The Linux Game Box #1: Astromenace

5 11 2008


Astromenace is a vertical scrolling shooter of the likes of the classic shot ‘em up like Xenon2 Megablaster.

The concept behind the game is fairly simple and all focused on piloting a space ship and fighting swarms of alien invaders.

The game is made by the Ukrainian software house Viewizard and is released as freeware for the Linux platform. A demo version is also available for Windows.

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After downloading a 34 or so tar.bz2 file from this page it’s just enough to unzip it and double click on the bin in order to start the game.

For those who prefer to add the game to the apt repository a simple procedure is explained.

Minimum requirements:
Linux OS
Pentium 1+ GHz
128 MB RAM
3D video accelerator with 32+ MB on board
Runtime dependencies:
libSDL (ver 1.2.6+), libopenal (ver 1.0+), libalut (ver 1.0+), libogg (ver 1.1+), libvorbis (ver 1.1+), libvorbisfile (ver 1.1+), libjpeg (ver 6b+).


Astromenace is a great fun. The alien ships are huge in number and relentless in their effort to attack the human homeland (bosses included). The alien swarms remember well those of the arcade games of the 80’ as they seem much more like automated and stupid drones than manoeuvred by an intelligent form of life. However on the human side of the war the game offers interesting features. There are something like 20 different ships that can be purchased and upgraded with a whole stock of equipments and weaponry.


The overall graphic design is neat. The ships, equipments, aliens and environment are all carefully designed and will make you remember of several sci-fi movies and video games. Astromenace is all 3D accelerated graphics which provides a whole range of special effects that make the game one of the most graphically polished of the Linux games landscape.


The sound and music are just fine and provide the right atmosphere for the game


There’s no much to say here. As I told before Astromenace aim is not that of charming the gamer with its refined and complicated story. For this reason I give it a 6.


It’s possible to modify the game quite easily by editing an xml file. Viewizard provides a guide to help the user handling with the scripts.


In the video below you can have a look at the game play and graphics


First African-American president in the U.S.A. history

5 11 2008

One more time the huge book of history records an astonishing fact and, despite what you think of the political man or of his political program, this time is for the good.

What a better way to say “we’ve finished with all the racist stuff” that making it possible for an African-American to be elected president of the United States of America? Yes because despite all the money pouring, the advertisement and tv manipulation, and the natural desire for a change, this Obama success is the product of a radical change in the Americans mind that was just there in the corner awaiting for the chance to come to the light – and Obama gave it that chance.

So look at this glorious victory recorded in Google 2008 Elections Map


The Google 2008 U.S. Election Map

4 11 2008

Google’s for sure not only the top search engine and advertisement guy but it’s also a map pal. With Google Maps and Google Earth you can explore, search and track down a lot of stuff (not only places!).

The 2008 U.S.A. Presidential Election is the event of the year, especially if we consider that should Barack Obama win it would be a milestone in the history of the United States of America. For the first time ever a black man could lead the most influential country in the world.

Well, google set up a page containing all the tools to follow this exciting presidential race and now there’s a new map designed to keep track of the votes leading to the election of the new U.S. president.


Go Obama!!

Happy Halloween!

31 10 2008

I wish all the witches and wizards and vampires and zombies out there a happy Halloween!

And so does Robert, my 18 months old son.

Sightseeing Italy’s major cities with Google Street View

30 10 2008

On October 29th Google Maps Street View hit three Italian major cities plus the area around Como lake in the northern part of the country.

You can now go and have a stroll down Milan, Rome or Florence streets or the romantic coastline of the Como lake.

Google Maps Street View (together with the other geo apps like Google Earth) is the sightseeing killer application as it gives you the chance to visit places you’ve always dreamt to go but, for a reason or another, never managed to fulfill. As GMSV expand in coverage and quality the world gets shrinking and shrinking. These geographic apps make me think of the rift information technologies creates between what once were (and by most educators still are) the regular education tools and the resources that are available nowadays, easily and free. Just think of Google Earth, we X-Generation guys and girls used to see something like this (much more rudimentary though) in 80′ movies or comics. These systems were usually pictures ad high level military resources. Nowadays we used satellite maps to spot our pic-nic place!

Have I already said that I totally confide in technology (and especially in free open source software and open source hardware) for a better world?

The Linux Game Box

30 10 2008

Linux is well known as a poor platform for the hardcore video game user. If you look for the video game market hits you won’t find them running under Linux. For that you’d better choose a PC or mostly a last generation game console such as Xbox360, PS3 or the more niche oriented one Nintendo Wii.

The Linux game panorama is not completely bare though. Just for this I want to start this new column to periodically present one Linux game I installed and played with my laptop. The use of a laptop takes a specific role here. Having said that Linux is -at the moment- completely alien to the massively marketed and leading technology games, then to play games on Linux which are playable and enjoyable on a honest average laptop it’s something lots of people can be interested in. We’re not speaking of a game oriented machine but something that you more likely already use for work or in school.

The machine I will play the games to review is the following:

Packard Bell EasyNote (2005)
Graphic card: Ati Mobility Radeon X1600
CPU: Centrino Duo T2300
RAM: 1Gb
OS: Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron

So, I will periodically look for one game (I already have a bunch of them noted down in tomboy) install it and play it. Then I will write something like a draft review (nothing like an IGN behemot) in this column. I will give my opinion on the basis of the following aspects:

– Installation pain
– Gameplay fun
– Graphical appeal
– Sound delight
– Story enchantment

The choice of the games is completely biased. At first I will start from games do have an appeal to me and then move on from those. Of course you can let me know your suggestions.

I do hope with this work to help sharing the know how of the Linux free and open source (and commercial maybe) scenario as well as paying tribute to those teams of enthusiasts who do such a great job and supply us Linux lovers with wonderful games.

The first review is about AstroMenace so stay tuned folks!

Podcast day 2008

26 10 2008

Today in Italy it’s Podcast day. This event is a tribute to the free voices who supply an increasingly vast audience with shows about the most various contents. This is also a way to spread the voice around to people who already listen to podcasts or are just curious about this media and are maybe willing to give it a try.

To participate to this event I’d have been supposed to listen to 5 shows from the directory of Gunp! and post a review for each of them. Due to my fixation with English I don’t usually listen to shows in my mother language apart from basically two shows.

So here’s my tiny chart composed only of 2 shows.


It’s a podcast about technology and this is for me the S show. I recommend it almost to every people I speak with. Carlo, the host, is a fine anchor and a great geek with a lot of expertise in the technology field. I’m always excited when a new installment gets to the feed as this is by far my favourite show ever.


Another technology podcast made by a couple: Andrea and Francesca who broadcast podcast from Nice, France. The show is much more lounge styled than the previous one and rich in music which the hosts carefully select for the listeners among the free music of Jamendo, a community hosting artists who publish their work under creative commons. The atmosphere of Il Nissardo are those of an old tavern facing the beach, one of those places where you can easily get lost in your thougths by sipping a glass of bloody red wine (Italian of course ;)).

So, if you’re an Italian reader or an Italian student willing to exercise your language I strongly recommend the two above mentioned shows!

I hope to be more prepared for next year’s podcast day!

Have fun