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Game Review: Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements

2 weeks 4 days ago
by Marcel Gagné

Welcome, young initiate. Do you have what it takes to become a full-fledged mage?

I've been playing a pre-release version of Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements, a classic role-playing game from Himalaya Studios, done in the style of Sierra On-Line's classic King's Quest series. This is only so surprising given that the people behind this new game worked on creating those classics and their remakes. Mage's Initiation is a medieval-style fantasy game with puzzles, treasures, labyrinthine settings, magic, spell-casting battles and monsters. Mage's Initiation began its life as a Kickstarter where it has been hotly anticipated. If you want to check into all that, I link to the Kickstarter page at the end, but right now, I just want to tell you about the game.

In Mage's Initiation, you play a student mage, taken from your family at the age of six to a mystical tower in Iginor, a seemingly idyllic land. In the Mage's Tower, you spend years studying the power of the elements. After ten years, it's Initiation Day, and you are ready to discover which of the elements has chosen you as its champion. In my case, I wound up following the path of water, but you can play (or replay) any of the four classic elements.

Figure 1. Initiation Day, Following the Path of Water

My young initiate's name is "D'Arc", which is, of course, an interesting name partly in what it might conceal. You find out that D'Arc dreams of demons which, he is told, means greatness. He also learns that the road to greatness is dangerous.

The colorful two-dimensional animation is reminiscent of games I played more than 20 years ago, and it's wonderful. I was taken in right away. There are plenty of characters, all with their own personalities, and the voice acting is varied and excellent. In the first part of the game, you'll wander the halls of the Mage's tower, taking in details, talking to other students, collecting various items, and most important, gathering information about what is to come next. This is, after all, the day of your initiation, and you will face a number of quite possibly, deadly trials before the day is out. Ask lots of questions. Pay attention. No detail is too small.

There are several halls that you access by an element-themed transport pad with a large gem in the center (pay attention, and don't forget the combinations). Each hall may be populated with different characters who will provide you with what you need to continue.

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Marcel Gagné

Thunderbird 60.5.0 Released, System76 Introduces New "Darter Pro" Linux Laptop, Kodi 18.0 "Leia" Now Available, Slax 9.7.0 Is Out and Systemd Vulnerabilities Proof of Concept Published

2 weeks 4 days ago

News briefs for January 30, 2019.

Mozilla Thunderbird 60.5.0 has been released. New features include FileLink provider WeTransfer for uploading large attachments, more search engines (DuckDuck Go and Google offered by default in some locations) and various security fixes. You can download Thunderbird from here.

System76 introduces its new "Darter Pro" Linux laptop, which provides a choice of Ubuntu or Pop!_OS. According to Beta News, the Darter Pro is 15.6", has two USB-A ports, a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port and is "expected to last a full work day without needing a charger". The laptop will be available starting February 5th from System76. You can sign up here to be notified when it's available. Pricing info coming soon.

Kodi 18.0 "Leia" is now available for all supported platforms. This is a major release, reflecting nearly 10,000 commits, 9,000 changed files and half a million lines of code added. This new release features support for gaming emulators, ROMs and controls; DRM decryption support; significant improvements to the music library; live TV improvements; and much more. See the changelog for more details, and go here to download.

Slax 9.7.0 was released yesterday. You can download it for free or purchase a USB drive with Slax pre-installed from slax.org. New to this version: usb-modeswitch was added, the slax activate command now copies module to RAM only if necessary, and now Slax is even smaller—255MB compared to 265MB previously.

Capsule8 yesterday posted the first of a multipart series detailing new research on exploiting two vulnerabilities in systemd-journald, which were published by Qualys on January 9, 2019. "Specifically, the vulnerabilities were: 1) a user-influenced size passed to alloca(), allowing manipulation of the stack pointer (CVE-2018-16865) and 2) a heap-based memory out-of-bounds read, yielding memory disclosure (CVE-2018-16866)." See the post for details on the two vulnerabilities—CVE-2018-16865 and CVE-2018-16866—that systemd-journald with Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) disabled.

News Mozilla Thunderbird System76 Laptops Slax Distributions Kodi systemd Security
Jill Franklin

Why Linux Is Spelled Incorrectly

2 weeks 4 days ago
by Bryan Lunduke

You ever see an injustice in the world—one so strong, so overwhelming—that, try as you might, you just can't ignore it? A crime that dominates your consciousness beyond all others? That drives you, even in the face of certain defeat, to action?

Mine is...Linux.

Not the existence of Linux. Linux is amazing. Linux powers the world. Linux is, as the kids say, totally tubular.

It's the name. It's the name that makes me Hulk out. Specifically, it's that confounded "X". It just plain should not be there.

Linux should be spelled L-I-N-U-C-S. Linucs.

Seriously.

That's not a joke.

To make my case for why I believe this, with every fiber of my being, let's start by understanding why "Linux" has that X in the first place. It happened back in the early 1990s, when the first snapshot of Linucs (ahem) code was first uploaded to an FTP server.

Back then, Linus Torvalds wanted to name his kernel "Freax" ("Free" + "Freak" + "Unix"). Linus felt naming the kernel after himself would be a bit, you know, weird. A friend of his disagreed, and when he uploaded the source, he named the folder "Linux".

See that "X" there at the end? It was meant to represent the "X" in UNIX. There's just one problem with that.

UNIX was never supposed to have an "X" in the name at all.

You see, "UNIX" originally was spelled U-N-I-C-S, which stands for UNiplexed Information and Computing Service. This was, itself, based off the name for an operating system made by some of the same folks—Multics (MULTiplexed Information and Computing Service).

(Note: neither Unics or Multics is spelled with an "X".)

The people that created, engineered and ran the project named it "Unics", and, here's the kicker, nobody is 100% sure where that X even came from. I cover the topic a bit further in my video "The Complete History of Linux (Abridged)" around the five-minute mark. But, the gist is this: the most viable, detailed theory for "the X" is that "maybe someone in PR did it?"

In other words, Linucs—possibly the most critical and valuable piece of software in human history—is incorrectly named "Linux" because an unknown person may or may not have accidentally written Unics as "UNIX" once. Maybe. We're not really sure.

But, because everyone else uses the X, so must I. In every article. Every video. Every presentation.

Whenever I write the word "Linux"—which is about 80 bajillion times every day—I let out a whisper-quiet, short, tortured scream, followed by a subtle wimper of defeated acceptance. If you've ever seen me at a conference, writing an article on my laptop, now you know why I look like a completely insane person.

It's that stupid, friggin' X.

So. There you have it.

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Bryan Lunduke