Archive for March, 2005

Website Theme and IRC Channels

Monday, March 28th, 2005

HTML allows to include alternate stylesheets so you can choose the theme you like best.
I added the amxmodx.org theme to sourcemod.net as an alternate stylesheet. If you are a Firefox user you can open the menu View, Page Style. I’m not sure if Opera supports it but Internet Explorer doesn’t (did you expect something else?).
Also there is a nice JavaScript which automatically saves the selected theme in a cookie.

I reactivated my IRC bot which relays messages from GameSurge to QuakeNet and vice versa. So now it doesn’t really matter whether you join the SourceMod channel on GS or QN. There is also a general Source Dedicated Server Help channel called #srcds.

Happy Easter

Sunday, March 27th, 2005

Happy Easter, everyone!

If you didn’t know, Easter is a religious holiday where if Jesus sees his shadow, there are six more weeks of Lent.

thanks I’ll be here all night

Gentoo, AMD64

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

As my harddrive died a few days ago, I’ve been toying around with Linux distributions on my Athlon64 machine. Your mileage may vary, and I’ve run through numerous installations of Gentoo on x86-64 before. However, when I went to install it on my desktop today, the kernel I compiled didn’t boot. When I rebooted, my partition table was zeroed and I had to use gpart to recover it (using the excellent Knoppix).

Looks like I’ll be sticking with Debian for x86-64. I’ve gotten sick of trying to maintain Gentoo on my server (wichita.tcwonline.org, which hosts SourceMod and AMX Mod X) and have sorely missed a dependable package management system. Eventually, when Sarge is released, I will be moving Wichita to Debian 4.0.

So, I’ve also installed a 32bit distro for beta testing, called Xandros. It’s actually quite a nifty package.

The idea behind Xandros is that the OS should be – gasp – user friendly! I know, I know, in the world of Open Source this is virtually unheard of. Xandros makes a considerable and valiant effort, and in my opinion, is one of the best desktop distros of Linux I’ve ever used.

1. The installation was a breeze. Instead of confusing the user with a myriad of options, it kept everything simple. Instead of letting the user choose between eight different (and bad) incomprehensible window managers, it simply uses KDE for everything. Instead of asking which media players the user wants (such as mplayer, xine, xmms, noatun, etc), it simply has an option for “Media Player”. While some users might find this restrictive, I think it’s wonderful. This is how a distribution should be – not a conglomeration of random packages, but a set of packages that work together. The 1CD install’s most difficult portion was configuring the partitions.

2. The bootloader was well done. Other distros have border-line tolerable bootloader displays. While I’m no LILO fan, Xandros makes pretty usage of it and the boot-up process looks very similar to Windows XP. Familiarity is key when making something for migration.

3. The login process and window manager weren’t plastered with random, unnecessary things. Again, this is similar to Windows – a very simple login box.

4. The package management system is apt. For those of you unfamiliar, apt is the packagement system Debian uses. No other Linux distro has done something comparable, as far as I’ve seen. While Xandros doesn’t have a lot of packages in its apt repository yet, it has huge potential.

5. It felt fast. A default install of Fedora Core 3 on a 2.4GHz machine makes me feel like I’m using Windows 2000 on a 800MHz Celeron. Xandros felt very lightweight. This, of course, is completely anecdotal.

6. Aside from a few framebuffer problems, it just worked. Out of the box, it detected all of my drivers and everything. This is light years ahead of Mandrake, which, get this – didn’t detect my CD ROM drive from its own installer. I am not kidding – the installer said “Could not detect CD ROM drive”. I was able to install it by forcing the CD to use kernel 2.4. However, kernel 2.4 did not support my network card, so when Mandrake finally finished its six CD install, I decided to upgrade the kernel using Mandrake’s own GUI. After selecting the 2.6.9 kernel off the CD and installing it through the package manager, my Mandrake install never booted again. Not even when using the older kernel.

This was a boxed copy of Mandrake 10.0 “Power Pack”.

The only three distributions I can honestly say have impressed me are Debian, Xandros, and Knoppix (note the latter two are based on Debian, and both use KDE).

Next on my list of “Distributions to try” are Yoper and Ubuntu, but as the past few days have been a disaster with regards to my using computers without breaking them, I’m not too eager to start installing operating systems.

Timing of a Polish Comic

Sunday, March 20th, 2005

Apparently OLO thinks we don’t update enough.

Sometimes I can’t tell whether he’s being really clever, really sarcastic, or really weird. I guess that’s why he’s from Poland.

(apologies to.. anyone I just insulted there :) )

For anyone wanting a real update, you’ll note we’re now offering CVS/forum services for Half-Life2/Source developers. It’s free, and open to anyone who is need of it for lack of their own hosting. I hope someone can make use of it.

Also, I said two weeks ago I’d try to make SourceMod binaries. We’ve made a huge shift in the development of SourceMod which will be described in detail in a week or two. We’ll post more about it when we can, but for now, we don’t want to say something until we’re sure of our ability to produce material. In this process, developers will be shifted around and more positions have opened. So, if you know C++ and are interested in helping out, feel free to write me.

As XAD has been suggesting, we’re finally trying to attract Server Plugin developers to the site as much as possible. If you haven’t figured yet, these changes in direction (hosting, a development shift) will culminate in something bigger. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s very tasty.

Western Analog

Friday, March 18th, 2005

Well, I woke up this morning to the following Windows XP Stop Error:
UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME

Yes, my hard drive had died. I was able to spin it up enough to back up my data, but it won’t stay on for longer than a few minutes before locking up whatever it’s connected to. When I ran a disk check on it, I was getting bad sectors. This explains the odd behaviour my computer has had for months now.

About four years ago I promised myself I’d stop buying Western Digital drives – four died on me. When I got this one, I thought, Maybe they’ve changed over the years. Nope, they still make terrible hardware. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so either, as I can relate a little anecdote.

In the Sin Lab we have a WD hard drive on display which, by the looks of it, was hacked open by a machete. We’ve no idea where it came from, but it appeared one night with the following note: “The problem is here (arrow pointing toward a giant gash)”.

A friend stopped by and said, “the real problem is that they bought a Western Digital drive”. I replied, “No, Western actually ships them like that.” It provoked a laugh from everyone in radius.

Idea of the day: companies should quality test their hardware!

Plugin Posting System

Saturday, March 12th, 2005

I’m currently working on the new Plugin Posting System for SourceMod.
It won’t depend that much on the forum anymore. The forum is only used for plugin comments and account managment.
There will be a form where you can submit and edit your plugins. After a plugin is approved by a staff member it will be published on the website.
The site to browse through the plugin list will look like the one for AMX Mod X.

Phew, an Update!

Friday, March 4th, 2005

Well, for the most part, school took a heavy chunk of my time for the past few weeks. It hasn’t been fun, and needless to say, I can’t neglect school work.

I’ve just finished finals (for those of you that know me, my school does not use a semester system, we have three classes in seven week “terms”, with four terms named A-D). Term D starts in twelve days.

I should have a lighter course load next term, but I really don’t know yet. Anyway, I leave for a four day vacation to Maryland, and when I get back, I plan to release some sort of SourceMod package for developing purposes.

I’ve said all along that SourceMod has always been usable, and so far it has. But the state of generic mod development in the world of Valve is very grim, and none of us are very sure of the future Valve is painting towards pluggable modability.

While we’ve done quite a big of work to weasel around design problems in Source, the end result is that Valve is continually changing an undocumented set of buggy rules. While Valve certainly has every right to do this, it means that it will be a while before SourceMod will ever be considered “production, user-friendly stable”. Note, this is coming from a Debian fanatic, so my idea of “stable” is pretty strict – it means good documentation, crash-free, and no drastic changes without prior warning. Valve often releases information when they change important things (such as the server query protocol, which YoMama will now have to rewrite portions of smWeb for), most things are undocumented save for changelog entries or posts to hlcoders/VERC.

A common argument I hear against Valve’s HL2SDK waverings is that “HL1′s SDK took a long time to get where it finally ended”. This is true, however, this means it will likewise take SourceMod a long time to reach this state. Furthermore, the road blocks we’ve hit don’t end at the code level, but with Valve’s attitude toward the problems people have encountered. Many of these problems, such as undocumented changes, occurred with HL1′s SDK even after it stabilized. Although here you could argue that Valve was too busy preparing for Steam and HL2, the end result is that it’s a noted, problematic trend.

Hopefully, over time, these issues will dissolve one way or another. In the meantime, there is a long road ahead for Server Plugins and the HL2SDK.

I’ll be back soon, and hopefully over my break we’ll be able to release some sort of development package.