Category: technical

How To: Google App Inventor in Ubuntu 10.04

I was recently given access to Google’s App Inventor. You know, that ‘building-block’ development environment that’s supposed to make application development on Android handsets easy and fun?

If you’re like me, you followed the setup procedures provided by Google. And then you eagerly created a new project and tried to start the “Blocks Editor”, as per the next set of instructions provided by Google. And then things broke.

The Blocks Editor requires super user permissions to run, otherwise the web start crashes. Here’s how to easily launch the Blocks Editor.

From the command line, create a file


and make it executable

chmod +x

and open it in your favorite editor.

Paste the following into the file

gksudo /usr/bin/javaws $1

and save it!

Now when you click “Open the Blocks Editor” and it asks you what program you want to open it with, point it to that script. It will ask for your root password (the gksudo part does that) and Blocks Editor has everything it needs to set itself up. No more crash!

X-COM: UFO Defense, Steam, and DOSBox

I recently purchased the X-COM: Complete Pack during the Steam Perils of Summer sale, and of course I wanted to run the game in my Ubuntu (10.04) partition. Turns out it’s really easy. Steam runs the game in DOSBox, and DOSBox is available natively in Ubuntu.

First, I’ll assume you’ve already got access to the Steam-installed version of the game (either through Steam running in Wine or Steam on a Windows partition). I copied the XCOM game directory to a convenient location. You can find the XCOM directory at wherever your Steam install is…

Steam/steamapps/common/xcom ufo defense/XCOM

and I copied that to


You can do the same from the command line, assuming you have a Wine-installed version of Steam, by copying the entire block below and pasting it into a console. Don’t mind if the text runs further than this window allows. The entire command should copy when selected.

cp -r \
/home/myaccount/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/Steam/steamapps/common/xcom\ ufo\ defense/XCOM/ \

Now install DOSBox. From the command line,

sudo aptitude install dosbox

When that’s done, run dosbox from the command line.


Or from the Applications bar.

Applications > Games > DOSBox Emulator

This will open the DOSBox window. You’ll notice it mounts the ‘z’ drive by default. We want to mount the ‘c’ drive, which as you’ll recall we created in /home/myaccount/Games/dos/c/

In DOSBox type

mount c /home/myaccount/Games/dos/c/

And change the focus to the c drive by typing


Now we just navigate to the XCOM directory.


and run the game


And that’s it! Just don’t ask me how to play the game because I’ve got no idea. (It drops you onto the globe and doesn’t give you any hint what you’re supposed to do next).

In a similar case, you could use the same method to run the original DOOM when purchased in Steam, or even Commander Keen.

From the Android of…

Writing this from my new phone. This takes me out of the stone age. I used to have a Motorola Razr. It lasted me three years but recently stopped working 100%. Now I’m having fun with a Motorola Milestone.

What android needs now is a music marketplace. Then I might be compelled to stop listening to only free and creative commons music.

More Steam and Linux Goodies

I just want to say a quick word about this week’s Midweek Madness on Steam. It features 7 indie games. Seven! And all for $2 each or $9.99 for the whole bunch.

The two most relevant to this post are two that also have Linux binaries. There’s Altitude, a real-time, side-scrolling, shoot other planes while you fly game. The other is Galcon Fusion, a real-time, top-down, take over planets and wipe out the competition game.

The cool thing these two games are doing is, you purchase the game on Steam (presumably in your Windows partition or through wine), and then register the game. The game authenticates against their respective developers’ websites and have you create an account for each. Now that you’re registered, download the Linux binary/demo and then enter your account details (username and password). You now have two great full-version games you can play natively in Linux!

Install Doom 3 in Ubuntu (from Steam)

These are further instructions to the Ubuntu Community documentation on Doom 3 (and Resurrection of Evil). Where those instructions deal with installing from the retail CDs which you’d be hard-pressed to find any more, my instructions are how to install from an existing Steam installation.

The Steam version of Doom 3 most likely exists within a Windows partition on your computer, but I don’t see why you couldn’t install Steam/Doom3 via Wine and copy the files over from that.

First, download the Doom 3 Linux installer from id software (~20MB). As of the time of this writing, the file name is

Next, run the installer.

sudo sh

I left all options default, installing to /usr/local/games/doom3, which is why you need to run as sudo.

The game won’t run yet. We still have to copy the retail files over to the installation directory. So mount the Windows partition so we have access to those files.

The files we’re interested in are located in

Steam/steamapps/common/doom\ 3/base

and if you have the expansion

Steam/steamapps/common/doom\ 3/d3xp

and the CD-Keys (doomkey and xpkey) found in

Steam/steamapps/common/doom 3/base

To install Doom 3, navigate to the doom\ 3/base directory and copy each of




and if you are also installing Resurrection of Evil you’ll want to navigate to doom\ 3/d3xp and copy




That’s it. To launch the game you can type


from the command line, and to launch Resurrection of Evil you type

doom3 +set fs_game d3xp

But wait! There’s more! A common complaint at this point is that the Steam CD-Key does not work. Doom 3 expects 18 characters, but the Steam provided CD Key contains only 16 characters.

Easy solution.

Copy doomkey, and xpkey if you have it, from the Doom 3 Steam directory into your local doom3 home directory



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