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 Post subject: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 5:06 pm 
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I have an old computer (Windows XP), that I rarely use, and I'm thinking of loading Linux (light) Ubuntu on it...

Why should I, or shouldn't I do this?

As a programmer (not just NES), what programs should I consider installing on a Linux system?

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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 6:07 pm 
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Depends on the specific CPU and amount of RAM.

I was using an Athlon Thunderbird up until 2012; around then I gave up fighting because "everyone" seems to have concluded that machines without SSE2 support weren't good enough anymore.


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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 6:24 pm 
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Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
As far as I'm aware, most PCs that ran Windows XP were shipped prior to 2007, when Windows Vista became the default. Some people specifically bought Windows XP or exercised downgrade rights to avoid serious defects in Windows Vista RTM (which were fixed in SP1 "Mojave"), but I imagine they're nowhere near the majority. So with pre-2007 hardware, I'll guess that the default Ubuntu installation with the Unity desktop environment may be too heavy and/or too unfamiliar. If you're going the Ubuntu route on a PC that once ran Windows XP, you'll probably want either Xubuntu (which I use) or Lubuntu depending on how much RAM you have. When I put an SSD in my laptop and reinstalled Xubuntu about a month ago, I took notes in Xubuntu_setup.md.

After you've installed Xubuntu from the DVD or USB drive, you can use apt to install free software from the Ubuntu repository. What you need to install depends on what languages you plan to use, but this should give you C++, Python, and 6502 assembly language, as well as ability to participate in #nesdev on EFnet. Make sure you're not on a slow or capped Internet connection; if your connection at home is slow or capped, carry your PC into a library or restaurant.
Code:
sudo sh -c "apt update && apt dist-upgrade"
sudo apt remove flashplugin-installer
sudo apt install build-essential gimp hexchat oidentd vorbis-tools audacity python3-numpy python3-pil idle3 ffmpeg sqlite3 sqlitebrowser advancecomp gksu ghex gnome-font-viewer retext git git-svn scons libsdl-image1.2-dev libgtk2.0-dev libgd-dev liblua5.1-0-dev wine
wget http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/pool/contrib/m/msttcorefonts/ttf-mscorefonts-installer_3.6_all.deb
sudo dpkg -i ttf-mscorefonts-installer_3.6_all.deb

# Nothing after this point requires root
git config --global user.email "dougeff@example.com"
git config --global user.name "Doug Fraker"
mkdir ~/develop
cd ~/develop
git svn clone svn://svn.code.sf.net/p/fceultra/code/fceu/trunk fceux
git clone https://github.com/cc65/cc65.git

# Nothing after this point requires an Internet connection
cd cc65
nice make -j2
make install prefix=~/.local
which cc65
cd ~/develop/fceux
nice scons -j2
scons --prefix=$HOME/.local install


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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 6:45 pm 
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So you're compiling cc65? There's no binary I can download?

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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 6:50 pm 
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Location: Seattle
There is a very old snapshot of cc65 available via apt ( http://spiro.trikaliotis.net/debian )
There's a somewhat newer one via PPA ( https://launchpad.net/~david.given/+archive/ubuntu/ppa )

But you'll probably be happier with the results of just using git and compiling it.


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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:50 pm 
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Posts: 1248
That seems to be a big difference between a Windows paradigm and a *nix paradigm; with Windows, you're expected to provide precompiled binaries, and with *nix, users are expected to compile things themselves. These two things could be more different from each other, but not by very much. :P


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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2016 4:45 pm
Posts: 93
Location: Southern California
This desktop computer I'm using originally had XP on it and I'm running Ubuntu 14.04. It seems like recent updates expect newer hardware. Firefox seems to have a serious task-scheduling problem sometimes and it won't respond for several seconds at a time, but the other programs seem to be mostly free of that problem. Someone on another forum said, "Yeah, firefox has a serious memory leak." My son offered me a separate graphics engine card to plug in which he thought might improve the performance a lot, especially with videos, since it would take the burden off of the older onboard graphics hardware. So far I have not tried it though. He worked very successfully for a managed-services provider for a couple of years, installing and maintaining networks for schools, churches, and medical offices, and said it was always easier to troubleshoot and fix things if he took a Linux live CD with him instead of trying to use Windows, in the cases that he had to actually visit the client, cases where something was down so he couldn't fix the problem over the internet.

As for Linux itself, I was very glad to find it 10 years ago or so. When I used Windows, I was angry with the computer all the time. It wasn't worth my health. When I went to Linux, 90% of my computer problems evaporated, as did most of the required computer-maintenance time. All the software I've used is free, too, and I've never had to re-install anything to keep it running. I've never had any trouble with viruses, malware, etc. under Linux. I started with Linspire, and everything just worked. It was wonderful. They had the click-n-run software library to download thousands of new software titles, free, and installations were much easier than Windows software. (The Ubuntu equivalent is called the "Ubuntu Software Center," and installation of any new program is quick and automatic.) Soon however, Linspire got bought out by Xandros which dropped support. (I think Xandros is gone now too.) At the time, is looked like Ubuntu was emerging as the leader in desktop Linux, so I went to that. It was all great too; but it seems like in recent years it has been getting harder to use rather than easier. One that has been recommended to me is Linux Mint which I can't say I've tried so far. It's supposed to be one of the very easiest to use.

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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:24 pm 
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Location: Canada
If you wanna play games on it Steam works quite well on Ubuntu too, and a lot of games get Linux releases now. ("AAA" titles tend to be an exception, but it seems like a lot of indie games now, esp. using game engines that support Linux tend to get Linux support on Steam.)


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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:47 pm 
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The lack of AAA support on Linux must have something to do with popular graphics card manufacturers being unwilling to support Linux the same as other platforms, along with how often they need to be competitive with other technologies, leading to everything being proprietary and having weird DRM-like unlocking mechanisms and other fun stuff.

However, if you're not trying to be the most cutting-edge thing on the market, you can just use a cross-platform platform library like SDL, SFML, Allegro, etc, which all support the most common things you're going to be doing as a game running on something PC-like, hence why there's a lot more indies using it, hence the larger Linux support.

It's like a fight between two incompatible ecosystems. You can have the open ecosystem where everyone shares and works together (for better or for worse), or the competitive ecosystem where there's much more rapid development at the cost of everything being closed and proprietary. Both are necessary though, but you'll never see them together.


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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:51 pm 
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Linux simply has a low market share, and every platform you target has a maintenance cost. That's the biggest reason.

A lot of "AAA" games don't even bother with PC and just go for consoles. The usual explicit justification for this is the relative prevalence of piracy, though there are myriad other reasons. Often the PC version comes out later when sales of the console version have dropped, trying to mitigate the effects of a pirated PC version from competing with the console version.

Linux is basically the same issue in that respect as PC vs console, but with even lower expected return (a low fraction), and higher expected development/support cost. (Poor Linux graphics driver support is part of that higher maintenence cost, too, but it's far from the only problem there.)

All that said, now and then some big titles do squeak through. Not all publishers feel this way. (See: XCom 2, Deus Ex, Civ V, Alien Isolation, etc.)


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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 8:03 am 
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Location: NE Indiana, USA (NTSC)
Drag wrote:
The lack of AAA support on Linux must have something to do with popular graphics card manufacturers being unwilling to support Linux the same as other platforms

NVIDIA builds its Linux and Windows drivers from the same source, except for the small bit that talks to the OS.

Another reason for AAA games not getting ported is that Linux users are seen as cheapskates. "If you're unwilling to pay for an operating system, how are you willing to pay for our game or for the non-Intel GPU and the other assorted hardware upgrades that PC games in general tend to require?"

Drag wrote:
along with how often they need to be competitive with other technologies, leading to everything being proprietary and having weird DRM-like unlocking mechanisms

Some of the digital restrictions management stuff is there for compliance with Microsoft PlayReady technologies that Hollywood studios require before they become willing to release their feature films in a PC-compatible format. The higher the resolution (480p vs. 1080p vs. 2160p), the stronger the required DRM.

rainwarrior wrote:
Linux simply has a low market share, and every platform you target has a maintenance cost.

The conventional wisdom over on Slashdot is that if you're already spending the "maintenance cost" to target macOS, targeting another OpenGL/POSIX system (GNU/Linux) doesn't incur much additional "maintenance cost."


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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:04 am 
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I think Linux gamers actually, on average, have better hardware as they're people who take computing seriously. I know my build is an 8350+GTX 1070SC+32GB RAM+512GB SSD. Not spending $130 on Windows is just a cherry on top.


There's many games, like said.


AMD is a disaster on Linux, and the driver devs are fine, it's just management of their driver priorities now. They have to stop porting drivers, and make linux the first priority. They're going through a transition (Same as the last 4 years, lol.) to a new driver, blah blah blah. AMD is a disaster on Linux still, and isn't going to be better for at least 1-2 more kernel versions. Nvidia > Intel > AMD for quality of drivers. AMD has lots of hardware potential if their software ever catches up to it, though. Drivers otherwise are 10/10, I have fewer issues on Nvidia's proprietary driver than my friend running a similar build with the same card on Windows, so eh. They did break their driver a few versions ago, but it was a quick fix from them.


As for a Linux OS, Ubuntu is bad IMO. Everything gets outdated quick in Linux land, and Ubuntu is a turtle for updates. I've also had less updates break stuff on Arch then Ubuntu or Mint, so I'd recommend something like Antergos, at least on new hardware that you don't wanna maintain as much or need it to work. I'd probably suggest Mint XFCE for older XP-like hardware, if not just replacing it with a $60 AIO tiny PC. I run Mint on my laptop since the hardware doesn't need new kernels or anything, and it just works. It's more just preference, but Ubuntu's Mir and Snap packages is a good reason not to support it for me. I'll probably not be on Mint for long, either, for the same reason.


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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:48 am 
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Thanks for the input.

OS change is a big decision, so I appreciate the help.

I didn't see anyone say 'Don't do it', but that might just be unique to NESDEV...plenty of Linux users.

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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 11:58 am 
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tepples wrote:
rainwarrior wrote:
Linux simply has a low market share, and every platform you target has a maintenance cost.

The conventional wisdom over on Slashdot is that if you're already spending the "maintenance cost" to target macOS, targeting another OpenGL/POSIX system (GNU/Linux) doesn't incur much additional "maintenance cost."

MacOS also has a low market share, though not quite as low as Linux. It gets targeted slightly more often than Linux, but I think it's true that most games that get a Mac port also get a Linux one these days. Again, though, the vast majority of this is just because they are using a ready-made engine that already had Linux support (e.g. Unity, GameMaker).

As for the meaning of maintenance cost, some of the additional programming work can be shared solution for both Mac/Linux, yes, but only some of it, and there's a lot of other relevant work/cost besides just programming. I strongly disagree with the idea that it doesn't occur "much" additional maintenance cost, but it's really a matter of how much, and what you think you have to gain (or lose).

With non-commercial/open source/free stuff a lot more of the testing and support burden can be reasonably/ethically shifted to users, which helps a lot getting things to other platforms too.

dougeff wrote:
I didn't see anyone say 'Don't do it', but that might just be unique to NESDEV...plenty of Linux users.

I use Windows primarily, but I'd personally love to see a market shift toward Linux.


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 Post subject: Re: Linux, yes or no ?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 1:38 pm 
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rainwarrior wrote:
I use Windows primarily, but I'd personally love to see a market shift toward Linux.

Same here. I don't have a good history with Linux, considering that the one time I used Ubuntu as my main OS things broke down randomly after updates (I started having to mount external drives manually, for example), and since I didn't have the knowledge to fix these issues I just gave up on Linux. But I imagine that if more people used Linux, these problems would happen less often.

After using Windows 10 for a couple of weeks, I can say with confidence that I don't like the direction Windows is headed to, and if many of the programs I absolutely need to use weren't for Windows, I'd probably give Linux another try.


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