GOG Games on Linux, Featuring Blade Runner

Blade Runner is a point-and-click adventure, a genre that was still very popular on PCs at the time of its release. Games like Beneath a Steel Sky had already used the format to tell Blade Runner-inspired cyberpunk stories. Given the usual state of movie adaptations, a Blade Runner adventure game wouldn’t necessarily have been anything to get excited about.‘Blade Runner’ really does make you feel like a detective

What Westwood did with the license, however, was inspired. The game isn’t a straight retelling of the movie. (Harrison Ford’s Deckard is nowhere to be seen.) You play a detective named Ray McCoy on the tail of replicants linked to vicious animal murders. While the story takes place at the same time as the movie and involves some of the same locations and characters, it plays out in parallel without intersecting too strongly. This was a great decision for a narrative adventure, allowing the game to evoke the movie without feeling predictable.

-Sam Byford, “The resurrected Blade Runner game is a genuine classic.” The Verge. December 18, 2019.

Blade Runner is currently on sale for $8.99 until January 2nd, 2020, at 2 PM UTC. And, if you are into free (as in beer!) games, and who isn’t, you could also download the previously mentioned Beneath a Steel Sky for nothing.

But, there’s a catch. GOG doesn’t provide much help getting these games installed on a Linux system. I didn’t see any instructions, but let me save you some time. I documented what I did to get it to work, and now, you have the very instructions that should be on the GOG website, but are somehow, inexplicably, not there. We’re going to use Blade Runner as our example, but while I was looking into how to get this thing running, it was apparent that these problems happen on the Linux platform with many of GOG’s games.

Installing & Getting the Games to Work

Before starting, let’s make life easy for ourselves and get an outdated audio library that is needed in order for the game to launch.

$ dpkg -i libsndio6.1_1.1.0-3_amd64.deb

You’re also going to need Simple DirectMedia Layer 2, which you can install the standard way, through the repository:

$ sudo apt-get install libsdl2-net-2.0-0

Now, with those preliminaries out of the way, let’s get to the task at hand, shall we? Download the Blade Runner file from the GOG website. Open a terminal:

$ cd Downloads
$ chmod +x blade_runner_1_0_varies.sh 
$ ./blade_runner_1_0_varies.sh 

After installation, it should be in your Show Applications, which is in the bottom right corner for people using the standard Gnome window manager, and then, select the game you’ve just installed, if it isn’t Blade Runner.

Or, maybe you’ve learned to love the terminal, you could launch the game from the command line by opening a terminal:

$ cd GOG\ Games/Blade\ Runner/
$ ./start.sh

The game should launch from this point. If not, contact GOG and …Good Luck!

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) on StarDict on Ubuntu/Debian

So, after reading “You’re probably using the wrong dictionary,” I thought I would give installing Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) on a Debian-flavor of Linux a try and write it up the process and some observations of its use.

Installation on a Debian-flavor of Linux is straight-forward:

$ sudo apt-get install stardict
$ cd Downloads
$ wget https://s3.amazonaws.com/jsomers/dictionary.zip
$ unzip dictionary.zip
$ cd dictionary
$ tar -xvjf stardict-dictd-web1913-2.4.2.tar.bz2
$ cd stardict-dictd-web1913-2.4.2/
$ sudo mv *.* /usr/share/stardict/dic/
$ stardict

This launches the main application. There is also a mini-window that can be moved to where you like and then you can use it with other applications by highlighting text. Here’s a screenshot of this article:

When you highlight a word, it will automatically be searched for and displayed in the mini-window.

Entries include pronunciation, etymological origin, related words, definition and an example of usage, often from literature. I can imagine this being a very useful tool. It might be worth checking if my writing from this date changes in an appreciable way and whether it is an improvement or not.

Setting DNS Manually on Ubuntu Linux

Introduction: Domain name servers (DNS) provide the numerical addresses for sites on the Internet. When you type cafebedouin.org into your browser, your computer queries a DNS name server to get a numerical address. This numerical address is then used to contact the site.  Normally, configuring DNS is handled behind the scenes by Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DCHP) automatically.

For some situations, you’ll want to set a different DNS server than the one set by DCHP. Maybe your Internet Service Provider (ISP) uses their own DNS server that is slower than Google’s DNS server. Maybe you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and want to stop DNS leaks to your ISP.

In Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems in the past,  you would change configuration files, such as /etc/resolv.conf or /etc/dchp/dhclient.conf, to set DNS manually. 

The problem: Changing resolv.conf and dhclient.conf configuration files does not work in Ubuntu.

The solution: Starting with 17.10, Ubuntu uses netplan to set DNS. On my test machine, netplan’s configuration file looks like this:

version: 2
   renderer: NetworkManager

It is possible to manually do the job of DCHP in netplan, but it’s complicated. If your objective is to just change the DNS servers, there is an easier way to do it. Use Network Manager.

There are files in the directory /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections that define how DCHP should work for each network connection. To the files listed in that directory, add the following with DNS server IP addresses under [ipv4]:

dns-search=
method=auto
dns=84.200.69.80;84.200.70.40;45.33.97.5;
ignore-auto-dns=true

The DNS servers in this example are from FreeDNS and DNS Watch.

After adding the DNS IP addresses, separated by a semi-colon, then from the command line, do: sudo service network-manager restart

Once completed, you should be on your DNS server of choice. It’s a little inconvenient to have to add these lines to each network-connection file, and there might be a better way. But, this will work.