Saturday, 24 December 2011

I think I might build my own tablet

So the raspberry pi looks like its gonna ship in January. Can't wait have so many great ideas of what to do with them. My favorite Idea is to make my own tablet.

I already have usb bluetooth and wifi dongles lying around so thats the connectivity taken care of. I'll need a Screen that there are linux drivers for. Although I'd like to find something cheaper than the one I linked too so if anyone has any ideas let me know. Maybe something that actually uses the RCA or HDI connectors on the raspberry pi. Then I'll get one of the kits for the old triple e's to turn them into a touch screen. The EEE's all shipped with Xandros at the start so I presume there are linux drivers for the kits out there somewhere. The last thing I'll need is some batteries I figure some of those solar powered lithium ion batteries used for back up charging phones and tablets would do. Probably try to use two, one sending power to the raspberry pi and the other to the monitor. For the case I'm think balsa wood and mechano but we will see how serious I get about this when I actually get a raspberry pi.

Software wise I'm going to be going with some linux distro obviously. Really which ever one has the best support for the raspberry pi is probably going to be my first choice. Then I'm going to either use kde's new plasma active interface as a desktop environment or hildon, which is the awesome interface used in maemo on the nokia n series Internet tablets. As for any other operating systems I might put on it, unless there is a really convincing argument for it android can suck it although I might try webOS after they open source it.

The most important thing about this entire design(if you could even call it that) is that I wont have to solder much because I can do many things but give me a soldering iron and I'm only going to get the job done after 3rd degree burns. Still can't wait till the raspberry pi comes out and I get a new toy to play with.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Humble Bundle Linux Hacks

The Humble Indie Bundle 4 was just released the other day and its awesome but one of the major differences between this bundle and some of the others is that every game has just been ported to Linux. Which is great more games on Linux is always a good thing much better than those royal bundle folks who sometimes don't even give us a single Linux game. The issue is that all of these are 1.0's so we have to be patient and wait for the developers to fix the couple of bugs which are going to come up. Unfortunately this mean we have to wait to play our games which sucks so here are a few hacks and general advice to get them up and running.

Note some of these are broad and will help the less well informed about Linux but some will help everyone.

Check for Updates
It may be obvious but the devs have new builds out very quickly the only game to not have a new build since the launch it bit trip runner. People are submitting bugs to the bugzillas and they are getting fixed so if there is a new build out give it a try.

  • Gratuitous Space Battles - I got a segfault when I tried to run it when it came out with the latest build its fixed :)
  • NightSky - Didn't run when I first tried it. Got the latest build today and it works perfectly

Didn't work out of the box. Firstly their was issues with their .deb package which according to the software center was of bad quality(and since it didn't run I agree with them). Anyway a nice redditor, hakdragron, found a neat little solution around the error I was getting:
GLIBCXX_3.4.15' not found (required by ./bit.trip.runner)
Its quite clever how he found out about this hack. He basically got the same error when running the jamestown game not from their script which basically tells the game to use the libraries that come with the game rather than the ones from your distro. So he wrote a little bash script to make the bit.trip.runner game use the libraries that came with jamestown.

So in my case its a script like this:

LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/home/shane/jamestown/x86:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH exec /home/shane/bit.trip.runner-1.0/bit.trip.runner/bit.trip.runner "$@"

The paths will be different for you but its just wherever jamestown is on your system and wherever bit.trip.runner is on you box. To be honest dependency issues like this aren't that big of a deal and I'm sure they will fix it soon.

Gratuitous Space Battles
So Gratuitous Space Battles worked after the update. Well thats not exactly true I was left with a black screen during the gameplay but thats much better than a Segmentation fault that stop you playing it entirely. This obviously would have made the game unplayable but all I had to do to fix this was turn off Gratuitous Shaders in the options menu. Then I was able to play the full game in all its glory.

Up to Date Distros
I know from development projects I've done in the past that there are only so many systems the developers will test on and rightly so god knows if they tested on every linux distro they would never get anytime to do anything but test. My best guess is they probably tested these four in this order and didn't bother with the rest.
  • Ubuntu 11.10
  • Fedora 16
  • OpenSuse 12.1
  • Arch
If you really want a game to run these are your best bet. I've heard a lot of good things especially from fedora and arch users about games working out of the box that simply don't on other systems. So if you have a spare usb key why not put a live persistant image of fedora on it and give the game you want a go. They will probably fix it to work with your current distro soon.

Use Proprietary Drivers
Sorry to those of you that are so against the idea of closed source applications that they are willing to take the performance hit but the games are likely to perform better on better drivers. Obviously if your on a nvidia chip set you don't have any choice the nouveau driver just isn't good enough for most of these games however AMD's open source drivers a very decent so while the games are more likely to run on the closed source drivers. They will probably work well enough in the open source ones.

I know you won't be running the linux version but wine is not an emulator its an api translator. The games will run at the same speed or very close to that and many of the games have excellent ratings on wine's appdb.

All tests done on a Ubuntu 11.04 Machine Running Gnome 2
Games that work out of the box(or download technically) as of 16 December
  • Jamestown
  • Gratuitous Space Battles
  • CaveStory+
  • NightSky
Games to go
  • Bit.trip.runner(Obviously not that big of an issue. Just dependencies I'm sure they will fix it soon)
  • Shank
    • Segmentation fault
    • Also read the bash script for launching shank some of the comments are brilliant
    • Gold rating on appdb so give it a go under wine
    • EDIT: Now works brilliantly 
  • Super Meat Boy
Hope this helped those of you who are struggling to get your games running. In all likelihood they will have fixed all of the games in time for the end of the bundle and if you haven't got a bundle yet go get one they are only a cent if your cheap but seriously pay a decent price for them and support indie developers and Linux as a platform for gaming.