This is the Blog for Thomas Lai

Sunday, June 11, 2006

DOS Classic Games in Ubuntu - Ancient Art of War and Lode Runner

One of my favorite game is Ancient Art of War. It was created in DOS/PC-XT times. It was amazing that the PC processing speed is so little compared to now, they managed to come out with a real-time strategy game (almost real-time) with some good AI. It even has a terrain/map editor. All under 560KB. I cannot imagine writing any real application under 1 MB.

I tried out dosbox and mount the drive as C: drive (mount c /home) and launch it:

$dosbox war.bat

It works perfectly, and even support the 'Beep' sound for the game!

Ancient Art of War

Another classics is Lode Runner. One of the most additive game during then!

Lode Runner


All along I am using Totem, Rhythmbox to manage my libraies of music files. Then I discover amaroK, the KDE music jukebox player.

It supports podcast, and also display lyrics based on the song being played, and display singer and album info based on wikipedia.



Upgrading to Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (aka Drake Dapper)

The upgrade steps are quite easy.

1. change the /etc/apt/sources.list such that all the word "breezy" to "dapper"
2. sudo apt-get update
3. sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

I left it to run overnight. Next morning, all the packages are downloaded. It has started modifying the system. Before some critical files are overwritten it politely asked for my decisions to keep the old one or create new one. I reply 'yes' to a few questions.

After that, I realized that X Windows cannot be started. I booted into command mode without X. And I have do the step 3 twice because the interdependecies of the different packages.

After the apt upgrade is done, I started to investigate the X windows problem. The problem is that I used Nvidia driver in Ubuntu 5.10. During the upgrade, the driver must be wiped out in the process, so X cannot be started. The solution is just one simple command to use the default X windows driver:

$sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver.xorg

After that, it uses the generic driver to start X, so issue solved.

There are a few things new in 6.06:
1. kernel upgraded to
2. Gnome upgraded to 2.14
3. Nautilus upgraded to 2.14
4. SCIM Chinese input is installed and working well. Tried Chinese input in MSN, works well
5. Open Office and Azureus are removed. No worry, launch Synaptic Package Manager and install them again.

I tested a few commonly-used s/w which previously working. And they continue to work.

So, everything seems to be okay. Also, added the PCI-USB card which uses VIA 6212 chipset. USB 2.0 finally works for my 300 G external harddisk.


Saturday, November 26, 2005


Recently read a lot of good reviews about Ruby programming language. Its web application framework Rails is also getting very popular (RoR, Ruby on Rails in short). I found 2 good links to learn Ruby.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Kernel Upgrade - the easy way

This morning I saw the Upgrade Manager icon blinking again. I click on it and it seems like a minor kernel upgrade is available.

Upgrade Kernel

After installing the new kernel, it prompt me to reboot. Seems like a much convenient way to upgrade kernel.

Upgrade Kernel-1

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Gnome System Monitor

In Windows XP, I can always invoke the Task Manager to check the processes, and the CPU, Memory Utilization by typing "Ctrl-Alt-Del'. I could do the same in Ubuntu using Gnome System Monitor. To use the same keys in Ubuntu, just use the following commands:

gconftool-2 -t str --set /apps/metacity/global_keybindings/run_command_9 "Delete"
gconftool-2 -t str --set /apps/metacity/keybinding_commands/command_9 "gnome-system-monitor"

apt-get and Update Manager

I was installing FreeMind, a free mind-mapping software which runs on Java. I downloaded the debian package and use 'sudo dpkg -i' to install it. It prompted me for some additional libraries as follows:

thomaslai@ubuntu:~/Desktop$ sudo dpkg -i freemind_0.8.0-1_all.deb
(Reading database ... 85042 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to replace freemind 0.8.0-1 (using freemind_0.8.0-1_all.deb) ...
Unpacking replacement freemind ...
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of freemind:
freemind depends on librelaxng-datatype-java; however:
Package librelaxng-datatype-java is not installed.
freemind depends on libcommons-lang-java; however:
Package libcommons-lang-java is not installed.
dpkg: error processing freemind (--install):
dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
Errors were encountered while processing:

While I was wondering how I could find the dependent libraries, suddenly the Update Manager icon springs to life in system tray in Ubuntu. I click on it, and oh my dear, the 2 missing libraries are prompted in Ubuntu Update Manager for me to download and install!

apt-get is truly amazing!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

OSX Expose in Linux

OSX Expose is a nice feature, which arrange all the different windows in a single window and you can get to choose which one u want. In this era of multi-tasking, it is a useful feature.

In Ubuntu, u can get the same function by using 2 little applications:
1. Skippy
2. Kompose

Skippy has lesser in functions. Kompose, in contrast, can allow me to group and upgroup the different windows in different ways. Here is a screenshot of Kompose in action.


Beagle Search

Beagle Search is a desktop searching tool just like Google Desktop (in Windows) and Spotlight (in OS X Tiger). I have played around with it. You need to start a Beagle Deamon first for the Beagle client to work. I documented the steps where I added in a file with the searched term "DVD" and the Beagle desktop search result will automatically refresh with this new file. Not bad for an Open Source software.

Beagle step 1

Beagle step 2

Beagle step 3

Saturday, November 12, 2005

GTK Themes

OS X Splash Sreen

There is a feature in Gnome which allow me to change the theme. I downloaded an Apple OS X theme, install the icons and the Splash Screen from GNOME-Look.Org. I modified some of the default icons from the theme. The result is a clean and nice desktop interface and login splash screen.

In case you wonder how I capture the login screen, here is the trick, install Xnest (Nested Xserver). Here are the steps:

sudo apt-get install xnest
gdmflexiserver --xnest

Then do the screen capture.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

NTFS drives and Unicodes

I have 3 NTFS drives which are auto-mounted by Ubuntu. However, I encountered 2 problems. One issue is that I do not have the priledges to use Nautilus to view the contents of the NTFS drives. I found this script which can launch Nautilus as 'root'.

The second issue is that I have some files which has Chinese Unicode filenames. The files are 'missing' from the Nautilus or Terminal if I view the directory listing. The way to resolve it is to mount the NTFS drive by specifying the mount options as 'nls=utf8,umask=0222' in /etc/fstab. The umask means that it is set as read-only. But make sure backup a copy of fstab before modifying it.

Btw, reboot the system to make the fstab take effect. Although in many websites it says I can issue the command 'sudo mount -a' to remount all the disks in fstab, mine only take effect after reboot.