Play The Saboteur instead of Wolfenstein II

If you enjoy Nazi-stomping you’ve probably heard of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. They did have a pretty funny marketing campaign, after all. Now according to the reviews I’ve seen so far, it’s a mixed bag. It’s the Doom engine meets the previous Wolfenstein’s setting. Something we’ve more or less seen before, just with better graphics. Not that terribly exciting on a conceptual level, is it?

This section of Paris will turn from black, white and red to color once you get rid of the Nazis

But there’s one game about taking out Nazis that is unique and was overlooked when it came out in 2009: The Saboteur. I’ll leave it to you to find in-depth reviews, but here are some of the things you can do:

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Fix crackling audio in some games in WINE

Some games happen to have wonderful audio (and music), like Wolfenstein: The New Order. Some games happen not to be available natively for Linux, like… err… also Wolfenstein: The New Order. So we play them with WINE, and sometimes there are slight audio issues.

But have no fear: If you get audio crackling in such games (especially if your audio device is not running at 44.1 KHz), the following environment variable might fix it for you like it did for me:

PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=60

You can either start WINE in a terminal with this env var prepended:

PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=60 wine Steam.exe

or if you’re using PlayOnLinux:

PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=60 playonlinux

Or you can export it in your ~/.profile file if you want it to be set for all your applications (don’t forget to completely log out and back in, since .profile is read only once per session):

export PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=60

Does this work for you? It works for me. I can’t remember where I found it first, but it’s a hint that’s been passed along, so pass it along I shall.

May the Flying Spaghetti Monster extend its noodly appendage to guide the hands of Lennart Poettering so that such issues become a thing of the past (if indeed Pulseaudio is to blame, but we always blame Pulseaudio, so we shall blame it one more time).

Now to enjoy the screams of expiring Nazi cyborgs in ultimate smoothness.

Did your mouse turn all weird in Debian and now you suck at Quake?

Update: This issue is largely resolved nowadays because modern desktop environments include configuration tools for libinput and its acceleration profiles.

If you have a recent Debian testing release, you might have noticed that your mouse now behaves very differently. For me, I noticed it when my aiming turned wobbly in Quake. Quake has extremely tight controls and shouldn’t feel as if you’re playing a 2016 console FPS with jelly dildos in place of fingers. So I was a bit surprised when it suddenly did. Also, I couldn’t reliably hit e.g. a close button on a window.

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Using joysticks/controllers with keyboard-based games in GNU/Linux

If you’re one of those people who only now discover GNU/Linux for gaming (with Steam and all), you might find this useful:

http://www.ryochan7.com/projects/antimicro/

I’ve tried several tools that map controller input to keyboard keys, but AntiMicro is the most reliable and easiest to use in my opinion. Many GNU/Linux developers forget to implement native Linux joystick device support into their games, but often this is crucial for games like Stealth Bastard Deluxe or Super Meat Boy. If you encounter such a game, AntiMicro will let you play it just fine with any USB controller, ranging from cheap-ass $2 Chinese crap up to expensive Logitech controllers.

Nvidia Optimus support now built-in on Debian testing

I was very surprised to see that Bumblebee (a way to use Nvidia’s Optimus technology on GNU/Linux) now works flawlessly on GNU/Linux. The Debian guys somehow managed to get all the fiddly components talking to each other, and this shit works flawlessly. You’ll need jessie (the current testing release).

It’s as easy as:

apt-get install bumblebee nvidia-kernel-dkms glx-alternative-nvidia nvidia-glx

After that, I just had to do:

update-alternatives --config glx

To select my old Mesa GLX so that by default, it would use the built-in Intel graphics card even for 3D stuff. Finally there’s this handy hint from the GNU/Linux devs at Valve.

Now it’s easy to play graphics-intensive games through the Nvidia card and everything else through the Intel card. It feels even more solid than with the proprietary drivers on Windows.

And as the Free Software Nvidia driver (Nouveau) improves, Bumblebee has full support for switching from this to the proprietary driver and back.

I never bothered to try Bumblebee in the past, but the way that Debian packages it today, it’s fantastic. Thanks a lot, Debian, once again, for creating one of the world’s most flexible universal operating systems.