Sunday, June 25, 2006

Trawling on

I seem to go trawling on the Linux Game Tome every few months to see what is going on in the Open Source game world. Normally I have a slim chance of getting most of these games working but I found Balazar Brothers which being written in Python made it quite easy. I had to install the files to make it run so some custom .deb packages and now it works quite well. It's basically a jumping puzzle game but it with more polish would be quite fun. In the future it would be nice to have a small set of simple but good quality games that average users can install on their Open Source desktop.

The english translation was a bit confusing so I've sent an updated version to the developers. I'm also not sure what to do with the .deb packages - Perhaps I should find some server space where I can make my own .deb repository...

I noticed when Balazar starts up it says:

* Balazar * (Psyco not found ; if you are using an x86 processor, installing psyco can speed up Balazar a little)

So I went and found Psyco - a JIT compiler for Python. I remember reading about this (or a similar) project a while ago but I didn't realise it was ready and working. An apt-get install later I guess it's running in the background! I think glChess was slightly faster but I'll have to investigate more in the future.

Oh Balazar Brothers is basically a mini-game spin-off of an RPG called Balazar. Haven't got that to work yet though as it tries to write back to /usr. Naughty!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dear Lazyweb (re: Python packaging)

How are Python applications supposed to be packaged?

I was building a distutils for glChess. The distutils doc describes itself as:

... (use) Distutils to make Python modules and extensions easily available to a wider audience ...

However glChess is an application and not a library so does not need to make any of its code publically available. Should I make a site-packages/glchess package with all the glChess code? Then what about name spaces - I guess "glchess" is safe but other application names could collide with library packages/modules. Should I use "eggs" (can't find a lot of documentation on these). Note I have not found a Python application that installs its code with distutils (links anyone?).

Also as a side note is there simple way of including translation files in distutils? For glChess I have a directory of gettext translation files po/en.po, po/en_NZ.po etc which get built to po/, po/ etc. These should then be installed into /usr/share/locale as en/LC_MESSAGES/ and en_NZ/LC_MESSAGES/ Note that the .mo files have been renamed however distutils.core.setup() does not allow file renaming through the data_files argument.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Pouet Chess

Found another GPL chess program, Pouet Chess. Seems quite nice, very clean and simple to use (downloaded a binary and it worked fine). It's fullscreen (SDL). I don't know what chess people do but there really does seem to be a huge gap in the Linux/open source chess market. Does everyone just use XBoard? It's very functional but fairly bland looking... I guess pros use windows/web/Java clients?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Dapper and Network Manager

Got network manager working in Ubuntu LTS 6.06 (Dapper Drake)...

1. Install with Applications->Add/Remove... Internet->Network Manager (or apt-get install network-manager-gnome).
2. Disable your network interfaces with System->Administration->Networking and for each device Properties->Enable this connection (uncheck). Otherwise Network Manager will not have any interfaces to use.
3. Add the applet with System->Preferences->Sessions Startup Programs->Add and type in nm-applet.
4. Log out and log in again to have it all working!

For full instructions see the Ubuntu wiki.

As a side note this install crashed logging out of gnome. First I got a white screen with a working pointer, not response to alt-ctrl-backspace. Going to terminal with alt-ctrl-F1 caused stripes to appear and then the whole OS locked up. Grr

It's all dappery

Was playing around with the Ubuntu update manager and it now has a button to upgrade to 6.06 (Dapper Drake). So with just a few clicks and 800M later and I'm here. Quite a smooth upgrade, just need to install a few extra packages when you're done. Gnome is noticably smoother and some nice new features (like editing the menus and deskbar - very nice).

Only thing to get working is network manager again. Seem to have lost some audio codec support with gstreamer 0.10, though you can get better support using libxine I'll stick with gstreamer for now.

From the reviews/screenshots I've been seeing of Vista I think Microsoft is not making good progress. The rate of innovation seems a lot higher in Linux/Gnome and the fast release cycles is leaving MS in the dust. Vista seems to have mostly things that are matching the competition (composite window manager, applets, tabbed browsing) and added far too many user options (endless pop ups, dialogs etc). They really should have had the balls to remove a lot of fluff from their UIs as I think they peaked in usability in Windows 2000 (I'm always trying to find options in Windows nowadays).

I guess Apple will have some new innovation around the corner but for now they have the top polished GUI. Sneaky Apple...