posted by Joe Drago on Wed 7th Jul 2004 19:12 UTC
IconOne glaring issue I've had since my transition to Linux is video games. Being a Nintendo (consoles) and Sierra (PC) kid, I've gravitated to consoles more lately, but the occasional PC game has kept my interest solidly enough to keep Windows around on a spare drive. I tried WineX (CVS) in the past, and had great success with Diablo II, but didn't bother to try any 'new' games with it.

I tend to play LAN-based games of BattleField 1942/Vietnam and the Rainbow Six variety, but since I am bringing my machine to someone's house to play these, choosing "Windows" in GRUB is no big deal. It's that whole "rebooting to play at home" part that I didn't like, plus the waste of space that the XP install took up.

Click for a larger view Nowadays, the -only- game installed on the XP partition is City of Heroes. I have some games in Linux, but mostly first person shooters (thanks iD and Epic). The XP install is a bare, firewalled install with a City of Heroes icon in the center of the desktop. It's basically an impossibility to do anything long term (torrents, other downloads, maintain conversations via AIM, IRC, play music) if I want to play this (incredibly addicting) game. So I reboot, then reboot back. I'm sure many of you Linux gamers out there feel my pain. Plus, I run a dual monitor setup, so it'd be nice if I could have CoH running on one monitor and a slew of other (Linux) apps on the other. Unfortunately, City of Heroes only runs in Windows.

Then I saw the announcement of Cedega, and the support for City of Heroes. To make a long story short (TOO LATE! -- blatant Clue reference), I immediately subscribed and downloaded the .deb packages. This is where the the review begins.

I downloaded the Point2Play and Cedega packages, as well as the fontinstaller package. I installed them via the command line (dpkg -i), and it seemed to go nice and quick, no dependency problems. For the record, the machine I am installing these packages on is a P4 2.66GHz, 512MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live, GeForceFX 5600 256MB dual monitor setup (1280x960x2monitors).

I run Point2Play, and it warns me on startup that I might have problems with pthreads because of something to do with my stack size being too small. I didn't understand the error at first, but I was using a stock Debian kernel, so I didn't know if there was a option it might have had set improperly. I ignored it temporarily and saw if I could get anything to work otherwise.

Click for a larger view I mounted the City of Heroes CD (using the Mount button in Point2Play, very nice), and added the setup.exe to the choices in the menu. When I double clicked it, nothing happened, other than a rather unhelpful cedega syntax prompt in the terminal. Apparently the warning that Point2Play had earlier has snapped back in my face. I fought with it for a while, and prematurely (and incorrectly) blamed Point2Play for the issue. I uninstalled Point2Play.

Then I realized that I had recently rolled back to the 2.4.26 Debian kernel due to the flaky 2.6.6 IEEE1394 code (my ipod gets transaction timeouts with the 2.6 Debian kernel series, but not in the 2.4.26 kernel). I rebooted my machine into the 2.6.6-2-686 kernel instead. I typed in "cedega /dvd/setup.exe" and the City of Heroes installer appeared!

Looking back, I can say with certainty that my issue with Cedega had nothing to do with Point2Play at all, and that the frontend is actually a nice, simple utility for organizing all of the games. I decided though that I'd be making my own shortcuts/buttons to run individual games directly with Cedega, and had no need for Point2Play. There are one or two other features with it that would have been nice (the update feature and configuration help), but I decided to stick with the Debian packages and command line method.

City of Heroes

Alright, so the installer appears, but all I see the backdrop for the installer. I had read somewhere that this was an issue (installer boxes appearing behind the backdrops), so I took my chances and tried to close the window with Alt+F4 (XFCE4's close window hotkey). Luckily, the backdrop window closed, but the installer did not! I chose the standard directory, clicked Next a few times, and it displayed a new backdrop, but appeared to do nothing more. The percentage bar wasn't moving, but I could hear the hard drive and CDROM drive making accesses, and the backdrop was periodically changing, so I let it go. After a minute or two, the percentage bar jumped to 45% or so and requested the second disc.

I popped open another aterm, unmounted the CD, mounted the second disc, and continued. Again, no percentage bar, but I was convinced that it was still going. The installer finished, and I was dropped back to the prompt.

Click for a larger viewI rummaged through the .transgaming/c_drive directory, and came across the install where it should have been. I typed in "cedega CohUpdater.exe", and I was in business! The updater window appeared, and while it didn't display the most recent changes (an embedded IE window when in Win32), it happily downloaded the most recent updates, patched my install, and ran the game.

I ran into a brief problem here, because the game tried to run full screen, and as I mentioned, this is a dual monitor setup. I quit out before logging in, and found the setting to tell Cedega to run in a fake Desktop size (Desktop=1152x864; inside of .transgaming/config). I reran the game, and it put the game inside of a fresh window quite nicely, no problems. I joined my server (Virtue!) and before even playing, I went to the graphics settings and told CoH that I wanted it to run in Windowed mode. This required me to close the program and reopen it.

Mind you, as I was doing all of this, I was completely stunned at how "normal" it felt to be in the game. It looked 100% flawless, and appeared to be just as smooth in a window in Linux as it is full screen in Windows (to my eyes, anyway). It was definitely getting me excited to think that I might not have to restart my machine at home anymore, and that I could continue to run all of my Linux apps, yet mix in a few missions here and there.

Table of contents
  1. "Cedega, Page 1/2"
  2. "Cedega, Page 2/2"
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