Tag: old

Game Cabinets – A Newcomer’s Guide
By Michael Russell

Tux___Linux_Arcade_Logo_by_Swizzler121-300wGame cabinets are basically cabinets that contain low-end computers and are sometimes painted and decorated to look like real retro arcade machines. The computer is hidden inside the cabinet, opening with a lock and key; if the PC needs to be taken out for some reason. Often a joystick or game pad is firmly attached to the cabinet as controls. But if those are not available, a keyboard or mouse may be used as substitution. A sort of cabinet frame is built around the monitor, which is set slightly deep in the cabinet at an upward angle, to resemble the authenticity of an arcade machine and for easy viewing as well.

The actual computer itself need not have impressive specs or hardware – only the basics will do. Any second-hand computer, or an old one that’s lying around will work. All such a ‘cabinet computer’ needs is:

1) A basic monitor that can fit in the cabinet. (a television can be used for better authenticity)

2) A simple, working keyboard and mouse.

3) Any old processor (even a 166 MHz Intel Centrino Processor would do)

4) A CD-ROM drive to install the operating system.

5) A USB port to transfer files in, or use the CD-ROM Drive.

6) A set of speakers to render the game sounds and music.

7) A 10 or 20 Gigabyte hard disk.

And that’s it – no internet capabilities such as wireless bluetooth, a modem, or ethernet ADSL broadband are needed. After all, did arcades have internet access in those days? ;)

Now on such a computer, a low-end operating system with low system requirements will do, such as Microsoft Windows 98 or Windows Me, or a minimal distribution of Linux (such as Zenwalk). Microsoft no longer supports Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me, so you can either buy a used copy of Windows off eBay or any local computer shop. Old or unused copies of Windows 98/Me should cost around $30 to $50. However, if you want to cut down on expenses, you can download a free Linux distribution from the internet. A few examples of good, minimalistic Linux distributions are Zenwalk, SLAX, Zipslack, or Debian. Read up on them on websites like Distrowatch or Wikipedia to see which one best suits your needs, but Windows is still a safe bet.

Pitfall-Art-of-the-Arcade-thumb-300-22478

Once the machine has been set up with an operating system, you should now load it up with Emulators and ROMS. Emulators are software programs that run ROMS (the arcade games). You need emulators as these games do not run natively on Linux or Windows just like double clicking an EXE file (an executable).

The best known emulator for all sorts of arcade games is known as MAME, which works for both Windows and Linux and ROMS for such games can be searched for on the internet. The ROM file sizes usually aren’t all that big, taking up a few megabytes each. If you want to play laser disc games like Dragon’s Lair, Dragon’s Lair II, Space Ace, etc. you will have to use another emulator known as DAPHNE. Do note that the ROM game files for laser disc games take up a lot of memory, being anywhere from 200 megabytes to 1 gigabyte for each game, so you want to watch your hard disk space there.

When it comes to actually building the game cabinet, you will need plenty of large wood materials and carpentering tools, or you can order such custom parts from companies specialising in selling game cabinet parts, including wooden frames, special televisions, joystick controls and more. You can even buy a complete game cabinet frame plan from them, or order an empty cabinet pre-built, shipped and delivered to you. The second alternative seems to be a cheaper solution instead of buying new materials, but the choice is all yours.

Sites like GroovyGameGear and the BYOAC Wiki can help you out and give you more authentic information and details on how to build your dream game cabinet. So go out there and build your own arcade machine!

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Cabinets

Tags: , , ,

Burned by Ubuntu?

By Kurt Hartman

If you’ve been involved with the IT community at all, or are even a serious internet addict, the chances are high that you have heard of Ubuntu Linux. If you have heard of it, then the chances are also good that you have considered installing the operating system, and playing around with it a little.

If you did install it, say, 2-3 years ago, chances are, things didn’t work properly. I mean, things that “just worked” in good ole’ XP, failed you entirely. You then did what you could to get rid of it, and vowed never to get involved with Linux ever again.

I would know, as I had similar problems the first time I ventured into the land of Linux. Here is my dim recollection of that moment.

I don’t remember the first time I heard of Ubuntu. I only remember a few things about my experience installing it for the first time:

  1. It installed fairly quickly.
  2. I could never get my wireless card to work properly.
  3. They forced me to fix things via the command line
  4. I messed around with “sudo this’ and “sudo that” to no avail.
  5. I ended up having to reformat my entire hard drive to get rid of it.

Fast forward 2 years. Ubuntu is running as the only OS on my machine. Ubuntu_LogoWIreless works perfectly, as does printing, and most other features that are available for my laptop. In fact, most everything that I install works well. I never have to even look at a command line if I don’t want to.

What changed? Well, Ubuntu improved, and drastically, I might add. Everything from stability, to usability and driver support are approaching windows-level compliance. In many areas, Ubuntu has surpassed Windows, especially performance.

If you feel like giving it another try, I can guarantee that you won’t have the same problems with it that you did last time? Why? Well, for one, Ubuntu has added a Windows based installer to newer distributions that allows you to install and remove Ubuntu like a standard Windows application. No more accidents where GRUB wipes out all record of your NTFS partition, and makes Vista unbootable. What’s the name of this magical program: Wubi.

How am I so sure that it is easy to use? It took me 15 minutes to get my friend’s PC dual booting the other night. It installed Ubuntu as a single file. It also defaults to WIndows on boot, unlike Grub, which usually defaults to the latest kernel, and puts XP after 3 or 4 other kernel choices.

By minute number 30, my friend was running Linux versions of his favorite kubuntuprograms, like HandBrake and Audacity. He even discovered the newest version of KDEnlive for his video editing needs. The only issue that we had resolved itself on the next boot. His wireless card was not working. Ubuntu found the driver, and installed it on reboot. Happy day. No command line (except for the commands I learned, and wanted to issue, instead of going through graphical menus), and zero extra configuration.

Look, it’s not an easy choice to try something again after you were burned. I suggest you do, however. If you can find the courage to try Ubuntu again, you have a pleasant surprise waiting for you: It comes in 3 flavors, based on the window manager of choice.

  • Ubuntu – Gnome
  • Kubuntu – KDE
  • Xubuntu – XCFE

I’m going to go ahead and say that for 98% of you, vanilla Ubuntu is the way to go. All of the bells and whistles have been thoroughly tested and integrated to work with Gnome. The eye candy is great, and it just feels very polished. The only downside is that the performance requirements for all but the very oldest machines may be a bit too much.

Of the 2% of you that may want to run something besides Gnome-based Ubuntu, 99% of the 2% won’t want to run KDE. On the plus side, it feels a bit more like a Windows based operating system. Except for the fact that it isn’t nearly as user friendly as regular Ubuntu. There are some KDE diehards out there, but I’m not one of them. I don’t have much more to say about KDE as a window manager.

If you have an older machine, XCFE is lightning fast. It takes up relatively xubuntulittle ram, is a great compromise, and runs most things fairly well. If you don’t need alot of extra graphical polish (read: minimalist) then Xubuntu may be the way to go.

Now, I’m going to really confuse you. How? Well, if you really like a classy looking Linux install, with all the support of Ubuntu, and all the flair of a professional graphic designer, then you want Linux Mint. It’s based on Ubuntu, and customized with versions of programs that have been altered to fit the Mint distribution. They can be a few months behind the latest Ubuntu distribution, but there is no doubt that it is a great distro.

So, now that I am through gushing, why don’t you try downloading it, burning it to a disk, and giving it a once through using Wubi. Oh, and if you have problems with sound or wireless cards while using the Live CD, don’t be so sure that you will have that problem when you do a full installation. 9 times out of 10, those problems are fixed in a full install.

So, go get your favorite pocket protector, strap on your safety glasses, and take the plunge. It will be nearly painless, and totally worth it. You can find all the extra info you need at Ubuntu.com.

I’m off to download a podcast, and get a cup of coffee. For the record, coffee has burned me once or twice, but that hasn’t stopped me from drinking a pot or two a week.

Kurt Hartman is an open source advocate, and has save thousands of dollars for his company by implementing open-source solutions. He currently serves as Head of Web Development for Mobile Fleet Service Inc.

Their website, located at http://www.buybigtires.com, sells mining tires, along with tires for industrial and agricultural use.

In his spare time, he enjoys reading business related books, and gaining a greater understanding of geopolitics

His recommended reading for any industry is “The Black Swan”, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Well, I tried to get Puppy Linux installed on my old Presario notebook PC as I wrote about recently, but I just couldn’t get the install to take.

Old Compaq Presario

Old Compaq Presario

For some reason we could not get the Grub boot loader to boot it up properly. No big deal, that gave me a good excuse to try another distro, and I’m glad I did!

CrunchBang Linux 8.10 is the distro that I was interested in trying on this old machine because it was advertised as being lightweight, and made for lesser machines. I tried the “Lite” version, that ran very well, so I the opted for the “Standard” version, and it’s been great ever since. It installed without a hitch.

CrunchBang is tightly based on Ubuntu with Openbox as the window manager, a much lighter-weight one than Ubuntu’s standard, Gnome.

CrunchBang Linux 8.10

CrunchBang Linux 8.10

It is also interesting looking because it makes use of Conky, which is a free software system monitor for the X Window System. and since it is prominently sitting on the desktop, it makes it seem easy to check it out and start to configure it, with all the examples out there it really isn’t that tough. CrunchBang ran great on that 192MB of RAM dinosaur with Firefox running (with the included Adobe Flash, by the way!), only bogging down when the Package Manager was also running.

All in all, whether or not your PC is old and worn out, CrunchBang Linux is a great player in Linux arena!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Back to top