The Cranky Sysadmin A world of technology, fun, and ignorant rants.

February 24, 2009

Ventrilo, Wow, and EVE Online under linux

Filed under: Eve-Online,Games,System Administration,World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 11:42 am

I use linux for everything computer related these days. My laptop has a windows partition which I never use except to reproduce some Windows XP problems I come across in my work as a sysadmin. The distribution I use these days is Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon). It’s a little long in the tooth, but I see no compelling reason to upgrade yet. I’m also a gamer. When I want to go buy a new game, I go visit WineHQ and verify how much functionality there is under wine. For the uninitiated, wine is the linux way of running windows applications. It’s not perfect, but it does an admirable job in a lot of cases.

I won’t go into detail on how to run wine as there are plenty of web sites which will help you with this. I will give some tips about some of the issues I’ve run into which aren’t necessarily covered in the install guides at WineHQ or other support sites. I currently run wine 1.1.15. This version needs to be compiled from scratch since it’s not part of any distribution yet. It’s not hard to do and WineHQ has good instructions. Ubuntu 8.10 comes with a fairly new wine, so if you’re looking for something which works out of the box, that’s a serviceable choice.

Who should run games on linux? If you’re a sysadmin, or are comfortable with the command line in a linux environment, then you have a good shot at success. If you’re new to linux, you’re probably in for a steep learning curve. The instructions at WineHQ are complete in many cases, but they will seem arcane to the uninitiated.

ATI Video cards: I always had many problems in the past when I tried to use wine with ATI video cards. In the past, the 3D support has been pretty poor for linux. Judging from the comments on WineHQ, the situation hasn’t changed much up to now. I have had good luck with Nvidia cards.

WineHQ: On WineHQ, there is a tab at the top of the page labeled “AppDB”. You can browse this section to find info about whatever you may want to run under wine. The search also seems to work well. Use this to look at the various application entries and comments about various problems and fixes.

Ventrilo: I’ve had some issues getting ventrilo to consistently run well. My guild in WoW and my Corp in EVE both use vent, so I have to suffer through. I’ve had the best luck with OSS set under winecfg. This is probably why I have to disable sound in WoW. I suspect I’ll have to do the same with EVE. With ALSA set, I get the event sounds, but no voice under Vent. I’ll update this when I get ALSA working properly. Push to talk works for me if I enable “Use Direct Inut to detect Hotkey”.

WoW: For me, this has worked mostly out of box for a long time. Follow the instructions on the WineHQ AppDB site and you should be good to go.

EVE Online: The classic content linux client from the EVE Online site worked fine for me. This is being discontinued when the next expansion comes out, so I’ll talk about the premium client. The install seems to work fine. Occasionally, the splash screen will pop up and the game won’t start. I have to kill the process when this happens. Up to now, the premium client locked up frequently if sound was enabled. I read on a forum that disabling hardware acceleration fixes that. I’ll try that tonight and update this post if it works. EVE without sound is ok, but I’d like to get it working. Again, if you follow all of the instructions at WineHQ, things should mostly work.

February 19, 2009

Of need, greed, and loot.

Filed under: World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 6:52 am

Our guild has been progressing in 25 man Naxx. That’s a wonderful thing. My healing is contributing, which is a nice feeling. I’m not making as many stupid mistakes, and the loot is an upgrade for me. I’ve collected 5 pieces of Naxx 25 gear and most everyone else has too. We’ll be ready for the next big instance to come out.

We had a few interesting loot happenings last night. Well, they’re interesting from my perspective. All of the mages were rolling on what looked like healer gear with MP5. I thought this was bad manners in the past, but all of them are rolling, so I can only assume that mp5 is an important stat for mages. We had a poorly geared warlock join us for the first time. From 8 bosses, he needed on 5 pieces of gear and got them. His choices didn’t impact my upgrades, but I’m sure some drama will develop over this incident. The first problem I see was that the raid leaders didn’t put any boundaries on this player. The second problem is that he’s greedy. Well, stuff happens. I’m looking forward to the fallout.

February 17, 2009

I lied. I’m not leaving EVE right now.

Filed under: Eve-Online — Cranky Sysadmin @ 2:53 pm

EVE is like heroin. Even with the griefing, EVE is a great game and I can’t stay away. I’m so weak willed. I’m not going to operate the same way I have in the past though. I’m going to try to be smart about my carebear activities, and I’m goiing to try to find the fun in PvP since it seems to be a part of the game I can’t avoid.

My first step is to find a good corporation. I may have found one. It’s a small corp, but the CEO seems to be very experienced on both sides of the law and he’s very active. Currently he seems to be an honorable guy. Some of the corp rules are, “No smack talk”, “no griefing”, “don’t shoot non-reds”.  He asks for an hour of our time a week to contribute to the corp. This isn’t much and I expect this number to go up when we start moving to 0.0 and join an alliance. The CEO seems willing to teach PvP, so I’m going to take advantage of that. He is willing to replace ships up to cruisers lost in any corp operation. I have enough ISK that I probably won’t take advantage of this until my playing skills are a little better. I can replace a fitted cruiser from one L3 mission loot.

February 7, 2009

What was I thinking?

Filed under: Eve-Online — Cranky Sysadmin @ 11:56 pm

I attempted my first level 4 mission this evening. Before I cleared the first room, some loot thieves appeared. They started grabbing the loot and salvaging the wrecks. It was probably about 4M worth of loot. I didn’t finish the room. I just warped out, went back to the agent, and dropped the mission. I wasn’t about to risk my reasonably well fitted ship.

Let’s see, my first mistake was doing a mission out of dodoxie. It’s a huge trade hub with lots of folks of all ethical stripes. My second mistake was not bringing along my own tractor beam and salvager for the important stuff. My third mistake was not remembering that EVE encourages behavior that most folks wouldn’t consider in real life.

The good news is that My dom can probably handle level 4 missions fine. Assault, which was the mission I was on seems to be a mid-level difficulty mission. Sadly, I won’t find out for a while. I’m going to take a break from Eve and go find a game that is more to my taste. Eve is beautiful, but the lack of ethics in the game makes life difficult for carebears like me.

February 4, 2009


Filed under: Eve-Online — Cranky Sysadmin @ 11:37 am

I saw a fascinating exchange last night while running missions in EVE. It started with a PVP challenge between a well spoken pilot in an Enyo (a very small but capable tech 2 frigate) and a not-so-well spoken pilot in a Thorax cruiser. I was finishing off my mission and was about to dock when I noticed that the fight was happening right next to the station, so I slow-boated over to take a look. The Enyo had the upper hand by the time I got there. The Thorax jus couldn’t hit it and was using medium drones to try to bring it down. Well, that wasn’t working out so great. The Thorax pilot called in a corp-mate who webbed the Enyo, and the Thorax finally got in some hits and blew it up. The Enyo pilot took it all with good grace and didn’t complain. Congratulated the cheater… I mean winner and docked his pod. That was interesting enough and says a lot about the honor variance in EVE, but the situation got even more interesting.

In local an obviously intelligent fellow got on and started insulting everyone in local and called the Enyo pilot a carebear. I assume this was an alt as the character knew more about EVE then a 4 day old character should. The conversation was full of insult and bile from this new character and nothing but politeness from the Enyo pilot. The new character was unwilling to give the name of his main after his diatribe. The Enyo pilot mentioned that he didn’t expect honor in a game where the creators do everything they can to encourage back-stabbing and deceit. I wouldn’t have expected that comment from someone with that level of civility.

February 2, 2009

Is it All Just Pixels?

Filed under: Games — Cranky Sysadmin @ 12:14 pm

Recently, in both WoW and in EVE, I came across people who were griefing other folks. The griefers were saying that the “carebears” were “crying over their pixels”. For the uninitiated, carebears (I qualify as one of these) are folks who don’t PvP much, and find other things in an online game to have fun with. Griefing is arguably, anything done to give someone a hard time in game. In WoW, this mostly limited to corpse camping and flagging PvP next to a crowded summoning stone. In EVE (hi-sec), it includes things like can flipping, blowing up people’s cargo containers, and bumping ships. I’m not sure piracy really counts as griefing, but there are some common aspects. In lo-sec and 0.0 space, it’s common for a pirate to destroy not only the ship, but also the escape pod. This is completely unnecessary, but is a common part of the culture.

So is it all “just pixels” as some would say? Is a web site just pixels? Is a customer database just pixels? I think it’s a matter of degree. I pay for those pixels in WoW and in EVE. I expend energy getting those pixels, so they have value to me. Were I so inclined, I could even get real cash for some of those pixels. I’m sure the executives and developers at Blizzard and CCP think the worlds they have toiled for years on are more then just pixels. My opinion is that the term, “just pixels” is specious and is an excuse for uncivil behavior. This relaxed attitude to other people’s stuff in online games is probably related to a similar effect seen in email or in your own car, where folks who usually wouldn’t be uncivil are willing to act in uncivil ways just because you can’t see the other person’s face.

What’s a person to do about this? I don’t think griefing and piracy will go away. If one wants to enjoy online games, one has to realize that there are uncivil folks out there, and that their numbers will probably be artificially high. Be smart and find a way to live with it. Don’t do things to invite griefing or piracy. In EVE, keep a low profile. Don’t transport high value items in a rookie ship (or an industrial). Learn to travel in a safe way (don’t use autopilot and use your map to see kill statistics). Read the Terms of Use carefully, so you know what is valid PvP and what isn’t. Learn the mechanics of the game so you know how to be safe. Don’t whine about your losses in the forums. All you do is invite derision. Use it as a learning experience and be more careful in the future or find a safer game.

PvP is a major component of life in EVE (more-so then WoW), so I don’t expect CCP to make EVE a safer place. In my case, I’ll probably just bite the bullet (maybe literally), outfit some cheap PVP ships and go practice pirate hunting in lo-sec and 0.0. I don’t think I can enjoy outright piracy, but bounty hunting could be fun. There are pirate hunting corps out there. Maybe I’ll join one.

In a dangerous virtual world one has to be situationally aware, but I think it’s also completely possible to have fun just like in the real world.

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