Org Profile: Linux Users Group

(Citizen Star News) - 2014-08-08 - Another fascinating service organization spawned by Star Citizen's affiliate enabled organizations system: Linux Users Group (LUG).

Arising from the Unofficial Linux Thread on the RSI Forums, and formed even before Chris Roberts' intention to release Star Citizen on Linux, the Star Citizen LUG tracks Linux developments and supports people aiming to use linux for related projects.

Even if you don't plan to support Linux (which btw - I hope to, Ed.), you should know these people's work are incredibly important to Star Citizen and gaming's future. With Microsoft's Windows doing a terrible job of supporting gamers, important developers like Valve and Cloud Imperium games are looking to alternatives. Valve famously starting the Linux based SteamOS project.

These alternatives "encourage" Microsoft to do better, or lose their grip on gamers. So support these folks.


Citizen Star News is proud to interview spokes-"penguins" Midgardsormur (admin of the org and the OP of the Unofficial Linux Thread) and pd12 (founder of the org):

Citizen Star News (CSN): What made you join/found LUG?

Midgardsormur: As a Linux enthusiast it seemed judging by it's name to be the only organization targeted specifically at Linux gamers that are going to be playing Star Citizen.

pd12: I liked having the united feeling and also the (planned) convenience of being able to just strike up a conversation about Linux or ask for help on some Linux problem/fix. I guess that's why the Linux threads on the forum existed.

CSN: What does it mean to you, what drives you to make sure this exists?

Midgardsormur: I think that it is important for Linux users to have a place to turn to within the SC community and I feel that LUG is the organization best fitting that role. Before joining LUG I created the Unofficial Linux Thread to temporarily fill this role (which it is still at this point doing reasonably well). It can be hard for Linux users to blend in with Windows and OS X users when it comes down to any tech talk since the systems are so hugely different (i.e. problem solutions usually are not going to work accross platforms), the biggest potential problem is however biases against operating systems that someone is not using or has never used before, which can often be the source of intense flamewars. It's basic prejudice coming from our natural fear of the unknown, it is to be expected. You can see it happening all over the Steam community for example where Windows users are in the majority, they often hop in to threads asking for Linux support just to (troll) flame Linux which they often have never even used. I cannot speak for Mac users, but I imagine it is much the same for them too if they bring up the topic of their favorite OS (X).

I think it's important to have a community outlet for Linux users to turn to where they can feel comfortable talking to people about Linux. Somewhere they don't have to be at risk of getting flamed whenever they bring up a discussion that leads to them saying they like Linux, and somewhere they can safely go and ask users for help with problems they encounter on Linux. But to me, it just means that I get to be around and meet other people who use the same operating system as I so much prefer over everything else. I get to encounter more like-minded people than otherwise.

pd12: Having a helpful, friendly community is pretty important especially when "evangelising" Linux to non-Linux users including people whose perceptions may be tainted by 'die-hard Linux fanboys' who flame and troll all non-Linux users etc. As I said before, for me it's great to have a place to chill and chat and troubleshoot stuff while maintaining that link out-of fiction, and for those who want to, in-fiction as well.

CSN: How do you plan to spend the time and build an organization as the game draws closer to launch?

Midgardsormur: I don't, people will come if they want to and we're already 90 members strong. What I do to give the organization some visibility is link to it in the original post of the Unofficial Linux Thread so that anyone who finds that thread will very likely find this organization as well. This is fairly convenient as it is the most active Linux discussion thread on the Star Citizen forums. Apart from this, we're a very open ended organization with management discussed in plain sight (currently it all goes down in a group message conversation on SC's site but hopefully we can set up some private forums later) where everyone gets to have a say and there is no one person deciding anything. So most of what we'll be doing up till launch will be internally working out which rules we need to have, with the goal of keeping the list as short and simple as possible.

pd12: Personally I'd definitely do a lot of dog fighting when I get my new DX11 graphics card (in lieu of not having a Linux client yet). I also thoroughly enjoy all the comm-link posts and ask a dev forum posts. On the organisation side, I'm hoping org v2 drop will happen soon, with internal forums and hopefully affiliate roles so more players can be active in our org since our org is mainly an out-of-universe one, most member's main will be something in-fiction, like a bounty hunter's guild or merchant guild and won't be able to take up roles/jobs requiring those statuses in our org. Not to mention me personally, wanting to also have a small org with a group of IRL friends.

CSN: What are your thoughts on how the organization is going to work? What services does/will it provide?

Midgardsormur: We are a very open organization, anyone can join (this includes members of rivaling factions, pirates and legal traders, windows users, os x users, bsd users and linux users... there is no elitism here, you don't even have to know the first thing about Linux to be welcomed, or so I hope.) As such we need to have rules in place that can handle complete opposite types of people meeting in the same place, rules that prevent people from using any events our organization plans to have a go at their rivals, and rules that prevent people from flaming each other. Those are the most worrying bits as is, but luckily we have a lot of time. I am hoping that we will be able to provide unofficial support for people running Star Citizen on Linux, for example, they won't have to leave the game and go to the forums to ask questions, they don't have to contact customer support directly, we can be the first place they turn to, customer support can be the last. It is very much the Linux way to just go ask the community when you're in doubt (as opposed to customer support, as we often don't even have direct customer support for some applications that we run, it is also common that support is asked for on the forums specific to your linux distributions rather than the one for the actual application you're having problems with, this implies a certain mindset.)

I also hope that we can be a place that people can turn to if they are just purely interested in Linux and want to know more about it, if they want help choosing the right distribution for them to try first, if they want to know if Linux is something for them. We don't have any specific goal, we just want to be there for people if they have a need to talk about Linux and end up doing it in the Star Citizen community, no matter if they're actually linux users or not. But I imagine most of our function will be to assist people who get into trouble with running Star Citizen on Linux as we can provide in-game support for Linux specific problems, we can tell them if anyone else is encountering the same issue as they are or if there is a known fix (or conversely if there is not a known fix) that is what I think is going to end up being our primary purpose.

pd12: Our org will always be an open, flat, volunteer-run org and have a helpful and friendly community where people can come to ask Linux questions and get help for Linux related questions like - I run Y window manager, how do you get this windowed well or over multiple monitors, share config files for joysticks etc. We'll also be discussing other related real-world news as we have been doing in the forum thread including games coming to Linux and Linux gaming developments like SteamOS.

CSN: How does SteamOS factor into your plans for SC?

Midgardsormur: For me it does nothing at all. SteamOS is after all just another Debian based Linux distribution, and I've been over at the Arch/Gentoo side of Linux since day one.

It cannot be denied that it has an effect though. SteamOS and Steam for Linux are the reason Linux is getting media spotlight right now, they are the reason why we now have hundreds of full fledged video games on Linux easily accessible and available without a hassle (as opposed to having more like one hundred full fledged games and only half of them easily accessible before Valve's campaign to drive people to use Linux) SteamOS can very easily be the reason that CryTek announced their plans for Linux support this year (they would have probably taken a lot longer otherwise even if we know they had it planned for a long time already) and I imagine the vast majority of people playing Star Citizen on Linux in the future, will be running SteamOS to do it. We are pretty sure that if Valve pushes it's new Steam Machines and SteamOS out the door before the release of Star Citizen (which is very likely) there will be a mountain of users running Star Citizen on SteamOS who have never used Linux before, but we can be here to help make them feel welcome to a new (old) platform.

pd12: While I probably won't have a dedicated SteamMachine running SteamOS [our HTPC is really lite -read weak- and runs XMBC on Xubuntu], I might have it as a distro to log into (as I have for KDE, XFCE, XMBC, Unity sessions). However, SteamOS coming as a result of Steam on Linux means we can play SC on Linux, and with in-home streaming, possibly play SC on our Linux system (with the game running on a Windows system) before it even comes out officially on Linux! However, I think SteamOS and big picture Steam (on Linux) means I can play it on my big TV screen easily. Personally I think SteamOS will be big in the sense that PC games can now be played "on console, in the living room, on the TV screen"; which will open up SC to "console users" or those who want to play in their living room.

CSN: Is the org going to have an existence inside the lore? Do we presume that there is a Linux in 2944?

Midgardsormur: Linux is a very resilient beast, it sprung up from the middle of nowhere in the early 90s, and it has only been gradually growing stronger with every passing year ever since, this and the last year being the most impressive for it since it has finally become an actually viable gaming platform over this period. I mean it always was, but... it didn't have any games, now it does. I would be unsurprised if Linux would survive into 2944 in some form. If not Linux, then at least the dominant operating system in that time I hope will be an open source one (we can see this trending, with HP's upcoming open source OS slated for 2018 (beta) release). But if there is any currently existing OS that can survive the extinction of the current computer architecture which is getting very old (as HP has proven) as well as the death of modern processor technology (as we hit the end of moore's law, which is nigh) it would be Linux.

I don't know if we actually will have a place in the lore (TBD) but I can see it happening in various ways.

pd12: Haha yes, we'll have an optional in-universe "fiction" of Linux running even in 2944 and that we LUG members are avid users of it (read our History section after the ". . ." break). Being open-source, and also powerful and flexible (it runs on most of the servers of the world, all Android phones, many embedded applications, high performance computing - supercomputers), I find it very likely to exist in the far future. Whether it may be in the form of a branch or still Linux Kernel v133.7 with quantum-quantum computing maintained by Linus Torvalds the 36th (jk) or something we haven't imagined yet, I think it's more than 50% likely. Read http://vcpd12.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/the-rise-of-linux.html for a rant I posted about it earlier in the year =P

CSN: What do you think will be the mascot for Ubuntu 2944.04 LTS?

Midgardsormur: A Midas Fish, what else?

pd12: I hesitate to calculate the years and releases and divide by 26 to find the letter for the alliteration but ... probably something alien (Banu, Xi'an) with a relatively new "English" adjective borrowed from that alien language. Definitely not flo-pet since that fad's over. =P

CSN: What could CIG do for you to help you be successful? What do you need in the Star Citizen 'verse?

Midgardsormur: To be honest it's a bit early to tell with the game not released and all, but what they definitely can do is give us Linux alpha/beta builds as soon as they possibly can get around to it so we can start flooding them with bug reports like a horde of angry penguins so that we can in turn help them make the Linux build as stable as possible before release (or shortly thereafter). Apart from this it would be nice if the game would have as few dependencies as possible for people who like minimal installs as well as for people who perhaps do not like one of the potential dependencies (I for example absolutely hate pulseaudio's guts, but I am forced to use it if I want to use Skype).

But as I am expecting the Linux version to be very buggy considering CryTek doesn't seem to have been going at it all too enthusiastically up till this point, it would be very good to have is a good set of testing tools (FPS & Ping/Latency meters, Console output access), and of course Surround Sound Support! (which is forgotten by too many applications on Linux)

pd12: Please drop them org private forums (so we can do polls and host member-only discussions for those 'dry' talks about org management), the ability for affiliate members to have roles, and I'd be over the moon. (Probably also literally in-universe, if not in KSP =P). We'll also need in-game communication so we can just chat and discuss stuff as well as troubleshoot problems for each other. To be honest, what we really need to be successful (imho) are helpful, warm and active members, which we already have and our great community is growing! =)