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Developer of Banished writes up his thoughts on Linux

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The developer behind Banished, a city builder/survival game coming to Linux has written up their thoughts on Linux. It does make for an interesting read.

Sounds like overall he had a reasonably positive experience. A few annoyances like an installer failing to create partitions on his SSD:
QuoteGetting linux going should be easy right? Download ISO, burn disc, install in new machine. But then the installer fails to make partitions on my brand new SSD! That was ok, nothing is ever easy – so I decided to setup the partitions myself using gparted. Does it work? No. After two days I figured out that for some reason the install wouldn’t work with the drive plugged into easy-to-access SATA5. Plugged the drive into SATA0 underneath the video card, and we’re running!


He is still trying to get Intel/Nvidia working together with Optimus, I thought that wouldn't have been an issue by now, as last time I tried it (last summer) the Nvidia drivers were capable of switching, but he didn't give specifics on that.

He ended up settling with a program called SlickEdit for doing code on Linux. I've never heard of it, so worth pointing out as he seems pretty happy with it.

QuoteSo when I told fellow programmers I was going to deal with straight X windows and GLX, they told me I was crazy and would regret it. But really, all I need is to create a window, and render OpenGL into it, and get some keyboard/mouse input.

I am concerned he is using X11 and OpenGL directly, instead of using a library like SDL. Any time this happens multi-monitors become an absolute pain.
QuoteWhen said and done the X11 code I had to write was far far smaller than any 3rd party library that handled the same things, has no extra dependancies, and compiles fast.

The reason the 3rd party library's tend to be bigger, is that they handle all the sore spots for you. Which is why SDL is so useful. There's also the fact that Mir and Wayland are coming within the next year or two likely as the default, and this could cause headaches for him. SDL already have support for both.

It's really great to see a developer talk about Linux, and not in a ranting way, but a productive "here's what happened" sort of way.

I really can't wait to play it, be looking forward to it since I first saw it released on Windows. Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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25 comments
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Kimyrielle 9 April 2016 at 3:23 pm UTC
Tbh, in my experience installing Linux on a -new- PC was never as easy as it should be. There is always, -always- at least one component in a brand new PC that's not supported by the newest available distro of your choice (that or it's just my bad luck, but in 17 years of using Linux I never had one single smooth install). So the fumbling and tweaking starts. And yes, it's annoying. It usually works flawlessly with the next distro release, but new PCs need an OS too.

I got a new laptop last summer (IIRC in June) and at least back then the NVidia drivers couldn't handle Optimus. Not sure if anything changed in the meantime. Laptops are an even bigger pain to install Linux on btw. The latest one I got (an Acer) had a firmware obviously written by a complete hack of a noob programmer, that would boot the Windows bootloader as soon as it detected it in UEFI completely ignoring what's configured in GRUB. Took me ages to figure that out.

Heh, he doesn't believe that he will regret directly writing to X, but he absolutely will.

And why would one want to use a commercial code editor when we have tons of awesome open source ones? oO
melkemind 9 April 2016 at 3:24 pm UTC
I wonder if his approach will make it difficult (or impossible) to use a Steam controller. Will Steam itself even handle it correctly?

Also, regarding his troubles installing Linux, I've occasionally had similar trouble installing Windows on machines. I was only able to save them by using CD-ROMs (yes, remember those?) with third-party drivers on them. No OS has 100% out-of-the-box compatibility with all current and future hardware.
Liam Dawe 9 April 2016 at 3:30 pm UTC
On my old PC I had to use boot-repair every single time I installed any Linux distribution, grub would never install and boot correctly.

With this new system I had to reset the motherboard to get Ubuntu to boot and work properly, as the manufacturer put Windows on to test it, even though I selected the No OS option. That took me an entire day to figure out, had to phone them in the end. Apparently something to do with UEFI, I don't quite understand it, but he was right. I held down a button on the motherboard to reset it, then Ubuntu was fine.

There are lots of niggling issues.
Segata Sanshiro 9 April 2016 at 3:39 pm UTC
I always wonder with these things why the devs never get someone who knows a lot about Linux or uses it regularly to give them a hand? Like most programmers would know at least one, and Linux people usually love to show newcomers stuff. Anyway, would save them a lot of headaches I think and would prevent some of the ragequits we've had in the past

He should go ahead and release it now... Been waiting to play this for so damn long.
neowiz73 9 April 2016 at 4:09 pm UTC
He really should reach out to some of well known porters of Linux Games. I just don't want to see him get frustrated to the point he feels it wasn't worth the effort. I'm sure Ethan Lee or Ryan Gordon could help in this situation.
Segata Sanshiro 9 April 2016 at 4:23 pm UTC
neowiz73He really should reach out to some of well known porters of Linux Games. I just don't want to see him get frustrated to the point he feels it wasn't worth the effort. I'm sure Ethan Lee or Ryan Gordon could help in this situation.

I'm not saying that a lot of these devs even need to take it that far. Like at least someone to give them a hand just to partition a drive or something would be a step forward haha.
DrMcCoy 9 April 2016 at 4:27 pm UTC
As someone who has done raw X11, and knows the limitations and corner-cases...brrr. There's so many ways this can break if you ignore the details and extensions.

This "but it's so much smaller" is a classic excuse for the Not-Invented-Here syndrome. I myself know it well, too.

Just use SDL. Period.

Binding himself to SlickEdit instead of a tried and true proper build system is also not a good thing future-proof-wise, I'm afraid.
aristorias 9 April 2016 at 4:34 pm UTC
dilettantish
Mountain Man 9 April 2016 at 5:05 pm UTC
Hmmm... as interested as I am in this game, I think I'll keep my distance for a while because it sounds like the Linux version is going to have some serious issues when it's eventually released.
Purple Library Guy 9 April 2016 at 5:43 pm UTC
It's odd . . . I am not a programmer. Like, at all--I took one, one-hundred-level programming course in university and a couple in high school; Pascal and Basic. And yet somehow, my hanging around paying attention to Linux issues for a fair number of years made even me think "Oh dear, I think that wasn't the way to go" a few times while reading that writeup.
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