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Unknown Horizons, a nice strategy game, now on openSUSE

May 9th, 2011 by

A few days ago I was wandering on the openSUSE Forums, once more in the games section when I saw one more post from one of our users asking for Unknown Horizons… I’ve search a bit and found 2 entries on OBS (openSUSE Build Service), one for Fedora packages and another for openSUSE packages.

I’ve joined #unknown-horizons on FreeNode and found out that Unknown Horizons is very active and people are very nice. I’ve made a few questions around and offered myself to package this nice game for openSUSE (home:ketheriel:UnknownHorizons). Some of the dependencies are provided by the games repository, to which I want to submit the major releases, and if possible enable builds for Fedora (and friends).

A few packages need some tweaks to enable builds for Fedora (allegro, libenet, guichan), and I’m working already on that. Meanwhile for everyone who wants to check out the latest development snapshot of Unknown Horizons, feel free to do so… Currently packaged for:

* openSUSE 11.3
* openSUSE 11.4
* openSUSE Factory
* openSUSE Tumbleweed

The 1-Click installer can be found on Unknown Horizons download page.  There’s also a nice article (bumping ego) about the new openSUSE packages on Unknown Horizons webpage!

This is a title that all openSUSE users who like RTS games should try (supports openGL and sdl) and is powered by the FIFE Engine.

Unknown Horizons - Settings Menu - openSUSE 11.4 GNOME3

Gpick – An advanced color picker…

May 5th, 2011 by

It was brought to my attention through I article (german) the existence of gpick, an advanced and high featured color picker. I’ve taken a quick look at it to make it available for openSUSE as it seems an interesting tool for artists and web designers (maybe GTK3+ themers) and others.

To build this package a few files are generated with the Lemon Parser Generator which isn’t really available. I’m contacting upstream regarding the possibility of including the generated files in the tarball, or eventually if that fails, I’ll probably need to include lemon.c, hand compile it and hack scons build to use the local binary to generate those files.

The screenshots have a tiny glitch on an icon, this is mainly because I haven’t rebuilt the icon cache when I took them. I look forward to explore the possibility of having such a great tool available for openSUSE 12.1.

UPDATE: I’ve made available a small test package on home:ketheriel:gpick (needs some work before submitting to factory) which should be working. Any testing/feedback will be most welcomed. Also enabled builds for Fedora 14, since I believe this package isn’t available for Fedora.

The ‘DreamChess’ incident!

April 25th, 2011 by

Today I was reading the openSUSE forums and found an interesting thread on the ‘Games’ section, from which I quote:

I remember playing DreamChess on Ubuntu, but the one is not available for Suse 11.4 KDE.

I’ve taken a look around, gathered the stuff required and made a quick package of this game, thus pushing it forward to the games repository. Within a few minutes of the submission, the package was approved and it’s ready to be served to the masses.

We can’t leave transitioning users from Ubuntu unhappy can we ?! Once more thanks to Dimstar and Prusnak for the quick answer in getting this package into the games repository.

DreamChess 0.2.0 on openSUSE 11.4 with GNOME3

openSUSE 11.4 :: Wine… A practical case…

March 15th, 2011 by

For some time I follow the openSUSE Forums which provide me a very interesting view about what our users do with openSUSE. I’ve noticed there are some relevant questions about Wine once in a while in the Games forums.

A few time ago one of my friends nagged me a lot to do a couple of levels in Lord of the Rings Online which has a ‘Free Play’ plan in Europe. People can create an account and play for free the game with some restrictions (contents, equipment, items, etc). Players also have the option of using the online game store to unlock several aspects of the game. I’ve used a free play account for this, as I don’t really dedicate much time to it.

I’ve downloaded and installed the game in a Windows 7 computer (abour 10.5GB’s),  updated it and it works as expected. My laptop has somehow better hardware and I’ve decided to see how it would run under openSUSE through wine! On WineHQ there’s some extensive know-how shared by the community about this game… for my little experiment I’ve used the following:

* Lord of the Rings Online installation files pulled from the installer (since I had previously downloaded the game on a Windows machine, I’ve used those files to avoid downloading 10.5GB’s again).
* Wine 32 bits (1.3.12, shipped with openSUSE, LotRO requires also wine-gecko);
* openSUSE 11.4 x86_64;
* ATI FireGL drivers, release 11.2;
* PyLotRO Launcher (written in Python, used to launch LOTRO since the normal Turbine .NET launcher has some serious issues);

Looking at everything written on WineHQ about LotRO it seems quite a hard task to get this running, luckily it’s actually the opposite… pretty much a quick step, though time consuming due to the size of the game. Here’s the procedures:

  • Installing wine on openSUSE 11.4

Installing wine on openSUSE is pretty easy (like any other software package). Make sure you are networked and open your favourite terminal emulator and type in the following command: zypper install wine wine-gecko. Zypp client will pull all the required dependencies and install the software. Please be aware that your system needs to have 3D capable drivers, often proprietary drivers.

  • Installing Lord of the Rings Online

As I’ve stated previously, I’ve had available the installation cache files from a previous Windows installation which made my life easier (around 10.5GB). If this is not your case, you can look into WineHQ and check how it goes with the installer. An interesting thread can be found here.

When one installs LOTRO on a Windows Machine it will create a folder on the Desktop called LOTRO_* which will contain a local cache of the files necessary to install the game. Inside of this folder there’s a ‘lotrosetup.exe’ runs the installer. To start the installation is quite easy… open a terminal (with normal user), navigate to the directory where we have the cache files from the installer and run: wine lotrosetup.exe. The installer window pops up preceded by a small splash screen. Follow the instructions on the screen and wait until it deploys the game (took around 30/40 minutes).

  • PyLotRO Launcher for Linux

There’s ways to run the game and the Turbine launcher (.NET) isn’t really friendly of wine. I’ve decided to go for PyLotRO which is a small launcher written in Python. I’ve made a small test package which is available on my test repository in OBS (openSUSE Build Service) and called it python-lotro. You can find it here. For openSUSE 11.4 it can download this RPM, python-lotro-0.1.14-4.1.noarch.rpm and install it with: sudo zypper install python-lotro-0.1.14-4.1.noarch.rpm. This will also create a link on your Games menu entry (works in GNOME, never tested on KDE).

You have the Linux launcher installer and are a tiny step away from being able to play LoTRO…

  • Updating the Game…

PyLotRO provides a small interface with the very basic functionality available from the Turbine Launcher. Allows to configure wine debugging output and patch the game amongst other features. Here’s a small screenshot how it’s looks:

To update the game, it’s only required to hit the ‘Tools‘ menu and select ‘Patch‘. This will access the game contents, download, decrypt and update the game to the latest version. Due to the size of the game it really takes a bit of time, so be patient.

WARNING: Before launching the game make sure that you have 3D effects disabled on the Desktop (ex: disable compiz or composite in Kwin). If this step isn’t done, the game might suffer of great performance issues and weird behavior. If something looks fishy, then that’s because you forgot this step. This also made me think in one thing… What impact will Unity and gnome-shell have in cases like this… when the accelerated 3D Desktop will generate performance issues in applications like in this case… something to look for in the nearby future…

After the update it’s possible to login into the game, configure the options and give it a go… You will need a game account first than can be created for free (Europe only as far as I am aware, the game seems to be under subscription in the US), make sure you download the European client as well.

  • Gameplay

The game tries to detect the best configuration for your system (Low in my case)… I’ve forced it to Very High, selected my native resolution and gave it a go. The game is fluid enough, though lags a bit in big cities (ex: Bree), this is somehow something to expect, the same happens in Windows. While I haven’t seen much problems with performance, I’ve disabled dynamic lighting and it’s somehow a bit better. The runs nice and everything seems to work.

I know many tutorials talk about winetricks and d3dx9… I’ve not did such things and the game runs very nice with the native wine dll’s without having the need of installing Microsoft’s DirectX files.

This was a very pleasant experience, and it really surprised me on the positive. OpenSUSE has a very nice version of wine capable of running at least LotRO and World of Warcraft without any issues! It’s something that is worth trying with openSUSE!

Kick off for GNOME:Ayatana Project…

December 29th, 2010 by

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” // Peter F. Drucker

This has been one of the guidelines in my life for quite some time… It started as a curiosity a long time ago with Notify OSD and evolved to full project in openSUSE. It is important to acknowledge at this point the motivation provided by the openSUSE GNOME Team from which I’ve been getting plenty of guidance and help, namely from Vincent Untz (vuntz) and Dominique Leuenberger (Dimstar). Thanks to them, we have now a GNOME:Ayatana Project on OBS (openSUSE Build Service), currently being populated with the support libraries for Ayatana’s Unity and Indicators.

Susan Linton has made a small article for Linux Journal about this project in the past. Though some people pointed to me that it was advertising and excelling Ubuntu… I would like to leave a statement… We’re not taking a hike on Ubuntu visibility, and it isn’t bad at all, on the contrary… In fact it will help Ubuntu, us and many others… specially if some Ubuntu patches are accepted faster by upstream. I hope other RPM distributions will follow the way we, openSUSE, proudly seem to pioneering! From my personal point of view… a distribution ‘distributes’… and despite this software isn’t attractive for some openSUSE users, I’m happy it is available (totally or partially) for all those who want to test it… Wait… you don’t even need to install Ubuntu or changing the platform you run!

Due to several reasons, being the most important of them versioning, this repository will start on the next release of openSUSE in March 16th (World day of Conscience, interesting point). This is also interesting as if YOU are willing to improve a package or submit a package you can now do it to this repository.

This goes with a very huge cookie for Dimstar and Vuntz for taking care of this repository and making sure that everything will comply with the openSUSE Guidelines. You are my personal heroes.

It has been quite an interesting experience to be with openSUSE GNOME team which is full of knowledge and helpful in many ways. I can’t also forget to mention that last week Luis Medinas has taken tutorship of a Portuguese contributor to openSUSE GNOME, João Matias and will provide him the necessary help to integrate him on the workflow of the GNOME Team. My personal thanks to Luis for stepping into this task, which from my personal point of view is very important.

Regarding to Ayatana it is worth to mention that Dimstar provided some valuable help in fixing the dbusmenu package and taking care of the necessary patch submission in GTK and gdk-pixbuf to allow dbusmenu to build with introspection support and generate properly the Vala files required for other packages. This handicap beaten… we’re on the good road for better functionality. This patches also allowed to correct some behavior in some indicators, one fine example of this the ‘Me Menu’ which now displays correctly a  ‘dot’ on the selected status as the screenshot bellow shows:

In the last days, despite it’s Christmas season and soon new year…. I’ve been also working on providing additional extensions to enable some functionality on some indicators. This was the case of indicator-sound, which provides an alternative sound gadget that offers extended functionality with multimedia players. A fine example of this is Novell’s Banshee player which has astonishing out of the box implementation with the sound indicator from Ayatana by a small extension that can be enabled. I’m still wondering why so many people toss heavy critics at this indicator calling it ‘mac styled’… while to be honest I doubt such people have even seen OSX sound applet, which is more or less a direct copy of the one present in GNOME, the vertical switch. Interesting view nevertheless.

Indicator-sound has also been fixed and no longer requires the nasty hack in the previous package. Since I’m not an Ubuntu user, neither I have extensive experience on their Desktop, I’m not sure if the functionality present so far in the indicators is the one offered by Ubuntu. I plan to run a Open Beta on the Ayatana software repository during the last Milestone of Factory to all Factory users to collect more data and improve the packages, at least the indicators, as in the present since I have ATI hardware I don’t have FireGL enabled on Factory, so I can’t really push much on Unity and test it for the time being.

Another subject of plugins was Xchat which is GNOME’s premier IRC client. Novell’s Evolution also got it’s plugin which is found to be partially working. I haven’t tracked yet if there are patch submissions to Evolution from Ubuntu to enable indicator functionality. That’s for sure one of the next steps, and since Evolution is a bit of ‘in-house’, would be nice to have them approved upstream if submitted already, as it would serve openSUSE as well.

Most of this applications, evolution, xchat, gwibber, empathy, pidgin are supported by indicator messages which collects information from several messaging services and places them on a single indicator in a cascade style experience for the user. I personally find it weird as I’m not used to this, but seems nice. Unfortunalty some applications seem rely on patches to be fully supported, like empathy. I hope upstream accepts the patches from Ubuntu (if submitted) and we can also benefit from such changes in our side.

Basically to sum up everything in a short review…

* Indicators are working fully or partially depending on patch level on some applications. If upstream starts accepting Ubuntu patches (some shouldn’t be much of a problem), it will work out for Ayatana software in openSUSE as well.
* Unity – Though it builds already with some compiz packaged from git sources (to include glib mainloop patching), I have no way of testing it, neither I have done integration on it. Unfortunately both my systems have ATI hardware and I have no way of testing it on Factory which seems to be too much bleeding edge for ATI to keep up. It’s stalled a bit, but in the worst scenario will be available a few weeks after the next official release of openSUSE.
* During this wait time… we might see a new release of compiz with the patches upstreamed by Canonical, which will for sure help us also a lot. No need for hurry in Unity at this time.

My personal experience with this project has given me lots of knowledge about OBS, hacking Makefiles and configure scripts… debug skills… and specially I ended up loving the way openSUSE is built and how it works. I would take also this opportunity to make a small statement… all the development so far has been deployed over GNOME 2.32. Much of the software packaged already supports GTK3 and should be easy to migrate it to GNOME3. At the moment, since the next openSUSE release is still based on GNOME 2.32, I’m not testing all this software on GNOME3. It might take a few days/weeks to have it available for GNOME3 after it’s release, though from a personal perspective, what I’ve seen on GNOME3 seems to be overkill! It’s damn nice and I have no doubt GNOME3 will succeed as the ultimate Free Desktop.

I would also like to mention that I’m not testing this indicators with KDE. In case someone wants to do this, please feel free to nag me on IRC (#opensuse-gnome @ Freenode) and leave feedback. I’m focused only on GNOME2 and GNOME3 deployment of this software packages, though I will help in whatever way I can if someone wants to work them out for KDE.

I’m using a patched version of Metacity (patches were submitted upstream) which improves the display of buttons by improving overlaying of images (I think). Look at the sharp corners of the theme in the pic bellow. As always, Faenza Icon theme with Canonical’s light theme Radiance (not hacked). This is another change I hope that goes upstreamed soon.

My sincere congratulations to everyone working on the awesome GNOME3, I’m sure it will be a success and make the delights of many! My faith points that GNOME3 will change Desktop user experience forever!

Have a lot of fun…!

Nelson Marques

FLISoL 2010 in Panama City

May 7th, 2010 by

FLISoL 2010 at Ciudad del Saber looked good with several Linux Distributions and different open source applications. It was a small building with a lot people in transit. With three people and only two months to organize this event it was a successful achievement because our goal was accomplished: be on the eyes of governmental organizations, ONG, business, academics, students, users, professionals. Some media communications groups give some interviews. After this event we are receiving more invitations to give a talks for education and participate on some projects than ever before.  Click on link below to watch the photos

http://picasaweb.google.com/RICARDO.A.CHUNG/FLISoL_2010#