SteamOS and Steam Hardware thoughts

You might have heard of SteamOS or read an article about how it will impact consoles.

SteamOS is basically to PC games what ChromeOS is to web browsing. It is an Operative System (the OS section) that is designed specifically to run steam games.

Steam is a publishing platform for video games and other general software. What made steam successful was the easy to distribute games, however there are other things that favor steam.

The average gamer will buy 1 game a month or so, and usually at its $60 price tag. There are exceptions and variations, but this is what console makers based on. It is because of this that big franchises games, like Halo and  Call of Duty sell so well. Halo 4 grossed $220 million on the first day. So it is a big industry. Because of this, most console center around the blockbusters.

However there are a ton of other good games around, and not all gamers are willing to spend $60 for a game. When this happens, Steam shines.

PC games also have a great concept. I can still Play Need for Speed 2, which was released on 1997, or play Silent Hill 2, released on 2001. While a remake was released for Silent Hill 2, I would have to pay $30 to get the remake (with similar graphics as the PC version) and Silent Hill 3. While it is a great price for 2 games with better graphics, and I do recommend it, it is an extra cost while I already own both for PC.

Silent Hill 2 has some compatibilities problems with Vista and up, but runs great on XP, in a virtual machine, or in Linux even using Wine.

Steam has available Final Fantasy VII. So now you can play the game released in 1997 without having to tweak the PC. This is another point where Steam shines. The games usually just run.

Gog.com offers similar experience, but it does not have the all in interface.

There is another big win for Steam that console and other distribution platforms have not mastered. The PROMOTIONS. For example, at the moment of writing Steam has a promotion for Flatout complete Pack, which includes 4 flatout games for $9.99. The promotion says it is $75 off out of $39.99. While Xbox and PSN have similar promotions, the prices are usually not adjusted. So Flatout would cost in comparison $39.99 on these networks. I could not find the game to buy online on the networks but…

Lets take a look at Painkiller Hell and Damnation. $29.99 in Xbox Marketplace, but it is $19.99 in Steam. That is $10 difference. Considering Steam runs promotions it would not be rare to find a Painkiller promotion with all the games for the price of 1. The average 1 year old game is about $30 on Xbox360 and PS3, but for PC that game would cost $15 or less.

Considering most distribution platforms require you to be online to play Steam has a clear advantage here.

The problem they face is to provide a consistent experience for players. Not all computer games are enjoyable with a Joystick. Playstation and Xbox lose money on the console, but regain it in the games. PC games have a higher upfront on the computer, but the games are cheaper (there is no license to pay to the console makers).

However considering a new Xbox One cost $500, which is the cost of a decent PC, and you can get a fairly decent video card for $150, PC is not so expensive compared to consoles.

Lets consider, even if you were to spend $1000 on a PC (or Steam hardware), you could run any of the games you already own on the PC, plus you can run your software (Productivity programs, photo editing, etc), watch online media like Hulu, Netfix, Amazon on demand and with Steam you can ply your games in the TV (you can technically play any game on the TV since it is a big monitor). Depending on how many games you buy, and if you can stay away from brand new games, you could be saving a ton of money and recovering the cost of the PC quick.

12 games at $60 each is $720. I make it a point of not spending more than $10 per game (I buy online, from gog.com, steam, amazon and gamestop). Even at top price of my game, I would buy 72 games. If I buy packs, then I could have over 100 games in a year.

I currently have 170+ games on steam, but I have over 700 games in total, and at least over 400 of those are PC games. I have been playing PC games since 1992, and every once in a while it is nice to play an old game. For example X-Wing, which you can buy now for almost $100 thanks to being a collector’s item. If you wanted to play an old console game, you would have to connect your old console, or buy the game again in the console market (which might not work with the next generation console).

In PC gaming, there is always a way to make the game work.

So, I think the steam hardware is a good idea. Because of the flexibility of PC gaming, it will be though for Steam, but more choices cannot hurt the player, but rather give more power.

BTW, I had a PC connected to the main TV before. It is not connected anymore because Xbox does what we need most of the time (Hulu and Netflix with occasional gaming), but I end up doing most of my gaming downstairs in my main PC. However PCs now can be small and have enough power to run most games, so it is a possibility.

Gaming PC is a viable gaming type, and it has a user base. Steam Hardware will have its place as well so I think that although it might have a rough start, it can be rewarding for people that want to try it. Since I have spare PCs at home, I will try Steam OS.

Let me know your thoughts

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Puppy Grub2 boot menu and Atom netbook

I have an Asus Atom netbook/tablet

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220661

http://www.asus.com/Eee/Eee_PC/Eee_PC_T91MT/

Nice right? It has multi touch screen and windows 7 Home Premium so the multi touch screen actually works.

So, why install Linux? well, it work so slow on Windows 7

I wanted a Windows 7 tablet because that way I can install some software that we use at work that only runs on Windows, but it is so slow, that we don’t use the netbook. So finally I decided to put some new life into it and install Linux Mint 11.

Now, Linux Mint 11 works great, even the touch screen works. Not the multi-touch, and it is not perfect yet. The mouse pointer for example does not follow the screen, but at least the netbook is still useful. I even got Onboard (screen keyboard) working

Ubuntu with Unity on the other hand would have been better since the screen is made for tablet, but it would not install (problems with the Intel video drivers).

So, here comes Puppy. It works awesome. It runs fast. It does not work with touch screen except for the click itself, so it is not for tablets. What it does do, and does it really well is run fast. It boots up quick, it shuts down even quicker, so I don’t even need to put the netbook to sleep. I can just shut it down.

What I wanted was a quick Linux distro to browse the web, after all the network cannot do much more than that. I could run Puppy from a USB, or SD card, and have a persistent state since it was designed for that, but I don’t carry either with this netbook, and since it only takes about 500 MB (even less, but I installed more pets) I wanted in the hard drive (SSD drive), so I did a frugal install.

Unfortunately the frugal install has instructions for Grub, which is almost not used anymore.

Well, Grub2 I found out is actually easier to configure.

Simply go to /etc/grub.d/

in here you will see several files. These are the grub2 config files. Grub will load them in alphabetical order, starting with 00_header and so on. But the file we want to change is 40_custom, so open that file

$ sudo nano /etc/grub.d/40_custom

Add at the end

menuentry “Puppy 528 frugal on sda5” {

set root=(hd0,5)

linux /puppy528/vmlinuz psubdir=puppy528

initrd /puppy528/initrd.gz

}

EOF

That is all.

Of course, the menuentry is the name you want to give it in the boot menu. I like to put the version number and the drive it is booting from.

set root sets the hard drive that puppy is booting from. In grub2, the drives match now. sda5 is the fifth partition on the first drive drive. hd0 would be the first drive, and the ,5 is the fifth partition. So, if you installed puppy to sda3 it would be hd0,3, If installed in sdb2 it would be hd1,2.

The next 2 lines are the locations of vmlinuz and initrd.gz The one trick is the psubdir entry. I didn’t add it first and puppy wasn’t booting. But try it first without it

Remember to close the entry using } (you opened { after the menu entry)

The EOF (end of File) is also very important. Even if you have everything else right it will now boot without it

 

NOTE: This is an old post that I worked on a while ago. I now have Bodhi Linux in the netbook, which runs great, but I need to switch sessions to see the login screen (ctrl+alt+F1 and then ctrl+alt+f7 to go back to GUI)

How to Recover Files From a Dead Computer

Broken Laptop Screen
Broken Laptop Screen

I receive a newsletter from How-To Geek. It has a lot of good articles so I will share them as I see them.
DehcTech can do recovery of hard drives. We use similar techniques as described here, and we can also recover with recovery software when the data has been overwritten for example.
If you are familiar with computers than this tips will help you recover data.

(from How-To Geek)[Original Article]
Uh-oh, your computer isn’t booting anymore. Maybe it’s a problem with Windows, or maybe the computer’s hardware is fried. If you have important files trapped inside your malfunctioning computer, this guide will help you recover them.

There’s no guarantee your data is recoverable. If your computer isn’t working because the hard drive died, there may be no recovering the files — not without some sort of expensive professional data recovery service, at least

Continue reading “How to Recover Files From a Dead Computer”

What is RAID?

This is a kind of technical term, that it is used a lot in IT. Sometimes it is difficult to explain what RAID is, and why you should use it.

Spiceworks has a great video, only 4 minutes long that explains how RAID works, and even non IT people can understand it.

What is RAID?

Note: RAID does not refer to the bug spray, but to a storage technology used in business usually. Even SMB (Small Business) should use RAID.

Another thing to note, is that for a ton of technical reasons I use RAID 10 (or RAID 1+0, or RAID 01). Worst case scenario I would use RAID 1 (when 10 is not supported).

The article One Big RAID 10: The new standard in server storage it talks about the approach to RAID 10 and why it should be used

But the main thing that you should know, is that I actually have had to restored broken RAID 5 arrays, and I have seen 2 RAID 5 array die during re-build (when replacing a damaged drive)