Preferred by 10 out of 9 Mathematicians!

Linux Gaming in the '90s


You young whipper-snappers with your “App Stores” and your “High-Speed Internets”! You click a couple of links, and wham — you’re instantly playing Skyrim on your smart watch! And, ten minutes later, you’re already bored!

Well, back in my day, I had to work to install games! And, I’d play the same game for years, and never even think about getting a sequel! Some people had these fancy “Windows” computers, but not me! Nope, I was a Linux gamer back in the ’90s!

First, I had to install Linux! Once I got lucky and found an old Linux CD in the back of a second-hand book. That saved me days of effort to get a Linux system up and running! Otherwise, I’d have to… well, nevermind. I’m getting distracted.

As I was saying: I was a Linux gamer back in the ’90s! But, you couldn’t just go to the store and buy a Linux game back then. Nope — you had to search the internet and learn about games via message boards and such. But even then, you couldn’t just download the game. Nope — you had to download the source code for the game, and then build the damn game yourself! Downloading the source code would take hours, and most of the time the download would fail!

But, downloading the source code was the easy part! I still had to build the damn game! Before I could even do that, I’d have to track down all of the game’s source code dependencies! Sometimes, I’d get lucky and find a ./configure script among the source code files. This would help me figure out which dependencies I still needed to install.

Missing dependencies while configuring the build

Of course, I couldn’t just click a few buttons and install these dependencies! No, I had to download and build each one individually! Afterwards, I’d run ./configure again to discover the next dependency that I was missing. Wash, rinse, and repeat!

After hours or days of effort, the ./configure script would finally indicate that all of the dependencies had been installed! Or, at least, all of the dependencies that it knew about! There was still a good chance that I’d discover more missing dependencies later on.

Nevertheless, the code was finally ready to be compiled! So, I’d kick off the make command and let the compiler run for the next few hours.

Compilation errors when running make

Half the time, though, the compilation would abort due to errors in the source code! I’d then need to spend the next few hours trying to fix the code. And, I didn’t have any “Stack Overflow” to give me the answers! I just had to try stuff until it worked! Eventually, I’d fix all of the compilation errors only to discover that there were still linker errors!

Linker errors when running make

This usually meant that I had installed one of the dependencies incorrectly, or there was a path issue within the Makefile. But, I didn’t just give up and cry about it. Nope — I rolled back my sleeves and continued hacking at it until it worked!

Eventually, all of my effort would pay off, and the compiler would produce an executable binary! I could finally enjoy the fruits of my labor!

Running the game, but encountering a SegFault

Often, the game would only run for a few seconds before crashing with a Segmentation fault. But, I appreciated those few seconds of fun!

And that, children, is what gaming was like back in my day!