Linux content and your ideas


I am currently working on plans for a few of my own ideas for upcoming Linux content, but would also like to hear some of the reader ideas.  Like the OS X content and your ideas post last month, I am always open to content ideas the readers would like covered.

What Linux related things do you guys need the most help with?  What type of content would you like more of? 

This will also be a good way to gauge what the new to Linux people are having the most issues with.  There also needs to be content for the more advanced users, so I want to hear about ideas for those as well.  It's not that I have any problems with thinking up new things to write, but rather that I also want to write content the regular readers want to see.

Let the ideas flow.

Luakit


Luakit is a very lightweight Webkit based browser for Linux. I was told about this a while ago by dr. dave, who is a regular reader here, and who's comments are always very helpful and interesting. Thanks again, Dave.

Description of it from the Luakit site:

"Luakit is a highly configurable, browser framework based on the Webkit web content engine and the GTK+ toolkit. It is very fast, extensible by Lua and licensed under the GNU GPL v3 license. It is primarily targeted at power users, developers and any people with too much time on their hands who want to have fine-grained control over their web browsers behaviour and interface."

For the last couple weeks I have been playing with it, and I am extremely impressed by the speed and simplicity of it.  There is virtually no overhead at all.  My G4 500MHz Stormtrooper runs it at a clip that would satisfy even the most impatient of people.  With 4 tabs open right now it is using 37MB RAM.  It launches in approx. 1.5 seconds on an old PATA HD, and most sites load in 2-5 seconds.  This blog loads in about 2 seconds. 


The basics

To load a page, run "luakit url"

Control + T loads a new tab

The rest is all up to you via config files.  Here is a list of the config files available for editing:

  • rc.lua -- is the main config file which dictates which and in what order different parts of the browser are loaded.
  • binds.lua -- defines every action the browser takes when you press a button or combination of buttons (even mouse buttons, direction key, etc) and the browser commands (I.e. :quit, :restart, :open, :lua , etc).
  • theme.lua -- change fonts and colours used by the interface widgets.
  • window.lua -- is responsible for building the luakit browser window and defining several helper methods (I.e. w:new_tab(uri), w:close_tab(), w:close_win(), etc).
  • webview.lua -- is a wrapper around the webview widget object and is responsible for watching webview signals (I.e. "key-press", "load-status", "resource-request-starting", etc). This file also provides several window methods which operate on the current webview tab (I.e. w:reload(), w:eval_js("code here.."), w:back(), w:forward()).
  • modes.lua -- manages the modal aspect of the browser and the actions that occur when switching modes.
  • globals.lua -- change global options like scroll/zoom step, default window size, useragent, search engines, etc.


Who should use it

For those that prefer pointing and clicking everything they do, this may not be the one for you.  People that don't like using run commands to load pages will certainly be turned off. 

For those that are comfortable computing like this, or at least want to learn to be, this is an extremely flexible screamer of a browser.  The performance is blinding fast for the G4 500MHz it's running on.  A faster system could only do better.


How to install

Fire up the "Root Terminal" in Debian or MintPPC and type:

apt-get install luakit




PowerPC gaming on Mac OS


If you’re like me, then you prefer the games from the PowerPC era.  Not simply because they were coded for the architecture, but rather that this was the best era in Mac and PC gaming in my opinion.  The reason I feel this way is that the games from this era are more raw and simple, with a lot less fluff.  Many modern games focus mainly on graphic realism and lack the quality experience that older ones had.

Another great thing about older games is that you don’t need a video card that costs several hundred dollars to play them.  A 32MB card is often fine for most of them.  For greats like Oni from the late 90’s you can get high frame rates on 8 MB vid controllers.  The games in the later part of the PowerPC era (2003-2006) are the ones that tend to benefit from the 64MB and up cards.  These two examples cover the extreme ends of the video hardware needed for PowerPC gaming.

In my experiences, I would say that the CPU plays a more important role in Mac gaming compared to the wintel world.  I say that because in my direct experiences with many games it’s the CPU that makes the most difference. An example of this was some testing I did a couple years back.  I tested a Sawtooth with a G4 1.0 GHz 7455 and Radeon 9800 Pro 128 MB vs. another Sawtooth with a G4 1.8 GHz 7448 and a Radeon 7500 32MB.  The 1.8 GHz system beat the snot out of the 1.0 GHz in every single way.  Although the 9800 in the slower system is a far better GPU, the difference is negated by a CPU that is clocked 80% faster.  Obviously the 9800 is better suited for the 1.8 GHz, which is where it lives now, but those tests were to prove a point at the time.  This was all during a debate where others had claimed that the GPU was far more important for Mac gaming, but it's actually 2D where the GPU plays more of a role on a Mac vs. Wintel machines.  The GPU is still important in gaming, make no mistake; I'm just saying that the CPU is more of a factor in Mac gaming vs. Wintel. 

It makes sense to break up games by system requirements, so people can try the ones within the ability of the hardware they have.  Although these games are all harder to find these days, they are pretty much all still available if you look hard enough in the right places.  I will list all the options I can think of but will really only comment on the ones I have direct experience with.  I didn’t really start gaming on Macs until a good year or more into the G3 era around early 98.  Because of this, I cannot really comment on the earliest games for the 601-604 CPU’s.

Most of these games have reviews on Inside Mac Games dot com.  The ones that do will contain a link to the review in the title.  Inside Mac Games is the number one most trusted source for me and many Mac gamers.  The site is particularly good for older game info.




Group 1: Any G3 - G4 350-700MHz – Rage 128 or higher

The selection is limited on this low end of the scale, but the titles available are quality games. 


Quake I, II and III

I and II are a mixed bag of good and bad, but III is one of my favourite games ever on the Mac.  Quake I has the worst graphics, but many tend to prefer it to II.  Quake II looks much better than I, but the gaming experience is declined quite a bit.  The maps in it are quite redundant and it simply isn’t the greatest experience.

Quake III took everything up a few notches.  The graphics and game play are stellar compared to the previous two.  I started playing this in 1999 when I bought the Stormtrooper new.  The stock configuration was a G3 350 MHz with a Rage 128 16 MB, and it played III like a champ.  ID software did an amazing job optimizing it for the G3 systems and later the G4.  I play the G4 optimized OS X version on my 1.8 GHz with Radeon 9800.  I get well over 200 FPS at 1920 and over 300 FPS @ 1280.  Needless to say there is never even a hint of lag.  It also plays great on the modern revision of my Stormtrooper with a G4 500 and Radeon 7000 PCI.

The truly great thing about all 3 versions of this game is that they are all built for both classic OS and X.  III plays even better on X in my experiences.




This is one of the final pure Bungie games before Microsoft bought them.  The game play is outstanding, and can be quite challenging in later levels.  The official requirements are a G3 300 MHz and an 8 MB vid card.  I have seen it play fine on a beige minitower G3 233 MHz with Rage 128 16 MB.

When you consider that this game was released in 1999, and has such low requirements, the graphics are quite amazing.  I play it at 1920 with quality set to highest on my 1.8 GHz G4, and it looks fantastic for its age.

It’s a third person shooter much like Tomb Raider, but is a far better game IMO.  The hand-to-hand fighting is so fun in this game that I almost never use the gun.  I only shoot when facing one of the enemies which is only shooting, and not approaching to fight.  The gun selection leaves a lot to be desired, so that is certainly part of my hand-to-hand preference.  To be fair though, the gun selection is the only area the game lacks quality in my opinion.

Like Quake, there are Classic and X options for Oni.  The X option is very elegant in that all you have to do is attach the X app to the original Classic game content folder.  There is also a great editor available here, which allows you to make yourself invincible, and invisible to the enemies.  They can only see you when you punch them.  You can also give yourself virtually unlimited ammo.  The later levels are so hard to beat that you often do need these cheats; unless you're some superhuman gamer.



Abuse

This classic side scroller has been a favourite since 99.  I bought it along with the B&W Stormtrooper in Aug. 99, via the Bungie Classic pack which included 6 games.  I only remember that one of the others was Marathon because I only ever played Abuse on a regular basis.  I tried Marathon a couple times and gave it away along with all the others besides Abuse.

As far as I know, there was never an X version made, so this is Classic only.  I played it on 8.6 and all the 9 versions without issue.  There is a version for PowerPC Linux, which I installed a while ago, and will play more when I have a chance.




Shogo is another first person shooter like Quake.  The maps and weapon selection are superior in Shogo IMO.  Some of the maps are so big that it’s hard to imagine until you see it yourself.  I have not played this since about 2004 because my disc became damaged, and I never attempted getting another.

Just thinking of this game as I write this makes me want to get it again.  From 2003-2004 a few friends and I played this over LAN together at least once a week.  It’s a perfect game for LAN and online play, because the more that play on a level the more fun it is.

I have never heard of a OS X version, so if you can find a copy it would be for OS 8.5-9.
  



Although this game is clearly designed for a younger teen, it is still quite fun to play at times.  The graphics look decent if you have a good enough card.  It does list needing a 32MB vid card, but I have played it on a 16 MB Rage 128 with everything turned down.  The CPU requirement is a G3 700 MHz.  I have never played it on a G3, but have on G4’s as slow as 400 MHz with decent results. 

If you have an older child or teen, or just really like Spider-Man, then this game is worth looking into.



Other options for this hardware group:

Marathon (all versions)
Carmageddon
Deer Hunter
Sim City (I & II)
Tomb Raider (I, II and III)
Myth (I & II)



Group 2: G4 800MHz-1.0GHz – Dual G4 450-533MHz – Radeon 7500/Geforce 2 or higher

This is the smallest of the groups in terms of selection, because only Halo really fits into this.  Most other Mac games are either a good deal below or above Halo in system requirements.  Games like Battlefield 1942 and Command and Conquer generals technically fit within this hardware requirement, but they play like crap.

The good news is that all the games from group 1 will play even better on this hardware.




If you like first person shooters, and have never played this game, then you’re really missing out.  The requirements are a G4 800 MHz and a 32MB vid card.  It’s OS X only, and although it will play on Radeon 7500 and lower, I recommend an 8500 or higher.

Quality game and quality graphics, so you really can’t go wrong.  The game play can get rather intense at times, and the maps are quite good.  I tend to prefer the mostly outdoor maps, as the building based ones are a bit redundant. 


Other options for this hardware:





Group 3: G4 1.2GHz+ - Dual G4 800MHz+ - G5 - Radeon 8500/Geforce 5200 or higher

It’s easy to understand why this group is where Mac PowerPC gaming is the best, because of both selection and graphics.

One thing I need to mention about GPU’s is that the numbering systems that ATI and Nvidia used with some cards make no sense.  A layperson would assume a Radeon 9000 or 9200 was better than an 8500, but that is not the case at all.  Both the 9000 and 9200 are based on an underpowered 8500 chip.  The 9000 is also slightly above the 9200 in performance.  Also, the original Radeon (no number) is slightly more capable than the Radeon 7000. The rest of the Radeon are numbered in a way that represent the power delivered.

With the Nvidia cards found in Macs, there is some confusion with the Geforce 3 and 4.  A Geforce 3 will trump a standard 4 (aka MX), but a 4 Ti will beat a 3.  The Geforce 4 MX is only very slightly above the 2 in performance.


You can get by on most of the games below with a Radeon 7500 or 9000/9200, or a Geforce 2 or 4 MX, but would need to turn all the quality down and play at 800x600 if you want any semblance of performance. I have added a real world performance ranked list of both Nvidia and ATI cards to the bottom of this post.


These last few years I have played this game more than any other by far.  Before it I was never into RTS games, but this one made me addicted.  It was released in 2004, followed by the Zero Hour expansion pack in 2005.

Once you get bored of playing the built in levels, you can enjoy endless possibilities by playing skirmishes.  The online play is very good, but it has to be PowerPC vs. PowerPC or Intel vs. Intel.  Aspyr and EA wrote a 1.04 patch that added universal architectures, because before that it was PowerPC only.  Even with the universal patch you can’t play Intel users with your PowerPC.  On Gameranger people generally title the games by architecture for this reason.

The requirements say a G4 1.0 GHz, but it isn’t smooth until you get up to 1.2 GHz in my experience.  Even with a Radeon 9800.  I have had good results with it on the dual 867 MHz MDD I used to own with a Radeon 9600.  It played well enough on the dual 867, that it would also be fine on a dual 800.

I play it these days on the 1.8 GHz with 9800 @ 1024 on medium quality.  The reason it’s set a bit low is that it makes the larger maps much smoother and I prefer those.  Map speed is crucial on an RTS game.


I should also note that the Radeon 9000 has a known conflict with this games rendering; you can still play it, but everything turns either blue or black in terms of ground and sky.  Very hard on the eyes.  There has never been a Mac fix for this that I'm aware of, so 9000 owners (if thats all you have GPU-wise), stay away from this one.  Some of the MDD towers came with the 9000 stock, but it was never a big GPU on the Mac; more the similar 8500 and 9200.



This is easily my 2nd favourite game.  It offers about the best selection of expansion packs and mods of any game from this era.  The deluxe edition was released for Mac in 2004, after about two years as Windows only.

The requirements are listed as a G4 867 and 32 MB vid card, but this is unrealistic in my experiences.  You can get by fine with a Radeon 7500 but for true performance, without everything set the lowest, a 1.2GHz or higher will be better. 

I have the Road to Rome expansion, and the Desert Combat mod.  It's easy to waste hours in this game driving around the desert in an Abrams tank looking for things to kill.  The standard WWII levels are great, but the desert mod gives it much more modern and powerful weapons. 

The game has something to suit everyone.  You can drive a tank, APC, fly a plane/jet/helicopter, fire a missile truck, steer and shoot a battleship, use anti-aircraft guns, or just run around with a gun shooting people.  Whatever you prefer.


I am also an author on Rated Win, and wrote this post there about the Desert Combat mod, and the Spectre gunship specifically.



I need to note off the top that this needs a G4 1.6 GHz+, so it's above the 1.2GHz low end of the group.  My experience with it is minimal, but it did play well enough on my 1.8 with 9800.  I had all the quality turned down though, and ran it at 1024.  A dual or quad G5 would be better for this game.



This is kind of like Grand Theft Auto for good guys, because you play a cop rather than a thug.  I was given the store copy by a friend in 2006, and have only played it a few times.  It could certainly be a good one for those that like to drive and race cars in their games. 


Call of Duty I and II

I have the first one and hardly ever play it, but not because of a lack of interest.  Once I have more time for gaming I will play it more.  The first version requires an 867 MHz, but like others above it realistically needs more.  The 2nd needs a G5 1.8GHz or higher.  The first version at least has some expansions packs etc.



If you like games that will make you laugh and let you do silly crap, then this is the one for you. I have played it a few times and found it reasonably enjoyable. This one would appeal more to the 8-15 age bracket.


Others:

Let me know and I will list them.



Closing comments

As with everything I write, I tend to only base it on things I have experience with.  If you feel other games are worthy of mention then leave a comment and I will add it to the post to help spread the word.  Explain what you like about it and what specs/settings it plays well with.  My life is so insanley busy that my mind is always jumbling many things, so I am sure I have left out obvious ones like Unreal Tournament.  I have no experience with it, or what hardware it plays best on so if someone wants to chime in on that it would be great.  I'm looking for games I have not mentioned or added insight to those that I have.



Real world GPU ranking (least to most powerful) 

 ATI:

Rage 128 (mobility)
Rage 128 
Rage 128 Pro
Radeon 7000
Radeon (original Radeon with no number)
Radeon 7500
Radeon 9200
Radeon 9000
Radeon 8500
Radeon 9550 (mobility)
Radeon 9500
Radeon 9600's
Radeon 9700's
Radeon 9800's
Radeon x800

Nvidia:

Geforce 2's
Geforce 4 MX
Geforce 3's
Geforce 5200
Geforce 6200
Geforce 6600 LE
Geforce 4 Ti
Geforce 6600
Geforce 6800
Geforce 7300
Geforce 7800

Linux traffic


The Linux based traffic here has increased a large amount. It has finally took the place of Windows as the 2nd most used OS by the visitors here, with OS X being 1st of course.

Back in August and September, the Linux traffic here was maybe 15-18% of the total, and it is now 30%+ every single day. I average about 250-300 unique visits per day, with page loads hitting 400-500, so it's good to see that many people are using Linux generally, and interested in reading about PowerPC Linux specifically. This is very encouraging indeed, especially when you consider many are using Macs, and they have decided to take the plunge.

People are obviously realizing that to embrace Linux, you don't have to abandon Mac OS 10.5 or older, but rather give each OS its own role, or at least discover what they could be while they learn. That is how anything moves forward. When people adopt something into their tech life, they often like a comfort level right from the start, which scares most away from Linux, because it lacks familiarity for most.

Another encouraging thing is that about 70% of the google search bot hits here are PowerPC Linux related, by people often using either Mac OS or Windows. This tells me that even those that have not took the plunge yet are interested. Very encouraging.

I will continue to write helpful content to help smooth the transition. As always, I encourage reader ideas for content so that I can share my insight, while also writing some specific content that people request.

OS X PowerPC browser assessment


***PowerPC Liberation no longer promotes the use of Mac OS PowerPC as a legitimate OS to base internet use on.  Even when using the most current FireFox via TenFourFox, you're still on an OS that hasn't had a legitimate security update since at least 2009, or far longer if you use pre-Leopard versions of Mac OS.  Old certificates, old plugins, old everything.  Other than visiting trusted sites, you simply don't have anywhere near the security as people running modern and secure software at both the OS and app level; rather than just the app.  Kind of like using tissue as armour.  This was written in November 2012, and may well be deleted one day.***

I meant to write this well over a month ago, but it never happened somehow. Thanks to a regular commenter here named 'dr.dave', I was reminded of this when I asked for OS X content ideas a few days ago. My interest is not only to write what I have to say, but also to write about subjects that the readers are interested in. Browsers are easily the most utilized internet tool in the world, so this is a worthy topic.

Since most browsers are based on core technologies like Mozilla or Webkit and such, it would be best to categorize them like this. My logic behind this is that even a layperson on the internet often has a preference. I myself tend to always gravitate to Mozilla based browsers like Camino and TenFour/Aurora/FireFox.

To truly evaluate a group of anything you need to be objective so my Mozilla preference is out the window for this post. I will look at each in an overall type manner by combining an evaluation of the features and technologies at hand. Although the browser selection on PowerPC is more limited in 2012, there is still a small but loyal developer base working hard. People like Cameron Kaiser, RPMozley and a few others are working hard and have been for a long time. Dr. Kaiser alone is directly responsible for TenFourFox and Classilla.

On to the browsers... If you know of a good one that I don’t mention, or has just started development, please let me know and I will add it. The point is to cover all options whether we consider them all good or not. I would only leave out the ones that have possible security concerns. Other than Safari, I will only be covering browsers that are still developed. Safari is the exception because it's built in. There are a few like Sunrise, Stainless and Shiira that some may feel are worthy of mention, but they are all no longer developed. An undeveloped browser is a security risk, because there is no one battling to keep the code healthy and safe.



Mozilla options


TenFourFox (10.4/10.5):

This is Cameron Kaiser’s main project and the one everyone knows best usually. It supports both 10.4 and 10.5 which makes it more portable. I would call it the most capable and bug free Mozilla option for OS X PowerPC.

It’s not quite so efficient on 10.5, but AuroraFox addresses most of those issues. The bug free aspect of it is particularly beneficial with extensions. I have yet to find one that doesn’t work perfectly. The same cannot be said for Aurora or SeaMonkey. This is the best modern Mozilla option by far for Tiger users

Download


AuroraFox (10.5):

This is the Aurora based sibling of TenFourFox. It borrows from both the TenFourFox code and the official FireFox’s Leopard optimizations to create a better experience for 10.5 users. As I mention above TFF is a little more compatible with all the add-ons I have used but Aurora performs a good deal better on 10.5.

Download


SeaMonkey (10.5):

SM is a decent contender.  Other than adblock, none of my extensions from Aurora work.

The thing some may really like is that it’s a very complete internet usage tool with a built in mail client, composer and address book. I have never attempted using the mail client so I cannot speak for how good it is. If you don’t use a lot of extensions anyway, and just want a lightweight but modern Mozilla then this is the perfect browser for you.

Download


Camino (10.4/10.5):

I have used Camino as my main browser since about 2001. It has great built in features like adblocking, flash blocking, limiting animated images to only play once (big help with CPU use), and is the all round most efficient browser on the Mac. Period.

The downside to Camino is that it uses older Mozilla tech to keep it’s efficiency. It’s based on FireFox 3.6 and there are some sites it won’t work too well with. Media Fire and Mac Update are the two main ones I can think of that it doesn’t play nice with. Another knock against it is that with the pre 4.0 version it’s based on there is no HTML5 support.

Although Camino’s technology is a bit dated, it’s still a perfect browser for standard sites that are not full of a bunch of fluff code. I use Camino, SeaMonkey and Aurora in combination for all my Mozilla needs. Each has it’s own strengths so they compliment each other well. I highly recommend the CPU optimized versions which include G3, G4, G4+ and G5.

Download


Classilla (8.6/9) (up to 10.4 via Classic):

I have no direct experience with this at all but my faith in Dr. Kaiser is strong enough to still recommend it. I also know a few people who praise it and I trust their opinion.

This project is proof that with the right developer and motivation, anything is possible. Not only does it bring modern secure browsing to the pre-X users but it also helps performance by using mostly mobile versions of sites. This is also great if you like that retro Netscape look from the 90’s.

Download



Webkit options


Safari 4 (10.4) 5 (10.5):

When you consider that Safari 4 supports HTML5 and is 4+ years old it’s quite impressive. Version 5 added extension capability in a somewhat similar fashion to FireFox. In terms of Apple Safari it is stuck at 5.06 forever on PowerPC now since development stopped leading up to 5.1.


Leopard Webkit:

This is my personal choice when it comes to Webkit on OS X.  It’s built on the open source of slightly more modern Webkit tech but based around Safari 5.06. In my experiences it’s about 20% faster than the Apple version and uses a good deal less CPU during idle moments.

The development team has been experimenting with options like replacing the standard Safari with this with an install option. I have not tried this myself because I prefer to keep both around for comparison testing.

Download



TenFourKit (10.4):

Other than running this once on my Stormtrooper I have no experience with it but have heard good things from people I trust. It's based on Webkit and apparently also includes some TenFourFox code from what I understand. It's creation fills the Safari 5 gap on 10.4.

The real advantage to open source code like Webkit or Mozilla is that anyone with the will and ability can get the code and make their own version to suit whatever computing environment they choose. Webkit has even made it’s way into the Linux and BSD world now.

Download


Roccat (10.5):

This is another option I have little experience with but it is very fast and I have heard good things about it. From what I understand it’s geared to using social networking sites but it works fine all round. I am very very impressed with the sheer speed of it and how lightweight it is. I am running it with 5 tabs open as I write this and it’s only using 53 MB RAM.

It's really f@#$ing fast. You have to try it and see for yourself.

Download




Others


Omniweb (10.4/10.5):

Omni is a very unique and customizable browser. The biggest standout feature is page specific preferences. I have been using it on and off for a good 3-4 years and love it. It has OS X optimizations like OpenGL and Quartz built in, along with some of the Safari engine.

If you want to browse the web in a more customized to your every whim type of way, then this is the one for you. Keep in mind that this requires a lot of effort in setup to tune it so that every site performs the way you prefer.

Download



Closing comments

This will be a growing dynamic post, which I will add to as things come up or people point out currently developed projects not covered here. Please feel free to also let me know of important details I may not have mentioned about some of the options covered.

Considering it’s now about 6.5 years since Apple made a PowerPC system the selection is pretty damn good. Variety is the spice of technology. We don’t have a Chrome option but I could care less to be honest. I use Chrome now and then on my girlfriend’s MacBook if she already has it open but I often choose to open FireFox instead. We really are not missing out on much and it’s all thanks to these great developers that still care enough about this amazing architecture.