October 26, 2008

Test Firefox 3.1 Beta 1 in Debian Without Changing Your Existing Installation

Firefox 3.1 Beta 1 was released on October 14, 2008 and it currently comes in 36 fully-localised languages. This beta is based on Gecko 1.9.1 layout engine and according to the official website, this release features "significant changes to improve web compatibility, performance and ease of use". You can read the release notes on the official website, here.

Debian Lenny comes with Iceweasel 3.0.3, which is actually Firefox with a changed name and a few minor changes. If you have Iceweasel 3.0.3 installed but want to test this new beta without changing anything to your system, just follow the steps below.

Download Firefox 3.1 Beta 1
Get the Firefox .tar.bz2 archive from here, then uncompress it using:

tar -xjf firefox-3.1b1.tar.bz2

Next, move the firefox directory wherever you want it, for example in your home directory, or in ~/apps etc.

Run it using a new profile
Firefox uses the default profile whenever you run it without specifying another profile using a parameter. To run it using a different profile than the default one, use this command after making sure your current working directory is firefox:

./firefox --no-remote -P new_profile

As you can see, we used the name new_profile for our profile. The --no-remote parameter will not connect Firefox to a running instance, so you will be able to run both your current version and 3.1 Beta 1.

Select new_profile (or whatever the name of your profile is) and click on Start Firefox:

You will be prompted to accept the EULA, then Firefox 3.1 Beta 1 will start and you will be able to test it.

A small window should appear prompting you to choose the profile to use. Click on the Create Profile... button, then follow the instructions as in the screenshots below. You will notice you won't even have to close Iceweasel 3.0.3 if you have it running.

Currently there are no available themes for Firefox 3.1, so you'll have to use the default until they are updated.

October 25, 2008

Wine 1.1.7 Review - First Steps of Direct3D 10 Implementation

I think Wine is one of the most promising and useful applications, especially for those who need to run Windows programs in a Linux environment. A new development release is put up every two weeks or so, and improvements are visible from each version to another.

Wine is the project which makes possible to run games like World of WarCraft, Counter-Strike, Half-Life 2, WarCraft III and so on. And Wine is also the project which makes possible for web developers to test how their web page is viewed under Internet Explorer. Not to mention hundreds of other applications which work very well or well enough with it.

Ever since the first release tagged as 'stable' was put out for the public after 15 years of development, the Wine project continued development and now the latest version is 1.1.7, which brings numerous improvements and additions.

According to the official announcement, one of the highlights for this release is that the first steps were taken to implement the Direct3D technology, which is part of the DirectX API from Microsoft. The open and widespread competitor for Direct3D is OpenGL, the Open Graphics Library.

It's well-known that Wine works awesome with games like WoW, Counter-Strike or Half-Life 2.

A while ago I ran and installed the new Google Chrome web browser through Wine, since a Linux port is not available yet, and the result was very satisfying: with the exception of a little interface slowness, it behaved very well.

For this release, I installed Google Chrome following the tutorial I wrote for 1.1.6. I had to run it as:

wine ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/profiles/USERNAME/Local\ Settings/Application\ Data/Google/Chrome/Application/chrome.exe --new-http --in-process-plugins

And replaced USERNAME with my username. Chrome displayed all the web pages I tried, including this blog, Digg.com, YouTube.com (with the Flash plugin too) and the WineHQ homepage, but scrolling a page is extremely slow and choppy until the web page is completely loaded. I never tested Google Chrome on Windows so I can't compare exactly the behaviour.

I also installed Adobe Flash Player using the browser instead of winetricks. Below are some screenshots running Chrome through Wine. As you can see, Flash is enabled:

Wine provides an application database on their homepage, which classifies applications depending on how well they run and perform: platinum, gold, silver. The nice thing is that each application has detailed information on how to set it up in order to work best, in what conditions it was tested and it also includes user comments. Usually, if a game or application is known to work through Wine but you couldn't set it up, have a look at the comments posted and a solution will surely be provided.

As I already mentioned, one of the most popular games which worked perfectly for me in Wine is World of WarCraft:

World of WarCraft

I was glad to see the mIRC scripts editor does not crash the application anymore, but instead I couldn't make it connect to another network but the default QuakeNet, so you will have to use the /server command. Otherwise, mIRC 6.35 works pretty well, and if you really really need it and can't re-write your scripts for a native Linux client you can use it through Wine. Still, I suggest using a native IRC client like XChat, Konversation or Irssi.

I also tried the last version of Winamp, 5.541, and I installed the Lite version. It works very well, although I did not test it for long. It plays music.

It's true, I don't think Linux needs to run a player like Winamp, when we have powerful and full-featured, native and open-source audio players like Amarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, Songbird or XMMS. But maybe someone still finds a use for it, or it can help those who just switched from Windows and can't get used to another player.

Also, here is a top 25 applications/games which run in Wine, by votes.

Overall, the Wine project does what it has always done, bringing Windows games and applications to Linux. It's great to see games like WoW, HL2, CoD4, StarCraft, WarCraft III running very well.

October 12, 2008

Sometimes It Won't Work

A few annoyances, and I really hope this will be fun. I wrote it last night. Some things which don't work as they are supposed to, or some things which may be annoying - Linux forever, I love it, but sometimes it's not so funny fun as it should be.

Things which you mustn't do
- don't open 3 tabs in firefox in less than 5 seconds
- don't install linux on a system with one sata and one ide drive (adding a hard disk will confuse it even more)
- don't try to install linux on a computer without an internet connection - don't believe me? try installing sarge on a pc without internet, after selecting don't configure network at this time
- movie subtitles must be green, pink, red or yellow, no matter if it's a DVD or a SRT/SUB subtitle
- don't run a task which would take 30 minutes then leave. an error will occure
(if an error doesn't occure, a warning will be issued)
(if the error doesn't occure, are you sure you didn't do something wrong?)
- no, they don't have games on linux
- ...and quake too
- complain if it's closed-source, don't use it if they changed the license to GPL
- a font size of 7 looks normal, but 8 is bold and big. for 6 you will need KMag.
open-source projects, use Flash for the homepage; also make sure Firefox uses 100% CPU when browsing your homepages
- ask questions twice, notify a user of some update and newly installed script twice

Particular Private License #0:
I don't want to show you my code!
Particular Private License #1:
It's mine!
Particular Private License #2:
I really hate my neighbour :-)
Particular Private License #3:
Where is my money?

- don't complain, for you did something wrong like not editing some config file of an app which had a bug filed since 2005 and which can't be fixed unless somebody rewrites a whole library which was licensed under a proprietary license and now is free but still wait for a new version to appear and when it's out test it for two more years and you'll find the bug fixed but guess what? the feature is not there anymore

CLI applications are as follows:
- the ones from GNU, which are standard
- the ones from other projects, some of which are great
- the ones which give an error when ran as 'app --version' or 'app --help'
(they all are included in heavy distros)

Who or what is evil?
- Microsoft is evil
- Apple is evil
- Since Canonical offers Linux support for money, I'm sure they are evil too
- Mono, Java too

Bug fixing squad:
If you decide to fix bugs, first put them there so you know what to fix
Choose carefully the bugs you will fix, for some of them you won't know the fix

Start a new distribution, the rules:
- use packages from an older distribution
- do not ever fix bugs
- choose a desktop environment, then start 3 more distros using other desktop environments
- add great features to applications, which will act as follows:
1. use an infinite loop no matter if the user clicks yes/no
2. make it impossible to close the application
3. teach the user how to use ps
- high hopes: 10 goals in a short time, come up with 1 which is terribly done anyway
- yeah, a new wallpaper and an iso image makes a new distro - burn fire burn, evil inside etc

- handle with care - that is: don't start an application unless you know it previously worked before
- an error means you did it wrong
(no, it's not a bug, you just have to configure it 2 hours in order to make it work)