Cooking with Linux - Because Nothing Says High Performance Like a Good Race

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Got Linux? Got a good accelerated video card as well? Then, get behind the wheel and drive!

Repeat what you just told me, François. No! Don't tell me that! Yes, François, I know I told you to repeat what you told me, but I was sincerely hoping I was mistaken and that I had heard something entirely different. Something like, “Patron, I lost the key to the filing cabinet”, not, “I lost the key to the wine cellar.” In my first restaurant job, François, this would have been considered a firing offense. No, mon ami, I am not going to fire you, but this is terrible! What shall we serve our guests?

Non! I see them walking toward the restaurant now. Quickly, François, think of something. Why you? Because you locked up the wine cellar minutes before opening time, then proceeded to lose the key. That's why. Quoi? Serve beer from my personal réfrigérateur de bière? That is not a bad idea at all, mon ami. You live to serve another day, non? Don't look so hurt, François. We have guests. Quickly!

Ah, welcome, everyone, to Chez Marcel, where fine Linux fare is served with the most excellent wines from one of the world's premier wine cellars—that is, except tonight. It seems my faithful waiter has lost the keys to the wine cellar. Never fear, mes amis, though I love that wondrous liquid fruit of the grape, your Chef also enjoys a good beer, be it lager or ale. So, tonight's menu will be accompanied by selections from my own réfrigérateur de bière. Please, sit and make yourselves comfortable. François can offer you several excellent selections, all favorites of mine, including Alexander Keiths' India Pale Ale, Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale, Sleeman's Original, Unibroue Maudite and several others.

As you know, mes amis, this issue's theme is high performance, which we all know can refer only to racing and automobiles. If the words high performance and Linux don't immediately generate the same association in your mind, you should know that in point of fact, Linux and car racing go very well together. The 2007 Indianapolis 500 featured the first ever Linux-sponsored car. The brainchild of Ken Starks, aka helios, the Tux500 Project succeeded in its aim to raise enough money to place Tux, the familiar Linux mascot created by Larry Ewing, on the hood of an Indy car. For more details, go to www.tux500.com.

Figure 1. The Tux500 Indianapolis racecar—notice the logo on the hood.

In honor of this momentous event, the first race game on tonight's menu, SuperTuxKart, features the very same Tux at the wheel. SuperTuxKart, maintained by Joerg Henrichs, is an updated and enhanced version of the original TuxKart, created by Steve Baker. If you've played the original, you'll be impressed by the new, hugely improved, SuperTuxKart. The game features slick new graphics, new tracks, cool characters, racing adventures and more. You take the controls as one of several characters, including Tux, Penny (his friend), Mr. Ice Block, Sushi the Octopus (Figure 2), Yeti and others. You can get SuperTuxKart from supertuxkart.berlios.de.

Figure 2. SuperTuxKart features some colorful characters, many with equally colorful names.

Your next step is to choose whether you want to race on your own (for practice) or enter a race with other players. These can be other humans (masquerading as SuperTuxKart characters, of course), or they can be computer AI players. Once your cast is assembled, it's time to select a race type and course. You can indulge in a Grand Prix event that takes you through all 13 courses, a handful, or simply go for a single race and select a time trial.

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