Fumbling adventures in Ubuntu-land

I reinstalled Ubuntu 6.06 on my laptop recently, this time with the intention of keeping it there for quite some time. Dropping the encryption level on the home network to one the poor old thing can manage (an additional bonus was shorter load times and faster browsing) means all of a sudden the laptop’s built-in wireless adapter can work with the wireless router upstairs, and if I could only figure out a way to extend the effective battery life past 25 minutes, I’d be all set.

Installation and setup was a bit more of a hassle than I remembered. The Automatix2 scripts would for once not work quite right, and I ended up reinstalling the little application a couple of times, from various different sources. Eventually it worked, through the easy installer in the Automatix Wiki, and all plugins and codecs I need to enjoy music and flash in Swiftfox were duly installed.

Wine gave me a bit more problems… You see, one of the reasons I wanted Ubuntu back and Wine installed and working is that several of my old favourite games–and with old I mean published before the year 2000–no longer work under WinXP. The ones that do just don’t run very well on the much faster hardware computers today use. My laptop is a Compaq Evo N410c, with a BIOS start date of January 2002, so I figured the hardware would be just the right age to run my games without any glitches or speed problems. The problem was that I don’t have any Win98 CDs laying around, and even if I did I would be reluctant to use that OS. I have vivid memories of Blue Screens of Death… so I decided to give Ubuntu another chance.

Back to Wine. Simply put, it’s a compatibility layer running within my Ubuntu installation, and within that layer I can run Windows applications. Since Linux has native browsers, office applications, messengers and media players, and everything else I might need for day-to-day computering, I plan to use Wine exclusively for my old Win98 games.

But the stupid thing would not install properly. I tried to simply do it via the Add/Remove… function in Gnome, Ubuntu’s desktop environment of choice, but no dice. Next I went on to try it via Automatix2. No dice there either. Next I went to command-line installations via aptitude, and that worked. I was very happy, until I ran winecfg and promptly crashed Wine at my first attempts to configure sound. Several reboots later I had managed to remove every single trace of Wine from the little laptop, downloaded the latest version from WineHQ, installed, and I was all set to go.

Or so I thought. While Wine worked fine, and there were no further crashes, and both Sanitarium and Fallout and all their patches installed just fine, I had no sound. The magnificent intro to Fallout just is not the same without the happy music in the beginning. Argh.

After some online research, and after visiting various forums for help, I discovered it was my own fault. Apparently you need to set winecfg so Wine knows to use the same kind of sound driver that the rest of your system uses. Well, I guess if you want to be logical… ! Sheesh.

Fallout intro played with music. It was awesome.

I have not yet tried to play either game in Wine, but will make sure to do so before I take the laptop with me for my two-week trip later this summer. Who needs a PSP when you have a laptop with Wine and old games?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go attend to a whole different kind of wine; I have an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon and hickory smoked ribs waiting for me in the kitchen.

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