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Elementary OS: Windows Apps with Play on Linux

Elementary OS: Windows Apps with Play on Linux

One of the major issues when using Linux is that you would like to use Software that was written for Windows. Thankfully more and more new Software is cross-platform compatible. However especially older Software and most newer Games will not support Linux.

If you are dependent on using Windows Software then you have several options available. Dual-Boot Windows and Linux, use a Virtual Machine (like VirtualBox or try  WineHQ

Wine essentially translates the Windows Commands to Linux Commands at run-time. Eliminating the penalty of using a virtual machine. The downside of Wine is, that not all new programs run properly. However it seems games that were written for Windows XP work better with Wine than with Windows 10.

The last time I was playing with Linux I found it very difficult to configure and find packages. You need wine, wine-tricks, then install some other windows package into wine etc.  This time I found another project Play on Linux that provides an easy to use GUI with quick Installers for many different programs.

The other thing which makes “Play on Linux” great, is that it can create multiple virtual drives, for your various programs. So you can use different versions of Wine, or configure the different drives to emulate a different version of Windows, use different components etc.

Install Play on Linux

wget -q "http://deb.playonlinux.com/public.gpg" -O- | sudo apt-key add -
sudo wget http://deb.playonlinux.com/playonlinux_trusty.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/playonlinux.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install playonlinux

Battle.net games

Play on Linux shines the most when it already provides an installer that automatically configures Wine correctly to install all components that the program simply runs without any additional work.

You just locate Hearthstone, Diablo or Starcraft from the list and press install and the program will work without any issues.

Windows Steam Games

Step 1

Install Windows Steam. Play on Linux provides easy installers for Steam, simply search for steam in the installer menu and press install.

selection_001

Installer for Steam

 

Step 2

You will have to look up in the Wine AppDB if your game is supported by Wine.

If it is supported you then can log into steam and install games from your library just like in windows.

Step 3

Usually you will need to install some sort of additional windows package to get the program running.

In my case I wanted to install Tron 2.0, in the documentation for the program. Something like needs “winetricks directmusic” was mentioned.

To install “directmusic” you need to select Steam and click on Configure. Then switch to the Install components Tab and then select the component from the list and press install.

selection_003

Install a missing component

 

In some cases, like with my Tron 2.0 example, this is not enough and you have to google some more to find some helpful [article] (http://www.gamersonlinux.com/forum/threads/tron-2-0-guide.628/) that then tells you to install additional components  and not to use the Windows XP emulation but the Windows 7 emulation.

Custom Installers

Of course you may have your own Programs, you can simply click on “Install non-listed program” navigate to the installation files and install your program.

Access to Files

Play on Linux installs a handy shortcut into your home directory, so that you can easily access the various virtual hardrives of the Play on Linux instances, if you have the need to copy&modify files.

 

Conclusion

While Wine is not perfect and not everything runs smoothly and out of the box like when using Windows directy. It is worth fiddling around with Wine/Play on Linux to not have to dual boot or get a VM running.

 

 

 

Posted by happyneal in Blog, Linux, 0 comments
Notes on MITx: 6.005.1x Software Construction in Java (Week 1)

Notes on MITx: 6.005.1x Software Construction in Java (Week 1)

MITx has released a course titled “Software Construction in Java”. The course is aimed for more experienced Developers and is going to teach a couple of general principles of Software Development.

The course has the goal that you develop good code, which is defined as:

  • Safe from bugs: Correct behavior of the code, now and in the future
  • Easy to understand: Code should be easily understandable by other developers
  • Ready for change: Architectural patterns that allow you to modify the code without major rewrites.

Over the next couple of weeks I will complete this course and will publish my notes and thoughts on the material.

You can also take the course at https://www.edx.org/course/software-construction-java-mitx-6-005-1x

Why am I taking this course?

I have worked with Java in the past. I do not prefer using the language. However in the Python course from MIT was fantastic and thought very interesting concepts that apply to all languages.

My hope is that this course will teach broader concepts and the language they are using just happens to be Java.

LEcture 1: OVerview + Static Typing

The first lecture i skipped most of the videos, they seemed more like an introduction to Javas static typing, which I was already familiar with.

Lecture 2: Code Review

The second lecture takes a look at good Coding Practices.

Code Review

Lecture notes:

The purpose of a code review has two main goals:

  • Improve the code
  • Improve the programmer

Personal notes:

In reality on many programming projects the “Code Review”- Phase is cut due to budget constraints, lack of time and personal feelings. Remember when you do a code review you may hurt the feeling of another programmer, who thinks he is infallible.

This usually causes that more and more bad code is written. Making the project not maintainable and unreliable.

If it is possible for your project to do Code Reviews, you defiantly should do them, and have a very specific action plan that the other developer can learn from his mistakes.

Style Standards

Lecture notes:

You can find good style guides at https://github.com/google/styleguide

Personal notes:

Every programmer has his personal style how he likes to format and read his code. All university classes (including this one) do not provide a style guide. With the consequence that also no style guide is enforced.

In larger projects this would not be possible. The version control systems suddenly cause problems, create merge conflicts etc.

Styleguides should never be manually enforced. That would be tedious and create a lot of unnecessary work. The guide should be enforced by your build process. This prevents programmers from using their own style guide, avoids merge issues, is easier to manage, and it is psychologically better for the programmer that the machine rejects code rather than another programmer.

The best practice would be that every code commit gets checked prior to be allowed into the repository. This ensures that every developer is playing by the same rules. (To find more information on this subject google for “git hooks” and “java checkstyle”)

Code Smells

  • Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY)
  • Comments where needed
  • Fail fast
  • Avoid magic numbers
  • One purpose for each variable
  • Use good names
  • No global variables
  • Return results, don’t print them
  • Use whitespace for readability

Personal notes:

While the lecture presents various strategies to prevent the most common beginner mistakes. These are just a select few of all the various types of code smells.

I prefer to use the IDE IntelliJ, it has a feature called “Code Inspector”. It will scan your code and suggest fixes for a lot of types of code smells.

Good code should never have obvious code smells.

Homework

For the “Java Tutor” Homework assignments you must use an Eclipse Plugin.  So sadly you have to use Eclipse with a custom built plugin and as usual I have had a lot of fun with randomly crashing Eclipse, the plugin giving me over and over again the same questions.

The “Java Tutor” is overall quite weak. The questions are more like “fill in the blanks” and only accepts a single correct answer. Usually the titles of the links to the related materials give away the correct answer.

However if you enter the wrong value, you can simply click “Show Answer”, copy the solution and progress without penalty.

Posted by happyneal in Blog, Java, 0 comments
Elementary OS: Loki

Elementary OS: Loki

Elementary OS is a new Operating System that wants to be an alternative to Window or OSX. The team behind the project puts an high emphasis on Usability and Design.

Over the next couple of days I will try to actually switch to the system. Elementary is based on Ubuntu, which in turn is based on Debian, so all *.deb packages and programs can be installed without any problems. As with all Linux Distributions Elementary is free. However the developers require you to think about it if you would like to support their efforts or not. If not you enter a 0 into the download field.

For my initial setup I will essentially install all the common programs I use on a day to day basis. .

How To install Elementary.io

Step 1 Download the ISO

Go to www.elementary.io and download the current Version. If you have some money to spare you can donate to the project. If not enter a 0 and you can download the iso for free.

Step 2: Prepare a USB Stick

Go to https://rufus.akeo.ie/ and download the Rufus tool, this allows you to easily create a bootable USB stick.

Step 3: Install

Well for the last step you really just have to boot from the stick and follow the instructions.

First Steps

Remove Default Programs

The team focuses a lot on providing a suite of programs that also follow it’s design principles.

I would prefer to use Chrome as my Browser, and VideoLan for videos and I do not need an email client, or a dedicated calendar.  I removed them with these commands:

sudo apt remove pantheon-mail -y
sudo apt remove maya-calendar -y
sudo apt remove epiphany-browser -y
sudo apt remove audience -y

(The program “audience” is the default VideoPlayer)

Install General Programs

Chrome

Since Chrome has some Google stuff in it you first have to add it to apt with this command:

wget -q -O - https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub | sudo apt-key add -
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb [arch=amd64] http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb/ stable main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google-chrome.list'
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install google-chrome-stable

VideoLan

To install VideoLan simply enter following command:

sudo apt-get install vlc -y

Skype

Microsoft has just recently announced that they will create a Skype Client for Linux. For now there is only the official “Skype for Linux Alpha”. Essentially the program is still barebones and is in very early stages of development. – If you install  it do not expect that everything will be working.


wget https://go.skype.com/skypeforlinux-64-alpha.deb
sudo dpkg -i skypeforlinux-64-alpha.deb

Shortcuts

⌘+Space App Launcher
Alt+Tab Window Switcher
⇧+Alt+Tab Switch Windows Backwards
⌘+Left/Right Switch Workspace
⌘+S Workspace Overview
Ctrl+⌘+Left/Right Snap Window to Half of Workspace
Ctrl+⌘+Up/Down Maximize/Unmaximize Window
⌘+T Terminal

Conclusion

The OS looks awesome, it feels like a system you actually could work with for a longer period of time. In the past I have always tried Linux for a couple of days and then said, well interesting, but a lot of my programs simply do not work and I would like to go back to Windows.

Let’s see how long this time the experiment is going to last and if Linux has become more user friendly over time.

Posted by happyneal in Blog, Linux, 0 comments
EdX: Introduction to Linux

EdX: Introduction to Linux

I recently completed the course “Introduction to Linux” by the Linux Foundation on the edX platform. Instead of paying 2500USD for the course you now can pay 250USD for a verified certificate, or simply get an honor certificate.

https://www.edx.org/course/linuxfoundationx/linuxfoundationx-lfs101x-introduction-1621#.U-YKjfmSyyY

Course Structure

The course is self-paced, you can take the exam anytime and at the end of the month the certificate is going to be issued.

Course Materials

Unlike other edX courses most of the materials are short articles covering the core topics. There are short videos, however they are mostly useless.

Learning Objectives

Sadly the first couple of Lessons are more like Advertisements that Linux is great and that Linux is used everywhere and being able to use Linux is an important skill.

The rest of the course covers the basic operations when interacting with a Linux system.

The course briefly takes a look at the graphical interfaces of three major Linux distributions Ubuntu, CentOS and openSUSE.

As expected most of the course covers how to interact with the Console covers the basic interaction with the console, file operations, security principles, text manipulation and concluding with bash scripting.

Final Exam

The final exam is a 30 question multiple choice test. Sadly some questions are easier to be answered using Google than the actual course material.

People with an basic understanding of Linux could just skip the entire course and just take the exam. It’s rather straightforward.

Conclusion

The course is a great introduction to the Linux System. The course is designed for IT-Specialists (Programmers, Web-Developers, and Administrators etc.) that have not worked with Linux and need a quick introduction how to work with the system.

Sadly with the emphasis on using the console most users interested in using Linux as alternative to Windows/OSX will simply say “Oh god, what a hassle, I’ll stick to my current system.” Once again Linux does not realize that GUIs have been invented to solve an issue where most people find it confusing when they do not see what they are doing.

Most users interacting with a computer are not aware that it is possible to interact with a computer without GUI, telling those users that sometimes you simply do not have a GUI confuses them. Most of the success of Linux as core of Android is the GUI and that users have a simple way installing programs and are not able to access any console / text only mode.

Once again the core of Linux is great, however the presentation and usability is that what sells Linux.

 

 

Posted by happyneal in Blog, 0 comments
Kickstarter: Reading Rainbow

Kickstarter: Reading Rainbow

Reading Rainbow is a great education television program from the 80’s that showed kids that reading is awesome. Sadly the program got canceled a couple of years ago. Now the moderator of the show LeVar Burton wants to resurrect the program for the current generation of kids as a free website with a video library and supporting material for teachers.

Support this project by giving money via kickstarter.

Posted by happyneal in Blog, 0 comments

Inserting Text into Master Placeholder Textframe in Indesign

  1. Create a Master Page with a normal Text-frame.
  2. Apply the Master to a page
  3. Select the page
  4. To insert new Text you first have to select the Frame by pressing Shift+Ctrl
  5. Now you can Edit the contents of the Text-frame.

Note: If you want to use the place-command (Ctrl-D) first select the frame then, Ctrl-D and select the text-file you want to insert.

After the item from the Master Frame has been changed, it cannot be influenced by the Master Page it is a Page item.

Posted by happyneal in Blog, 2 comments