Posts Tagged ‘BBS’

AEWAN – a nice advanced GNU / Linux console ASCII art text editor

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

I'm a guy fascinated by ASCII art, since the very early days I saw a piece of this awesome digital art.

As time passed and computers went to be used mostly  graphics resolution, ASCII art loose its huge popularity from the early DOS and BBS (internet primordial days).

However, this kind  of art is still higly valued by true computer geeks.
In that manner of thoughts, lately I'm researching widely on ASCII art tools and ASCII art open source tools available for Linux.
Last time I check what is available for 'ASCII job' was before 5 years time. Recently I decided to review once again and see if there are new software for doing ascii manipulations on Linux and this is how this article got born.

My attention was caught by aewan (ASCII-art Editor Without A Name), while searching for ASCII keyword description packages with:

apt-cache search ascii

Aewan project official website is on sourceforge check it out here

Here is the complete description of the Debian package:

hipo@noah:~$ apt-cache show aewan|grep -i description -A 5
Description: ASCII-art Editor Without A Name
aewan is an ASCII art editor with support for multiple layers that can be
edited individually, colors, rectangular copy and paste, and intelligent
horizontal and vertical flipping (converts '\' to '/', etc). It produces
both stand-alone art files and an easy-to-parse format for integration
into your terminal applications.

I installed it to give it a try:

noah:~# apt-get --yes install aewan
Selecting previously deselected package aewan.
(Reading database ... 388522 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking aewan (from .../aewan_1.0.01-3_amd64.deb) ...
Processing triggers for man-db ...
Setting up aewan (1.0.01-3) ...

aewan package provides three executable binaries:

noah:~# dpkg -L aewan|grep -i /bin/ /usr/bin/aecat
/usr/bin/aewan
/usr/bin/aemakeflic

1. aewan binary is the ascii-art editor itself

2. aecat is utility to display an aewan documents (aewan format saved files)3. aemakeflictool to produce an animation from an aewan document

Next I ran it in plain console tty  to check how it is like:

hipo@noah:~$ aewan

Below are screenshots to give you an idea how powerful aewan ASCII art editor is:

AEWAN ASCII art editor entry information screen Debian GNU / Linux shot

Aewan immediate entry screen after start up

Aewan ASCII art editor Linux showing the major functionality of aewan on Debian GNU / Linux Squeeze

Aewan ASCII art editor – all of the supported tool functions

As you can see from the shot the editor is very feature rich. I was stunned to find out it even supports layers (in ASCII!!) (w0w!). 
It even has a Layers Manager (like GIMP) 🙂

To create my first ASCII art I used the:

New

menu.

This however didn't immediately show the prompt, where I can type  the ascii characters to draw my picture. In order to be able to draw inside the editor, its necessary to open at least one layer, through using the menu:

Add Layer (defaults)

then the interactive ASCII art editor appeared.

While an ASCII art is created with the editor you can select the color of the input characters by using Drawing Color menu seen in the above screenshot.

aewan drawing color choose color Linux shot

I've played few minutes and created a sample ascii art, just to test the color and editor "look & feel", my conclusions are the editor chars drawing is awesome.

Aewan ascii art produced on my Debian GNU / Linux host

All the commands available via menus are also accessible via a shortcut key combinations:

Aewan Linux Ascii art editor quick key shortcut commands

aewan controls are just great and definitely over-shadows every other text editor I used to draw an ASCII art so far.
Once saved the ASCII art, are by default saved in a plain gzipped ascii text. You can therefore simply zcat the the saves;
Don't expect zcat to show you the ascii as they're displayed in aewan, zcat-ing it will instead  display just the stored meta data; the meta data is interpreted and displayed properly only with aecat command.

aewan aecat displaying properly previously saved ascii art picture

I've checked online for rpm builds too and such are available, so installing on Fedora, CentOS, SuSE etc. is up to downloading the right distro / hardware architecture rpm package and running:

# rpm -ivh aewan*.rpm

On the official website, there are also instructions to compile from source, Slackware users and users of other distros which doesn't have a package build should compile manually with the usual:

$ tar -zxf aewan-1.0.01.tar.gz
$ cd aewan-1.0.01
$ ./configure
$ make
$ su -c "make install"

For those inrested to make animations with aemakeflic you need to first save a multiple layers of pictures. The idea of creating ASCII art video is pretty much like the old school way to make animation "draw every scene" and movie it. Once all different scene layers of the ASCII art animation are prepared one could use  aemakeflic to export all the ASCII layers as common video.

aemakeflic has the ability to export the ASCII animation in a runnable shell script to display the animation. The other way aemakeflic can be used is to produce a picture in kind of text format showing the video whether seen with  less cmd.
Making ASCII animation takes a lot of time and effort. Since i'm too lazy and I lack the time I haven't tested this functionality. Anyways I've seen some ascii videos on telnet  to remote hosts (some past time); therefore I guess they were made using aewan and later animated with aemakeflic.

I will close this post with a nice colorful ASCII art, made with aewan (picture is taken from the project page):

Aewan Flipping Selection Screenshot
 

Download and Play Apogee’s Raptor (Call of the Shadows) DOS arcade game on GNU / Linux and BSD* with dosbox / Few words on Apogee and Shareware

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Since its early days dosbox has elolved a lot. For all those who haven't heard of dosbox, it is x86 Free Software Linux / FreeBSD DOS emulator

DosBox supports, almost all the game classics we used top lay in oldschool times when DOS (Disk Operating System ) version was running on top of most personal computer.

The most spread versions of DOS people used to use on their PCs were Novell (DR-DOS) more rarely used, and MS-DOS (The Microsoft DOS ver.).

I'm sometimes being sentimental about the past so I remembered for Raptor Call of the Shadows !

Having a bit of experience with DOSBox to run few DOS games I've decided to give a try with dosbox.

First I have to dig for this shareware, since this game is part of the sharewares, nowdays a binary version of it is freely distributed on the net.
Finding the game however took me about 10 minutes, as most of the download links for Raptor, were either dead or required some kind of registration. After a bit of look I found it on an old torrent with few seeders and succeded downloading.

For the convenience of people who would like to download run the Raptor arcade classic game check here

Nicely Raptor works out of the box directly launched with dosbox emulator.
Dosbox has packages for most Linux distributions.
I personally used it on my Debian Linux so installed via apt:

debian:~# apt-get install dosbox
...

The game works without any dosbox hacks, just download, unarchive and launch with dosbox:

hipo@debian:~$ wget http://www.pc-freak.net/files/Raptor_Call_of_The_Shadows_Apogee_arcade.tar.gz
...
hipo@debian:~$ tar -zxvf Raptor_Call_of_The_Shadows_Apogee_arcade.tar.gz
...
hipo@debian:~$ cd Raptor/
hipo@debian:/home/hipo/Raptor$ dosbox rap.exe

Apogee Raptor Screenshot Dosbox Debian linux

Raptor Call of the Shadows main screen linux debian

Dosbox raptor level

People like me 😉 who lived in that glorious times when DOS was a standard for a desktop operating system pretty much like MS Windows is today, certainly remember the awesome games produced by Apogee Software a company later known as 3D Realms

Apogee until this very day remain one of the greatest game creation companies in history of games. 3D Realms played a crucial role in development of PC game industry as well as has a great santimental value to probably million of old school arcade game addicts.

They can be ben undoubtedly can be praised for having created some of the most awesome arcade games for all times.

Some of the early hit games they created you probably know, few of the titles are:

  • Duke Nukem I, II
  • Arctic Adventure
  • Monster Bash
  • Stargunner
  • Commander Keen series
  • Wolfenstein 3D
  • Blake Stone
  • Terminal Velocity (Terminal Reality)
  • Shadow Warrior
  • Death Rally
  • Blood

Apogee was also notable for being a company to had established the so spread mostly during the late 80s up to the early years of the second millenium.

ShareWare model of distribution is an interesting phenomenon, that co-relates more or less with the ideas of Free Software.
The idea of ShareWare games was games are distributed for Free and the end customer (gamer) is asked to pay for a game only if he likes it.

Some of the shareware published games was available for free download and play, however the game was only bundled with only a number of game levels to unlock the rest of the game levels you had to play some money.

The shareware games produced were then freely published and shared via dial up access BBS nodes (A text based Bulletin Board System similar to nowdays Forums).
BBS has historically been the major way of sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas and opinions preceding the massive rise of the WEB.
Today most computer users would probably even haven't heard about BBS, if you like to have a general idea on how BBSes seemed to look dahmer.vistech.net .

ShareWare started to loose speed with the decline of BBS and the emergence of Free Software.

Some of the conceptual ideas of ShareWare found its way in "Open Source & Free Software", and commercial companies like RedHat and SuSE.

If you have tried some other Apogee games with Dosbox on Linux and FreeBSD and you can positively confirm they work it will be great. In theory all of the DOS games of apogee should work fine with dosbox. Any feedback or game recommendations of your favourite games of the DOS years are mostly welcome in comments. I'm curious to hear what was your favourite DOS game. Maybe when I have time I'll prepare a list of my favourite games put them here 😉