New 1.11.0 Release of Crossfire RPG

A new 1.11.0 release of Crossfire RPG is available. Many bugs are fixed in this release (along with new bugs inserted more than likely). One can get the latest releases here which links to here. Most folk will just want one of the clients that allow one to connect to a crossfire server on the internet. The information in that URL is from the Crossfire RPG metaserver. The 1.11.0 Crossfire RPG servers are also designed support the new metaserver v2 which gives more information about each running server. These metaservers are what provide a list of sites to user clients about current public access Crossfire RPG servers.

The user clients available with 1.11.0 have also seen a lot of updates and bug fixes. The user clients I can currently recommend are the GTKv1 and GTKv2 clients. With GTKv2 being my current favorite. There is also a fairly new Java client that is in active development called JXclient that can be gotten here. JXclient might be easier to get running under a Microsoft Windows environment than the GTK clients. If one is running an old user client one should consider upgrading to these newer user clients.

One may also checkout the absolute latest clients and server code for the game from the SVN repository. Instructions on downloading from the SVN repository are here. Note that getting the latest code from SVN will require that one know how to compile source code. (If that sounds too scary to you then just stick to the official releases.)


This article updated: Wed Feb 13 16:57:48 UTC 2008

Axis 247S Video Server (Analog to Digital)

I recently installed a pair of Axis 247S video servers with a pair of Topica TP-6360WBC-DN analog cameras attached to a ZoneMinder video server at one of our VSS(1) client sites. For those of you looking for quick information – the Axis 247S works great with ZoneMinder. One can use the Axis presets for their network cameras when setting up the monitors in ZoneMinder.

Now for the details.

The physical install included running LAN backbone cable to the punchdown block near the 8-port Linksys POE(2) switch as well as to jacks near where the cameras were to be installed. Four 3′ patch cables were used, two at the switch <-> punchdown block and one at each jack <-> 247S. The cameras were ordered with 25′ of Video / Power extension cable to connect to the Axis 247S video servers on the analog side. Also a pair of pigtails were ordered to power the cameras using the Axis 247S power connector. This is a sweet solution for powering the cameras as it avoids having to use the wall warts that come with the cameras. Also the whole thing is powered using POE meaning the power is also provided through a battery backup to keep the entire system up during short power outages or brown-out conditions.

Each Axis 247S was connected singly (as they all default to and configured using the Firefox web browser off the VSS while running X with fluxbox on the VSS. Since the camera LAN segment on a 192.168.0.* subnet is separated from the end-user’s other LAN segment on a 10.10.10.* subnet this is the simplest way I know to configure them for use with the ZoneMinder server (especially since I forgot to take my laptop with me). The ZoneMinder server is configured like all our ZoneMinder servers with two gigabit ethernet network connections. One goes to the POE gigabit switch powering the cameras and the other connects to the client’s existing LAN. This keeps the bandwidth needed for the cameras off the client’s LAN. Once each Axis 247S was configured using its’ internal web interface it was added to the ZoneMinder server as a monitor using motion detection (modect). A tweak on each to lengthen the recording sequence so as to avoid the ext3 filesystem problem with 32000 directories (these folks keep 90 days of video and each event gets its’ own directory!) and the system was working great.

For the record, our next ZoneMinder VSS will be using XFS for the filesystem so as to avoid the problem with ext3 and 32000 directories.

(1) VSS – Video Surveillance System|Server

(2) POE – Power Over Ethernet


ZoneMinder – Video Surveillance

ERACC started offering and installing ZoneMinder based video surveillance systems around 2.5 years ago. To date we have installed four of these systems and still manage one of them (the other three businesses where we had installed are now out of business and their assets were sold). ZoneMinder is an OSS application that typically runs on a Linux based host. ERACC custom builds the system based on customer needs. ERACC also installs the system and offers on-site and off-site management and upgrades (for a fee).

Currently I am working on adding two analog cameras with Axis analog to digital converters attached to the one system we still manage. The four cameras that exist on the system now are all Axis digital cameras. The analog cameras will be used to get close-up views of the transactions at our client site with an eventual analog capture and overlay from the PCs that print the customer tickets. The reason I decided to not go all analog or add-on an analog capture card is the fact that with a digital system running on its’ own LAN subnet the physical server location can be anywhere on or off the client site providing there is a network connection available to each camera. Therefore with the Axis converters we keep the flexibility to move the server without being tied to the limitations of analog.

The server itself at this client site is running Fedora Core 6 with a single-core AMD AM2 CPU and 2GB of RAM with the camera feeds capturing on motion detection at 5 frames per second at this point. This server is getting an upgrade to a dual-core AMD AM2 CPU and 4GB of RAM. The storage drive for the video data is a 750GB SATA drive. ZoneMinder is configured to keep 90 days of video per camera. So far this uses about 50% of the storage drive. I plan to adjust the frames per second down a bit on each camera when I add the two new cameras so as to cut back on the processing overhead and to keep the 90 days per camera storage capability. After reviewing the client’s needs I figure 2 or 3 frames per second is really all that is needed for this site.

If one is considering installing or upgrading a video surveillance system one cannot go wrong using Linux and ZoneMinder in my opinion.


Crossfire the Open Source RPG

I spoke about 3D gaming under Linux in my last post here. In the words of Monty Python “And now for something completely different”.

Crossfire is a free, open source 2D tile based role playing game that, for the time being, emphasizes game play over glitz. If you are one of those shallow gamers that prefer 3D glitz over game play then Crossfire is not for you. However, if you ever played and enjoyed D&D like games that require imagination and complexity then you will probably like Crossfire.

Crossfire has a deep and rich culture, large world, multiple player roles and other great traditions coming from games like Nethack, Rogue and similar. Since Crossfire is multiplayer one has the option to play with other players on internet connected servers or to run an offline server and play alone. Playing on one’s own offline server for a while allows one to learn about the game prior to joining others on one of the public servers. The public servers provide one the chance to play with others either antagonistically or cooperatively. Depending on the server one may or may not kill other players without penalty. All the modern Crossfire servers offer team play in “parties” where the players share experience.

I have played Crossfire for several years now and am one of the map developers at this point. I also play on, and recommend playing on, Metalforge. Metalforge is the development server for official Crossfire and runs close to the latest SVN code from the 1.x branch of the game. If you want to learn more about Crossfire then feel free to point your favorite IRC software to and join the #crossfire channel.

Are you a graphic artist that would enjoy helping create art for a free multiplayer online role playing game? Crossfire can always use your assistance. You are especially invited to check out Crossfire and join us on our IRC channel.

Other URLs for Crossfire:


Thoughts on Commercial Linux Games

So there are all these 3D games for consoles and Micro$oft Window$ that are not available for Linux as native applications. I wonder why a large chunk of the gaming industry appears to still be ignoring Linux? It is not as if excellent 3D games cannot be made to run natively on a Linux box with 3D hardware. There are both Enemy Territory and Unreal Tournament 2004 for examples of these 3D games that are native for Linux. However, if I recall correctly, Unreal Tournament 2004 required one to buy the Micro$oft Window$ version and then download the Linux engine for the full game.

More currently there is Quake 4 for Linux but unfortunately the developers and distributors once again did not include Linux support “out of the box” (Of course my current hardware is not muscular enough to run Quake 4 well anyway). One must purchase a Micro$oft Window$ copy of the game first. From the Quake4 GNU/Linux FAQ: “A licensed copy of Quake 4 retail for Windows(r) is required. You will copy the assets files from it and use the CD key.” What a way to sell a game!

Personally I will never buy a game “off the shelf” that does not include a native Linux install “in the box”. Hey, developers and distributors, keep treating me and other Linux users like unwanted stepchildren and do not get my dollars. It is that simple.

Here is hoping for a sea change to add native Linux gaming “out of the box” in the gaming industry.