Thea: The gain of giving away for free

This post is inspired by the game Thea: The Awakening. No, Eerie Linux has not mutated into a games blog. Yes, I will give a short description of the game. But what this post is really about is some thoughts about software development in the past, today and what could be a more open future.

Why Thea? Because the developers did something very uncommon: They decided to give the game away for free – if you’re a Linux user that is!

Thea: The Awakening

The game in question is a turn-based strategy game with a strong focus on survival. There’s a nice background story: The world had turned to darkness (playing the game you will discover why) and is haunted by creatures and spirits of the dark. Now the sun is rising again and the gods have returned but both are very weak and darkness will not give up without a fierce fight. Slavic mythology makes for a very nice and rather uncommon setting.

In case you want to give it a try, you can find a download link here. And yes, it is really completely free. You don’t need to buy the Windows version first or something.

I’ve successfully run the game on the Mint laptop that I share with my wife and can confirm that it works well. No luck on a 32-bit machine that I installed Arch on to give the 32-bit version of the game a try. It won’t start and the console messages give no clues why this may be. So if you’re still stuck with 32-bit only systems, you’re probably out of luck. 😉

The developers stated that they have not even tested the Linux version themselves! So what works and what doesn’t? Most things seem to work surprisingly well in fact. Sound, graphics, even the intro video. I’ve experienced graphical glitches with some white pixels appearing for a second (nope, no AMD video card – it’s Intel!). But this happens just rarely and is a fairly minor issue. Far more annoying is the fact that you cannot really use the keyboard: A key press works but the release event doesn’t… This is a known issue with the version of the Unity engine that Thea uses. It may or may not be addressed in a future release. You can however get the keys released by ALT-TABbing out of the game and back in. That way you can at least always access the menu.

You choose one of the gods when starting a game. I’ve played scenarios for multiple gods now. The main story (“Cosmic Tree”) gets pretty repetitive soon since it’s always the same. This is also true for a lot of the other quests. However the game has options to skip a lot of the text in case you already know it which certainly was a good idea. Some of the quests are different depending of which god you chose which keeps things interesting story-wise. Maps, resources, encounters, etc. are randomly generated for each game. This together with a challenging survival, plenty of combinations to try for crafting items and interesting gameplay, Thea might still cause a rather high motivation to replay the game often.

Software development models

I’d like to separate some development approaches here and sum them up by giving their model as I see it a name. These are no official models (I’m not a game developer) but an attempt to sum up the whole thing in one heading.

The shareware model

There was once a time when software was developed in a purely closed manner. It was developed internally and when it was ready, a release was done and advertised. The good thing was that games were often cut into “episodes” and the first one given away as shareware so people could try out the game for free and might decide to buy the full product.

The public relations model

Advertising grew bigger and bigger as well as more and more aggressive. Top titles games were often announced as development begun and some material was released along the development process to keep people hooked. This worked in some cases and failed in others (say Duke Nukem forever announced in 1996).

It was a reasonable move to try to build up an audience interested in a certain title early. The problem with that is mainly two things: You cannot keep people hooked for an arbitrary amount of time and such a continuing advertising campaign costs a whole lot of money way before you start earning anything from sales.

These problems lead to a new one, however. It puts very high pressure on the developers to meet deadlines to stay on schedule. And sometimes people in charge may even decide to release a half-baked product which almost always is a very bad idea… (what was the latest example? That Batman game perhaps?)

The community-aware model

It’s not a new insight that it is rather helpful for any title to have a large community. Some studios provide forums in an attempt to simplify building up of a community. And it’s also common knowledge today that feedback from that community is extremely valuable: Knowing your audience better helps a lot to provide the perfect product after all!

The most important point of this model is that interacting with the players is now bidirectional: There’s advertising targeting them but you certainly want to have (and honor) feedback provided by them. And it also makes sense to think about designing the game and/or providing the tools to easily modify the game and thus make it as easy as possible to create mods for the game. This can also be a huge plus when it leads to a bigger, more active and longer living community!

Independent of a single title, there is a possibility for a studio to get itself a good name by opening the source code for older games. This may require some cleaning up work first but some studios have also released code as-is (which can be rather terrible). But usually the community figures out what to do with it and before long the game is ported to new platforms, receives technical updates and enhancements. This has totally made some titles immortal: There are still new episodes, mods and total conversions for Wolfenstein being released. Yes, for a game from 1992 with extremely “poor graphics” (320×240, 8bit) by today’s standards! And there’s not one week without new maps for the mighty DooM (1993).

The community-supported model

There’s this interesting trend of “early access” games: Players are given the opportunity to playtest games before they are ready for release. People know they have to expect bugs but they can try out a game of their interest early and if they are very committed to it, they can report bugs as they encounter them.

This is a classical win-win situation: The developers get a broad testing done for free and the players can have a peak into the game early. Oh, and any form of interaction is of course always a good thing.

The community-backed model

That’s a rather new thing and basically means that some developers try to get their game crowd-funded. This can succeed and this can fail. There are examples for both cases. But while this is clearly a development model since it has a lot of impact on it, I’d say that it’s also more of a special case than a general model.

The future?

MuHa Games have made one clever step ahead with Thea as the gain of giving the title away for free on Linux is really considerable. How’s that? Well, if there was no Linux version, Linux people wouldn’t have bought the game, either. So giving it away is no actual loss: The number of people of the “hey, I would have bought it for Windows but why should I since I can play it for free on Linux!” kind are most likely extremely rare – if they exist at all.

No loss is fine, but where’s the actual gain? Well, there’s the “Just bought the Windows version. Besides: I don’t run Windows at all” type of guy. These people alone should suffice to cover the costs of the additional efforts to package a Linux release and upload it somewhere. But that’s not the main point at all: Can you say “Free advertising”? People talk about the game and people write about the game, many of which would not have done it if it had just been an ordinary game! Now with the free Linux release the game, MuHa managed to make it stand out (and that is not too easy today).

For these reasons giving it away proves to be a very sensible PR action! I do not mind if that was intended or not. That doesn’t change the facts.

Community-assisted model?

So what could the future hold? I can imagine that making the community engage even more would be a big benefit. From a studio’s perspective, fans do unpaid work because they love the product. And from the fan’s perspective it’s just cool to be part of one of your favorite games and help improve it.

What could this look like? My vision is to sort of blend closed source development with what we learned from open source development. It’s cool that people playtesting a game can report bugs via forum or email. But when will the first project set up a public bugtracker along with a tutorial on how to use that for bug reports and maybe (sensible) feature requests?

Then: What about translation? Open source achieved made very, very good results using translation frameworks like Transifex. Now Thea is only available in English. My native language is German and I would not have minded at all to dedicate some time translating a few strings (I got a nice game for free after all!). There’s a lot of potential in this.

And along that it would totally make sense to avoid using proprietary containers for files. I did not bother to try to extract text out of whatever format it is that MuHa uses for Thea. In 1999 ID Software did a clever thing for Quake III Arena: They used container files called “.pk3” – which were simply renamed, uncompressed Zip files. The benefit is obvious: Everybody can extract the resources, modify them and put things back together. Great! I noticed a lot of spelling mistakes in Thea. If I had had access to the game text you’d have received a series of patches from me (and by applying they you’d instantly see which ones are still valid and fixing mistakes). Wouldn’t that be a great way to improve the game?

Licensed Open Source model?

Can open source work for a commercial game? Well, why not? Open source alone does mean just that: The source is open. It does not say under which license and it does not say that it’s free. Now I generally support as much freedom as possible – but that last word there is important. A more open development is a nice improvement IMO. There’s no reason to demand more than that.

In this model the customers pay for the game data without which you obviously cannot play the games but the program source is open (or perhaps semi-open where it is included with the copy of the game you get when you buy it and you’re free to distribute a series of patches but not the source itself). I’m pretty sure that this can work. One potential problem here may be deadlines. Often the code in commercial games must be horrible – not because the programmers suck but because unrealistic deadlines blow. A lot of studios may hesitate to open up their code just for that very reason…

Addressing the problem could however also be easy: You sell games in early access? Buyers get the code and know that it’s early and may not be in perfect shape (and can actually help improving it). Again both sides win: The studio gets code review and maybe some patches plus some people may even attempt to port the game to platforms unsupported by the studio. The players get better games they can help to improve, take modding to the next level and even a chance to see what coding is like and get yourself some reference work if you intent to work in that industry!

There’s one other issue, though. In many cases studios will want to hide some things from competitors. That may be old (and at some point hopefully obsolete) thinking but we have to accept it as a present fact. So what about this? Well, those things could be put into libraries… It’s far better to have the program code open and make it use closed libraries than having nothing open at all!

Time for change

Who’s stepping forward making the next step in game development? I’m really curious if something in the direction of what I wrote here happens any time in the future. For each step there’s good press to catch for free again, you know? 😉 Perhaps some small studio dares to make the move.

Update: I wrote this in a hurry on 11/30 to rush out my November post. And then I once again forgot to make it public. But now it is…

Advertisements

Shocked by the shell

The title of this post really suggested itself. I’m not writing about shell shock’s technical details; people who care have surely read about it more than enough by now.

The funny thing is that I had in fact already decided to write this month’s blog post about shells before the shell shock happened! For quite a while I’ve been under the impression that the BASH, while widely available and convenient to use, is fat, slow and ugly. Two weeks ago I begun playing with a variant of the korn shell called mksh, and realized that I finally might have found the alternative shell that I had been looking for.

Laziness (learn to use a whole new shell properly? Is that really worth so much effort?) and the usual lack of time soon lead to myself being in two minds about the topic. But I guess that I just received the final bit of motivation… So I’ll likely write about it soon.


The “shell shock” BASH bug hit us all

Shocked!

Back in the days when Linux was “just a hobby”, I begun to follow the big incidents in the *nix world. “Just for fun” (and because it was interesting). Now that I work for a hosting provider it is more important for me to catch these things and react to them.

While most of our customers have no preference when it comes to the server OS, some do insist on a specific distribution. And since the company I work for bought a competitor some years ago, their infrastructure was taken over as well. Adding even more operating systems, that is the reason for our quite diverse server landscape. So before long I had the opportunity to learn the differences between FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Ubuntu, Debian, Gentoo, Fedora, CentOS, …

Doing the normal updates is something that takes quite a bit of time. But it is something way different if you have to do updates in a hurry. It was a lot of work when suddenly the infamous OpenSSL bug made our hearts bleed not even half a year ago. Now the second catastrophic bug hit us – and this one is even more off the scale than the previous one.


The “heartbleed” bug logo

Vulnerable? / Still vulnerable?

In case of the OpenSSL bug there were a lot of systems which didn’t have the hole. Many distributions shipped older OpenSSL versions which weren’t affected. This time things are far worse: Just about any single Linux server has a BASH shell – and the hole has existed for more than two decades…

The only exception is some embedded Linux systems which often use Busybox because it is much smaller and doesn’t need as many system resources as BASH does. That – and *BSD. The BSDs don’t use the BASH by default. FreeBSD uses the tcsh and OpenBSD comes with the ksh in the base system. Still BASH is a dependency for some packages, so chances are that some version of the BASH is installed on many BSD systems as well.

Like one would expect, the distributions are reacting to the problem in different ways and at different times. When I turned on my computer at work and did the usual update, I noticed that the BASH received an upgrade. A while later I read about shell shock and pasted the test line on my terminal emulator – receiving an error. Obviously Arch Linux had already closed that hole with the update. My colleagues, running different distributions on their workstations (we are allowed to choose the operating system and distribution ourselves) did updates as well. Most of them were left with a BASH that was vulnerable.

The next day, BASH received another update on my system. Soon I heard that the first “fix” didn’t close the hole completely. Again my system wasn’t affected anymore while more or less all servers that we had updated showed the string “still vulnerable! :(” using the latest test. So they had to be updated again – including the ones that had been problematic yesterday. Not fun to do…

Problem solved?

After a long day at work I updated my machines at home, too. On a FreeBSD system I noticed that they added a new config option to restore the old behavior without giving the –import-functions parameter. Well, perhaps some people really need it. At least it is a much better idea to disable that functionality by default than it is to mess with some prefixes for the functions…

This morning I found some time to look at the issue again. Seems like it’s not over, yet… A lot of people seem to be taking a closer look at the BASH right now – which is a good thing without any question. But the big mess has already happened and of course we’re target to the mock and scorn of the advocates of closed source software. While I don’t think that we deserve it (the BASH bug was communicated and fixed rather quickly after all and now people do look at the source code which they couldn’t if it wasn’t available), it will not exactly be very helpful in building and maintaining a good reputation.

So what is the real problem? IMHO it is that the idea of simplicity is traded for complexity far too often. Right, in some cases complex software is needed. But there’s no excuse to make things more complex than necessary. The idea to have as many features as possible in a single program is certainly not Unix!

Where do we go?

We currently live to see what looks like the victory of complexity. Systemd conquers all major distributions, DEs like GNOME are already beginning to count on it being present. Monsters like cmake are called “modern solutions” and spread like cancer. Proprietary blobs are ubiquitous. All these things won’t make life easier for us. They might do so at first sight. But on the long run we will continue to run into trouble.

Fortunately there are people who have understood the problems of over-complexity and try to react to it. I’ll write about this topic next time.

Craven New World – or how to ruin the net

Alright. I never expected to write about anything remotely “political” on my blog… It’s about technical things, right? Ok, ok, free software is “political” all by itself. Kind of. But that’s about it.

While at times I’m really sick of what happens on the world, that doesn’t fit well on a blog about computer topics. I admit that I was tempted two or three times to write something about all the blatant and ruthless lies against Russia and things like that. But this is not the right place for those topics. So I resisted. Then came July 1st…

I begun to write a full-sized rant on that day but in the end decided to drop it and re-think things when I got calm again. Since I’m still stunned and angry at the same time, I’ve simply got to write an article now nevertheless.

The one and only

In that morning I read about how Paypal froze ProtonMail’s account. While it is nothing new that Paypal freezes accounts, the rationale was quite interesting. ProtonMail is a provider of email services. What makes them stand out is that they are developing an easy-to-use email system that features end-to-end encryption.

Now it’s a well-known fact that there are powers out there who have no respect at all for your privacy. They want to know where you go, what you download and what you talk about when you mail grandma. You could be a dangerous villain, skilled to pretend the contrary after all – and if they can’t find out what color your underwear is, you might even get away with it!

From that point of view, encryption is… well, irritating to say the least. Which makes it a clear thing that ProtonMail sucks big time. How dare they help people who prefer to keep private things private? So Paypal froze their account, because that company “wasn’t sure whether ProtonMail had approval by the gouvernment” for their business. As a matter of fact, the US have quite a few strange laws. But that’s another thing and it’s perfectly fine if an American company doesn’t wish to assist another American company in doing something unlawful. Except – ProtonMail is not an American company… It’s based in Switzerland!

How can it be that a Swiss company would require US approval for their business? And it’s not even the first time that something like that happens. The USA has blackmailed Switzerland not too long ago. And with their “compliance” ideology they are choking many others, too. This is a very alarming and gross practice. But it is, I cannot repeat it often enough, nothing new.

Just hand it to us!

A while later I read about how Microsoft had just seized more than 20 domains owned by no-ip. This cut off almost two million users from using the no-ip service. And what was the reason for such a draconian action? Was the life of the president at stake? Nope. Was the whole country threatened by some ancient evil perhaps? Not really. It was far worse than that: Microsoft had found a judge which allowed the domain seizure because Microsoft claimed that there were two accounts involved in spreading malware…

This was the moment I had to take a look at the calendar just to make sure that I didn’t mess up things and it was actually April 1st! But no – unfortunately not.

I just want to add that I am not an no-ip user and wasn’t affected personally. But I know people who were – one was even affected enough to finally give Linux more room both for private use and in his company. So while the whole thing is pretty much insane it has its good sides, too. Especially since I expect more people to be really upset after what Microsoft did. Maybe they should rather spend their time fixing their own broken windows than throwing stones at other people’s business?

Oy vey, we want your money!

Ah, what a day. We had some news which were hard to believe if such things weren’t happening over and over again. Then there was some news which left me incredulously shaking my head. What Microsoft did was ludicrous and the fact that some judge ruled in their favor is downright absurd. That cannot possibly be surpassed, can it? Yes. Unfortunately it can.

The last news is just so completely off the scala, that I don’t find any words for it (even in my native language that is). While the Microsoft case makes you question your sanity, the other thing that happened makes you struggle for your faith in mankind. Seriously.

So what happened? Well. More or less this:

Group A (private individuals) who are citizens of
state B (Israel) mandate
organisation C (a jewish law firm) to sue
state D (shiit (!) theocracy Iran) in
state E (the USA) for alleged financial support of
organisation F (sunni (!) Hamas) who are accused of
action G (a terrorist attack) in
territory H (the Gaza stripe) which belongs to
state I (Palestine) as group A claims they have suffered from action G.

Now under normal circumstances you’d laugh at any weirdo who can come up with such an idea – let alone actually carry it out… When you’re finished laughing and wiped the tears out of your eyes, you wish him that he’ll find a good mental doctor.

The story is not over, however. The US court rules in favor of the claimant – and since Iran did what any sane person would do and denies this arrogant impertinence, there’s now the fine (like I said I’m at a loss for words) idea: distrainment of the Iranian TLD (.ir)!!

Come on! Distrain a TLD on the net? Seems like they are really working hard to ruin the net. Congratulations to all those bright people involved.

What’s the world coming to?

In my country (Germany) the phenomena of anti-americanism is on the rise. Many people are in rage because of what the NSA did (and without any doubt continues to do). This is a rather sad thing actually, but in many cases I agree with what people say. The US government is one of the most corrupted an unsound entities of the world. Yet – and that deserves to be emphasized – that doesn’t make all Americans warmongers or liars.

The government in my country is run by criminals as well and so I’m probably not in the best position to complain. After all former chancellor Schröder openly admitted (in one of the biggest newspapers of the country!) that the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia (which he supported) were against international law. By stating so he confessed to be a war criminal – and that had no consequences whatsoever. Funny, isn’t it? And still I’d admit any time that I think of him as a more “honest” person than current chancellor Merkel…

Action!

I’d really like to ask every and all Americans to try hard and reclaim their country. But there’s not too much people who value freedom can do right now. Yet there is one thing we can all do: Start using encryption. Yes, invest that half of an hour to teach your grandmother how to write and read encrypted mail. It’s not that hard.

You are telling me that you have nothing to hide? That’s great! Why? Simple: Same here. It’s great because it is this important little fact that makes us qualify to begin encrypting. Currently it makes you suspect if you use encryption. Well, I can live with that.

I also don’t mind if those who think they absolutely have to know what I mail my grandmother break the encryption. But if they want to, they may well invest quite a bit of effort. If they find it worth the time and resources to learn how much my children have grown since we last visited her, that’s fine for me. If everybody used encryption it would be a normal activity. Let’s aim for that!

So – what about you?

EERIE’s first birthday!

Today it’s exactly once year since I’ve made my first post here. One whole year has passed on this project and it’s time again to look back. If EERIE was a human child, it’d still be wearing diapers but would also have grown quite a bit and learned enough to make the parents proud!

Where EERIE comes from

On a personal level I was an ordinary Linux user who wanted to get to know his operating better. Distro hopping was fun (and informative) for some time but I wanted to get into it a fair bit deeper. While this of course involves a lot of reading, it’s always best to just try out things yourself. Thanks to virtual machines (which are clonable without much hassle) you can just do your experiments without fear of breaking anything critical. I did just that pretty often (things like uninstalling glibc is obviously not a smart thing to do – but there are moments you just want to know what exactly will happen if you do it anyway!). I’ve been breaking things out of curiosity sometimes (and aware of what I was about to do) but most of the time by accident or ignorance.

I had already been interested in how programs are being packaged and how the various distributions were made. Soon the question arose: “How do you actually start a distribution?” I read what I could find on that topic and went back as far as possible to the beginning of some of the big distros. Then I tried to imagine how things really started and begun to grow. I finally got hooked by the idea to try this out for myself. It wouldn’t need to be something special – maybe not even something useful in the narrow sense of it. Just the result of a little playing around and a personal project for the sake of learning how you do it.

Linux From Scratch (LFS) would be an excellent thing to begin with, I thought. And since I had been reading a lot on the net I figured that I might as well share my experience with the project. The worst thing that could happen would be that nobody cared for it but probably a few people might find it informative. I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to just give it a try as well. However I never completed LFS since I soon became distracted by plenty of other things!

During my preparations (I was just reading the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS) since I had always found the filesystem organization a bit confusing) I begun to wonder if I really should just build a distro “by the book” (which LFS is literally all about) or if that wouldn’t mean a missed chance to do something else at the same time. There were a few things with every distro that I wasn’t happy with. Wouldn’t it be a good idea then to build an experimental distro which tried to do things differently in those cases? I decided to create a free blog and just start with it (and see if I have the discipline to stick with it). When I talked to Pheak about my ideas he liked them and joined the project. So far we’ve worked on it independently and he remained more or less in the background, helping me out when I ran into problems and giving suggestions.

The project

Pheak and I decided that the goal for project EERIE (short for “Elementary energy-efficient resource-saving internet experiment” ;)) would be to come up with the base for an experimental desktop distro. So its primary task was and is conducting a series of tests to find a base suitable for it. Also a subproject emerged from the desktop environment tests: The DDD (Desktop Demo DVD). It’s all about bringing as many DEs as possible together on one live medium so that anybody interested in it can easily try them out and compare them to each other.

What has been accomplished so far? A lot actually.

  • I started with describing how I came to Linux (more or less to get familiar with blogging at all)
  • and by offering a few thoughts on Linux for desktop use.
  • First I tried to do my tests with Gentoo but eventually changed to Arch (which Pheak admittedly proposed right from the start).
  • The desktop tests were published in a series of 5 posts (dealing with 3 – 5 DEs each!).
  • Then the various toolkits were discussed and compared briefly.
  • After that I wrote about live cd creation on Arch and released the first alpha version of the “DDD”.
  • The next posts contained thoughts about which applications are crucial for a desktop distribution.
  • Following this I posted comparisons of Qt-based programs to find out which were the most light-weight ones.
  • While I intended to release a new version of the “DDD” and then go on with the GTK applications I postponed these topics and wrote about something I was just messing with at that time: Other Unix-like systems and their Arch variants.
  • And last but not least I managed to get an interview with the EDE (a FLTK-based light-weight DE) developer!

But that’s not all. There are a few other things I kept silent about. While I won’t reveal anything yet, let me tell you that these mean going a huge step beyond of what has been done so far (just doing tests and such)! 🙂

The blog

I’ve already taken a look back after 3 month and after 6 month. I’m quite happy that the trend of more and more visitors coming here has continued.

There are days with more and days with fewer hits but there has not been a single day this year without any visitors. In the 12 month it has existed so far, the blog already scored well over 3,600 hits (exactly 3,625 as I’m writing this)!

Number of daily visitors, etc.

While the weekly hits are of course also fluctuating a bit, they cover a much longer period of time and thus show pretty well that overall the number of hits is increasing. As if it were called for this week is an exceptionally good one.

Weekly hits and visitors

While last year saw November scratching at the 300 hits per month mark, January and February have crossed it. March then stormed forward, skipping 400 hits and coming close to 500! And since June is not over yet – maybe it’ll be the first month to exceed 500?

Monthly hits statistics

So far I got visitors from 85 (!) countries in the world, 7 of which have over 100 hits. Here’s the top countries 30:

Visitors by country

Also the average hits have increased steadily. The best month last year was November with 10 average hits per day; currently it looks like June has doubled this with 20 hits per day on average! The number of total hits has even more than doubled when we compare the six month of last year and of this year. 2,600 hits alone in the first half-year of 2013 – and counting!

Daily and monthly averages

I can only say that I’m very impressed by these values. Of course I had hoped that some people cared for what I post here (especially since I’ve put quite a few hours of work into it). But even in my wildest dreams I would not have hoped for well over 3,500 visitors in the first year! I also didn’t dare to think I would be able to write 3 posts every month (on average). 36 posts so far – I think that’s a nice achievement.

But none of all that is what actually makes me happy the most. While hits were also increasing before, I was really missing feedback. Now I’ve finally got my first comments and thanks to that got in touch with another light-weight FOSS enthusiast (and we’re discussing the details of something I’m looking forward to reveal to you later this year)!

What else can I tell you? Well, you probably already know it, but few days ago I, too, was witness to the fact that spam really is EVIL!!!!!!!!!1111one For proof just look here:

666 – the number of the spam!

And just like in my two previous retrospect posts here are some of the (funny or unusual) search engine terms which lead to the blog:

  • qt3 games for linux
  • game windows 95
  • archbsd pacstrap fails
  • “dos gui” tool download
  • ede live cd
  • best fltk based applications
  • extraordinary linux distro
  • fltk webkit
  • eeire linux
  • windows 2000 control panel
  • installing archhurd
  • xfdos forum
  • “nowadays” distribution with trinity desktop
  • future of linux desktop 2013
  • windows 3.11 wallpaper
  • fltk 3.0
  • energy efficient linux
  • how to start plasma from tty2
  • 56647680 b to mb
  • fltk vs fox vs tk
  • xfdos
  • linux exotic desktop distribution

What’s next?

So what can you expect from EERIE in the future? Of course official announcements of what I made hints of above. Other than that I want to resume work on the “DDD” and get the tests with the GTK+ applications done. Not sure in which order.

And then there’s of course a lot of other things to investigate when planing a new distro. Which standard C library to use? Which compiler to build with? Which package management system to choose? There’s enough to do so we won’t get bored!

Eerie’s ‘i’ and last ‘e’ – how does the net work?

The ‘i’ and last ‘e’ in Eerie stand for internet experiment. Yes, “eerie” as a project has several faces. It’s primarily about the creation of a new light-weight distribution (which alone involves a lot of things to consider – and to write about ;)). But to be honest, I had never blogged before nor did I know much about this particular activity. So it’s exploring new worlds for me and I’d like to share that with you (if you care, that is). Like the question: Can a project today really work without the so-called social networks?

Up to this post, I have not advertised this blog by whatever means. Not mentioned it in any forum post, not in the signature nor in any profile or via twitter or anything. No search engine optimization of the content, no nothing.

I was surprised that this is actually my 15th (!) post already… It’s exactly three months now that I’m blogging about my thoughts about and experiments with Linux. Who would have guessed that I’d manage to keep up with writing new entries again and again? Anyway, I think that it’s time to take a look at the site stats and decide if the current way was a complete failure or not.

Some statistics


Since I created the blog, Eerie had more than 250 hits, visitors from over 40 countries (some of which I admit that I know absolutely nothing about). I’m not covering June here, since that was just one week, anyway. In July, Eerie had 42 visitors with an average of 1 daily hit. August saw an increase to 91 total hits – a daily average of 3. And in September now, which is not even over yet, the blog was already visited by well over 100 people for a daily average of 5 people. The all-time average is 3 hits per day and the busiest days saw 15 hits. The countries most visitors came from are: 1) Switzerland, 2) Germany, 3) USA, 4) Netherlands and 5) UK.

Current daily statistics

Some funny search engine terms

Up to the beginning of August, days where my blog was visited by anybody except for Pheakuser or myself (our hits are not counted as visitors since we are logged in) were rather rare. People stumbled across Eerie while searching for things like:

doom95 boot screen
start button windows 3.11
paintbrush icon windows 3.11
water elemental warcraft orcs vs humans
dos vesa driver example

These refer to some pictures I uploaded while talking about DOS, Win3.x, Win9.x and computer games in the posts:
First things first – how I came to Linux Pt. 1 and Pt. 2

More specific Linux topics

After the posts in early August, which contained much more common catchwords, more visitors found the blog. And according to the search engine terms, they might easily be much closer to the group of people I’m actually blogging for:

light linux
installing gnome 3 on a new gentoo box
gentoo compared to arch linux
xinit and openbox
“virtualbox-archlinux-additions” “xorg-server”

Visitor’s countries this week

With predominantly searches like that, we’re not quite there, but it gets a lot closer without any doubt. Things changed again when I launched the desktop environments test. Since the day where I put up the first post of the series, Eerie had only four days without any visitor! During a period of two-and-a-half weeks, the blog was visited every day. Here are some SE terms again:

archlinux opencde
memory usage comparison of xfce and lxde
linux arch kde memory usage
memory usage linux desktop environments
linux desktop environments
razor qt memory usage
qt based desktops

Much better, eh?

Backlinks and such

Eerie has also got a few backlinks that I’m aware of as somebody came to the blog by clicking them. The most interesting one is surely that Eerie’s tests were mentioned on planet.lxde.org! Also a fellow blogger here on WP reblogged one of my articles. Cool thing for sure! I only wish that my visitors would not remain so silent and actually leave me a comment now and then! While I had 50+ spam comments already, there’s not one real comment there (save for Pheakuser’s welcome comment).

Visitor’s countries 06/24 – 09/23 (not displaying some smaller countries)

But altogether I’m quite happy with the project. I’ve already learned much about Linux (which happens to be my original intent) and I think that especially the desktop tests may have helped some people to get a better overview of the rather complicated desktop situation of Linux today.

Moving on

This early part of Eerie was very interesting – at least for me. It’s true that a little over 250 hits in three months is not really much (especially since WP really counts hits and not unique visitors)! Still it was nice to see how things work on the net and what impact the various topics have on search engines.

So what now? Well, I plan to advertize Eerie in the future. Not any aggressive advertisement of course, but I’m going to mention it here and there. Let’s see if that’s going to make a difference again!

What’s next?

I want to discuss the various GUI toolkits next. Expect an article about such TKs in general.