Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WoW's performance on FreeBSD

So to answer someone from my last post about why I run WoW in FreeBSD, this is why:-

In the minds of most people, this might seem like an entirely ordinary shot, but I've never had shading in particular look that good before.

Framerate now isn't as good as it was before I had sound running, but I still average above 30 FPS in most areas, and sometimes above 50. Framerate with no sound was insane; I peaked at 76 FPS in Jotunheim.

I apologise for the length of time between posts; I just really haven't been playing WoW that much recently. I logged in yesterday, but my recent average has been probably about twice a week. I have nobody offline to play with, and I don't have sufficiently consistent net access to raid, even if I did want to, so that makes it very difficult. I'm still working towards epic flying, but no guarantees as to when it will happen.

Are the rest of you still playing as much these days?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A FreeBSD Homecoming

So after enduring Ubuntu's terminal instability for close to a month, and finally getting sick of it two days ago, I wiped Ubuntu and decided to go back to what was the first UNIX system I ever encountered, on an Internet provider's text shell back in 1995.

Although I know Rilgon has, and possibly Pike, it's possible that not many of you have heard of FreeBSD. It could be considered Linux's older cousin, being directly descended from the initial, non-PC versions of UNIX.

I've included the image of the Tumbler here because, as far as the "operating systems and cars," analogy is concerned, I can't think of a better fitting comparison in this case. FreeBSD was initially primarily intended as a server operating system, perhaps a little moreso than a desktop, and is still used for web hosting by some of the busiest sites on the planet. Yahoo is probably the best known, but there are many others, including three of Netcraft's top 10 most reliable webhosting companies this last April.

To answer the single most important question, however, yes, it does run World of Warcraft. ;) There are native nVidia drivers, and WoW runs on it via Wine, just like Linux.

So why am I running this instead of Linux or Windows?

1. Stability.

I was tired of the amount of random hardware failures and other instability that I had suffered through with Ubuntu. Although XP is fairly stable, there were times with earlier versions of Windows when the Blue Screen of Death was seen regularly by me, and it never really went away completely until after Service Pack 2.

FreeBSD, on the other hand, is as solid as the above image suggests. ;) As far as I know, FreeBSD's sister distribution, NetBSD, was used as the host operating system for the recent Mars rover. If you install this, you can forget about seeing the Blue Screen of Death, or any other equivalent, ever again. For the most part, it simply doesn't happen. ;)

I read another report online a bit back about how some people installed a FreeBSD web server on a headless machine, (that is, no monitor or keyboard) stuck it in a desk drawer, and then unintentionally ended up completely forgetting about it for six months. It was only rediscovered when they noticed a power cord trailing out of the drawer. On discovering it, they tested it and discovered that it was still functioning as well as it had been when it was initially installed.

2. Security.

Have any of you who run XP, ever had this nagging, uncomfortable feeling that maybe there's something nasty lurking away in some corner of the operating system, waiting to pounce and trash your files? I used to get that feeling on a regular basis myself, and I didn't like it. I feel that peace of mind when using a computer is very important.

Now, I don't have to worry. I can install anything I want from source code, (unlike even Ubuntu, where, even though source compilation is possible, it is awkward and inconvenient to do, and also frequently uses non-signed, or potentially unsafe, source packages) and potentially review said source code myself if I'm worried about it, to ensure that malware isn't contained within it. Even if, on the rare offchance, something nasty is contained in a program I've installed, as long as I've run it as a non-root user, it might destroy my own account, but it can't destroy the entire system.

3. Efficiency.

System resource efficiency is another big priority. Not only in Windows, but also with Linux I hated how bloated KDE in particular was. I still don't have more than 1Gb of RAM on this system, so I can't afford to be wasting memory because of someone else's bad programming.

When I install FreeBSD, I can choose exactly what makes up the system that is the end result; and that also means that I have access to some window managers and other software which is extremely minimalistic in terms of memory and disk space consumption; and the less memory a window system takes up, the more I've got left for WoW, right?

Even before I'd installed a window system though, I had a look at the system's memory use just after I'd finished the base install. Out of that 1024 Mb I mentioned, I had 964 Mb free; so it was using just 60. To put that in perspective, even when it is idle, Windows XP will generally be consuming at least 300 MB.

I will put another link to FreeBSD's download site here, in case any of you are curious about checking it out.

The installation process is a little involved, but it's very well documented. That is one of the other respects in which, if you try it, you'll find it very consistent with Survival in WoW; but you might also enjoy driving stick. ;)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Some downtime in WoW

I've been trying to hit various aspects of the Linux learning curve fairly hard over the last couple of days, and have realised that I need to stop and do something else for a bit.

I recognise the signs, which for me are mainly a chronic inability to stay on task. If I'm mentally fresh, I can work away at something exclusively for a couple of days at a time with tunnel vision, but after the third or fourth day like that, I tend to need a change.

So I'm going to be going into WoW after this, maybe doing some dailies, and some other stuff. I've got 3k gold now in the attempt to save for mount money, but I'm still debating whether to cough up for dual speccing. The reason why is because truthfully I want to go back to my TBC-like Survival build for farming, but on the other hand, it'd be good to be able to respec for Heroics at a moment's notice as well.

Then again, I've still never tried 51 point Marksmanship yet, either; I keep meaning to get around to trying out Chimaera Shot, but it just hasn't happened yet. I also want to get my Devilsaur out again at some point, as well. Lots to do, lots to do. :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A belated post

I apologise for the length of time it's been since my last posting.

Truthfully, though, I probably just don't really have anything terribly interesting to say. Actually, let me clarify. I *could* talk about what I'm doing right now, and aspects of that which are important to me, but it's not WoW related. I don't know how much of the following my readers are going to understand or find relevant, but this is what I'm doing.

It's related to an at least partial custom Linux system which I'm in the (long) process of putting together. I've used quite a lot of different Linux distributions over the years, but truthfully the only UNIX system I've ever found that I really liked was FreeBSD. People might say that I should just use that, then, but there are a couple of reasons why I'm actually trying to clone a number of the parts of that system for a Linux environment instead.

a) Linux doesn't have package management which (IMHO anyway) is anywhere near as good as FreeBSD's ports. The package management system I'm currently working on is more closely related to ports than anything else for Linux that I've seen.

b) Although it is very user friendly in some respects, and I also praise the developers for their positive intentions, under the hood, Ubuntu has some very serious problems. Most of these stem from the fact that the Debian Project (which is Ubuntu's parent distribution) has chosen to set a number of system components up in such a way as to not even vaguely resemble any other Linux distribution in existence that I've seen.

c) Linux needs a distribution where the operating system is allowed to be itself, rather than people trying to twist it into a clone of Microsoft Windows; especially when usually they go about doing that in a chaotic way, as well. It's not that Linux can't be used for a decent GUI system; quite the opposite.

d) There are some elements of FreeBSD which (after talking to Rilgon, and engaging in my own introspection) I *won't* be copying. The main one is its' new event-driven system startup framework. I am going to use a combination of bare Sysvinit, and shell scripts tied to udev itself. I'm not really sure, truthfully, why people have felt a need to build a secondary event-driven hardware/kernel framework *on top of* udev itself, because that in itself is essentially what udev is for. I'm inclined to believe that it was intended to *supplement* Sysvinit in a clean and sane way.

Linux (or, more broadly speaking, UNIX) had a very good design philosophy to begin with however, but most of the people currently working on Linux distributions have forsaken that in order to try and create something which was going to be popular. The story there is fairly similar to what has happened with Survival in WoW, truth be told.

So yeah, that's what I'm doing at the moment. Rilgon will understand, Pike will probably understand some of it, and the rest of you will probably want to just scroll past it.

If anyone else is willing, and has some spare time, I'll also relink to something I wrote back in 2005, as well. If you're feeling adventurous and want something else to do for an hour or so a night, grab a copy of Ubuntu and follow the guide at that link, from step 2 down. You don't need to do it all at once; as I said, and hour every few days, or even one a week. It will just gradually demystify Linux for you though, if you're wondering what it is all about.

There is one other non-WoW related thing which has been on my mind lately as well, which I'm sure my trolls will have a field day with. On viewing some of my videos on YouTube, a year or two ago someone recommended I at least visit the local chapterhouse (in Sydney, in my case) of Ramakrishna Math, a monastic order set up at the end of the 19th century by the followers of Sri Ramakrishna, who was probably the most well-known of Kali's saints.

My trolls will say that, given what an emotionally unstable headcase I am, I'm about the furthest thing from monk material on the planet; and truthfully, I'd agree with them. People here no doubt know that I've probably been one the least civil, and most feral and/or savage members of the greater WoW blogging community. Getting banned from the WoW forums, truthfully, wasn't an easy thing to do.

It's the reason why I haven't done this yet, even though the person who told me about it did so probably two years ago. Developmentally and morally speaking, I'm nowhere near up to it.

And yet...for some reason, the idea just won't leave me alone for the last month or so. Maybe it is something I should consider looking into.