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Updated: 20 min 36 sec ago

Supergiant Games now have Bastion, Transistor and Pyre up on itch.io

Friday 3rd of May 2019 07:57:48 PM

Tags: Indie Game, Itch.io

Supergiant Games did something awesome today, as they've put all three of their older games up on itch.io with Bastion, Transistor and Pyre.

Fantastic to see another highly regarded games developer and their games up on itch, they're all awesome games too and I finally got around to playing through Pyre recently and as expected the quality of it was incredible. Since I'm writing about it, you can rest assured that all three games on itch also have their Linux versions up with no delay.

Regarding their latest game, Hades, while it is currently exclusive to the Epic Store, Supergiant Games did seek to clarify again that it will come to other stores in a Twitter post:

We're focused on a single version of Hades while the game is in Early Access. It's available on the Epic Games store for now and will come to other platforms once Early Access is complete.

Store pages:

I hope more developers eventually get their games up on itch, the itch team may be small but they really do some fantastic work for developers. Their client is optional and open source too, so that's a bit of a bonus.

Planet Nomads has left Early Access and feels like a big missed opportunity

Friday 3rd of May 2019 11:35:47 AM

Tags: Steam, GOG, Indie Game, Survival, Sandbox, Open World

Planet Nomads had my interest for a long time, as I sat hoping it would blossom into something special. Sadly, it released today and it has not. Disclosure: Key provided by the developer.

For starters, they went back on doing multiplayer so now it's a (rather lonely) single-player only experience. I could handle that, if they truly made Planet Nomads interesting enough with the story but it's just not. On top of that, they originally promised space-flight to go to other planets, that also didn't make it into the game. Basically, the game never actually got any of the really interesting ideas that were used to fund it in the first place on Kickstarter.

Honestly, at this point I don't know why anyone would pick up Planet Nomads, considering how dull it is overall. If you want a sci-fi sandbox survival themed game, No Man's Sky does almost everything better. At this point, I'm sure people who've played it are desperate to point out Planet Nomads has a block-based building system which is quite different. Yes, very true! But that doesn't actually make Planet Nomads interesting when there's many more games that also do this across different settings. Even on Linux, if you refuse to use Steam Play for No Man's Sky I still won't recommend Planet Nomads.

For those who would point out that I've previously said a few nice words about the game, that would be quite true. Some of that though, was in the hopes that it would continue to progress and not just leave Early Access like this.

Performance in the Linux version is also not good, at all! With model quality, shadow quality, texture quality all to low and basically everything else on low or turned off, it struggles badly to even remain at 40FPS often dipping well below.

The game is also very unstable. The first time I tried to save with the released version it just sat there. The entire game just got stuck, I tried to send an in-game bug report as the UI was still responsive and that also just got stuck and seemed to not do anything. I gave it long enough to finish doing both, making sure in case it was being slow and not a bug but 20 minutes later…yeah that's a problem. Naturally, I don't give up at the first sign of trouble, so I tried again. This time, the game spawned me in and I was stuck, I couldn't move my legs at all. Okay, fine, save and quit to menu…didn't work again. Now it won't even load a new game at all, which sounds much like this issue which I tracked down in the game before.

If you like playing by yourself, in a sci-fi setting and playing with a few blocks, making a vehicle or two you might enjoy a couple of hours on it. However, it gets stale very quickly and seems to be extremely unpolished and buggy on Linux. What a waste of potential.

Find it on GOG and Steam.

Black Mesa looks pretty incredible in the latest teasers, new roadmap shown

Friday 3rd of May 2019 10:57:54 AM

Tags: Steam, Early Access, Action, FPS

Black Mesa, the fan-made Early Access recreation of the original Half-Life is still progressing towards finishing the final content and it's looking damn good.

In the latest update posted on Steam the team showed off some short clips of what to expect and honestly, it's looking gorgeous. The work they're doing might be some of the most impressive to be done with Valve's Source Engine:

They included a number of other impressive looking gifs but I will spare you including all of them here. The point is, work is progressing and the finishing line is finally actually approaching. They're going through optimizations to the Xen levels, to ensure " the game runs as smooth as possible on the myriad of machines out there". They've also gone through "significant progress with deep engine optimisations" and "several sweeping game-wide asset optimisation passes".

They also put out their plans for the release over the coming months, here's what they said about that:

Technical Beta - This will be a couple of maps to test the latest engine, and test the performance of our maps. This will be public, but more or less of a stealth release for people who are interested in helping us test. This way we can test on a lot of machines quickly, and have time to implement any crucial feedback.

Open Beta - After we have implemented the feedback from the technical test, we will push the entire game to open beta. This will give us testing for the rest of the levels to again make sure the game releases as smooth as possible.

Release - Though we are expecting all the betas to run well, if you have been waiting for the full Black Mesa experience, this is what you want to wait for. Once we know the beta does not set people’s machines on fire, we will switch the full game over to the main Steam branch and announce its full release! After this, we will continue to monitor feedback and ideas from the community for Xen, and release periodic bug fixes and updates.

You can find Black Mesa on Steam.

After a recent big update, Rise to Ruins breaks its own single-day sales record

Friday 3rd of May 2019 10:44:44 AM

Tags: City Builder, Steam, Itch.io, Indie Game, Game Sale, Pixel Graphics

Seems the indie gaming scene in some circles on Steam is alive and well, as Rise to Ruins has broken its own single day sales record and it had a huge update recently.

I've seen a lot of developers recently talk about how they're struggling on Steam, getting little to no sales and not getting noticed. Many have claimed there's problems with Valve's algorithms, for some it seems it's very much the opposite! Rise to Ruins developer, Raymond Doerr, posted on Twitter about the previous single-day record being 4,703 copies sold which had been smashed to 4,843. Later, Doerr sent another Twitter post to say it had hit 6,250 copies!

That's pretty insane but it's worth noting it's currently on sale, with 66% off (lowest it's ever been!) making it currently only £2.38/$3.40/€3.40. I consider it a game worth full price, so if you don't own it now is obviously a great time to pick it up especially as the base price is going to increase after the sale.

It also had a massive update recently with InDev 33 being put out at the end of April. This included a revamped save system, to help with any possible corruption and saving should perform better with multi-threading.

Additionally, there's a brand new Trash System included. This new feature may have you leave behind rubbish when you destroy, create or manufacture anything in the game. It's an interesting one, since the trash can actually be processed to gain new materials or spawn nasty Trash Slimes if you don't deal with it. To sort it out, there's a new worker job too—the Trasher! This new worker will take trash to landfills, burners and processors for you. There's also a new wall you can build, the Trashy Cube Wall which is only built by the new Cube-E Golems.

There's also a new Road UI, the Resource Bar and Resource List Panel were overhauled, Corruption had a little rewrite and there's of course plenty of balance changes and bug fixes as well as some smaller changes. Honestly I'm impressed at the level of effort and attention Doerr gives Rise to Ruins, a fantastic pixel-art village/city builder that's worth checking out. Although, I do hope the zoom scrolling is made nicer, it jumps to specific points instead of smoothly scrolling and it bugs me every time. Minor niggle though really considering it's one of my most-played indie games.

You can find Rise to Ruins on Steam and itch.io. The sale is on both stores, so take your pick. It's not on GOG, since GOG didn't want to stock it which is pretty silly given it's a great game that obviously sells well.

Fearmonium looks like a very intriguing action-platformer that will release for Linux

Friday 3rd of May 2019 10:30:57 AM

Tags: Steam, Indie Game, Action, Platformer, Coming Soon

Fearmonium from developer Redblack Spade looks like an action-platformer that could be on the different side, with slightly freaky yet intriguing visuals.

They're saying it's a "psychedelic action-platformer" that will be mixing in elements of humour so it's not an overly serious game and I do appreciate good humour. Take a look:


Watch video on YouTube.com

We have quite a lot of 2D platformers now for sure, a quick look on Steam tells me there's at least 500 of them yet Fearmonium could still capture a good bit of the market I think. Given how the gameplay looks nicely varied, the theme is quite different and it's managed to capture my interest too.

Feature highlight:

- A huge map of Jimmy’s consciousness, woven from abstract images and half-forgotten memories;
- Classic and hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation;
- Dynamic battles with combo attacks and a variety of unique abilities;
- Information about the process of the formation of new phobias and the nature of human consciousness;
- Memorable enemies, whose images reflect what Jimmy saw in the real world;
- The answer to the question: does a phobia always cause irreparable harm, or can its presence change life for better?

When asking the developer about the status of Linux support, they answered on Twitter that Linux support is confirmed but it might be post-release.

You can wishlist and follow it on Steam.

Story driven, psychological horror game IMMURE will be coming to Linux this month

Friday 3rd of May 2019 10:09:09 AM

Tags: Horror, Indie Game, Steam, Coming Soon

Releasing in an episodic format after failing to get funding on Kickstarter, the story driven psychological horror game IMMURE will be available on Linux.

IMMURE is a story driven, psychological horror game. Will, the protagonist, has found himself trapped inside a foreboding Mansion with no exit. To escape, he must travel through strange doors which lead into other dimensions, filled with tormented souls. Will must choose to save or destroy these wraiths, in order to discover the truth behind the Mansion along with his own fate.

The developer says it will have an unsettling atmosphere with a dynamic AI system, blending hand-drawn and 3D art together with puzzles having multiple solutions.


Watch video on YouTube.com

I am curious how dynamic the AI system will be and what exactly they mean by that. Sounds fancy but it may just mean they've given each encounter a few different options. What they've shown and how they describe it doesn't really give us a lot to go on, could be interesting and one to watch. They also said it has "Unique Gameplay" but they don't explain why, it bugs me when developers say things like that without telling people what's unique about it, as it often ends up the opposite.

Replying to me a little late on their Steam forum, they developer did confirm Linux will still be supported. Good to know that wasn't dependent on them getting funding first as is sometimes the case.

You can follow it on Steam, the first part is releasing on May 9th.

Forager has been a bit of a hit, selling 150K copies on PC and they've released an exciting roadmap

Friday 3rd of May 2019 09:31:18 AM

Tags: Humble Store, Steam, Adventure, Casual, Pixel Graphics, RPG

Forager, the game that has you grind your way through buying lots of tiny islands that's insanely addictive seems to have done really well. Seems like Humble Bundle once again picked a good game to help publish!

Firstly, they've announced that it has now officially passed 150K (one hundred and fifty thousand) copies sold across all PC platforms (Linux and Windows). An impressive number, one that seems to have blown away the developer a little. I'm not surprised though, sweet graphics combined with gameplay that just keeps you going on and on.

“I am completely overwhelmed by Forager's positive reaction!” says Mariano Cavallero, creator of Forager. “I always thought my silly little crafting game could be something special, it's so wholesome and exciting that players around the world seem to agree!”, they continued, “There are a lot of new content and features coming to the game in the near future that I am VERY excited about! Things like massive content updates, Mod Support and Multiplayer which are only possible thanks to the amazing support of gamers worldwide!”

As for the Roadmap, what they've said that's coming has me really quite excited for the future of the game. Here's a breakdown of what they said:

  • May: New game modes, weather effects, quality of life improvements and an improved options menu.
  • Summer 2019: A new biome, hard mode, new bosses and enemies and improved combat difficulty.
  • Fall 2019: Custom biome support, custom items, custom structures and "much more!".
  • Winter 2019 leading into 2020: Play with friends, new lands and new items.

Personally, this is a game I could happily play through again, when it has multiplayer. By that time, all the other improvements that come first will make it exciting again to go through. Even as it is now, the game is a truly unexpected and rather guilty pleasure of mine.

You can grab it from Humble Store and Steam. Still have no idea why the Linux build isn't on GOG too.

Despite the high price, the initial batch of Valve Index headsets have sold out on pre-orders

Friday 3rd of May 2019 08:38:30 AM

Tags: Valve, Steam, Hardware, Virtual Reality

I have to admit, I am a little surprised. The Valve Index limited pre-orders that went live on May 1st have already completely sold out.

Looking at the store page in the UK for the full kit, it's now only showing that you can reserve it with a new expected shipping date of August 31st. However, the Controllers and Base Stations are still showing up as in stock. Oddly the full bundle has a different expected shipping date to the Headset/Controller bundle and Headset by itself with those now expected by July 31st.

It seems for those who are really interested in VR, price is no issue. However, we've no idea how many Valve were keeping in reserve for the initial batch. In the press release Valve originally sent, all they said was that it was "limited". I can imagine them having quite a lot though of course, so it's still a very healthy sign for Valve's newer platform.

Going by the Steam Hardware Survey, the amount of people with a VR set on Steam is currently below 1% of Steam users so perhaps we will see a nice up-tick by the end of the year? For those who keep writing-off VR as a ridiculous niche, do keep in mind the VR market share on Steam is now higher than Linux.

Facepunch Studios have given an update on the future of Rust for Linux, issues with "third parties"

Thursday 2nd of May 2019 06:51:23 PM

Tags: Misc, Steam, Survival

For those hanging on hoping Facepunch will go back to officially supporting Linux with Rust, you might want to sit down. They've made a comment on it on their latest blog post.

As a little reminder, back in July last year I reported on how Facepunch removed Linux support and any mention of the Linux version of Rust from Steam. Since then though, they have continued to update the Linux version so people could still play it, it just wasn't advertised any more (you could also still buy it new and play it on Linux). That may be changing, going by what they said as quoted below:

This update brings a new set of fixes for the Linux client that should resolve some of the issues that have been reported. Unfortunately I also have to take this moment to address the future of Rust on Linux. We are currently debating internally whether or not to end Linux support in the near future. There are many reasons for this but the biggest issue right now is the problematic state of Linux support from third parties. Any software that supports Linux faces the same problem of putting in a lot of effort for an extremely small customer base, so we are sympathetic for the decisions our partners have been making. Unfortunately this means we keep encountering problems with Rust on Linux that cannot be solved by us directly and require us to wait around for fixes, which can take months or in some cases never materialize. We have not made a decision on whether or not to continue supporting Linux yet, but we wanted to communicate this process early so the community is aware of it.

I have to say I am still really sad about this. Rust did become my favourite survival game on Linux, we had a good community server going and plenty of people were enjoying it. However, if they're not able to support it due to issues outside their control (like the many issues Unity has had over the last year) it's obviously a big problem for them and somewhat understandable. I also appreciate how they're being a little more open about it now.

My issue is, what happens if/when they do decide to entirely stop supporting Linux? Most people would obviously be way past the usual time for a refund so we would be left with nothing. Steam Play could help in situations like this, if it wasn't for Easy Anti-Cheat not working under Steam Play. Not good.

Pandemic Express - Zombie Escape is out and works with Steam Play, it's also very weird

Thursday 2nd of May 2019 05:18:51 PM

Tags: Steam Play, Zombies, Early Access, Action

Pandemic Express - Zombie Escape, from TALLBOYS and tinyBuild puts you and up to 30 people in a large open-world as you try to escape on a Train and it just went into Early Access today. Note: Key provided by tinyBuild.

To be clear, this is not a native Linux game but thanks to Steam Play it does work on Ubuntu 19.04 and there's no problems joining online games with others. I did speak to tinyBuild and sadly they confirmed no current plan for a Linux version but that doesn't stop us now. I love my first-person shooters and Battle Royale games, mix in the very quirky style and it had me interested right away. Plus, it's fun to try out a same-day release with Steam Play which isn't something I often get a chance to do.

Keeping in mind it's an Early Access game, there's a lot of rough edges. That said though, there's a ridiculous amount of promise to make a good game here. So what is it? Well, it's an online co-op escape game with two teams, one playing as some sort of Zombies and the other as Humans. Get taken down by a Zombie? You join the fierce undead club. Honestly, this might be the most ridiculous game I've played in a while! Take a look at the madness:


Matches start with everyone confined in a small space, someone ends up as a Zombie and when the countdown is over you all run like hell. Taking place in quite a big open-world, there's plenty of loot to find, vehicles to drive which are a little hilarious and it's more than a little on the freaky side. It also mixes in some elements from Battle Royale games, like the circle of doom you need to stay inside.

Having a pretty fun game like this work on Linux right away with Steam Play? CodeWeavers and Valve are doing good stuff for us. However, performance does need improving as it's not great at all. Hopefully that will come along as both Steam Play and Pandemic Express both mature.

Due to the performance (tested on both Proton 3.16 and 4.2), I won't be recommending it just yet but it's another good test for Steam Play and so I will keep checking back on it. As said, it's a promising one.

You can find it on Steam in Early Access. If you buy it in the first three days, it will gift you an extra copy. Additionally, you should see a coupon on Steam if you own any recent tinyBuild game to get extra money off.

Comedy point & click adventure Guard Duty is out with Linux support and it's good fun

Thursday 2nd of May 2019 04:44:59 PM

Tags: Adventure, Point & Click, Steam

Guard Duty from Sick Chicken Studios and Digital Tribe is a comedy adventure game, with very retro-inspired visuals. It's out today, with official Linux support. Yet another Kickstarter crowdfunding success for Linux fans, as Guard Duty was funded back in 2017 with a small sum of just over £4K.

Note: My key was provided by their PR team.

Official launch trailer included below, take a look and see if it might be for you:


Watch video on YouTube.com

Features:

  • A full stand-alone game spanning across two drastically different time zones – Past or future, choose your actions wisely. This is not a tale for the faint of heart.
  • Full voice acting - Over 6000 lines of fully voiced dialogue.
  • Hundreds of detailed animations – Be it the flicker of candlelight, leaves blowing in the wind or the jaws of a giant Wrinkleworm you can be sure those pixels will be pulling their weight.
  • Bespoke music and sound – Guard Duty features over 30 unique musical compositions with hundreds of sound effects created in-house specifically for this project.
  • Integrated 'to-do list' keeps track of current goals and objectives – Never lose sight of your goal, Guard Duty features a familiar RPG styled quest tracking system.
  • Hand crafted pixel art – True to the era, Guard Duty is created in a juicy 320x240 resolution and styled like a real 90's point and click.
  • Streamlined inventory and puzzle design – The feel of a classic, without all the faff. Puzzles are logical with an intuitive interface, Guard Duty features a modern mentality to game design whilst retaining a classic aesthetic.

I don't think I've enjoyed a point and click adventure game in this way for a very long time. I've enjoyed plenty over the last few years for sure but truly not like this. I was chuckling within minutes, after the crazy intro anyway. My amusement with it continued on, with lots of really on-point jokes and some surprising references too (hello GDPR).

What slightly lets it down is the use of Adventure Game Studio which I rarely get a good enough experience with. In this case, there's a fullscreen problem with two-monitors where it tries to display in the middle of my two monitors but cuts off half the screen. No amount of tinkering with the config file for AGS seemed to help, so I had to disable my secondary monitor and then enable it again when the game is loaded. In 2019, this should not still be an issue. Thankfully, it's a minor issue but it still bugs the heck out of me.

Also, just a note about it: For those without a lot of time, it will let you save anywhere so you don't need to rely on checkpoints, something that annoyed me in a few other point and clicks so thankfully that's not an issue here either.

Overall, it has some fantastic voice-over, it actually is genuinely funny a lot of the time and a very worthy point and click adventure game to add to your collection. Not one you should let the dust collect on, give it a good run.

You can find Guard Duty on Steam, available at $9.99/£7.19/€8.19.

mod.io, the cross-platform mod API for games has launched a Unity plugin

Thursday 2nd of May 2019 04:37:50 PM

Tags: Game Dev, Unity, Mod

mod.io, the cross-platform Steam Workshop-like service that's independent of any store just today officially launched a very useful sounding plugin for the Unity game engine. Some news that will hopefully be interesting for any game developers following our news.

"Just as cross-platform play is gaining momentum, and developers have more stores, streaming and subscription services to reach new players, games that are better at uniting their community will stand out and find success," said CEO and co-creator Scott Reismanis.

I spoke directly to Scott Reismanis, the Founder of mod.io (also Mod DB and Indie DB) who confirmed to me that this plugin does support Linux. In fact, Meeple Station is already using it. Aground and 0 A.D. also use mod.io but they wrote their own mod.io wrapper.

Features:

  • Platform agnostic, supporting 1 click mod installs on Steam, Epic Games, Discord, GOG, itch.io with plans for full-console support.
  • Standalone, our API is not dependent on a client or SDK, allowing embedding everywhere: in-game, launcher, homepage, discord bot.
  • User Management, allowing for synchronized subscriptions, mod rating, and content submission.
  • Powerful and flexible default UI, providing a solid and extensible mod browsing interface to facilitate easy integration.

I think what they're doing is great, especially since it's cross-platform and their SDK as well as the website design itself are both open source under the MIT license. Not just that though, the convenience of the Steam Workshop is obviously lost when you get a game from other stores like GOG and itch.io, so if more developers opt to use mod.io they can give everyone a better modding experience.

You can find the Unity plugin here and the official mod.io website here.

The twin-stick shooter 'Moss Destruction' continues to improve but it's still ridiculously hard

Thursday 2nd of May 2019 01:57:02 PM

Tags: Twin-stick shooter, Indie Game, Itch.io, Steam, Update

With a strange and unique visual style, Moss Destruction released back in March and while fun it was overly difficult at times. Recent updates are a dramatic improvement to the flow of it but it remains incredibly difficult.

Note: Key provided by the developer.


Watch video on YouTube.com

The game is now split into different worlds, as they had a lot of feedback on the difficulty. Now, if you manage to unlock a world you can start a run there if you wish instead of always from the start. There's also now 6 new "wild" alien techs to find, Steam Cloud support, a smaller crosshair that doesn't get in your way, improved enemy spawning and more. They also mentioned how the fog of war was tweaked so there's not so much of it hiding enemies but for me there's now none at all, weird.

Additionally, the very latest update also adds in some pretty big stuff. There's now visual mods for your mech to upgrade, there's 3 challenging new mini-bosses, unlockable characters now have their own special skills making them useful and performance improvements.

I like what they're doing with it and they seem to be supporting it well. Overall, it's quite fun and it's a pretty challenging game that will test you. It continues getting harder too as you play, especially when you stay on a level too long as more enemies start spawning. At times it feels quite unfair I will say though, when enemies just pop out of the ground and hit you instantly. If they continue to tweak it, the game could really be something especially with just how ridiculously weird the design is.

The main thing that bugs me is the cursor speed, it's too slow, it's noticeably slower than my actual movements even in the menu which is really weird. Other than that, I think it's a twin-stick shooter worth your time.

You can find it on Steam and itch.io.

Precipice could be a really good strategy game when they get the AI right

Thursday 2nd of May 2019 12:35:39 PM

Tags: Strategy, Godot Engine, Steam, Indie Game

After a very short delay, the cold-war strategy game Precipice from Little Red Dog Games (Deep Sixed) is out with Linux support. Note: Key provided for me.

Good to see more Godot Engine powered titles from LRDG and much like their previous game Deep Sixed, Precipice certainly has a lot of tension going and it really will make you think.

Precipice is a 1-2 player board-game that's not about war, it's about gaining the upper-hand through deception, as you each try to gain influence across the world while not creating too much unrest. The last thing you want is a nuclear war, as you both lose, so you have to balance your influence and spread across the world rather wisely.


Features:

  • Tense strategy for one or two players. Face a highly-responsive, unpredictable AI that will attempt to understand your strategy and counter it at every turn, or invite a friend and see if you can collectively work to avoid global catastrophe online. 
  • World leaders from 74 countries realized as animals native to the region, all pawns in the dangerous game of nuclear chicken.
  • Manage resources from territories under your control to resolve immediate crises or win over future allies.
  • Recreate history, or forge your own path. Put a bear on the moon. The possibilities are endless.
  • Simple, intuitive gameplay that is also difficult to master.

I love the idea of the game and when it works it's very interesting, but the AI is a little off. My first game after the tutorial ended in 5 minutes flat, as the Soviet Union instantly invaded Australia for no apparent reason given it had strong ties to me, refused to backed down and it ended in annihilation. Every single time I try to present my case to the UN when the AI invades multiple countries, the AI disagrees and wants to basically escalate it into us taking each other out and losing. For a game that's not supposed to be about war, the AI seems to want it far too much and too soon.

It does remind me of Sigma Theory: Global Cold War only it feels like it has quite a lot more options and just like Sigma it's not too polished, even though in this case it's supposed to be a finished game. The UI, for example, while it's clear and inviting it's not the best quality. Some of the text is blurry, a bunch of round icons have harsh borders and lots of little niggles like that stuck out a bit too much at times.

It has an interesting idea, I'm just not too sure I enjoyed it. If they manage to tweak the AI it might work a lot better as with a lot of games it has promise and a good idea just not good enough on the execution of it in this case.

You can find Precipice on Steam.

More in Tux Machines

Games: MMO Path of Titans, Steam Play Milestone, Rocket Pass, Stay Safe: Labyrinth, OBS Studio

  • Try the first demo of the dino MMO Path of Titans, we have some testing keys to give away

    After Alderon Games successful crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo for their dino themed survival MMO Path of Titans, the developer reached out to gather more Linux testers. They've released a first demo and it's currently quite limited with the character creation ability the only thing possible. However, once a month they will be deploying a big new feature for it like the ability to run around, AI, quests and so on.

  • Steam Play passes six thousand Windows games playable on Linux, according to ProtonDB

    On the day of Steam Play hitting the big one year anniversary (August 21st), it seems another milestone has been reached in terms of compatibility. According to ProtonDB, the handy (but unofficial) tracking website, over six thousand games are now working. At time of writing, exactly 6,023 "games work" against the 9,134 total of games that currently have user reports to see if they run or not. That's quite an impressive number! It's worth noting though, that with little over nine thousand games currently reported, Steam does host well over thirty thousand so there's a huge amount that hasn't yet been tested. How about a question for you to answer in the comments: What does Steam Play mean to you? I'll start.

  • Rocket Pass 4 is coming to Rocket League on August 28th, with a new rally-inspired Battle-Car

    The fourth Rocket Pass is due to arrive in Rocket League soon, along with the start of Competitive Season 12. For those of you wanting to rank up and ensure you get the best rewards possible, Season 11 is ending really soon on August 27th. A day later, Rocket Pass 4 is going to be released.

  • Roguelike Stay Safe: Labyrinth of the Mad now has a Linux beta, sounds quite unique

    Stay Safe: Labyrinth of the Mad from Yellowcake Games is a roguelike with plenty of random generation, including an interesting way of generating the world. When starting a new game, the developer said you can use files on your PC or a combination of keyboard/gamepad button presses to generate the dungeon, items and gems. That's not all that makes it somewhat unique, there's also another feature where you will come across a copy of other players. It's a single-player game, so you're not directly facing other people only a shadow of what they had. Although that feature is entirely optional.

  • OBS Studio has a fresh release candidate available for a major new version

    OBS Studio, the free and open source video livestreaming and recording software is my one and only stop for video capturing and it continues to mature. The upcoming 24.0 release has a first release candidate now available and it has some fun new features. For starters, you can now actually pause recordings to easily cut away parts you know you don't need. I've tested that and it works perfectly. It does need you to have separated encoders for streaming and recording though, so you can't have the recording encoder set to "same as stream".

LWN: Spectre, Linux and Debian Development

  • Grand Schemozzle: Spectre continues to haunt

    The Spectre v1 hardware vulnerability is often characterized as allowing array bounds checks to be bypassed via speculative execution. While that is true, it is not the full extent of the shenanigans allowed by this particular class of vulnerabilities. For a demonstration of that fact, one need look no further than the "SWAPGS vulnerability" known as CVE-2019-1125 to the wider world or as "Grand Schemozzle" to the select group of developers who addressed it in the Linux kernel. Segments are mostly an architectural relic from the earliest days of x86; to a great extent, they did not survive into the 64-bit era. That said, a few segments still exist for specific tasks; these include FS and GS. The most common use for GS in current Linux systems is for thread-local or CPU-local storage; in the kernel, the GS segment points into the per-CPU data area. User space is allowed to make its own use of GS; the arch_prctl() system call can be used to change its value. As one might expect, the kernel needs to take care to use its own GS pointer rather than something that user space came up with. The x86 architecture obligingly provides an instruction, SWAPGS, to make that relatively easy. On entry into the kernel, a SWAPGS instruction will exchange the current GS segment pointer with a known value (which is kept in a model-specific register); executing SWAPGS again before returning to user space will restore the user-space value. Some carefully placed SWAPGS instructions will thus prevent the kernel from ever running with anything other than its own GS pointer. Or so one would think.

  • Long-term get_user_pages() and truncate(): solved at last?

    Technologies like RDMA benefit from the ability to map file-backed pages into memory. This benefit extends to persistent-memory devices, where the backing store for the file can be mapped directly without the need to go through the kernel's page cache. There is a fundamental conflict, though, between mapping a file's backing store directly and letting the filesystem code modify that file's on-disk layout, especially when the mapping is held in place for a long time (as RDMA is wont to do). The problem seems intractable, but there may yet be a solution in the form of this patch set (marked "V1,000,002") from Ira Weiny. The problems raised by the intersection of mapping a file (via get_user_pages()), persistent memory, and layout changes by the filesystem were the topic of a contentious session at the 2019 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit. The core question can be reduced to this: what should happen if one process calls truncate() while another has an active get_user_pages() mapping that pins some or all of that file's pages? If the filesystem actually truncates the file while leaving the pages mapped, data corruption will certainly ensue. The options discussed in the session were to either fail the truncate() call or to revoke the mapping, causing the process that mapped the pages to receive a SIGBUS signal if it tries to access them afterward. There were passionate proponents for both options, and no conclusion was reached. Weiny's new patch set resolves the question by causing an operation like truncate() to fail if long-term mappings exist on the file in question. But it also requires user space to jump through some hoops before such mappings can be created in the first place. This approach comes from the conclusion that, in the real world, there is no rational use case where somebody might want to truncate a file that has been pinned into place for use with RDMA, so there is no reason to make that operation work. There is ample reason, though, for preventing filesystem corruption and for informing an application that gets into such a situation that it has done something wrong.

  • Hardening the "file" utility for Debian

    In addition, he had already encountered problems with file running in environments with non-standard libraries that were loaded using the LD_PRELOAD environment variable. Those libraries can (and do) make system calls that the regular file binary does not make; the system calls were disallowed by the seccomp() filter. Building a Debian package often uses FakeRoot (or fakeroot) to run commands in a way that appears that they have root privileges for filesystem operations—without actually granting any extra privileges. That is done so that tarballs and the like can be created containing files with owners other than the user ID running the Debian packaging tools, for example. Fakeroot maintains a mapping of the "changes" made to owners, groups, and permissions for files so that it can report those to other tools that access them. It does so by interposing a library ahead of the GNU C library (glibc) to intercept file operations. In order to do its job, fakeroot spawns a daemon (faked) that is used to maintain the state of the changes that programs make inside of the fakeroot. The libfakeroot library that is loaded with LD_PRELOAD will then communicate to the daemon via either System V (sysv) interprocess communication (IPC) calls or by using TCP/IP. Biedl referred to a bug report in his message, where Helmut Grohne had reported a problem with running file inside a fakeroot.

Flameshot is a brilliant screenshot tool for Linux

The default screenshot tool in Ubuntu is alright for basic snips but if you want a really good one you need to install a third-party screenshot app. Shutter is probably my favorite, but I decided to give Flameshot a try. Packages are available for various distributions including Ubuntu, Arch, openSuse and Debian. You find installation instructions on the official project website. Read more

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