DSL as a Gaming Platform (or) How can I get my kids off M$

Well I wrote this once, but when I went to "preview", I'm guessing
I was autologged off, and lost it ALL.. ( boo.. )

There are many threads in the forums answering the tough, technical questions about using the new Xfree/3D extensions, but I wanted to post about my experiences with them, and my kids reactions to them as this new side to DSL develops. I have had great success in running many of my kids favorite titles under DSL. Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament 2003, StarCraft, and some of the more popular Linux titles, TuxRacer, Chromium, VegaStrike, Heroes III (Might & Magic), Myth II, Heretic II, Foobillard and Railroad Tycoon II. ( they ARE fun! :) )
I haven't had much luck with Civilization II (even winehq list it as low), but there is freeciv, and the new 2.0 beta looks good.
StarCraft under wine runs great !, and Soldier of Fortune II works, as well as simcity 2000. My boys have several others they want me to pursue, like Call of Duty, Warcraft II and III, Diablo I and II, etc. Playing DVD's also shows improved performance...

Which brings me to the reason for this blog.

My boys normally use M$ for their gaming needs. In fact, they can
re-install, update, patch, add virus and spyware/adware detection, install drivers, add personal firewalls, and all the "stuff" normally associated with an M$ install, with little help or support from me unless it is difficult to diagnose, only because they have had to do it so many times in the past. Upgrades, crashes, bugs and viri, they see it frequently, and usually the easiest thing for them to do is to grab an image backup, or reinstall completely. But for their games, there has not been any "easier" options with similar performance. I grow tired of the constant battle keeping them running "proper", and having to keep vigil on their activity on our localnet. They grow annoyed at the constant reinstalls, sometimes having to reinstall every program, game and title as well..

I have suggested to them that using DSL for their online activities, browsing, downloading, chat, would be a better choice. They seem to have no problems or issues with doing that, and I hear only good things about their online experience with DSL. I have talked with them recently about considering replacing their M$ OS's in favor of using DSL for their gaming platform, knowing that the "kinks" are still being worked out of the DSL system. They see me using it daily, and know that a "reinstall" is simply rebooting the CD. The programs and extensions are on another partition, and ready to use at any time. Many of the games I have made into .uci files, so they mount and play quickly. The games I'm running now are some of what they like, and the k3b and grip extensions are already favorites for CD and disc management.
I've seen some hesitancy, ( DSL is 'Dad's thing' ) but I've not received any resistance to doing this as a test for the short term.

This adds a new dimension to DSL - a "Lightweight Gaming Platform"

So, I will continue to post to this blog as the transition occurs,and share their issues, comments and my experiences with this. They return from visiting relatives later this week.

Let's keep the technical questions in the forums,
but let us know your thoughts on using DSL for the "casual gamer" - young or younger ( 80 or 8 ) :)


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Outstanding Idea

I have been meaning to put DSL onto an old Toshiba Laptop that I gave to my oldest(7)son. He's used DSL on my laptop and really enjoyed playing Freecraft(his other favorite is Xgalaga). He primarily would use he laptop for his games(mostly educational type stuff now) but I was kinda stuck in the M$ world for that(the lappy has 98SE on it). I think that having DSL extend out into gaming is a great way to "wean" the youngsters off of the Windows OS.

Clivesay has put feelers out there with his NCLB project and has recieved positive feedback regarding such a project. According to him many adults are looking for a solution to having to fix a windows install after the kids have mucked up the computer playing games....

Go for it..if the younger kids wont play with it..I know I will..;-)

Day Zero. Well, my kids com

Day Zero. DSL game test

Well, my kids come home from relatives tomorrow.
I am currently preparing to burn DVD-R's
to bootup their systems with..

These first ones will be mostly the
games and utilities I know they like and use.

I will adapt them as requested,
and post my changes as feedback.

Contents of master DVD-R

DSL 0.9.2

The repository ( all extensions )
+ a few homegrown ones..
(myfonts.dsl, allthemes.dsl, wine.dsl
flash.dsl, myxmmsskins.dsl, etc... )

RailRoad Tycoon II.uci
StarCraft (in wine)
SoF II (in wine)
SimCity (in wine)
Myth II.uci
Heroes III.uci
Heretic II.uci
a bunch of games for VBA
a bunch of games for xmame

The rest of the space I will use
for requested mp3's, backgrounds,
and other suggestions.

I will include a backup.tar.gz
in it's own directory for initial
setup of plugins, emails, and
desktop features. Once installed,
another location can be chosen for
continuing backups, and I can copy
the latest to use in version II of
their bootable DVD-R.

I will leave the M$ partitions on
the computers for now, as wine may
be able to run some of their other stuff.


why I oughta...

Why can't you post the wine.dsl?

It would be great for people who can't pay for/won't waerz Cedega.

Deep Thought was wrong. The Answer isn't 42, it's DSL!

a side note money maker

O.9.2? Already? Maybe John could make a few extra bucks by putting donaters on a prefered download list. That way they could download the new version before everyone else can.

Only a beta...

This is just a beta, pre-release version of DSL. John, Robert, and I always test new releases on as many systems as we can before we dare let it go public.You guys usually ARE the first ones to grab it when it hits the mirrors!

I figure I oughta let my boys "earn their keep" by helping me test out DSL, while they are puttin' it thru its paces with all of their games and apps.

Day one...

So far, the DSL DVD is a big hit. I installed frugal to the HD, which copied the entire DVD onto the drive. All the games I converted to uci files are running well. DVD's play fine with the new MPlayer, the 3D stuff kicks a**, and the system reboots and restores without issues.
My youngest sons reaction was a double thumbs up " OK! "

We did have to install the ndiswrapper drivers for the mn720 pci wireless card, which loaded without a hitch. All the other hardware was detected without any troubles at all.

My eldest is dealing with some hardware issues, as his DVD drive doesn't seem to like burned DVD-R's. He also got a "Rumble-Gamepad" from his grandparents, which only works in M$. So he will be keeping M$ on his box as well for now. I'm hoping for some feedback on how well similar titles run in either OS, for comparison. He is eager to pull the DVD drive out of another box, and install the DVD I made for him. Later tonite..

More feedback tomorrow..
No school, so they will have a full day with it.


Really cool

I'm sure your boys think you are the coolest dad on the planet! They'll be showing off to their friends now all their games are portable and bootable on a single DVD. :-)

Day three

The vote is in, and the word is DSL ROCKS HARD!

My eldest got another mobo for his box ....finally !
( I mean it had been what, 3 days!? ) :)
( can you say "jonesin" ? )

His winblows XP barfed immediately when it saw the
new bridges and chipsets in his box..

Re-install time! Oh Boy !! an XP Install !!
( can you say FUN? ... I knew you could ! )

new drivers, reinstall service packs, updates,
many of the programs that bury themselves in the
windows directories will need to be reinstalled.
Might be beter to just start from scratch.
It was all installed just a few weeks ago,
so no BIG loss of any unrecoverable data, etc...

He just wasn't interested in doing all that RIGHT NOW..

So, he booted up the DSL DVD I made for him.
I made a special metallica theme for his box..
Ooh... smiles...

He hesitantly picks the ut2004.uci file, and clicks
the mydsl button in emelfm.. Instantly, the command
prompt shows " UT2004.uci successfully mounted "
Right click, select UT2004..
The intro box pops up, and then the LOUDEST intro
I have heard yet comes onscreen... Yikes !
( he has his PC connected to his 700W and 8x12" woofers system )
I had to leave.... I use my ears for a LIVING !

About 5 minutes later, he runs into my room,
and proceeds to tell me that never has UT2004 played
so well on his system ( mimicing the rapid gunfire and strafing )

Apparently, Quake 3 rocks as well..
Surprisingly, this was all from a LiveDVD.
Nothing was installed to the HD ..
( I frugaled my other son's box, remember? )

The NVidia drivers performed flawlessly from bootup..

At least it s l o w e d down the progress of the windows install.
He wants to try to download the fresh drivers for it,
and install all the service packs and updates tomorrow.

Right now he's having too much fun to bother with it..

I remember telling my parents that I would NEVER say
"turn it down" to my kids when I was older.. ......Dads...... :)


Rumble Gamepad

It should work with DSL.

Try the How-to from the Docs.


Deep Thought was wrong. The Answer isn't 42, it's DSL!

Day Eight

After getting several more requests for more games in DSL,
( High Heat Baseball 2003 , Return to Castle Wolfenstein )

The pros and cons are starting to appear..

Many games, mostly Microsoft brand games,
won't run in DSL.( Age of Empires II, etc.. ),
although most others, I've had good success with..

Here are some positive things said about DSL so far...

Feedback from my boys still says that games played in
DSL run as well, or better than in XP.
UT-2004 is smooth in DSL, but has artifacting in XP.
RTCW runs in several sized windows in DSL, only fullscreen in XP.
Networking/browsing is faster in DSL than XP.
Ripping CD's without glitches on scratched discs does better in DSL.
Mp3's and other soundfiles 'sound' better in DSL than in XP.

Here are the 'not-so-good' things mentioned...

Installs are MUCH easier in XP than DSL.
( adding new titles from friends, not the ones I've prepared )
Uninstalls - XP only. The uci's do unmount, but icons/menus remain
Many files available from the web dont run in DSL
( screensavers and other eye-candy, shareware and game demos )
Zip and unzip are confusing, as are .tar.gx, .tgz, bin, sh, etc.
Not fully automatic like winzip or winrar..
No label making programs for their CD's
( I need to get labels unlimited or neato running in wine )

If they find a program or a file on the web or from friends that
their interested in, it's not a simple matter to load it into
their DSL system, like it is in XP.
..Or get rid of it if they don't like it.

Virusscanning files and cd's from friends or web,
( which I've taught them to do every time )
isn't a gui-click-run operation like in XP

All good points.. things for me to work on..

I've got most of the "game" issues resolved for now,
but tomorrow's greatest and newest games may or may
not work as easily as these have..
They ALWAYS work in XP..
The zip/unzip issues I've made easier with emelfm buttons,
but it's not the explorer-click-unzip-makedir-view
ease of operation that is natural in XP..
And I don't know of a viruscan program for GUI in linux.

I'm tempted to install to HD for their machines,
just for the added performance and gain in memory/ram.
Most of what I have on there is pretty tried and true.

But with upgrades coming from DSL every 2-3 wks,
reinstalling everything OS+files, rather than simply
replacing ONE knoppix file, I'm hesitant to do so..

So far, I've got one son content and happy for now with DSL,
and another one who is beginning to ask the tough questions
about using DSL as his gaming platform..

I'm waiting for the XP to crash, again..

And now I've got the Mrs 'testing' DSL on her laptop.
Might need another blog for that one,
since she's NOT a big gamer.
( civ II and yahoo games are her favs.. )
The Java for Firefox is filling the bill for the yahoo games.
Getting her into freeciv may be challenging,
and civ II just don't wanna run in DSL/wine..
even transgaming/cedega shows low scores for civ II

Maybe I can get Civ Call to Power running, but it's not civ II.
The rest of her computing time is in browsing/news/ and ymess.
I don't see any issues there so far..



Uninstalling extensions is something that has crossed my mind many times. It would be an extremely simple task to create uninstall scripts for uci and tar.gz extensions, possibly using something like this for the menu item:
[submenu] (app)
[exec] (app) {command}
[exec] (uninstall app) {/path/to/uninstall_script}
The uninstall_script would simply remove the /opt/app directory, the icon from ~/.xtdesktop, and finally the script itself (rm -f $0)...and maybe use sed or grep -v to remove the menu items.

Uninstalling a *.dsl extension is a different matter. There's always the possibility that the extension overwrites a system file which is necessary for proper DSL function....it would need to create a backup, or keep track of files which are being overwritten during the install. mydsl-install does not have this ability.

uninstall uci

Uninstall uci is comming soon.

label making

I have an application called gtkcdlabel which might work for you. I haven't tried it as an extension yet, but it should work. It needs at least cdlabelgen, a postscript viewer, and convert (ImageMagick). The version I have installed requires gtk2, but I just downloaded an earlier version for 1.2. Unfortunately it's not as visually friendly as Gimp...you have to scale and place images using a scale percentage and x/y offset, and then preview it afterward rather than seeing the changes in real time.

Looking at the output of ldd, it uses many libs...maybe too many for such a small program. I'll keep looking for something else if this proves to be a pain.