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A blow by blow update regarding development of Desura for Linux.

Posted by Platima on Jul 27th, 2011

It's been quite a while since I wrote the last blog, but in my defense we've been very busy and have made a lot of progress (Watch this spot!). I decided that since this entry will be quite long, I'd split it into two different sections; news and information for gamers/Desura users, and interesting datums for developers. You might also be interested to know that at the moment it's 8:30pm (+0800 hours GMT), and I'm on a plane to Melbourne to spend the next few weeks in the office with the others to get the Linux port finished and out to you users! At the moment I'm about halfway across the Great Australian Bight, at about 12.5km (7.76mi) altitude, travelling at just under 1100kph (683.5mph) with an outside temperature of about -50 C (-58 F). I was also quite impressed with the food and drink Qantas provide their passengers, except the portions are tiny. My mates rat eats more than this!


Before I get into the actual thick of the blog, I'd like to thank everyone who commented on the previous blogs (here and here). We received lots of new information and constructive feedback, which we really appreciate! Sometimes though, it can be hard to keep up with the comments, so if you have game suggestions, ideas, or relevant information, please PM me. Sometimes it may take me a little while to reply, but every bit helps and we are adding everything to our information bank (trac server).

Ok enough of the ramblings for now, lets start with the news for gamers and Desura users.


Firstly, there's been a lot of discussion in forums and blog comments about how we're going to be handling the Desura Linux distribution, installation, and game installations. At initial release, Desura will simply be a small binary file to download from Desura, which may be compressed, or in some sort of signed package (yet to be decided). You place this binary anywhere on your system that you have write permissions, and when you run it, it will build the Desura folder around itself and download any remaining components. This is the decision we came to that abides by the Linux FSH, doesn't require any admin privileges, doesn't cause SELinux problems, and allows different users to have separate installations if they wish. Disk space is cheap, why note make the most of it?

Now, after download if you have a particularly old system (I'd estimate older than 3 years), or a system with minimal shared libraries, you may also need to install a few extras. The program will do its best to assist you with this, and we're doing everything we can to make it as widely compatible as possible! After the initial website release, we will also be doing what we can to get Desura hosted in any App Stores you can throw at us, such as the Ubuntu Software Center. For now we're also compiling the entire program and it's dependencies as 32bit, but if this proves to be problematic we will do a 64bit release too. As it stands, we can't foresee of any issues but feel free to PM me if you do!

The other major question was how we're going to handle game installations. There was a lot of debate about this as far as patches, user configs, etc, so we just decided that games would be installed into a 'games' folder under the Desura folder. This simplifies everything.

Oh, we're passing by Adelaide and I can see the city lights out the left window. You may not care, but I really do love plane trips! Less than an hour until arrival, so I should probably hurry up with this blog.


A particularly big discussion topic was theming. Personally I'd love for Desura to support the widget set/window manager theme, but we are also on a tight deadline. For the time being, we decided that we're sticking with native borders and title bars as you've seen, but the custom Desura theming for the application interface. I added a trac ticket though to add support for system themes down the track. I don't see it being too hard to achieve, and before then one of you users may even manage to write a hacked up Desura theme that tricks it into using the system theme. -nudge nudge-

I was also wanting to thank Liam Dawe from Gaming on Linux who I did a 3 part interview with recently (see here for the links). The questions were fantastic, and he was very patient with my delayed replies. It also put a lot of information out there for users and other interested people.

Next onto the more Desura development related stuff. We've done a lot in the Desura Linux port over the last few weeks, so heres a quick breakdown. Bugs:

  • Game icons now load
  • No longer crashes in Offline Mode
  • Program now exits cleanly
  • Chromium Embedded Framework is now actually embedded and functioning
  • Buttons and tabs load correctly
  • Changelog dialog shows correct title
  • and more

Port defects:

  • Games download
  • Games install
  • Settings page no longer shows Windows & Steam settings
  • Builds successfully in 32bit mode
  • The backend (mostly) supports Linux games (props to Scott)
  • Desura updates itself
  • Crash reporting works
  • CEF context menus work
  • and more

I also have made a lot of changes to our build and testing process, including our build script which now supports all sorts of nifty developer features like multithreaded building, compiling with LLVM/Clang, Release and Debug mode (this was mostly Mark), building only specific projects, etc. And for those of you interested, we are using GYP and our custom script as opposed to cmake, scons, bakefile or any others.

And now the last geeky/developer point: I decided to write the bootloader (more 'bootstrapper', but this is the name we've been using) all using Xlib. This was remarkably painful, but it means that any graphical Linux system should be able to download and run the initial Desura binary, which will then hopefully do the rest of the checks and download the remaining components.

I'm out for now. Take care everyone, and hopefully I'll get a chance to do another blog entry soon! At the end of this post will be some recent screenshots to keep you all excited!

Keith Poole
Linux Engineer / NPC

Quote of the week, this time from a close friend and fellow Linux user and developer aihtdikh. Some of you may get this, some may not, either way it had me laughing with tears in my eyes and has stuck with me since, so I decided to share it with everyone:
[on Gtalk] "OMG PWNIES!"

PS: While moving house, I found my blow up Tux. Yes, I'm that much of a Linux geek! Haha.

Post comment Comments  (50 - 83 of 83)
AtomicGaryBusey Aug 4 2011, 9:05pm says:

Dude, dude, dude!!! I've been on Desura for a little while, since PAX 2010 at least, but I had no idea you were porting the client to Linux. Kudos to you for sending out a newsletter to my email address with a big old "LINUX" enticement in it otherwise I'd never have known. Even the fact that you're thinking about it makes me waaaayyyyy more inclined to spend money with you guys.

This really makes me stoked. I've always tried to be a Linux gamer but it's so incredibly tough... I remember being awake for three days straight trying to get Mesa installed correctly on a fresh Debian system back in 2004, just to run Quake. I was sporting an ATi card back then and the drivers alone were a bitch to deal with, then you toss the damnable AGP gart incompatibilities in... I think it took me about two weeks of solid hacking before I could actually play 10 minutes straight of Quake 1.

Now we jump forward to today and I see the wonderful work you're doing. Thank you! I really do appreciate it!

It does make the SysAdmin in me cringe to see homedir installation and binary installers, but if that's what it takes to get into my hands quickly then so be it. I do see you've added a devnote to make paths configurable, which is stellar. Any chance of adding one so us Gentoo nuts can configure, make, make install like we all love via a src package? :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
mattjohn0169 Aug 5 2011, 5:17pm replied:

I may be misunderstanding you, but I'm pretty sure they won't be publishing the client source code.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Platima Author
Platima Aug 9 2011, 10:25pm replied:

Hey AtomicGaryBusey,

I didn't even know there was a newsletter sent out! Hah. I was pushing the guys to send one out to the mailing list though. Oh wait, I see, it was in the last newsletter :)

Ah to reminisce, I remember all those driver and library issues from back then. Thankfully the industry has caught on to Linux, if only a little.

You again misunderstood though (I think I did a bad job explaining myself. Haha). It's not a binary 'installer' as such, but just a single binary part of the package (with nearly no dependencies) that downloads the rest of Desura around itself. Eg: place it anywhere you want, run it, it'll create a 'Desura' folder, move itself into it, and download the rest of the components.

Unfortunately though there isn't going to be source packages available. Desura is closed source (for the foreseeable future at least), and our build process is also extremely complex.


+1 vote   reply to comment
frontsideair Aug 4 2011, 11:11pm says:

Is there something like open beta? Or close beta? I'd really like to try things out. I got some shiny new games via HumbleBundle and it'd be perfect time to try out the first game delivery system for Linux. (As far as I know.)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Platima Author
Platima Aug 9 2011, 10:25pm replied:

Just email and say you want to be on the Linux Beta list ;)


+1 vote   reply to comment
Zarius Aug 5 2011, 9:46am says:

Really looking forward to this! :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Tacco Aug 5 2011, 10:34am says:

Great...i can't wait....keep up the good work!!!

+1 vote     reply to comment
oldtopman Aug 7 2011, 9:33pm says:

I am looking forwards to this a lot. WINE only does so much ;)
A few questions:

Will you have 32 and 64 bit linux versions of the client?
Will you have 32 and 64 bit versions of the linux games?
You said it would try to help you with installing the libraries, but will this make it platform specific? I use Slackware myself, and as such I have to compile everything except for binary files. Perhaps a .tar.gz file that just lists deps is in order. Or something.
Again with the dependencies: Are you going to have Desura automatically test/remember your installed libraries?

Now for the requests (that you may have already done).
Can you allow us to download the Windows version? Some of us are willing to put up with WINE to play some exclusive. This could make DRM difficult though.
Add me to your beta program :P

Thank you for making a Linux client. I hope Desura goes on to inspire others to make Linux games.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Platima Author
Platima Aug 9 2011, 10:29pm replied:

Hi oldtopman,

With the 64 and 32 bit issues, as I mentioned somewhere else (I can't remember where sorry), we're focusing on a 64 bit client release first (this doesn't mean it can't run 32 bit games though). The games however are up to the game developers. Most of them ship with 32 and 64 bit, but not all.

As for libraries, we've decided to go down a different path, and all game dependencies will be shipped with the games, as they often depend on differing versions, and they're tiny anyway.

Also there's a ticket for WINE support (as mentioned), but it's not our first priority ;) As for beta testing just email saying you want to test Linux beta.

Thanks for your feedback!

+3 votes   reply to comment
KameZero Aug 9 2011, 11:38pm replied:

Uhhhhhhhh......... you wanna.... you wanna take another look at what you just said?

+2 votes     reply to comment
Platima Author
Platima Aug 11 2011, 7:22am replied:

Ah sorry my mistake, I meant focusing on 32bit first! Oops. Haha

+2 votes   reply to comment
aliendude5300 Aug 9 2011, 7:37pm says:

Can't wait for the Linux client to come out! Hopefully people finally start taking Linux as a gaming platform seriously.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Platima Author
Platima Aug 9 2011, 10:07pm says:

Hey people,

I'd also like to pose a question to other Linux gamers out there: How informative or helpful do you think it would be to have an 'Open Source' flag/category on games? It's something that I like the idea of, but will of course only be implemented if we can see good reason for it :)

Thanks in advance,

+4 votes   reply to comment
KameZero Aug 9 2011, 11:40pm replied:

Mmmm, I'd look at it like this: I personally wouldn't care past a "huh, that's cool". But there are people who would probably care about it. That's the positive. Now the negative: ... people who hate open source software wouldn't like it? There are people like that, right? Those crazy closed source zealots.

+1 vote     reply to comment
oldtopman Aug 10 2011, 12:38pm replied:

Seeing as you [Desura] encourage modding, having the source code would make that easier. You might want to flag it as "Hack-friendly" or whatever if the game supported hacks (minecraft) without handing out source code.

Flag it as mod-friendly instead.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Platima Author
Platima Aug 11 2011, 7:24am replied:

@KameZero and @oldtopman
Great points, thanks people :)

+1 vote   reply to comment
z0id Aug 13 2011, 7:04am replied:

Open source flag is nice. I think it would be good to know if you cand fix/file the bug you just encountered. :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Cheeseness Aug 24 2011, 9:58am replied:

Aside from being an Open Source enthusiast, I'd be keen to see at least some general licence details on whatever game I was looking at (be it closed or open source). I'd put that as being somewhere around as important as knowing whether there's DRM associated with a title.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Ficik Aug 13 2011, 1:38pm says:

Is there any changelog/twitter/something what we can follow to read about progress? I'm sooo excited about desure linux client and I'd really love to read more about development.

+4 votes     reply to comment
alexThunder Aug 14 2011, 11:11am replied:


I'd also like to read more about the progress - just can't wait :D

+2 votes     reply to comment
Platima Author
Platima Aug 14 2011, 11:15pm replied:

Hey sorry this blog is about it. Even this is hard to keep up with due to the workload! Hah.


+1 vote   reply to comment
alexThunder Aug 15 2011, 4:27pm replied:

*okay guy*

Well, at least anticipation is the greatest joy, isn't it? :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
AtomicGaryBusey Aug 20 2011, 11:26pm says:

Thanks for the intel on participating in beta. I just emailed in... hope I'm added to the list. Thanks for your replies to me previously, Keith.

+1 vote     reply to comment
ZarathustraDK Aug 21 2011, 8:27am says:

Also a big "thank you" from here ^^
On Ubuntu here. When you're used to .deb-packages then installing proprietary games can quickly become a tedious excercise for newbies who don't know about permissions, tar.gz, manually starting bin-files etc. Desura for Linux should hopefully lower that barrier. For my part, I'm looking forward to having a central game-app, instead of 50 different apps scattered around in debs, tars, bins, homedir-dot-folders etc.

Again, thank you very much ;)

+4 votes     reply to comment
kwski43 Aug 28 2011, 5:40am says:

looking forward for this

+2 votes     reply to comment
Ubris Aug 28 2011, 4:13pm says:

Same here, can't wait to erase my windows partition!

+3 votes     reply to comment
cheesekiller Aug 30 2011, 2:58pm says:

meh i dont suppose i'll be able to install the 32bit client on my 64bit machine will i?

+1 vote     reply to comment
KameZero Aug 31 2011, 5:28pm replied:

As long as you have the proper 32 bit libraries installed you should have no problem running any 32 bit program on a 64 bit system.

+1 vote     reply to comment
cheesekiller Sep 2 2011, 10:05pm replied:

meh but what libraries will i need?

+1 vote     reply to comment
rioninja Sep 5 2011, 8:01am replied:

What distro are you on? The libraries are usually called ia-32-libs-xxx or something similar. Some distros install these automatically if you try to install a 32-bit app. If not they're easy to install. In short, don't worry.

+1 vote     reply to comment
cheesekiller Sep 11 2011, 12:15pm says:

ok cool also im running 11.04 and will be running 11.10 soon

+2 votes     reply to comment
Taravel Sep 16 2011, 1:56pm says:

When Desura is available for Ubuntu will I be able to install games from Humble bundle asking them for a code?


+1 vote     reply to comment
cheesekiller Sep 17 2011, 3:49pm says:

<3 Ubuntu

+1 vote     reply to comment
hero1900 Nov 7 2011, 10:38pm says:

there is something i noticed when desura download the games it put all temporary files in hidden setting folders and then extract the game after finish (correct me if i am wrong) after that desura keep the file so at the end double size of all games, so if i do delete those file still desura will read my games. i mean meta data is written else where???

+1 vote     reply to comment
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