UpFRONT

LJ Index, Strictly On-Line and more.
LINUX USERS

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), there are more than 10 million Linux users worldwide. In 1998, the Linux market grew by 212 percent, and nearly 18 percent of all server hardware licenses sold last year were Linux, according to IDC. Another consulting firm, NetCraft, estimates that Linux or other Open Source software currently runs on more than half of all web servers worldwide.

Some interesting companies/organizations using Linux include:

  • Boeing

  • Mercedes-Benz AG

  • Yellow Cab Service Corporation

  • Canadian National Railways

  • United States Postal Service

  • National Disaster Communication Response Team

  • World Council of Churches

  • Sony Electronics

Source: Mercury Information Technology, Inc., http://www.m-tech.ab.ca/linux-biz/

STRICTLY ON-LINE

Adventure by Joseph Pranevich is a nostalgic look at the old “Colossal Cave” game and its various iterations—a fun game and a fun article. Mr. Pranevich tells us a bit of his and the game's history and how to play it.

Remotely Monitoring a Satellite Instrument by Guy Beaver is the story of a small aerospace company involved in a NASA-funded satellite mission to study the atmosphere. A major portion of this experiment involves calibrating and testing the instrument. While done on the ground, the calibrations are monitored remotely using a Linux-based system. Most of the software used was originally Windows-based, but has now been ported to Linux to take advantage of the many open-source products available.

First UNIX/Linux National Competition Held in Ljubljana, Slovenia by Primoz Peterlin and Ales Kosir introduces this competition and the winners. They also present both the problems and the answers that made up the test.

Linux Apprentice: Filters by Paul Dunne gives instructions for simple data manipulation commands in Linux. Covered commands include grep, egrep, tr, sort, head and tail. Mr. Dunne also takes a look at programmable filters such as sed and awk along with their use with pipes.

A book review of The Unified Modeling Language User Guide by Geoff Glasson. If you are a programmer involved in producing object-oriented software systems, you will want to know how this book can help you.

EVENTS
GAMES FOCUS

Although certain people may believe applications, applications and applications are the key to world domination, some of us know the true key—the reason we became interested in computers—is games. While much of our karmic lineage may come from the punch-card generation of computer hackers, for whom so many games may not have been available, many of us grew up in the days of early home machines such as the Spectrum, Commodore, Atari and Amiga. Some younger hackers may even hail from the days of 3-D. (Imagine having grown up with that technology.) Despite slow processors, limited colors, small memories and other obstacles of primitive technology, the years saw numerous ingenious masterpieces, elegant studies in working within limitations, classic games to which we returned time and again, sometimes poking (on BASIC machines) or manipulating with hex editors and disassemblers, but mostly just playing.

Now Linux is developing its own classic games, in a time when limitations on processor speed, color graphics, sound, multitasking, memory, disk space, and networking hardly even seem to exist. Like the classics of old, Linux games have a character all their own; since the games are often developed by a single person or a small group of people, they tend to have a personal, hand-made quality which is missing from their slick, commercial counterparts on other platforms.

Rather than technological limitations, the main constraint today seems to be development time. Although open-source cooperation solves a large part of this problem, another part of the Linux answer is playability, the mysterious quality possessed by games of old which captured our attentions and imaginations despite 1MHz processors and graphics that weren't even vector-shaded 3-D. One legitimate Linux classic which exemplifies this essence of playability, and is an excellent game for inaugurating this new gaming section, is Jan Hubicka's Koules, found at www.paru.cas.cz/~hubicka/koules/English/koules.html.

Koules for X version 1.4

The Dark Applepolisher, you see, is up to no good—he has sent his spherical forces to conquer Earth and claim its resources. In order to defend us from these evil Koules, you will have to bump them out of each of the 100 sectors (and finally confront the Dark Applepolisher). Fortunately, you have been transformed into a yellow beach ball. Well, according to Hubicka, mutated into a chest with eyes to make your job easier, of course.

Although the task may seem simple at first, there will come many varieties of Koules, each with different weights and sizes and mysterious abilities. Black holes and stars and other natural dangers appear as well, and the Koules keep coming! Once the first few sectors are cleared, special Koule ablities and secret weapons begin to appear and the game becomes more exciting and visually interesting. Fortunately, you too can gain special abilities from Koule deserters who give you more weight, more speed and even extra lives. A well-stocked beach ball can weigh enough to wipe out even enormous Koules in a single blow.

Koules is simply an excellent idea which, when developed, becomes fantastically playable. Koules supports up to five players, at a single terminal or over a network, and is more fun with multiple players. Keyboard, mouse and joystick are supported, as well as SVGA and X. Sound support is excellent and exists on multiple platforms, and there are multiple difficulty levels.

Even though Koules was developed by a single person and is completely free, it has the finished quality of a professional game along with the personality of a small project. I recommend getting some friends together on a rainy Saturday, defending Earth from and finally defeating the Dark Applepolisher, and going out for pizza to celebrate the victory. When you get home, you can start again!

Also, check out the Linux Game Tome at http://happypenguin.org/.

—Jason Kroll

______________________

Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal

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