What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

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Notsonoble
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What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by Notsonoble »

Ubuntu's started work on 12.04 which will be their next LTS release, the way people talk unity behaves a lot better (still waiting on the thing to finish downloading to play with myself)...

I've thought about a 'nix distro pointed at vtts and p&p rpg for a while now, and with my worksheets actually selling at paizo... I'm tempted to consider the project again.

So I'm asking again... what would people want to come with it "out of the box"?
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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by neofax »

Not Ubuntu. I would rather have a distro that doesn't use either Gnome or KDE and something liter like XFCE or LXDE. Take a look at Crunchbang.

As for the VTT/RPG side, MapTools, d20Pro, PC-Gen, LibreOffice(for those Excel Character spreadsheets), some of the other programs that can run in WINE like HeroLab, DMGenie(never used it)...
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jfrazierjr
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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by jfrazierjr »

neofax wrote:Not Ubuntu. I would rather have a distro that doesn't use either Gnome or KDE and something liter like XFCE or LXDE. Take a look at Crunchbang.


Well... I wonder if it's not possible to offer the choice of window managers as part of the instillation process... even if it require a DVD instead of plain CD to hold the contents.

Thought it's still far from perfect, Ubuntu has worked quite hard on making it making "easier"(though still not easy depending on what you need will need to accomplish over the lifetime of the computer) for non Linux people to use. of course... if could be much easier still....

[spoiler=an example of linux 'wierdness']2 years ago, I installed 9.10. Just for kicks a few weeks later, I installed KDE. In Gnome, I had my wireless set up and working fairly quickly(other than having to research and finding out I had to manually set up DNS servers since the stupid thing seemed to think my DNS servers were my router!!!!this still is 'broken"... or at least not intuitive...). When I switched to KDE, it would not work. I had to go back into KDE's network manager thingy and reset up everything. WHY WHY WHY does a window manager need to keep separate network settings from other window managers (by default anyway)?!?!?!?!?!?!?![/spoiler]
I save all my Campaign Files to DropBox. Not only can I access a campaign file from pretty much any OS that will run Maptool(Win,OSX, linux), but each file is versioned, so if something goes crazy wild, I can always roll back to a previous version of the same file.

Get your Dropbox 2GB via my referral link, and as a bonus, I get an extra 250 MB of space. Even if you don't don't use my link, I still enthusiastically recommend Dropbox..

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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by neofax »

jfrazierjr wrote:
neofax wrote:Not Ubuntu. I would rather have a distro that doesn't use either Gnome or KDE and something liter like XFCE or LXDE. Take a look at Crunchbang.


Well... I wonder if it's not possible to offer the choice of window managers as part of the instillation process... even if it require a DVD instead of plain CD to hold the contents.

Thought it's still far from perfect, Ubuntu has worked quite hard on making it making "easier"(though still not easy depending on what you need will need to accomplish over the lifetime of the computer) for non Linux people to use. of course... if could be much easier still....

The thing about Ubuntu is they run the distro as a dictatorship(very similar to Apple). There is no choice for the user, they want you to think their engineers know better than you on how your PC should look and function(just look at the forced Unity, scrollbars, Kernel decisions and such).
I am more of the thought process of teach someone to fish and they will never go hungry. Or as I was told before sink or swim. Arch Linux is like this. It makes generic sane choices that will work for 90% of the end users, but if you want to install whatever go right ahead and learn how to do it or blaze the trail. Easy shouldn't be the goal of everything as normally to make something easy you have to hedge on your original design and go with the least common denominator.
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jfrazierjr
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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by jfrazierjr »

neofax wrote:The thing about Ubuntu is they run the distro as a dictatorship(very similar to Apple). There is no choice for the user, they want you to think their engineers know better than you on how your PC should look and function(just look at the forced Unity, scrollbars, Kernel decisions and such).
Well.. to me, Unity is just a Gnome3 copy with some different tweaks.. same fundamental ideas about "how a user should interact with the OS"(which I like some things, I DON'T like others.) Of course, that "this is how you should work" paradigm is nothing new and has been pushed to people in waves as new things come along.

Scrollbars??? you mean those annoying itty bitty things that are hard to find and control? yea... that sucks.... :evil:
Kernel decisions? Perhaps you would elaborate? I really don't follow news about the super deep guts of the kernel.


For me, I went with Ubuntu due to support and "relative" ease of use when I switched to linux 2 years ago. I had played with linux before back in the mid 2000's using Mandake(again, because it was thought to be the "easiest" at the time.) Personally, I don't WANT to have to compile everything from scratch or know how to unless I have no other choice. I like the ease of deb packages and being able to have (in most cases), dependencies automatically picked up and installed in the right order recursively(got used to that feature with perl->CPAN(well.. when it worked on windows due to window sucky compiling support) and it just makes sense.)

[spoiler=rant]
neofax wrote:I am more of the thought process of teach someone to fish and they will never go hungry.
Well.. I agree with that to a very large extent also. But at the same time, it sometimes appears that many things are made overly complicated just for the sake of it being complicated!!! Example: Grub2. Previously, one could modify the grub config file and make some changes.. now that option is somewhat gone. A perfect example is WHY, WHY, WHY can't I put my OWN darn names on menu choices?????

I mean really couldn't there be some intersect file that maps a "symbolic" name to the kernel name as there was in previous versions of GRUB? Some might say... "well.. we removed the config file because people were putting bad crap in there and it blew up their system"... umm ok.. So... is there any reason you can't have TWO configuration files.. one with the options that people can screw up their system AND a second one that contains a pretty name for a kernel that "links" back to a unique id in the first file? Is it really that hard, or am I one of the few people who are just logical?
[/quote]

neofax wrote:but if you want to install whatever go right ahead and learn how to do it or blaze the trail. Easy shouldn't be the goal of everything as normally to make something easy you have to hedge on your original design and go with the least common denominator.


Again... for me, it goes back to: who will spend the time making it easy for the rest of us. Generally, people and businesses make .deb files since it's pretty much the standard in terms of user population size. If another ditro comes along and gains traction in having lot's of varied prepackaged software available, I would not have a problem switching.[/spoiler]


Now... getting back to the original issue...my understanding of the OP was talking about setting up a distro with stuff already installed and ready to go. or perhaps he means some big repository type thing where everything can be installed in one shot...<shrug>
I save all my Campaign Files to DropBox. Not only can I access a campaign file from pretty much any OS that will run Maptool(Win,OSX, linux), but each file is versioned, so if something goes crazy wild, I can always roll back to a previous version of the same file.

Get your Dropbox 2GB via my referral link, and as a bonus, I get an extra 250 MB of space. Even if you don't don't use my link, I still enthusiastically recommend Dropbox..

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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by Azhrei »

jfrazierjr wrote:
neofax wrote:Not Ubuntu. I would rather have a distro that doesn't use either Gnome or KDE and something liter like XFCE or LXDE. Take a look at Crunchbang.

Well... I wonder if it's not possible to offer the choice of window managers as part of the instillation process... even if it require a DVD instead of plain CD to hold the contents.

It is possible. In fact, there can be multiple installed and you can choose at login time which to use. Of course, most "for home use" distros simply choose one and log you in automatically so you never see the login screen. (Another "ease of use" feature?) On the login screen is a button (usually called "Session") that let's you choose which GUI environment to use.

Thought it's still far from perfect, Ubuntu has worked quite hard on making it making "easier"(though still not easy depending on what you need will need to accomplish over the lifetime of the computer) for non Linux people to use. of course... if could be much easier still....

I recommend Linux Mint to students. Check out distrowatch.com and you'll see that it's the second most popular distro (on their site) after Ubuntu; and it's a very close second. ;)

It comes with a bunch of codecs (audio and video) already installed and/or configured, a nice clean desktop, uses the Ubuntu repos for software so there are literally gigabytes of free s/w available, and so on.

Such a distro with WINE preconfigured would be all a gamer needed. Of course, MT+PCGen would be useful as well. The big problem with Java apps is the preinstalled runtime. Licensing is much easier with OpenJDK but MT has had networking problems with OpenJDK -- probably because of the third-party libraries we use. (Hm, maybe it would work now with my updates to the sbbi-upnplib? Then again, maybe not.)

Edit: Just checked and the latest Linux Mint includes the real Java, 1.6.0_24. Not the absolute latest but still pretty good. And it's the _real_ Java, not the OpenJDK. ;)

2 years ago, I installed 9.10. Just for kicks a few weeks later, I installed KDE. In Gnome, I had my wireless set up and working fairly quickly(other than having to research and finding out I had to manually set up DNS servers since the stupid thing seemed to think my DNS servers were my router!!!!this still is 'broken"... or at least not intuitive...). When I switched to KDE, it would not work. I had to go back into KDE's network manager thingy and reset up everything. WHY WHY WHY does a window manager need to keep separate network settings from other window managers (by default anyway)?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Um, first of all, your router is the best choice to act as your DNS server unless you have a local nameservice caching daemon running. (RedHat and clones usually start nscd for that.) The reason is that you want your router caching DNS queries so that other machines on your LAN that make queries only have to go as far as your router. If you use a router with good firmware you can usually tweak the DNS cache TTL so it lasts longer too (even though that's against the spec, we're talking about a home router here).

Regarding the GUIs maintaining wireless status, you're right: the operating system should be doing this. :( Somewhere along the line the GNOME folks thought it made sense for the GUI to do this instead. That's why the CD/DVD don't automount under Ubuntu/GNOME unless a user is logged into the GUI -- it's GNOME's libraries that monitor the optical drive and notice new media. That's broken. There should be a system-level daemon that does that (which is what Solaris does).

I don't like GNOME. I think the GUI should support everything a user might want to do, but it should make common tasks simple and easy to activate. GNOME handles the second part fairly well, but it sucks big time at the first part. For example, there's no way (that I have found) to run a GUI app under a different user id. KDE at least has kdesu and you can get to it by typing Alt-F2 and then typing in any command line you want...

Anyway, I think Linux Mint is the way to go for the base OS. Their live CD setup can even be installed, IIRC, allowing people that like it to wipe out their existing OS and put it on without downloading anything else. (At least it used to. Now that I've said that I seem to recall this changing. I'd have to look to verify.)

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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by Benz72 »

Notsonoble wrote:(still waiting on the thing to finish downloading to play with myself)...


Not to be pedantic, but you may want to rephrase that.
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jfrazierjr
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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by jfrazierjr »

Azhrei wrote:It is possible. In fact, there can be multiple installed and you can choose at login time which to use. Of course, most "for home use" distros simply choose one and log you in automatically so you never see the login screen. (Another "ease of use" feature?) On the login screen is a button (usually called "Session") that let's you choose which GUI environment to use.

Well.. I knew you could switch window managers and have multiple ones installed, what I meant to imply I guess was more along the lines of "as a part of an installation process, how hard would it be to 'program' it to prompt for the window manager to 'set up' and install for 'first boot'

Azhrei wrote:
2 years ago, I installed 9.10. Just for kicks a few weeks later, I installed KDE. In Gnome, I had my wireless set up and working fairly quickly(other than having to research and finding out I had to manually set up DNS servers since the stupid thing seemed to think my DNS servers were my router!!!!this still is 'broken"... or at least not intuitive...). When I switched to KDE, it would not work. I had to go back into KDE's network manager thingy and reset up everything. WHY WHY WHY does a window manager need to keep separate network settings from other window managers (by default anyway)?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Um, first of all, your router is the best choice to act as your DNS server unless you have a local nameservice caching daemon running. (RedHat and clones usually start nscd for that.) The reason is that you want your router caching DNS queries so that other machines on your LAN that make queries only have to go as far as your router. If you use a router with good firmware you can usually tweak the DNS cache TTL so it lasts longer too (even though that's against the spec, we're talking about a home router here).


Well.. it is ENTIRLY possible that it's my router. I had a a linksys that started flacking out on me... and around the same time, I reinstalled from one version of Ubuntu to the next one. So... wired, it worked perfectly. wireless.. it only worked when I put it into DHCP Address only and set up an external DNS server addresses(used googles DNS).
I save all my Campaign Files to DropBox. Not only can I access a campaign file from pretty much any OS that will run Maptool(Win,OSX, linux), but each file is versioned, so if something goes crazy wild, I can always roll back to a previous version of the same file.

Get your Dropbox 2GB via my referral link, and as a bonus, I get an extra 250 MB of space. Even if you don't don't use my link, I still enthusiastically recommend Dropbox..

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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by neofax »

For Ubuntu and Linux-Mint(which is a derivative on Ubuntu(unless you grab the Debian version)) there is a script you can write to pre-pick what packages get installed(RedHat started this with their KickStart program). IIRC, there is a program on the internet that will allow you to choose which packages you want installed and it then makes an Ubuntu iso for you. IIRC it was a SUSE program but they expanded it to include many distros.
PC-Gen doesn't work with OpenJDK as well, but they are working on fixing this as they have very few errors and they are in the process of a rewrite due to the GUI upgrade. They also have Debian .deb packages on their site or you may have to do a search thru their mailing list as I saw it mentioned like a month or two ago about this.
The program GAMIN monitors the file system along with UDEV and when a CD/DVD is inserted it mounts and pops up a dialog asking what you want done(unless you have told it a default). Same for USB/BlueTooth and other connections. NetworkManager is now the default on pretty much all of the major distros. It does all of the network stack for you automatically and now does a very good job of it. At the time you mentioned, KDE had just come out with 4.0 and their iplementation of hooks into NetworkManager wasn't the greatest, also KDE is a second ran on Ubuntu(Yes, I know Mark Shuttleworth has said it will be a first class citizen, but so far it is only words. They have not hired anymore KDE developers and as a matter of fact some have left due to the veracity of some of the end users).
As for the kernel, they shoved their version of the runtime program into it causing many end users heart ache. Plymouth was another such. They forced a desktop scheduler that was slower than stock. All in the name of they know better about your PC than you do. Granted, many of these changes had work arounds within days/weeks of release and yes, you can roll your own(and I am an advocate of doing this for the kernel as it is the biggest speed gain any user can make).
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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by Azhrei »

neofax wrote:IIRC it was a SUSE program but they expanded it to include many distros.

Yeah, I've used it once or twice for SUSE. Pretty nice. :)

The program GAMIN monitors the file system along with UDEV and when a CD/DVD is inserted it mounts and pops up a dialog asking what you want done(unless you have told it a default).

Are you sure? It appears that GAMIN is merely a replacement for FAM, the kernel API that allows a minimalist file monitoring ability. Basically, it provides a way for a file or directory to be monitored such as notifications can be responded to. It appears from the GAMIN config file that it does the monitoring and fires off events, but the actual mount/umount would be done by a different tool. It seems that on GNOME, both nautilus and NetworkManager can respond to these events, albeit for different hardware types.

[...] yes, you can roll your own(and I am an advocate of doing this for the kernel as it is the biggest speed gain any user can make).

So is Linus. And so am I. ;)

Linus prefers that users build a kernel for their hardware in their home directory, then sudo to install and test it.

However, most users of Linux -- even the more techie ones -- don't really know what hardware they have installed so it's tricky for them to pick kernel configuration options that are appropriate for their hardware. It helps to run lspci and lsusb but even those tools are not perfect.

And of course, the distros want a modular kernel that will boot and run on as much different hardware as possible, which is the complete antithesis of running a kernel that only has in it what you need for your machine. :|

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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by groveborn »

Linux is almost on par with Windows on ease of use as it is. With Wine, it is actually easier sometimes. The big problem I've had with it is the mess it makes of the file system.

Here's what I'd want: I want it to have native support for booting a kernel from an NTFS drive, even if it has to use a VHD or other type of image. Why? So it's that much easier to dual boot it without having to have multiple drives, or multiple partitions!

Next, I'd want a directory that works just like OS X's Applications folder. I don't want to go hunting down my newly installed or compiled binaries. I want them all in one place (separate from the vital system binaries, of course).

I would also LOVE something that can execute a binary by executing the directory, just like in OS X. Why not use OS X? I do. I just don't like Apple.

I don't need, nor want, Apple compatible software. I want an ease of use. Installation isn't difficult, portability is often not a factor, drivers are even easier than in Windows most of the time. It's the directory structure I hate. It's old, it's outdated, and it's unnecessary. Servers should most definitely continue with the ancient system, because the redundancy is important, but not on my home computer. I don't need 15 different partitions, so I use only one. May as well make it simpler.

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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by jfrazierjr »

groveborn wrote:I don't want to go hunting down my newly installed or compiled binaries. I want them all in one place (separate from the vital system binaries, of course).


Sooo... like Windows c:\Program Files directory? For that matter, why does it matter where they are installed to? If the application package is built correctly AND your system path variable is configured right, you should not need to worry about "where" just need to know "what"(as in the name of the application.)

I can agree that the directory structure is rather messed up, especially with different distributions compared and even versions of some programs changing their location, which is quite messed up IMHO.

groveborn wrote:I don't need 15 different partitions, so I use only one. May as well make it simpler.
I would suggest at least 2 partitions for every user, one for the OS and another for "home".

Of course, this assumes an "install" and NOT a live CD/USB(ie portable).
I save all my Campaign Files to DropBox. Not only can I access a campaign file from pretty much any OS that will run Maptool(Win,OSX, linux), but each file is versioned, so if something goes crazy wild, I can always roll back to a previous version of the same file.

Get your Dropbox 2GB via my referral link, and as a bonus, I get an extra 250 MB of space. Even if you don't don't use my link, I still enthusiastically recommend Dropbox..

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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by groveborn »

The problem with the two partition scheme is that you have to decide in advance how much space you might need for both partitions. Obviously most users will need more in their user directory. All the same, what if you get it wrong? :)

Anyway, if the point is merely to make a decent VTT distro, a small linux is probably the best linux. I really enjoy Puppy, for instance. It's fast, even if it's not all that feature complete. It's certainly sufficient for connecting to other uses with great ease. I dislike that it is difficult to use TV-out features in linux in general, and Puppy makes it ever so slightly harder... but most people wouldn't care about it.

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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by jfrazierjr »

groveborn wrote:The problem with the two partition scheme is that you have to decide in advance how much space you might need for both partitions. Obviously most users will need more in their user directory. All the same, what if you get it wrong? :)


True, but as with everything, it's a trade off... harder to set up, but easier to back up/reinstall. And I would hope that someone could come up with some sensible defaults... You need X for the base install (ie, all of the system stuff plus some room to grow) and everything else should be /home. Now... with that said, I don't install a bunch of stuff, so my system is relatively clean in terms of "base" install so others may be far more of the "i want everything including the kitchen sink" variety... Also don't forget that partitions can be resized while maintaining data (thought or course there is always a risk)... of course, if you run out of HD space period, well the problem exists regardless if there is one partition or two....
I save all my Campaign Files to DropBox. Not only can I access a campaign file from pretty much any OS that will run Maptool(Win,OSX, linux), but each file is versioned, so if something goes crazy wild, I can always roll back to a previous version of the same file.

Get your Dropbox 2GB via my referral link, and as a bonus, I get an extra 250 MB of space. Even if you don't don't use my link, I still enthusiastically recommend Dropbox..

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Re: What would you want in a vtt/rpg linux distro

Post by Azhrei »

groveborn wrote:The problem with the two partition scheme is that you have to decide in advance how much space you might need for both partitions. Obviously most users will need more in their user directory. All the same, what if you get it wrong? :)

Then you shrink the larger filesystem (use lvreduce and resize2fs) and then enlarge the smaller one (use lvextend and resize2fs).

You could certainly create a GRUB installation that boots from NTFS. However, there are only two implementations of NTFS for Linux (say "thank you" to MS for not documenting their filesystem structure): the first is to use the FS driver from Windows, the second is to use the reverse engineered FS driver. Each has its own problems that make them unsuitable for GRUB.

Btw, you can get your Applications directory by using any variety of distros. I seem to recall that there were two or three (at least) that use that approach. I think the failed Click-to-Run distro may have been one of them (I say "failed" because it had commercial backing but not any more). Unfortunately I didn't recognize any of the name by browsing www.distrowatch.com

Anyway, if the point is merely to make a decent VTT distro, a small linux is probably the best linux. I really enjoy Puppy, for instance. It's fast, even if it's not all that feature complete. It's certainly sufficient for connecting to other uses with great ease. I dislike that it is difficult to use TV-out features in linux in general, and Puppy makes it ever so slightly harder... but most people wouldn't care about it.

Mint now has the highest HPD on distrowatch. That's an entirely unscientific measurement, but at least it's a measurement.

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