Why it may be difficult for opensource software in companies

In my projects, I pay more attention to using open source software (hereinafter OSS) whenever possible. Especially when it comes to server software, OSS is well and strongly represented. Apart from that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with hosting the services yourself.

Why? A few important aspects:

  • Nothing disappears in ominous, bloated cloud infrastructures.
  • You know what happens to the data.
  • “Self-hosting” gives you full control over the server without “big players” like Microsoft, Google and the like having access to the services (and the data).
  • The above, in turn, has a positive effect on data protection (GDPR) if implemented correctly.
  • You save costs and still don’t have to do without services that are up-to-date.
  • Mostly better -because shorter- update supply (security).
  • One is “less” affected by the blatant security gaps of the big players. This comparison may be a little lame, since there are security gaps in OSS and “Linux”. Yes, even blatant, dangerous ones.
  • However, such gaps are mitigated more quickly than with proprietary software. When I think of the Exchange security gaps of the last few months, I remain completely relaxed because I don’t use MS Exchange, but an alternative.

 

Approach – a fictional digression

As an IT professional, you try to find the optimal platform for a company according to the requirements profile, compare various providers, always keep the GDPR in mind and yes, you may come to the conclusion that, due to the field of activity, open source alternatives are available for 95% of all [online] activities (video meeting, mail, contacts, calendar, active sync, cloud storage) are sufficient and are also cost-saving.

Important: OSS is not free in the corporate environment if you value professional product support from the manufacturer!

Unfortunately, it’s still the case that as an “IT person” you’re often the sole entertainer [SoHo area].

In other words, you cover everything from project management to user and hardware support, security, server administration, support for specialist applications and organizational activities. Due to the priority that IT has nowadays and of course also because of the complexity of the systems, the responsible admin (whether open source or not) has additional support (a service provider) up his sleeve! Because what if you don’t know what to do anymore?

Thank god there are many companies nowadays that a.) offer OSS and b.) also support this software! That wasn’t always the case!

Structure of an OSS communication solution

Anyone who thinks that Microsoft (with Windows, Office [365], Exchange etc.) is not part of the standard these days has slept through the last 25+ years. For example, if you plan to put an existing system based on Microsoft solutions on an open communication platform (server & client), it will certainly be difficult. User acceptance is of immensely high priority!

Phased plan

Step 1: Commissioning of an OSS communication platform (server-side) while retaining the desktop applications (Outlook).

Goal: The user should not notice anything about the change. The usual email client remains in use. It is connected to the Active Directory (user/group administration).

Possible problem: In order to be able to continue using Outlook, an Outlook connector is installed on each client. This connector ensures that all functions (shared calendar, e-mails, contacts, notes, etc.) are available as usual, although no MS Exchange Server is [any longer] running “in the background”. From time to time, however, an Outlook update on the interface (= communication with the connector) changes a small thing, which in turn can mean that some functions (e.g. the shared calendar) do not work out of the blue more are available.

In such a case, the connector must be adapted (updated) by the provider. The admin then has to roll out this connector again.

This game is repeated again and again and of course (apart from the displeasure of the users) is an effort for the admin. At some point the connector could be discontinued!

Step 2: Switch to a “native” client = a “desktop mail client” with the OSS solution / replace MS Outlook.

Yes, MS Outlook will be “taken away” from users. Sounds easy, but it is not… ­čśë

Such a step must be taken very carefully. The users are to be trained and taken by the hand before the exchange. Ultimately, however, this milestone is also successful if you have done enough persuasion (and have a lot of patience). The Outlook Connector is – like the synchronization problems with Outlook – history!

Step 3: Integration of mobile devices (e.g. via Activesync — zpush)

An additional service (e.g. ActiveSync) will be put into operation so that “mobile end devices” can also have a say.

The system is running

Over time – years later – (and I can only speak for myself here), you learn to appreciate the platform more and more.

  • The system is stable
  • The problems are extremely limited
  • No failures due to software updates
  • Minimal hardware requirements (compared to the business products of the big players)
  • Low running costs compared to current standard products from other suppliers
  • In the worst case: A local contact person who is also available

The demands are increasing

  • A cloud service wouldn’t be bad? But data sovereignty should not be given up?
  • How about a video conferencing solution, but please without chasing the data over X servers that are outside of your sphere of influence?
  • A ticket system is also on the agenda!
  • A company-wide chat platform is also planned…

No problem

  • Why not Nextcloud to be able to paint clouds in the digital sky like the big ones?
  • Video conference… hm, how about BigBlueButton, or – a little less complex – with Jitsi Meet?
  • The ticket problem could be solved with an OS ticket, among other things…
  • You could “chat” with Rocket-Chat…

Everything is possible – of course with a one-off effort. But if it works, then it works.

high noon

With all the efforts that you may have put into a functioning OSS solution over the years, it can almost always happen that suddenly a different wish is on the agenda of the decision-makers. This applies to all software products that do not correspond to the usual standard.

Statements like: “Why don’t we actually use solution X everywhere?”, “…can’t we use what everyone has?”, “…so software X is crap because everything looks different from software Y from that time”, “program X does not work” (often an operating error) etc. etc.

are probably known to many.

Once these phrases have manifested themselves in people’s minds, it becomes difficult to argue against them – regardless of whether the above statements arose from solvable problems or have other reasons. Using the example of┬á the “LiMux” project in munich you can see how tricky it can get. The Limux project was started in 2004, after which there was back and forth (Linux installed – “Microsoft” gone, Linux gone – Microsoft “installed”… to be continued).

user view

From the user’s point of view, the matter (as already mentioned above) is of course difficult. Especially when the supposedly loved and familiar standard software is exchanged for another software product. Even if the new product is better. It doesn’t matter whether it’s proprietary or not. It is essential that a new platform looks fundamentally different and requires alternative operation.

We are bombarded with advertising every day that only has proprietary software solutions on the agenda. I would never have seen ads that talked about “Linux” or OSS.

Schools

Computer lessons – already in elementary school. Great! Which softwareplatform is preached? (I leave the answer open).

Which alternatives are shown? I have an answer ready: NONE!

This also applies to most secondary schools, by the way!

Corona and digitization

In the course of the corona pandemic, everyone became aware of how important digitization is. The intensification of the “home office” that had become necessary meant that technologies such as video conferences, online meetings, etc. had to be dealt with. Up to this point, many people had nothing to do with the topic of “video conferences and online meetings”. The infrastructure was missing. Of course, the big providers jumped on this bandwagon. There was a time window in which, for example, MS Teams itself was made available to companies free of charge.

Quite useful and a concession from Microsoft.

If you think about it further (assuming you don’t have an Office 365 subscription yet):

  • MS Teams is in use due to corona (due to the situation you have to deal with it every day, get to know and appreciate it).
  • Optimum compatibility with the MS Office track is only given if you use a complete MS Office (subscription) (Word, Excel, Powerpoint…) – including Microsoft Exchange.
  • Ultimately, in terms of productivity (and above all compatibility), you can jump on the Office 365 bandwagon if it is feasible with the existing budget.
  • This in turn makes all other products (mail solution, video conference solution, chat solution…) “incompatible” and obsolete on the server side, even if everything runs perfectly.

Specialist applications – There was something else…

I see all of the above as arguments that may pop up against using open source. Now there is one thing though. A killer argument – especially if you also use “OSS Office” on the desktop PC.

Companies often use so-called specialist applications. These applications use various interfaces, for example, in order to be able to exchange data with other programs. What counts is what is standard! On a desktop PC, the standard mentioned is “Microsoft Office”.

Another platform is not supported. I can well remember a discussion with a developer. When asked why not also e.g. Open-Office is supported, I got a dry one: “I DEFINITELY NOT support an additional platform!” That was the end of the discussion.

As a company, you are therefore bound to the Microsoft Office track. As they say in Austria: “The train goes over there!”

One leads to the other

Before the “cloud” was pushed from all sides, volume licenses for MS Office, for example, could be used without hesitation, which did not require an online subscription to various services. Depending on the license model, a one-time investment had to be made and “Office” was then in use until the end of support. A lot was (and is) still running “in-house” — including the communication infrastructure – maybe even on an OSS basis!

Today people are pushing into the “cloud”. Cloud subscriptions, paid according to the number of users and month are the hot topic. The “all-round carefree package”, exchange – online included and always up to date.

So now you have on the one hand an “MS Office on the desktop compulsion” and on the other hand Office packages that may soon only be offered as part of Office 365. Oh yes… you also want to use MS Teams (included in Office 365).

Summarized

  • Cloud solutions are being pushed
  • Mandatory MS Office due to lack of interfaces to alternative Office products
  • Desire for standard software for online meetings: MS teams should be used sensibly and productively
  • MS Exchange is a prerequisite for the intuitive use of all Office applications (reinforced by the MS Teams theme!)

All the facts of the entire article taken together: where do you think the path leads?

Conclusion

I want to make it clear that my article is not intended to criticize or pillory Microsoft or any other software vendor. But on the contrary. The Microsoft Office 365 platform is mature and unmatched in terms of cross-program collaboration and compatibility.

Nevertheless, I URGENTLY ask you to give OSS a chance! OSS can easily cover many requirements and helps to save costs.

Don’t give up and support (use) OSS solutions wherever possible and sensible. Displacing existing proprietary top dogs in the corporate environment from the desktop is difficult if not impossible without your own development department. On the server side, however, there are still many ways to build on OSS! Ideally self-hosted! Your data should be worth it to you.

Thank you for reading!

EA Sports NHL Hockey 2022 – the puck and bug all inclusive

As a follower of the NHL series on the PC, I bought a PS4 a few years ago, to continue the series. I still don’t understand why EA isn’t bringing out NHL for the PC alongside FIFA. The assumption is that ice hockey is not very widespread in our latitudes. The game itself is really entertaining. After a long period of abstinence, I decided two weeks ago to invest in NHL 2022. One reason for this was the new engine called “Frostbite” and a few additional extras. My last NHL hockey on PS4 was Versoin 2018.

After a few simple adjustments to the controls, I started (as always) with an NHL season. As a team, it had to be the Pittsburgh Penguins (my standard).

The puck and the players whiz across the field. The effects are crisp, the moderator a bit monotonous, but still not bad.

I am struggling to follow the course of the game. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea after all that I set the game speed (realism) to rather high. A few passes (from the opponent) later it rattles. I’m 0: 1 behind. Damn!

There is no giving up! Suddenly I have the feeling of the “underdog” … I still have to turn the match!

After a breakaway, a faked shot and a cross pass in front of the goal, my center (Crosby) hammers the puck into the net. Out of sheer euphoria, sitting in front of the monitor, I clench my fist and think to myself: “yes, lets go!”

Synching …

I watch the repetition, which is played automatically … The Pittsburgh logo appears … at the top right it says “Synching …” and still “Synching” …

In the background I can tell that the game is already going on, as the commentator happily comments how my opponent scores the next goal without me even noticing anything! WTF! Feels like a hundred – gamepad keystrokes later, I give up annoyed and choke the console off.

Research and Conclusion

Ultimately, I tried my trusted search engine and discovered that NHL Hockey 2022 has a bug that has still not been fixed. How the hell (sorry) can EA fail to notice such a bug? Have the ladies and gentlemen there ever heard of quality control? So I’ve now spent around EUR 60 on a game that I can’t play because it has a massive bug.

Debian Testing no stable platform for gaming?

I’ve been testing a lot of Linux gaming lately. My preferred platform here was “Debian Testing”. Basically, I use Debian GNU Linux for a lot of projects and that’s why I’m pretty familiar with it. But the following has happened in the last few days:

  • I performed a dist-upgrade.
  • In the course of the upgrade, many of the 32-bit components from Lutris and Wine were replaced (updated).

After the upgrade, I restarted my PC and tested everything. Ultimately, I found that some of the games I installed stopped working. World of Tanks started briefly, but ended by itself. Some Steam games did not start either. I then tried to find the error for a while, but failed.

The experiments begin

A few hours later, I didn’t want to just accept that, I thought about what the goal of “Gaming under Linux” should be or should be:

  • The “gamer” must be provided with a platform that can be easily installed.
  • Maintenance must be relatively easy to accomplish.
  • The packages should be as current as possible.
  • The distribution itself must be able to be classified as “stable”.

Pop OS!

In connection with the headline “Gaming under Linux” one reads again and again about POP OS!, which is fundamentally based on Ubuntu Linux. POP OS! should be THE gaming platform. Well, let’s try it!

I use an NVIDIA graphics card, which is why I download the ISO file with the integrated proprietary NVIDIA driver right away. The installation itself is to be classified as self-explanatory. For the installation of Steam, I use the one in POP-OS! integrated software management. In contrast to Linus Tech Tips (video), the steam installation does not destroy my X server (apparently this has been improved).

After logging in and installing some games in Steam, I noticed that NONE of the installed games (including Linux-native games) are working. When you click on Start, a window briefly pops up and the game status then jumps back to Start. The game hangs immediately after it starts. I put almost no energy into troubleshooting itself. There were some contributions to this problem, but they did not help me with my problem.

Aside from the Steam issue, Pop OS! 2-3 times, it must freeze, or show me the GUI, but no longer accept any input. Sorry, I don’t have time for that!

Bye, bye Pop OS! Unfortunately, a newcomer to Linux can’t do anything with it like this and is annoyed to be thrown in the towel.

Debian Stable

Still convinced that my original problem (Debian Testing) was triggered by the fact that Debian Testing can also be “unstable”, the good Debian Stable has now been released. After installing the NVIDIA drivers, I tried apt to install Steam, which updated (to the latest version of Steam) immediately after starting. Unfortunately, however, I never got to the login window. Why? Well, Steam crashed with a “Memory segmentation error” shortly after starting it. After never having problems with my RAM, I ruled out a hardware defect.

Unfortunately, Debian Stable did not lead to the desired goal in my test either. In that case, too, I didn’t waste much time trying to find the bug, so I jumped to the next distribution.

Manjaro Linux

It was not an easy step for me to turn my back on Debian-based distributions. Manjaro Linux is a distribution based on Arch Linux. I have 0 experience with Arch. However, Manjaro should also be suitable for “Arch beginners”. Here, too, the installation is very quick and easy. As always, an ISO file serves as the basis. Regarding the GUI, you are spoiled for choice between XFCE, GNOME and Plasma. I choose Gnome as my desktop environment. The NVIDIA installation is done directly during the installation.

Now I started installing Steam, Wine and Lutris using the “Add / Remove Software” application. The following was selected:

  • steam-manjaro
  • steam-native
  • lutris
  • playonlinux
  • wine
  • winetricks

Meanwhile, rather skeptical, I logged into Steam and tested a few games. Oh it all works. Sensational! Due to the success, I was in good spirits that my beloved World of Tanks under Lutris is running again. I shouldn’t be disappointed. Everything is running smoothly.

Conclusion and closing words

I definitely don’t want to badmouth a distribution here and just refer to whether or not you can start gaming immediately after installation. In the case of POP OS! and also Manjaro Linux I’m a total newbie. In my tests, the requirement was that everything (games and platforms) had to work immediately after installation. It is essential to mention that there is no such thing as THE distribution for games. Nor can one assume that games that were actually produced for Windows run or work consistently under “Linux”. Especially with regard to Windows games and the ongoing development of Linux (packages), incompatibilities can arise that prevent games from starting. Strictly speaking, you should (if everything works so far) no longer upgrade your installed distribution in order not to run into problems. This does not work insofar as you are dependent on security updates and these should be installed promptly. Pinning Wine, Lutris, Playonlinux etc. could possibly be carried out. (This would mean that the installed versions would no longer be updated). It remains to be seen how far I can get with Manjaro Linux.

Either way, I advise anyone interested in Linux to use Linux and, if possible, only buy games that can be run “native” on Linux.

Requests, suggestions, complaints, tips and positively intended criticism are welcome via the comment function. ­čÖé

 

I am switching to multilanguage

In order to increase the reach of my blog and to be able to provide assistance outside of the German-speaking area from time to time, I have meanwhile translated the last posts into English and activated a language switch (see above right). In the future I will also try to offer all contributions in two languages. Of course, I will slowly but surely also offer all important older articles in at least two languages.

 

Running World of Tanks with Debian GNU Linux & Lutris

Many Windows games now also run under “Linux” thanks to Steam & Proton. Since I definitely want to “get away” from MS Windows at home, but can also be called a gamer, some of my games are quite important to me. In addition to many other activities, I occasionally need a game or two to “come down” after a stressful day at work.

Apart from that, it would be a shame if many of the games you bought could no longer be used. As such, many of the games work very well on Steam 4 Linux & Proton. (I will probably write a separate article on this).

Steam says “No!”

I have been indulging in this MMO game for 7 years now. From this it becomes clear that I probably already have a few rounds “under my belt” and have already researched and bought a lot in the game. You could almost think that all I have to do now is get ÔÇťgood at the gameÔÇŁ. But that’s a different story ?

So far I tried unsuccessfully to get WoT to work via Steam. Basically, it always failed because WoT (and thus Wargaming) relied on their own launcher, the Wargaming Game Center. When starting WoT via Steam, it was criticized that the game center is not installed, although the necessary .EXE file has been downloaded.

Finally I gave up WoT on Steam under Linux.

Regardless, as it is not possible to link a not steam-wot-account to Steam! (If you ran WoT outside of Steam and you would like to switch to Steam, you have to start your tanking-career all over again!)

Requirements for WoT on Linux

Distribution

In terms of distribution, I use Debian Bookworm (testing). I added contrib and non-free to the Debian repository (/etc/apt/sources.list).
I’m sure that the distribution doesn’t make the difference, since you have to access additional “non-Debian” repos either way.

Important: The commands (below) are to be executed in the console. It is necessary to work with the superuser “root”!

Installation of Nvidia drivers (for NVIDIA-Card-owners)

It is important, that you use the mostly latest NVIDIA-Driver. At the time writing this, this was:

Installation of the necessary kernel headers and compiler tools

  • apt-get install linux-headers – $ (uname -r)
  • apt-get install build essential

Download the appropriate driver from www.nvidia.com. Then use the console to switch to the directory in which you downloaded the driver and make it executable:

  • chmod + x NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-470.74.run
  • Note: The driver name can vary!

Note: If you have a different graphics card, you must of course install the appropriate driver for you!

Reboot (without GUI) and start NVIDIA driver installation

  • systemctl set-default multi-user.target
  • reboot
  • Change to the directory in which the download is located
  • Call ./NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-470.74.run (Attention: Driver name can vary!)

The installation process now starts in the console. Please install the 32-bit libraries in any case (answer the query with “YES”). Overwrite existing files with the files of the installer and also start nvidia-xconfig.

Reboot into the GUI

  • systemctl set-default graphical.target
  • reboot

Lutris and Wine

It is important to include additional package sources. These are:

Wine  (/etc/apt/sources.list.d/wine.list)

  • deb https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/debian/ bookworm main

Apart from that, the architecture i386 has to be activated:

  • dpkg -add-architecture i386

And import the winehq key (apt):

  • wget -nc https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/winehq.key
    apt-key add winehq.key

Finally, wine has to be installed

I am going for the most current release possible and therefore install “wine-staging”.

  • apt-get update
  • apt-get install wine-staging

Lutris (/etc/apt/sources.list.d/lutris.list)

Additional package sources must also be added for Lutris:

  • deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/strycore/Debian_11/ ./

Import key (apt)

  • wget -q https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/strycore/Debian_11/Release.key -O-
    apt-key add –

Now we are installing lutris

  • apt-get update
  • apt-get install lutris

Version check

lutris:
Installed: 0.5.9.1
Installation candidate: 0.5.9.1
Version table:
*** 0.5.9.1 500
500 http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/strycore/Debian_11 ./ Packages
100 / var / lib / dpkg / status

wine:
wine staging:
Installed: 6.19 ~ bookworm-1
Installation candidate: 6.19 ~ bookworm-1
Version table:
*** 6.19 ~ bookworm-1 500
500 https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/debian bookworm / main amd64 packages
100 / var / lib / dpkg / status

nvidia driver:
Type: Proprietary
Version 470.74
Source: www.nvidia.com

Start Lutris – install World of Tanks

I already had World of Tanks installed on Windows. My first thought was to copy the WoT directory onto my “Linux disk” in the directory structure of Wine. Then “install” the Wargaming Game Center in Lutris and after starting the Wargaming Game Center simply specify the directory in which WoT is located (import game). However, this project turned out to be problematic because an error message appeared when trying to import the game into the WGGC. Basically this was: “The specified file is not a directory” – although I had selected a directory.

Note: The Lutris Games (Wine) are usually located in the home directory of the logged in user. The directory itself is hidden.

Just to illustrate: I tried to copy WOT into the directory /home/gestl/.wine/drive_c/wot and then integrate it (without downloading) into the game center. Unfortunately, as mentioned, this did NOT work.

The solution

First download the World of Tanks installer (Gamecenter): https://eu.wargaming.net/de/games/wot

Then just start Lutris and add the downloaded file “manually” using the plus symbol (top left), choosing Wine as the starter.

Below you can see that I’m adding the installer (which I downloaded) via Lutris:

Then save, run the installer via Lutris and click on “INSTALL”.

WoT is usually installed in the directory: / home / <user> /.wine/drive_c/Games/World_of_Tanks_EU.

If you have already downloaded WoT under Windows

If you have already installed WoT on a Windows disk, you can shorten the download under Linux. Let the game center start the download of WoT and run it briefly so that the corresponding directories are created. Then you cancel the download and copy the contents of the WoT directory from Windows into the folder in which “Linux-WoT” is located. You just overwrite existing files.

Add World of Tanks Starter to Lutris

The WoT launcher can also be added manually to Lutris after downloading (or copying). The file is called: /home/user/.wine/drive_c/Games/World_of_Tanks_EU/wgc_api.exe.

Then your lutris should look like this. In my case the wgc_api.exe is hidden in the “Button” World of Tanks GC:

The start of WoT

If everything went well, the game center should now start, your login into the same should be successful and WoT should start.

Additional Information – Gamecenter interferes start of WoT

Since some updates of WoT, you may notice, that the game itself runs into a blackscreen when starting it via the WoT – Gamecenter. If so, use Lutris and add the executable of WoT directly bypassing the Gamecenter. Just use the Gamecenter if you get informed, that you need to update WoT. I also noticed, that WoT is not starting (even if you use the WoT executable) if the Gamecenter runs in the background. So make sure the Gamecenter is closed, before you go for a WoT-session!