Linux Blog

Running dual boot for gaming or using Virtual Machines

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Software — Owen at 12:01 am on Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This is a guest post by Fredrick Cameron and Parking Games 365!


Being a hardcore gamer is not an easy “job” – you have to invest large amounts of money into cutting-edge hardware, and just when you think you have the best gaming rig, something better pops up. As if that’s not enough, you might find yourself in the situation of having to use multiple operating systems, which will lead you to one crucial question: what’s the best approach for getting everything working just right? When it comes to using multiple operating systems and gaming on a single machine, is dual-booting the better choice, or will virtual machines get the job done just as good?
Convenience vs. Performance
Dual-boot and virtualization are both use for the same final purpose: being able to run multiple operating systems on a single machine. However, each approach works differently, and thus they’re not both appropriate for all tasks.

Virtual machines are exactly what their name suggests – virtual computers that run inside your own real computer. The main advantage of virtual machines is that they run inside the main operating system, and as long as your hardware can keep up the pace, you can have multiple virtual machines running simultaneously, each machine being able to run a different operating system. By running inside the operating system, virtual machines are easy to manage, configure and deploy, thus being very convenient if you need to quickly switch between operating systems, as you don’t have to restart your PC and wait for everything to load over and over again.

Dual-booting implies installing two operating systems on a PC. Unlike the case of running virtual machines, in a dual-boot system you have to restart the PC every time you want to switch between operating systems. Installing the two operating systems also requires considerably more work and configuration. So far all these aspects seem to indicate that dual-boot is far less convenient than running virtual machines, so you might expect there’s a catch, and there is: dual-booting means that each system gets exclusive access to the hardware in your PC. In other usage scenarios, this might not mean much, but when it comes to gaming, it’s a complete game-changer. Literally.

Virtual machines get limited access to hardware, as they run as “guests” inside the main operating system. For example, if you’re running a PC with a dual-core processor and 4GB of RAM, one core of the processor and 2GB of RAM might be used by the host operating system, leaving the guest operating system with just one core and the other 2GB of RAM. This basically cuts down the performance of both the host and the guest operating systems to 50%. When you’re running a powerful gaming machine, with quad-core, hexa-core or even octa-core processors and tons of RAM, having the host operating system consume a chunk of those resources might not seem like such a big deal, but gamers tend to hold on to every bit of computing power, as recent games are power-hungry.

However, the key factor that prevent virtual machines from being adequate solutions is the fact that they can’t access and use the hardware as efficiently as a separate operating system does. Ironically, the main component that can’t be fully taken advantage of via a virtual machine is the graphics card, which also happens to be the most important component when it comes to gaming. There is a VGA pass-through procedure that should allow you to give the virtual machine direct access to the video card, but setting it up is a lengthy and complicated process.

Dual-boot may seem a bit inconvenient at first, requiring you to install and configure two separate operating systems, and have to go through “the pain” of a system reboot every time you want to switch, but it’s still far better than having to go through the pain of seeing your games shutter or lag.

Apotheon: A heroic action game set released for Linux

Filed under: General Linux — at 12:18 am on Friday, May 22, 2015

This is the guest post by Fredrick Cameron and Makeover Games 365!


It has taken four years of development but has it been worth the wait? Apotheon, a heroic action game is now available to play on Linux systems. Originally accessible through Steam for Windows and by opting into the Beta section for Linux, it is now available and fully functional for the Linux user.

The game

The setting is ancient Greek mythology and all the Greek Gods are present. The player takes charge of the character Nikandreos, and his mission is to save humankind from the wrath of the Gods; you will need to ascend to the realm of the Gods and return with many battles along the way. The ultimate confrontation is with Zeus, who is surrounded by many of the deities you will have heard of from Greek mythology. The challenge is to strip the old Gods of their powers and take control of the elements yourself – no easy feat. The game characters appear almost like puppets with the setting appearing realistic and the fighting fluid. This creates a very smooth game to play.

Is this just another hero action game?

In short, the answer is no. The developers have worked hard to keep the game true to its subject matter; they have successfully merged classic culture with modern entertainment. Nikanderos is a typical hero of this period, very masculine but without any deeper affliction. He is forced into a world on the throes of massive change, constantly fighting for his life whilst looking for redemption. The game is unique in the way it merges art and game play.

Something New

Apotheon is a 2D side scrolling game like so many before it. It literally delights a player and draws you into the game, and somehow makes you feel like you are there. A player can take pleasure in steering his character into battle and taken on the most powerful Greek Gods. Each realm needs to be explored and challenges solved before you can rise to the realm of the Gods. The fact that all this has to be done with the traditional weapons of the time simple adds to the experience.

Greek Mythology


The game in many respects looks like you’re looking at the side of a Greek vase. Figures and scenery is directly lifted from pottery between the fourth and sixth century. The result is a fully rendered, authentic Greek setting. Thanks to the open world design you are able to explore each level. Your character is the centre of the story, but the story is not set in stone. You are in control of where your character goes and how the story unfolds; it can be different each time. All these elements combine to make the player feel as though they are part of the Greek myth, not just looking in the window.


Every game has an atmosphere although some are better at creating it than others. In many games it is set by the music, whether sound tracks or background noise. In Apotheon the answer lies in humankinds continuing obsession with Greek Mythology. Many have debated whether there is any truth to the stories, but few would dismiss them without further thought. This time period holds a fascination and the game capitalises on that.

It is impossible to say which parts of the mythology are true or truth based. The confusion this creates allows us to ponder, and perhaps dream every time we are confronted with the subject. It is this that creates the atmosphere in Apotheon. It is this atmosphere that makes the game so enjoyable to play, especially on Linux.

Expert tips to play games on your Linux machine

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Software — at 12:52 am on Friday, March 20, 2015

This is the guest post by Fredrick Cameron and Dirt Bike Games 365!

Linux is the leading operating system on servers around the world, yet it is used on only 1% of desktop PC’s. Linux is free and open source collaboration – meaning it is available to anyone and can be modified, distributed or just used. Due to its rarity on desktop PC’s it has not been well catered for the massive games market. However, it is now possible to play games on Linux. In fact, the system is now so good that you may question whether you need a Windows PC to play games.

Linux is a top-choice for high-performance computing these days. The operating system has come a long way, and because it is “open-source”, users can easily change its code and make it suit their gaming needs. Also, you don’t need a licence to use Linux. It also prides with a smooth infrastructure, and it can run on every form of relevant piece of hardware. Linux is becoming more and more user friendly and the following tips will allow you to play any modern PC game on your Linux system:

(Read on …)

Compiz Config

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Software — at 8:00 am on Wednesday, February 18, 2015

One of the great things about Linux is that if you don’t like something, you have the power to change it. You can add features, or remove them to suit your needs. One of the cool features that has been added to modern distributions is the OpenGL compositing manager called Compiz. A lot of distributions come with Compiz as standard, but some don’t. If it does and you have no need for it you can remove or tweak features and functionality it provides. Personally I’m not a fan of every feature or all of the flashiness, so sometimes I tweak it. Follow the jump for more information.
(Read on …)

Mac Annoyances and Fixes.

Filed under: General Linux — at 6:00 am on Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I got a Mac a while back, out of the box there were a few things that bothered me. This isn’t a comprehensive list, I could go on and on, but here are a few things that are easy to fix.
(Read on …)

Introduction to Investigating Unknown Files on Linux

Filed under: General Linux — at 12:00 pm on Saturday, December 20, 2014


This article was written by Adam Palmer, a Linux Consultant. It covers the first few steps in basic Linux forensic work – investigating unknown files. Linux provides a range of powerful tools to investigate files and filesystems.

Preparing an Environment

First and foremost, before performing any kind of forensics work on Linux, it’s important to set up a usable environment. Even if you intend to perform ‘read only’ actions, and not run any binaries for example, buffer overflows and other exploit vectors have existed in the tools we’ll be using and so running them on maliciously crafted files could result in a system compromise.
If you intend to analyze files, I recommend using a sandboxed virtual machine with no networking access. The virtual machine should be destroyed and recreated as required. If you plan to analyze a hard disk, I recommend using a write blocker to ensure that nothing can physically be altered on the disk under investigation.

Finding File Type & Status

Using the `file’ utility, we can match the file’s header to a known database:

root@kali:~# file rack.png
rack.png: PNG image data, 576 x 576, 8-bit/color RGBA, non-interlaced

Using the `stat’ utility, we can find out permissions, as well as disk, inode and meta information on the file:

root@kali:~# stat rack.png
  File: `/opt/metasploit/apps/pro/ui/vendor/bundle/ruby/1.9.1/gems/rack-1.4.5/contrib/rack.png'
  Size: 23805     	Blocks: 48         IO Block: 4096   regular file
Device: 801h/2049d	Inode: 6165        Links: 1
Access: (0644/-rw-r--r--)  Uid: (    0/    root)   Gid: (    0/    root)
Access: 2014-12-04 23:45:51.087400697 +0000
Modify: 2013-04-17 20:50:40.000000000 +0100
Change: 2013-04-27 18:10:38.317049114 +0100
 Birth: -


Let’s confirm the `file’ output. According to Wikipedia’s entry on PNGs, a PNG begins with an 8-byte signature: 89 50 4E 47 0D 0A 1A 0A. Let’s use `hexdump’ to confirm this:

root@kali:~# hexdump -C -n8 rack.png 
00000000  89 50 4e 47 0d 0a 1a 0a                           |.PNG....|

Note the arguments provided. -C will print the ASCII data alongside the hexdecimal output, whilst -n8 displays 8 bytes.


Using `strings’, we are able to locate any ASCII printable strings within a file:

root@kali:~# strings rack.png

In this case, there’s little of interest to see, however let’s look at running `strings’ on an executable binary:

root@kali:~# strings /bin/ls
Try `%s --help' for more information.
Usage: %s [OPTION]... [FILE]...
List information about the FILEs (the current directory by default).
Sort entries alphabetically if none of -cftuvSUX nor --sort is specified.
Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.
  -a, --all                  do not ignore entries starting with .
  -A, --almost-all           do not list implied . and ..

Interesting.. strings can be used to uncover hidden printable ASCII.

Linked Libraries

Using `ldd’, we can investigate any shared libraries that have been linked in:

root@kali:~# ldd /bin/ls =>  (0xb77a7000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xb776c000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/i686/cmov/ (0xb7763000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xb7758000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/i686/cmov/ (0xb75f5000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/i686/cmov/ (0xb75f1000)
	/lib/ (0xb77a8000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/i686/cmov/ (0xb75d8000) => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/ (0xb75d2000)

Tracing system calls

Using `strace’ we are able to trace system calls. If running an unknown binary, it is especially important to perform this step within a safe sandboxed environment. `strace’ sends its output to stderr, and so we’ll need to redirect that to stdout before being able to work with it using standard stream utilities such as `grep’. Let’s look at any open calls made when running `/bin/ls':

root@kali:~# strace -f /bin/ls 2>&1|grep "open"
open("/etc/", O_RDONLY)      = 3
open("/lib/i386-linux-gnu/", O_RDONLY) = 3
open("/lib/i386-linux-gnu/i686/cmov/", O_RDONLY) = 3

The listed entries are required libraries being opened

Further research

Further steps in debugging binaries can be achieved through `ltrace’, `gdb’, `objdump’ and `ndisasm’. Some of these tools have a significant learning curve however enable detailed debugging of unknown binaries

Media Purge

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Software — at 8:23 pm on Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In order to reduce the amount of crap stuff I have laying around, in addition to making a box of old hardware to donate, I’ve been going through old Linux CD’s. Deciding which ones to pitch was a harder task than I first thought, so I figured I’d take a methodical approach to it. The criteria was this:

Have I:

Used it recently?
Ever used it?

Does it:

Have a download available?
Have a current community?
Contain customized content?
Have a special meaning?


I ever use it?
Someone else be able to use it?

Since most of these were burned disks, the only reason to keep something would be if it is not available anymore, has a special meaning, or I’ve used it a bunch and it contains customized content. Based on this, I’ve decided to pitch (in no particular order)
(Read on …)

Raspberry Pi – Awesome!

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Hardware — at 3:17 pm on Thursday, October 24, 2013

Raspberry Pi

I never jumped on the Pi bandwagon, sure I thought it was cool but when I wanted one, there were supply demands and the want wore off. I recently purchased a Model B revision Two and have to say I’m very impressed. It is an awesome piece of hardware but what really makes the Raspberry Pi great is the community that has been built around them. There are many projects and tutorials based and plenty of hackers working on tweaking and expanding them. Here are a few of my favorite projects, incase you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years like me:
(Read on …)

It is almost July!

Filed under: General Linux,The Linux Blog News — at 11:54 pm on Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Since I haven’t posted in a while I figured I would, and hopefully start a new trend of writing again. I started a new job last year and had my wife gave birth to our first born in November 2012, since then my time has been somewhat limited, balancing work, life and play. If you take a look at the archives, it is not the first time I’ve taken a multiple break from this Blog.

Well, it’s almost July and you know what that means right? Yep, Google will be shutting down Reader. Their decision never made sense to me since my Feedburner, another Google product statistics show that 90% of my subscriptions are through the Reader service, there are alternatives.

While most people have migrated to other services, those that haven’t should consider doing so, or at least export their feeds to subscribe at a later time.

There are great desktop applications available for most platforms, but I wanted an online reader to sync feeds across multiple machines and read from different locations without having to mark content as read multiple times. The most viable online alternatives to me were Feedly, and The Old Reader won in the end after adding standalone authentication. The interface is familiar as it is pretty much a clone of Google Reader, even the same keyboard shortcuts work.

I hope that when you do find the new feed reader of your choice, you continue to subscribe to TheLinuxBlog, and although it may have been stagnant for a while, I have not abandoned it.

The First Unreal Engine 3 Game Ships for Linux

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Software — at 1:23 pm on Friday, January 25, 2013

Guest Post From Davis Miller

Score! a HUGE victory for Linux gaming in 2013! Ryan Gordon confirmed via Twitter that “Dungeon Defenders is an Unreal Engine 3 game on Linux, and it’s the first thing I’ve shipped with SDL 2.0!” The launch of Humble Indie Bundle 7 is a tower defense and action oriented role playing game that was originally designed and released for the standard PC in 2011. Though it began as a development for Unreal Engine 3, it now has a native Linux port.


The reality of Linux gaming has been in question for years. Interested parties jump in, and then jump out. Plagued by technical and developmental problems, Linux gaming technology has taken nothing more than baby steps over the years. The recent strides leading up to the shipment of a Linux ported games have happened incredibly fast, with no signs of slowing in the near future. (Read on …)

Buy Vs. Build Vs. Cloud

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Software — at 12:31 am on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When a company needs a piece of software there is lots of open source software available that may suit their needs. But what happens when there isn’t?
Lets take a look employee performance evaluation software (like this) for example. To build a full featured business supporting application like this is no easy task. Lets weigh in the options:

Build It
There is always the option to build software, depending on the complexity this option can cost a lot of money. You need to either build from scratch, use a framework or modify an existing open source project. Some corporations have the funds for hardware, a development team, system administrators and support team. Those that dont are pretty much left with the buy or cloud solutions.

Buy it
If building isn’t an option due to cost another is to buy. Software support and hardware are sometimes additional costs buying is a viable option depending on the application. What is often the case for small to medium sized companies, a piece software will not feature what they need, while having 90% of everything else. This can lead to leaving critical business functions out, or even a hodgepodge of multiple versions of software that do the same thing.

Cloud / hosted solitions.
For certain applications “heading to the cloud” can be a smart way to go. Not having in house hardware to inventory and maintain is one benefit, and access from multiple locations is another. With the vendors providing support. One concern is security, although this is the same with tbe build/buy options that is often overlooked.

While off the shelf products may exist there are still expenses where choosing the hosted solution may turn out more cost effective.

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