Friday, May 22, 2009

Play Lord of the Rings Online on Mac OSX

I have bitched about the state of mac gaming before. I still stand by that as nothing is different and nothing got better. The development companies (or production companies for that matter) still ignore the platform and the few games are still more expensive than their windows equivalent, save for some exceptions. There is yet hope though.

There are other ways to play your favorite games on the mac without leaving OSX to bootcamp back to windows. I tried parallels. At first, I was thrilled and excited, but then I was as annoyed as bootcamping and more(its slower than windows on bootcamp). It is an impressive piece of software but I still had to load an entire Operating system even if the loading took place on a virtual machine. I then tried Crossover games. For this paragraph i 'll just say that lotsa Orc-slaying is taking place using Crossover.

Crossover is a commercial flavor of wine, the well known open source Windows API implementation, that allows windows programs to run on various operating systems including Linux and Mac OSX. I have used wine in the past to play games but it felt more like work to maintain your gaming environments clean and keep your games in a working order without screwing something up. Crossover is saving you from just that. It is basically wine with a better environment and lets you install your windows games cleanly without affecting your other games and it lets you configure everything correctly without much headaches. It is doing that with the use of bottles(get it? bottles of wine?) to isolate your individual games and everything runs on it own bottle.

Avoid windows and orc bad breath

Lately I am hooked on Lord of the Rings Online (more on that in a future post). Lotro occupies most of my gaming time and, at least for that one, I needed to find a way to play it efficiently on the mac without resorting to bootcamp. Crossover games was the answer. Even though technically Lord of the Rings Online is not officially supported by Codeweavers it is still playing great. Installing it is straight forward once you know the correct steps. Basically the game plays as is. The only difference is that one has to replace the original .Net game launcher with another one that is compatible with Crossover. This is where pylotro comes into play. Make sure you download the windows pylotro version to install it in your bottle.

Basically the steps for the US version are:
  • install Crossover Games
  • create a windows 2k bottle(its been know to be more stable)
  • install the game from the downladbale Mines of Moria client
  • install pylotro
  • run pylotro and patch game from there

For the European version it is slightly different:
  • install crossover
  • create a windows 2k bottle(its been know to be more stable
  • install Book 14 client
  • install Mines of moria update 1
  • install Mines of Moria Update 2
  • from the extra software packets of Crossover install VC++ 2005
  • install pylotro
  • run pylotro and patch the game

I have been playing Lotro from crossover games for many days now and it is very stable with very good performance. In addition to Lotro I have been playing Team Fortress 2 and Half Life 2 from Crossover games without any issues whatsoever. Before trying it make sure to check on the compatibility pages if your game is supported. Ok I may bootcamp for something that is not supported but for 90% of the time I am ok. For 39 dollars being able to enjoy my favorite games without leaving OSX is a very good deal. Crossover has a full fledged demo version to try it before you buy it. In addition by buying a license you support a company that supports open source and in addition writes a very important opensource project, wine.

Putty for Mac
Putty for Mac

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bordeaux Group and MyLinuxSupport signs first reseller agreements

MyLinuxSupport Inc., signs first reseller agreements with the Bordeaux Software Group and Wine Reviews to resell pre-paid open source support cards. The pre-paid support cards will help reduce costs, complexity and improve overall productivity for businesses and individuals. With a dedicated 24/7 support channel now available business can reduce their total cost of ownership and better protect current and future investments that are in place.

Current support options are both easy and efficient. Customers can receive support through a variety of methods including e-mail, instant messaging, telephony and multimedia conferencing services provided by a dedicated MyLinuxSupport staff.

By combining our unique strengths, in our respective fields we believe we can make a real difference in the overall end user experience by providing dedicated support services.

Pre-paid support services start at only $25.00 per incident making it economically feasible for everyone looking for professional support services to receive it. With support services being provided 24/7 no matter where your located MyLinuxSupport will always be open to serve your needs.

According to Tom Wickline of the Bordeaux Group “Our relationship with MyLinuxSupport allows us to provide 24/7 technical support services for a broad variety of open source software. This is also an excellent way for open source companies to generate revenue for their projects through the MyLinuxSupport reseller program.”
According to Vince Corning, CEO of MyLinuxSupport “We look forward to our relationship with the Bordeaux Group and Wine Reviews, we are excited to work together with two of the leading companies in the WINE community.
About MyLinuxSupport: MyLinuxSupport Inc. is a Delaware corporation with operations based in Cebu City, Philippines. The company provides professional services for Linux powered solutions including development, testing, and 24/7 technical support services.
About Bordeaux Group : The Bordeaux Technology Group is a software services and development company specializing in Windows compatibility software. Users of Linux systems from time to time find themselves in the need to run specialized Windows software. The Bordeaux suite enables access to these programs and data in a seamless and low cost manner without requiring licensing of Microsoft Technology. The Bordeaux Group also provides migration services and support for alternative operating systems specializing in Windows compatibility.

WINE and the importance of application compatibility

With much talk in recent days about the worthwhile-ness and importance of WINE to the success of desktop Linux, I though it worth re-posting a piece I'd penned a little while ago...

One of my favourite areas of amateur endeavour is researching computer industry history. In the mid-to-late 80s, there was a spate of what we now call desktop environments, termed desktop shells back then. These had wacky names, like GEM, Deskview, GEOS and Windows. Each jostled for market dominance. All but one are now essentially extinct. The reason for this makes a fascinating story and sheds light on a vitally important missing element in the Linux ecosystem. Something which the open source industry needs to develop before it can be a serious mainstream contender for the one billion PCs of the coming decade.

It all started when users began to grow weary of having to exit out of one application to launch another. DOS was a single-tasking operating system; it could only run one app at a time. Wouldn't it be nice if it was possible to runmore applications simultaneously? To be able to flip between these and, maybe even copy and paste stuff between them?

Users' appetites where whet by recent events in the industry. Apple CEO 'Guru Steve' Jobs had been off to see the very clever Xerox folk just down the road at Palo Alto, to learn more about this amazing new windows, mice and icon universe they'd built. Steve, knowing a slick thing when he sees it, decided that Apple really needed a piece of this pie; partly because Apple's flagship-cum-cashcow, the Apple ][ family was quickly ailing, partly because the Apple III had bombed severely in the market, but mostly because this graphical environment was just way cool.

Everyone wanted graphical interfaces, but not everyone could go out and buy a Mac, let alone a Lisa, which cost as much as a new car! What could we get to run on the plain 'ol 8086? Well, GEM, GEOS and Windows, et al. Interestingly, Windows was neither market nor technology leader. For quite a few years, Digital Research's GEM product owned the PC GUI market. And in technical terms, GEOS won hands down. At a time when Windows applications had to be especially designed to yield to others to prevent them from locking up, GEOS ran a fast, tight, fully pre-emptively multitasking environment, in a fraction of the resources and memory, all on an 8086 processor. Needless to say, it lost in the marketplace race.

What did win in this race was one of the two competing Microsoft environments. In the late '80s, Microsoft was developing both Windows as a graphical shell atop DOS, and (under contract to IBM) OS/2 as a full replacement to DOS/Windows. It was very much in Microsoft's interests for Windows to win, and it did so for a plethora of reasons.

One key reason was that it offered, at fairly low price, a method for multi-tasking DOS applications. This facility really took flight circa Windows 2.0/386, which leveraged the 8086 virtualisation technology found in the new 80386 CPUs. As a user, you could launch several DOS apps at once, all in different window contexts, all running simultaneously. Performance wasn't exactly spritely, particularly with any application which repainted the DOS screen intensively, but for most users and for most applications, it was good enough. At a time when your average desktop PC cost $4,000, buying a $90 copy of Windows, which allowed you to multitask your DOS apps while providing an environment for tapping into an increasing number of GUI applications (such as Corel Draw and PageMaker), was a no-brainer.

This new group of users, providing a growing target audience for software developers to aim their wares at, precipitated the enormous hegemony that Microsoft enjoys today on the desktop. The transition from DOS to Windows was not exactly smooth, as anyone who can attest to years of fiddling with HIMEM.SYS settings to get DOS games working under Windows will tell you. However, it wasn't a burdensome discontinuity either; DOS line-of-business applications (built in Clipper, dBase, Turbo Pascal etc.) would, for the most part, safely run under Windows via emulation.

I would go as far as saying that without this capability, this magical attribute of being able to run most of a user's existing applications, Windows would not have become the dominant platform that it became. This attribute alone was not enough to cement Window's market position however. Other GUI environments (Deskview/X, OS/2 version 2.1) actually had even better DOS emulation. But without this, Windows would not have been able to provide enough of a safe and comfortable bridge to transport those hundred million users across the chasm from DOS.

Which brings us to today. Linux desktops have reached a point of maturity, polish and sophistication which rivals that found in Windows 2000. Yes, it's not as integrated as XP nor as glittering as Mac OS X. But it's Good Enough™. What Linux cannot offer to most potential users, that critical attribute which presently holds Linux back from much broader adoption on the desktop, is that magical ingredient which Windows offered to DOS users; being able to all your important applications within the new environment.

Current versions of the technology within Linux which provide this 'magic', Wine, allow several hundred major Windows applications to run efficiently and reliably. This includes recent version of Microsoft Office, Project, Outlook, IE, Quickbooks, Photoshop and Lotus Notes client. Wine is still a work-in-progress and a pain to configure. It therefore pays to purchase a nicely-packaged form of this open source technology from one of two vendors: for business apps, CrossOver Office from Codeweavers, and for gamers, CrossOver Games, Cost is $39.95, but it will make installing and managing all those Windows apps under Linux a snap. And you don't need to buy Windows licence, which saves you money,

How to make the vineyard bloom? There are four major industry players (IBM, Sun, Red Hat and Novell) who have a vested interest in desktop Linux's success, and therefore much to gain by cultivating the open source developer community which produces Wine. At the moment Wine is growing organically; slow and steady. With some well directed nutrient booster, say in the form of $10 million apiece, Wine will be running 99% of all those thousands of Windows apps within a year. The prize? a billion PCs which are using now Windows but have no hope of doing newer versions of Windows in a few years.

Now, that's gotta be a market worth tilling a hoe at.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Steady march to CrossOver 8.0 builds for OpenSolaris and FreeBSD

From Jeremy White's Blog at CodeWeavers:

We've been making good progress towards CrossOver 8.0. In fact, we are feeling confident enough about our progress that we put out a public release of the first beta. We've done this mostly for our customers that use Quicken 2006. This way, they can upgrade to Quicken 2009 before the support for Quicken 2006 expires.

While we're pleased with the progress on 8.0, we do have a good bit of work to do. Internet Explorer 7 requires some polish, and our efforts to make Office 2007 progress to Gold rating needs a good bit more work as well. Of course, all of our efforts and the efforts of the Wine community as a whole, mean that even this beta build represents a significant progress. I'm really looking forward to releasing a more polished version sometime in the next month or so - I think CrossOver 8 is going to be fantastic! (Okay, I'm admittedly quite biased, but hey, I still think it's going to be a great release ).

Additionally, I'm happy to say that we've leveraged Francois Gouget's hard work, along with a lot of work from the broader community, and have put out unsupported builds for FreeBSD and OpenSolaris. Hopefully this will help spread some CrossOver joy to folks that may have been feeling neglected. After all, it's a bit hypocritical for us Linux guys to fault BSD and Solaris for having low market share. And I feel that the BSD community has responded to my challenge.

Note: I don't recommend this beta for most customers. It is likely to be unstable, and cause other problems. This is really a bleeding edge build for fairly advanced users who don't mind taking on a bit of risk. But for those of you crazy enough to try it, enjoy!

CrossOver Linux and Mac

From Jeremy White's Blog at CodeWeavers:

I've just returned from the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit held in San Francisco last week. It was great fun - I enjoyed reconnecting with old friends, and getting a handle on the current state of Linux.

It also marks an important point in our development as a company. That is, several years ago, when the Intel-based Macs first started shipping, we poured an enormous amount of energy into our Mac product. More than half of our revenue now comes from the Mac market, and that new market has been a powerful boon to our company. We continue to focus heavily on the Mac market, further developing our products to help our Mac customers.

However, what is exciting for me, personally, is that the Linux market has not been standing still. The growth of desktop initiatives - particularly outside the US - along with the burgeoning netbook market has really made the Linux market attractive. And while we haven't been neglecting our Linux customers, it has been the case that the Mac has been the Apple of our eye, as it were. But I traveled to this conference because we made the business decision that we needed to give Linux equal time.

So this was an exciting return to my roots - my first love has always been Linux. I came away with some great ideas, and great hope for the future of Linux. We're planning a refresh of our Linux GUI this year, and so I look forward to continuing to provide the very best in Windows compatibility for Linux.

I also got to watch some interesting fireworks, although I was left with the uneasy feeling that our community was a bit too fast with the pitchforks and torches.

But now that I'm done with my travels for a bit, it's time to get that release out for Quicken...

Putty for Mac
Putty for Mac