Friday, July 21, 2017

schroot for Mageia

To easily manage single or multiple chroot environments, schroot, a sophisticated and highly flexible change-root management tool, may be employed.

Chroot jails are commonly employed to add an additional level of security to some Linux services like ftp or http servers. If an attacker gains control of the server, he is trapped in the chroot jail and cannot easily harm the entire system. As well, chroot is often employed in a "rescue" mode where Linux is launched from a DVD of CD and the damaged root filesystem is run from a chroot to make repairs easier.

Mageia appears to have incorporated schroot for Debian because it makes for building and testing RPMs easier.

In order to install your chroot environment to be managed with schroot, please look at chroot for instructions.

Since schroot was initially developed on Debian systems, much of the technical information is focused on that distribution of Linux. Even the example configuration file is written for Debian and no one has bothered to change it for Mageia.

One of the benfits of schroot is that you can easily install different versions of your chroot environment and start with a clean install. Using the unionfs system, you can have a consistent base environment and install development libraries on top of that, then easily delete the build environment leaving a clean basesystem. In fact, this is just how the Mageia distribution is done, using an application called iurt to manage the build and schroot to create the build environment needs for each package.


schroot Debian Wiki

schroot- Richard Darts - Debian Wiki

schroot - chroot for any user

schroot manpage

MaximumHoyt Mageia chroot HOWTO

Iurt Mageia Wiki

Mageia Bug Report

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Archiving and Storage Options for the Home

A few of my friends have been discussing archiving their files "in the Cloud" and other options. Using one of the "free" services is always an option, but there are limits on space for free and adding storage capacity can be expensive.

Of course, archiving and data storage are very important to most business and there is a huger market for providing those services. While these solutions are overkill for the home, they can provide good examples of how it should be done.

If your personal data is important enough to archive, it is important to insure that the backup will always be available and be free of corruption. Therefore, you should:
1. Have multiple copies of your data
2. Keep copies in multiple safe locations
3. Always test your backups
The kind of data you want to archive can help in the decision of how best to archive it. For example, family photos would be data that would suggest multiple backups for protection against loss, but not on media that would be accessed every day. Your work for the day might best be kept on a single local external hard drive in case your personal computer fails. Important work might be archived remotely to preserve it in the case of a fire or flood or surprise nuclear attack.

The most traditional method for home backups and storage is to use CDs or DVDs. The big benefit is cost (relatively cheap) and the big drawback is limited space per disc and the fact that DVDs and CDs will degrade over time. It can also be time-consuming to back up large amounts of data, so that task is often "forgotten" over time

There is a newcomer to the scene, M-Discs. Very durable and available in a 25GB  capacity. They do require a special drive, but these are surprisingly affordable. It does take a long time to burn a 25GB disc, so that should be considered.

External drives are popular choices and multi-terabyte capacities are available at reasonable costs. Making backups if much faster than burning Discs, but mechanical hard drives can and do fail, often with no warning. A good strategy is to replace the drive when it reaches its MTBF. An app named Delta Copy can keep files backed up in real time to a local drive or a remote drive, but not both.

Online archive storage site, commonly known at "the Cloud" are popular. This page provides some details about each service and the availability of "free" storage. If your needs are greater than the "free" storage capacity, you can pay to add more or simply use more than one service. Note that Google also offers storage as a component of its many services.

An additional option, often not considered, is to create your own "cloud" storage. This is accomplished by installing Nextcloud software on a computer you own, turning it into a private "cloud". There are some drawbacks to this that present some serious concerns. The hardware may fail, the computer itself may become damaged by flood or fire or it may be beyond your skill-set to configure such a device.

Data backup, like home insurance, is often insufficient when you actually need to use it, but something is better than nothing.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Unpack those .EXE game files from GOG,com (Plus other un-packers)

I just came upon this application today. I have many of the wonderful games from, some of which have native Linux Clients. Before now, I've had to use PlayOnLinux or Crossover to install these for use with WINE, then add the Linux client.

InnoSetup as a way to create an installer to install the games on Windows. Daniel Scharrer has created innoextract to allow the unpacking of those archives on a non-Windows platform.

The website provides information on using innoextract, but this information from the page is very useful: Installers installers with a 2.x.x version number on the download page or in the filename use InnoSetup 5.5.0 and cannot be extracted by innoextract 1.2 and older. Older installers use InnoSetup 5.2.3 and usually have no version in the filename.
Some multi-part installers with version 2.1.x or higher use RAR archives (renamed to .bin) to store the game data. These files are not part of the InnoSetup installer require unrar or unar to be installed, as well as  innoextract 1.5 or newer and use of the --gog option.

A Windows only version has more features; it is also Open Source.

1. On a related note, unshield can be used to extract cab files from InstallShield installers and cabextract can be used to extract files from cab files. msitools can be used to inspect and build Windows Installer (.msi) files.

2. fsarchiver is a system tool that allows you to save the contents of a file-system to a compressed archive file. The file-system can be restored on a partition which has a different size and it can be restored on a different file-system. Unlike tar/dar, FSArchiver also creates the file-system when it extracts the data to partitions. Everything is checksummed in the archive in order to protect the data. If the archive is corrupt, you just loose the current file, not the whole archive.

3. makeself is a packaging tool used to make installers. It is a small shell script that generates a self-extractable compressed tar archive from a directory. The resulting file appears as a shell script (many of those have a .run suffix), and can be launched as is. Here's a HOWTO.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Halo: Combat Evolved for Modern Linux

Halo: Combat Evolved is a first-person shooter produced by Bungie for Microsoft. The game runs well under WINE, but it won't install unless you first put mfc42.dll in C:\Windows\System32.

I used Codeweaver's Crossover to install the game. Before the actual installation begins, make sure you have copies  mfc42.dll to C:\Windows\System32 or the game will not install.

Once done, you can install the updates, Patch-108 (the no-cd patch) and Patch-110 (removes and replaces Game-Spy servers plus several fixes.

And finally, install msxml6, the Microsoft XML Parser  to have the game display text.

You can also download a full set of saved games. This allows you to play and level rather than forcing you to work your way through each mission.

There's a nice tutorial by Benjamin7 at HaloWaypoint that details a generic WINE install and provides a nice startup script. He also provides install instructions for creating custom maps.

The source for many things about Halo:CE is at PC Gaming WIKI. There you will find info on widescreen, FOV settings and so on.

Custom maps can be found at Halo Maps.

A detailed Wiki is at Halo Nation.

Halo Custom Edition is a free add-on to Halo. You must have you installation key to install the game. You also need the Patch.

I haven't found any hi-res textures for Halo. If you are aware of any, please let me know.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Wolfenstein:ET Modern Linux

Wolfenstein:ET is an interesting first-person shooter. Trying to capitalize on their success with the online part of Return to Castle Wolfenstien, they developed an online component for RtCW and farmed out the single-player mode. Turns out, the SP mode sucked, so they ditched that and gave away the online game. The Game's PAK files remained proprietary (as always) and they released the source code for the game engine.

The original release had a Linux version as well as Mac and Windows version and can still be downloaded from SplashDamage. The problem with the Linux version is that Linux changed sound subsystems (OSS->ALSA->PULSE) and the sound component of the game is no longer compatible with a modern Linux.

Never fear, several kind souls have updated the Linux binaries in two versions: ET-Legacy which tries to keep true to the original game and ETXreal, which modified the format for the game's maps and added hi-res textures.

There was no point to installing Wolfenstein:ET since the Linux version's sound is broken.

I installed ET-Legacy on 64-bit Mageia6, 32-bit Mageia6 and 32-bit Windows7. ET-Legacy has different installers depending on what OS you will be using it with. The game is installed with a shell executable made with makeself, so make the script executable and launch it AFTER you have placed it in the root directory you want. I prefer ~, but you can put it anywhere handy. The installer will create a ~/.etlegacy which is where I suggest you put any custom PK3 files, maps, mods and total conversions. ET-Legacy tries to be compatible with as many mods as possible, but some may not work or need tweaking. There is an active community supporting this game, so that would be the place to ask questions. I tried using ETXreal's graphic with ET-Legacy and sadly, it's not compatible.

I have not been able to locate any hi-res texture packs for ET or ET-Legacy and would be grateful if someone knew if any existed.

ETXreal, on the other hand, include the binaries for all supported operating systems in the single 7zip archive. Install the p7zip package to extract the contents of the archive. Extract that to you home directory. Then it is necessary to find the appropriate binary and move it to the game's root directory, the one that contains the /etmain directory. The installer creates a ~/.etxreal directory which is where I prefer to place any custom PK3 files, maps, mods and total conversions. Be aware that ETXreal may not be compatible with all your old mods and you might not be compatible with Wolf:ET or ET-Legacy servers, but with hi-res textures, it sure does look swell and ETXreal has its own servers. There is an active community supporting this game.

In both cases, you can launch the game from the command line with the full path to the binary, or create a startup script in ~/bin if that is in your path.
Is ~/bin not in your path? Add this to your .bashrc file:
## Add ~/bin to my pathexport PATH=$PATH:$HOME/bin
For a custom resolutions,  the cg_fov for 16:10 resolutions (i.e. 1440×900, 1680×1050 and 1920×1200) should be 100.39 and for 16:9 (1920×1080) 106.27.

Edit etconfig.cfg in your home directory.
Here is the example for a 1920×1080 resolution:

seta r_mode “-1”
seta r_customwidth “1920”
seta r_customheight “1080”
seta cg_fov “106.27”


SplashDamage - Original Wolfenstein:ET Download

ET:Legacy Homepage

ET:Legacy Download


ETXreal Download

Resolution Source

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Unreal Gold for Modern Linux

Unreal is the first in a series of first-person shooters released by EPIC in 1998, It was followed by and add-on named "Return to Na-pali" The two games were combined into "Unreal Gold" and modified to run on the more modern Unreal Tournament" game engine. The Windows version of the game is available form GOG for $9.99 and free of any Digital Rights Management restrictions. For my money, this is the best place to obtain the game. all four games in the series are available, often at a discount when purchased together.

There are Linux installers available from Loki, but these are getting old and difficult to use.

The game installs well using PlayOnLinux, which is a handy way of installing the game using WINE and specially crafted installation scripts which not only select the best version of WINE to use, but also install any Windows apps that the game requires to run, like DirectX. The game plays well using WINE, so there is no reason not to use it. It also makes the updates, map packs, and mods much easier to install. GOG also has an active support community with discussions centered around each game that provide much information and assistance. One very big benefit of having a GOG account is that PlayOnLinux can be used to download any games you have purchased as part of the POL installation process. Very handy.

Installation using POL is quick and straightforward. Before we make any changes, launch the game and set the controls and video settings to you liking.


Unreal Gold at Good Old Games

PlayOnLinux Homepage

WINE Homepage

Quake3 for Modern Linux

Quake3 Arena is a multiplayer online first-person shooter released in 1999. There is a Quake3 HOWTO written by Jonathan Bergknoff that should be your first stop for a general overview. It should be your first stop because even though dated, it provides useful details on how to launch mods and fix problems. There is also an interesting Wikipedia page for Quake2.

It is quite amazing to me that this game was released way back in 1999 as the third installment to ID's Quake series. I've played it ever since the release; it has quite a following.

Since id Software released the source code for the Quake3 game engine, there have been several projects that have attempted to make not only a better playing game, but a better looking game.

You need a valid key to play Quake3, so if you don't already own the game, purchase the Windows version of the game from STEAM or Amazon to obtain the key code.

There are several different game engines and hi-res packs to choose from. What I'm presenting here is how I configure Quake3 on my Linux box.

The game engine I chose is the ioquake3 game engine because that version is provided by my Linux distro, Mageia6.

When first run, ioquake3 will ask for your key. It will also create .q3a in your home directory, a convenient location to place your mods and maps.

There are also several free games using the ioquake3 engine.


Quake3 HOWTO

Quake3 Wikipedia Page


Quake3 Hi-res Textures from artist Paul Marshall