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Long time no see

It's been just under a month since last blog post, and much has happened.

First, and easily most important, I've been spending a lot of time playing Mario 64 on my DS. I never played it on the N64, so the whole thing is new to me. Playing without an analogue control stick makes some parts tricky - the touch screen interface doesn't quite cut it for this, so it's really down to just practising with the D-pad. All those years practising on Street Fighter 2 have now paid off, so I'm now cruising collecting stars and beating up Bowser.

In fact, my rediscovered attraction to Nintendo has spread to my purchase of a GameCube plus various games (all the Zeldas, Mario Kart Double Dash, Mario Sunshine, the Sonic collection (woot!), plus others), so I've got a veritable stack of games to play right now. It's been quite a while since I touched my old Game Boy Advance, but this Mario frenzy has led me to pick up and try out most of the old GBA games I kept stashed away for just this event. Ahh, Advance Wars - a classic indeed.

Speaking of gaming, the closed beta for X2 on Linux has been open for a couple of weeks now, and already they're up to beta 2. Having played it for a while, it's pretty clear the game isn't too close to being final - the performance is poor, the sound pops and crackles now and then and there's the occasional graphical glitch, but it's darn good for just two weeks of public beta. I'd expect it to be rock solid by early March, but LGP has a notoriously long beta cycle so I'd hate to try to predict when it might finally be in the hands of consumers.

For those of you less lucky, here are some screenshots. Please keep in mind the beta nature of this game - I fully expect the finished game will look even smoother.

X2 on Linux looks almost identical to X2 on Windows.

X2 on Linux looks almost identical to X2 on Windows.

X2 on Linux looks almost identical to X2 on Windows.

X2 on Linux looks almost identical to X2 on Windows.

In other news, LXF77 has a cracking feature on how to install and use Xen on your desktop, written by, well, me. So, from that wholly unbiased point of view, I'd just like to say that I think it's the best thing we've published ever, or are indeed ever likely to publish. So, having reached our peak at the relatively early age of 77 isues, LXF will be shutting up shop. Might as well end on a high note!

Speaking of Linux, what the heck is up with Novell? On my SUSE box, the default Firefox homepage is, and I get a long rant about why you should choose SUSE Linux over Red Hat. We're supposed to be working together, folks - what happened to the common enemy? What happened to taking marketshare from Solaris, other Unixes and Microsoft? Perhaps Novell thinks that fighting with other Linux vendors will help them grow.

More confusingly, the homepage looks different depending on your platform and browser. Here's a screenshot taken where you can see me looking at the same URL in Firefox and Mozilla, with Firefox showing the obnoxious Red Hat page and the Mozilla one showing a fairly normal page. Perhaps someone at Novell can explain why these two pages are needed, and indeed why they are taking such an unfriendly stance in the first place. I imagine Linux's competitors are laughing all the way to the bank...

Novell has kickstarted the first interdistro war

Finally, Apple has made the switch to Intel for some of its computers, and I must admit I'm tempted by the new MacBook Pro. One computer that can run OS X at conferences, Linux at home and Windows so I can play games without fighting with Cedega. Two things hold me back. First, the new unit uses the Yonah chip from Intel, rather than waiting for Merom. This is a shame, because, amongst other things, it means no 64-bit compatibility.

The other (more pressing!) drawback, is that my wife and I have just booked a holiday to Costa Rica in April, so cash is tight. It didn't help that I ordered a new 4GB Sandisk Ultra 2 CF card for my camera, but on the bright side the company was out of stock so they delivered a 4GB Extreme III card instead (much faster - huzzah!) Now, if only I could find someone who's been to Costa Rica in April who can give us an idea about what weather to expect...

PS: I was just kidding about LXF77 being our last. LXF has a very bright future - honest!

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