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

Open Source Software for Real-Time Solutions by Charles Curley compares Cygnus's eCOS to RTLinux, both designed for the embedded system market. Is there a place for both?

Web Client Programming Using Perl by Robb Hill describes how to monitor your own web site using Linux and Perl, in particular the LWP modules. He supplies scripts for creating an HTTP ping utility, paging using the Skytel web site and paging for SNPP servers. Use these scripts and keep cooking with Linux.

Java Servlets by Doug Welzel is an introduction to writing and running Java servlets on Linux. Servlets are Java programs which extend the functionality of the server and can be used to replace CGI scripts.

Bisel Bank by Pablo Trincavelli is a “Linux Means Business” article describing how a bank in Argentina uses Linux for testing database and web applications.

Perl in a Nutshell by Jan Rooijackers is a book review describing the contents, what is good and bad about it and why you might want to buy it. Perl is one of the most popular scripting languages in use today and the “nutshell” books are one of O'Reilly's most popular series. Don't miss this one.

Java 2 Software Development Kit by Harry J. Foxwell is all about the latest version of the Java SDK from Sun. Mr. Foxwell is a System Engineer for Sun and knows his subject well.

LIMP: Large Image Manipulation Project by Valient Gough tells us about designing a new library for processing large images using a minimal amount of memory. In this project, he uses C++, the Qt library and plug-in types for a number of interfaces. LIMP is being used for scientific image-processing needs, particularly aerial and satellite images.

Games Focus—>Dungeon Crawling

Some rogues are better off in dungeons. If you too are better off in a dungeon (or if your friends just think so), have a look at some of these classic console character-based role-playing games available for Linux. Have you ever wanted to be an @? Well, now you can, and as an @, you can guide yourself through hundreds of layers of algorithmically generated dungeons, encountering crazy creatures, mysterious treasures, problematic nymphs and even the notorious Kobolds, who burst when you strike them! What ever am I talking about?

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Rogue was the creature that started it all. Written nearly 20 years ago, it was designed to run on “dumb terminals”, machines which were connected to mainframes but had no special powers of their own (such as graphics, for example). The intent was to produce a character-based adventure game, using the curses library, which would produce a new adventure every single time instead of reiterating the same plot over and over. This approach worked and produced a game which could surprise even its creators. Thus began a new genre of computer game, and generations of dungeon-crawlers were spawned.

Hack was one of the first Rogue-like games, and it introduced a new component—pets. You got to have a dog or cat wander about with you in the dungeon, and this animal was good company. Many items and new features were added, and the game became popularized in various formats across several platforms. As a child, I heard stories of a mysterious game called Hack which was supposedly a miraculous, ingenious game, vast and complex, like nothing I had seen before. In those days, stories soared into legends (like the rumor that Bard's Tale IV had been created but required a Cray supercomputer) and when I finally got around to Hack on the Amiga, it was already in another incarnation.

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NetHack, the direct descendant of Hack, is the most famous of the Rogue-inspired games. It is extraordinarily complex, offering all sorts of classes, weapons, scrolls, magical rings, potions, creatures, locations and plots. The idea is that once you have outspent yourself (and your parents), you're better off seeking your fortunes underground by retrieving the Amulet of Yendor (well, so says http://www.gnu.org/; the game text has a different interpretation). Hence, you can become a Valkyrie (or a Wizard, Samurai, Rogue, Priest, Knight, Healer, Elf, Caveman, Barbarian, Archeologist or Tourist) and go out questing. There are dozens of levels which become immensely complicated, and the game draws on strategic thinking, cleverness and long-term strategy. NetHack is now available in two graphical versions, one based on Qt (QtNetHack) and one based on gtk (GnomeHack). These graphics are excellent and I recommend taking a look. This is a deep game (smile) which takes some time to get used to, but it's good fun and since it is a classic, it is a good way to expose yourself to hacker culture.

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Moria is a Tolkien-inspired descendant of Rogue, written in 1983 for VAX machines and ported to UNIX in 1987. The point is to kill the Balrog. Dungeon levels are quite large, taking up several screens, as opposed to the single-screen dungeon levels found elsewhere. Hence, it is quite a bit larger than the original Rogue. Also, it features a town level, in case you want to come up for air. You can choose from numerous races and classes—if, for example, you've always wished to be a Hobbit (or believed you were one), now's your chance.

Angband is another Tolkien-inspired game (well, what isn't?) which was derived from Moria in 1990. The idea is to descend into a very deep dungeon and kill Morgoth, the Dark Enemy of Middle-Earth. The atmosphere is more serious than that of NetHack, so if the persistent humor and silliness of NetHack end up spoiling the fun for you, Angband is a good alternative. A developmental, multi-player version is also available.

ADOM, Ancient Domains of Mystery, is yet one more Rogue-like game which differs a bit from the others and offers much more in some areas. It has many different character classes, and the magical characters are especially interesting. A commercial version is planned, as well as a real paper-and-pen RPG (role playing game). ADOM is still version 0.9.9, but seems to have a large following especially among teenagers and players under age 10. It is being actively developed—the author doesn't seem to have run out of energy so far.

CrossFire is a different kind of game from the rest of these dungeon crawlers. The Linux Game Tome (http://happypenguin.org/) describes it as a cross between NetHack and Gauntlet, and that's actually fairly accurate. The game is graphical, multi-player (!) and immense. With over 150 different monsters, about 3000 maps, 19 character classes, about 65 different weapons, dozens of armours, helmets, shields and clothings, and 18 levels of magic available to wizards (with roughly 85 spells at last count), CrossFire is a whole different world in which you and your friends can live. Any number of people can have clients (even available for Java and Win32), but the server has to run on a UNIX-based system such as Linux. If you're tired of being an @ and want to be an animated graphic again, here's where you can do it!

—Jason Kroll


Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal