Geek Proud, GeekOut.

Linux

The Matrix and More – Linux Talk

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For those of you who love a silly little thing to do with Ubuntu, read on! For those who are just interested why on earth The Matrix is one of the things being discussed, go ahead and read on! Perhaps you’ll find that Linux isn’t as scary as you might have first thought.

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Raspberry Pi – My Personal Project

Raspberry_Pi_Logo.svg

The Raspberry Pi is a subject I’ve sort of dipped my toes in many times in the past, but recently my little brother started talking about it. He then promptly decided he wasn’t interested in it, but it made me think… What would I do with a Raspberry Pi? When I thought about it, I came up with a list of three inventive uses for the Raspberry Pi. Now that I’ve been musing over this for a long while, I think it’s time to lay down my hand and see what you all think about what I would do with one.

Raspberry_Pi_Logo.svg

The Raspberry Pi is ultimately a teeny tiny computer, with power that makes earlier consoles weep and moan. How can something so small and cheap not only rival them, but often be better equipped than them? How can the company, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, keep afloat by making these so damn cheap? Well it’s because they’re not really in it for the profit. However, I’m sure they get enough to be able to make do! We love you, Raspberry Pi Foundation.

I’ve yet to get myself a Pi, but I am considering getting one over the coming months/early next year. However here’s what I would need for my project:

Total Cost: £74.99

I’m sure I have an SD Card lying around somewhere.

This project wouldn’t be cheap, but basically the idea is simply to have a wall organiser of sorts. It’s a low-stress use for a Raspberry Pi, however this follows on from the exceptionally clever idea to turn your Raspberry Pi into a touch screen Google Calendar. However this isn’t where I would stop. A lot of what I do with GeekOut takes time and I often forget the order I should be completing my tasks… So sometimes, a post might go up an hour or two later (Sorry!)

With this in mind, I’d have at least two, perhaps up to three screens I could swipe between.

CalendarHaving Google Calendar in a nicely presented view on a touch screen device would always be a good thing. This would be the first thing I set up. I’m quite an organised person when it comes to days and my family and I share our holidays and events on Google Calendars. But further to this, I could add in anything to do with my Geek events into the calendar. By having this personal organiser to my side, I know I won’t need to go to Google Calendar on my computer any more, but rather just a quick swipe to check out what’s happening within the week.

I’m sure by following the instructions in the instructable, this should be a pretty easy win.

Task ManagementI will have to work on the design of it, but basically I work on websites like Trello to keep on top of all of the projects we have here on GeekOut. There’s a lot of older projects that have been put to the side. However simply enough, I need to have a system to input tasks (perhaps via my main computer) which then feeds into the tasks screen on my Raspberry Pi. Could this be done with a simple android tablet? Probably – I do have one of these lying around too, not doing too much right now.

Finally, if there was one more thing I’d use it for…

Thunderbird_17_on_UbuntuThunderbird… Or perhaps Claws… But basically an email client.

Considering the Raspberry Pi can have Raspbian as a distribution, I am sure there is a reasonable email client for the light-weight machine. With this, along with Google Calendar and a task screen, all to help me get through a productive work day, everything can be done with a few touches of a screen, rather than having two tabs and an email client open at all times here at home whilst I work on GeekOut projects.

Whilst this may or may not come to light, this has basically been what I would do with a Raspberry Pi. A simple task organiser of sorts, along with a touch-screen calendar view to show the days activities and email client all rolled into one. Potentially, I could do all of this with my tablet which is just sat upstairs currently a bit upset with me as the charger has given out (boo!) Nevertheless, what do you think of my idea for the Pi? Do you have anything that you’d do differently than the above? Let me know in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.


Linux Gaming

After a conversation brought up on a fantastic post, I thought I’d talk about gaming on Linux. So before we delve too deep into what games are available, let’s talk about what Linux is, what is the point of Linux, what are the benefits (And the negatives) of using Linux and how you can get started.

My Linux distribution

At the time of writing, I’m not using the optimal distribution for my Linux build. I run a Linux-based Operating System (OS) called Ubuntu and I’m running Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin). Now you might be wondering “What the heck does a Precise Pangolin have to do with this?” – Each major revision of Ubuntu has a codename, this one happens to be Precise Pangolin. Perfect.

I picked this build as it was the Ubuntu Long-Term Support (LTS) which means that if anything goes wrong, your build will be supported officially. The LTS lasts for 2 years before it goes onto the next LTS (So the next one will be version 14.04, set to come out this year). Now, this might be a lot of jargon for people who don’t know what Linux is all about or what it can do for gaming. Carry on below!

Hardware

My hardware is pretty outdated in all fairness. I have a GeForce 9600 GX graphics card with 4GB of RAM. I run an Intel i3 which is overclocked at 4ghz p/core and with a 750w Power Supply Unit (PSU). I use a 7200RPM 126GB HDD, but I’ve got a 500GB one just… Sat here… Doing nothing!

So my hardware isn’t very well optimised by any stretch of the imagination. So how can I do gaming!? Well, on this rig, which wouldn’t be too expensive to buy now-a-days (£200ish, I’d wager!) I was even able to play games such as Skyrim. So don’t think “My computer is too old for gaming” – ever! Unless your computer cannot run a modern operating system. With this being said…

My transition to Linux

Tux, the Linux mascot.

My transition to Linux was met mostly with me being really stubborn, unwilling to move and over glorifying Windows. Let me break this down, though:

I started with praising Windows and Microsoft in general. I was saying how “Windows has made it all easy” to which the response to me would always be “Yes, but you also don’t know enough of what’s going on.” To me, that didn’t matter. Computing was easy with Windows and that is where everyone was, so why should I go to something that might require a few more seconds of set up time and it’s less popular?

I decided though, that I’d give this whole “Linux malarkey” a try, since hey, I call myself a technology lover! So, I boot up a virtual machine and I get a hold of this one called “Ubuntu”, which just so happens to be the most popular (Citation needed) distribution of Linux. I grabbed myself some software to run a virtual machine (VirtualBox) and grabbed an Ubuntu iso.

Please note: This software is free and open source, hence I was able to grab an ISO, which is one of the ways the developers distribute their operating system. Don’t believe me? http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop for more information.

The day Windows collapsed (For me)

Windows 8 had been released and I didn’t like the way it looked, not one bit. I was playing on my computer as per usual, when suddenly and dramatically, it gave me the dreaded Blue Screen of Death! Cue the dramatic music. Yes, it all happened around the time Windows 8 was released – But I’m not blaming Windows 8 for anything, it literally just happened that way.

So, after some examination, I decided: “I need to reinstall Windows.” – It was pretty far gone. Memory issues (not hard drive space, but issues allocating memory properly.) No idea how it managed to get that bad, not my magical Windows… But, I didn’t have my Windows 7 disk. This wasn’t looking good. Head in my hands, I looked at… It. That Ubuntu distribution which I had also put onto a pen drive in the month – Just because it was so easy…

Reformat. Boot from USB… And there it was.

The Ubuntu installation wizard was there in front of me… And it is no harder than installing Windows. In other words, it was very easy.

See? It even tells you what you have and don’t have. -Disclaimer- This was taken from https://help.ubuntu.com/community/GraphicalInstall

Why I have not gone back

Several reasons:

From a really intuitive command line (Typing sudo apt-get install (Package name) will search repositories for any package by that name and will then proceed to install it) to a very customisable operating system, Linux/Ubuntu is a techies heaven. With all the source code editable, you can do whatever you want to do with your computer. This, to me, made it very appealing.

But what about all the games I lost out on? Sure, there have been a number, including the phenominal Saints Row 4 (I am a big fan of the Saints Row series)… But, we know there has been a shift for more Linux gamers recently.

A request

I’m one man. Statistically, that makes me irrelevant. I understand this, but if you’re a developer and you’re reading this, I’m not going to tell you to “Produce games only for Linux”. I’m going to ask you, instead, “Please, consider making your game available on Linux as well as Windows and Mac.”

I won’t pretend to know everything about porting your game, as I barely know anything at all about such things! However, there are lots of resources for porting your game over to Linux now-a-days. With this being said, I won’t keep on at you all if your game isn’t on Linux, it’s not for everyone and the world understands. It doesn’t matter what language you use, for the most part, there are ways to port your game over… And I, a Linux gamer, would be incredibly interested to hear from you if you’re planning a Linux port!

My personal Steam list

When I started on Ubuntu, Valve just announced and released Steam for Ubuntu. This was an incredible turn of events for me and when I started, I only had around 10 of my roughly 100 games for Linux. It was quite a sad time, but hey, I persevered and I am glad I did.

Now, as you can see, I have quite a filling list… A lot of these games: I’ve yet to play!

My steam library - Well, a fair bit of it. 54 of my 121 games are available on Linux.

My steam library – Well, a fair bit of it. 54 of my 121 games are available on Linux.

If you think you see a game on that list you’d like to see reviewed on this site, let me know and I’ll do it for you guys. Just for you guys. Don’t tell anyone else. Okay, tell everyone else.

Let me know what you’d like to see and if you’d like to see more information on Ubuntu, please do visit http://www.ubuntu.com/ . More free open source software is a great thing, but if you do end up downloading Ubuntu and enjoying it, please consider donating to them, as it helps keep them going. It gets them coffee in the mornings to develop nice apps and updates to your computers for free.

One thing to note, a majority of my games are what are considered “Indie” games. Take what you will from that, I’ll review whatever is on the list.

The other games on my list (not many more) are:

  • Rush
  • Secret of the Magic Crystal (I was gifted this. Oh boy.)
  • Snapshot
  • Space Pirates and Zombies (When I first tried, it crashed first time… I’m sure I can get it to work)
  • Strike Suit Zero
  • Super Hexagon
  • Superfrog HD
  • Surgeon Simulator 2013
  • Team Fortress 2
  • Thomas Was Alone
  • Toki Tori
  • Trine 2
  • Worms Reloaded

Thanks to all the readers who make this worthwhile :) You rock.