux, Steam

Graphics: ebook viewer, image viewer, LO Draw, LRF viewer, Pinta, Rapid Photo Downloader, Shotwell, simple scan

Internet: Deluge, Dropbox, Empathy, Firefox, Remmina (remote desktop control), Skype, Steam, Teamviewer 9, Thunderbird, Xchat.

Office: Calibre, an ebook reader, Libre Office (full suite), wxBanker, Finance Manager

Other: Conky (controls), google2ubuntu, g2u manager, personal file sharing, Plex home theater, Plex manager

Science: LibreOffice Math

Sound/Video: Arista transcoder, Brasero, Clementine, DeVeDe, Filebot, gtkpod, Handbrake, Openshot, Spotify, Videos (a video player), and VLC

Sundry: dconf editor, icedtea controls, main menu

System settings: 20 different controls

The other thing which I wasn’t happy to see was the number of installed applications that don’t appear in any of the regular menu categories – if you don’t hit “all applications” or the GNOME grid, you might not realize just how many you have. Some examples are Onboard, Archive Manager, BleachBit, the calculator, Remastersys, and the Ubuntu Software Center, Also, some of the specialized programs have their own PPA added to the repositories – which some users might not appreciate, although it didn’t bother me as much as the numerous extensions in Firefox did.


Printer support seems excellent:

Workspace 1_006

The default movie player, Videos, detected and auto-ran my DVD of Robocop with no issues. I am glad that VLC is also included as an alternative.


It is awesome that Pinguy comes with both Steam and PlayOnLinux ready to go right after installation. The lack of any other games, especially casual ones, is a little puzzling but not a dealbreaker. The music player Clementine comes pre-equipped with access to over 15 online music sources (as long as you have an account), such as Grooveshark,, Spotify, Jamendo, and Soundcloud.

Luckily this distro not only has the wealth of the Ubuntu repositories to draw on, it includes Playdeb as well, for extra gaming goodness.

Help and Support

Pinguy has a support forum where you can get questions answered. Also, the GNOME Help documentation is available from the menu.


– a very pretty and distinctive distribution. The wallpapers are unique and there’s even a utility (Variety) to help you manage them.

– Lots of useful programs installed for you out of the box

– my wireless printer was found and added easily

– the touchpad controls are simple and it is easy to turn off


– WAY too many extensions in Firefox

– I’m not totally comfortable with the number of PPAs added to repository sources by default

– quite a few programs that aren’t properly added into the appropriate menu categories

– wireless cut out a few times during a week of use (not sure if this is my laptop, but it’s never happened with any other distro)

Final Thoughts

At first, Pinguy looked like it might come close to replacing Linux Mint as my favorite Linux distribution. But after the initial pleasure of seeing how much stuff comes with it, I found a number of minor issues and one major problem. I could have overlooked 2 or 3 extensions installed in Firefox; at least one other distro does the same thing. But 15 is simply too much. They introduce too many 3rd party updates and possible bugs into the most-used application in the whole operating system.

The menu also seems incomplete – some entries ought to be in different sections, while several programs aren’t in the main menu at all.

Overall, I feel that this distribution, though very good, still needs some final polish.

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