Focus on Software

by David A. Bandel

Last month, I didn't include any games, although I usually do. I am occasionally reminded that computers, or at least PCs, are as ubiquitous as they are because people like to relax and play games. Most of us have heard of, if not played, freeciv, the Civilization clone. But the real Civilization (Call to Power), one of several titles released for Linux by Loki Games, is well beyond freeciv. Does that mean great graphics or game play is restricted to commercial ventures? As I think you'll see with the first two titles below, this is simply not the case. Good games are needed. Educational ones would be even better—let's get the kids involved with Linux, too.

X Ship Wars:

This is a fun game similar to, but more complex than, the old “Star Trek” game. It has very nice visuals. The basic instructions would have you believe you can just install the client. In fact, while that is true, you also need to connect to a server. There are several available, but you'll want to build and install a server just so you can invite your friends over to be knocked off by you, while you still have the edge. Play takes place over any TCP/IP network. It requires libm, libX11, libXpm, libXext and glibc.

GTK Puyo Puyo:

This amusing game is a multiplayer game in the Tetris genre. You can play against another human or an AI. The AI has many levels, from extremely unskilled to extremely competent. Instead of filling rows completely with various shaped blocks, the blocks are always in twos, but will vary in color. Your objective is to get groups of four or more colors to match in any combination of left to right or up and down. As you or your opponent get matches, the other will get grey blocks to interfere with play. It requires libgtk, libgdk, libgmodule, libglib, libdl, libXext, libX11, libm, libXpm and glibc.


For Perl aficionados, this is a great way to keep up on the latest Perl modules from CPAN, or even grab a new module. It is not the easiest install around, as your initial contact will require loading an index; but once that's done, you're good to go. First bundle I had to get was libnet, because CPAN complained I didn't have it, and it wanted to use it. Once you get the hang of this, you won't want to be without it. It requires Perl.


The IT Resource Manager is a good tool for tracking hardware and trouble tickets. The baseline for the database is a unique irm number given to each system. Users can submit trouble tickets via the Web if they know the system's irm number (although most would rather pick up a phone, in my experience). This has good support for a number of areas and is a worthy competitor to MOT. It requires Apache (or another PHP-capable web server), PHP3 and MySQL.

ssh buddy:

I use ssh habitually. In fact, anyone who uses telnet or the r commands must not be connected to the Internet, or else they don't care about security. I'll not belabor my disappointment over the license change on ssh 2.x. I will tell you that this graphical client makes connections easier than ever. This will save any administrator time in connecting to servers, and the more servers you have to connect to via ssh, the more time this will save you. If you haven't had time to implement ssh-agent, this is the next best thing. It requires expectk and ssh client.


For those who are familiar with Tripwire, this package is meant to replace it with an equivalent under the GPL. Tripwire has been removed from the public domain, and while the older version 1.3 is still good (version 2.x is the current, proprietary version), it's getting more difficult to build with changes in the system libraries. Aide is already doing as much as Tripwire, and plans to do even more. As a replacement for Tripwire, this shows much promise. It's already running for me as a cron job on one system where Tripwire 1.3 would not compile. It requires glibc.

Web Downloader for X:

Got a lot of files you'd like to grab from the Internet? Doesn't matter if they're web pages or FTP files; you can start multiple transfers from the same site. This will probably be of more interest to those with cable modems or fast Internet connections. If you have twenty or thirty items to download, this utility will make multiple connections. It will also allow you to specify a maximum number of connections. It's all packaged in a nice-looking GTK GUI. This GUI will allow you to schedule downloads as well. It requires libpthread, libgtk, libgdk, libgmodule, libglib, libdl, libXext, libX11, libstdc++, libm and libc.

brass monkey:

This particular piece of software functions like the comment page on Slashdot. If you have the password, you can start a new thread and others can add comments—many possibilities here. Perhaps I should put each of the blurbs from this column on a web site and invite comments. It requires Apache (or another PHP-capable web server), PHP3 and MySQL.

Focus on Software
David A. Bandel ( is a Linux/UNIX consultant currently living in the Republic of Panama. He is co-author of Que Special Edition: Using Caldera OpenLinux, and he plans to spend more time writing about Linux while relaxing and enjoying life in the “Crossroads of the World”.
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