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Marcel's Linux Walkabout: Just Follow the Bouncing Ball

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The spirit of Pong thrives in a strange new form. Join author and columnist Marcel Gagné on his Linux Walkabout as he takes a break from the world of Linux business and explores a kind of ultra-modern games nostalgia. What happens when programmers with access to the latest and greatest technology turn their attention to the past? Truth is stranger than fiction. Pong Lives!
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Welcome back to Marcel's Linux Walkabout, a semi-random, quasi-nomadic excursion into the Linux wilderness. When I started this series, I distinctly remember saying that it wasn't going to be all work and no play. It's for this reason that we are going to slack off a bit and enjoy ourselves. Now, you might notice a little bit of fog moving in ... that's because we're heading back into time for a little nostalgia trip.

Remembering Pong

I know for a fact that some of you are old enough to remember the first big video game. It was basically a featureless white circle bouncing back and forth between two rectangles controlled by a couple of rotary controls. These white rectangles were the paddles and the circle was the ball. Atari had brought us Pong and the world of video games was born.

We've come a long way since then. Phenomenal graphics and sound are the least that we expect from our computer games. Any sane person would naturally assume that our fascination with that little bouncing ball would have faded into non-existence. Not so. As I wandered the wilderness, I discovered that in the Linux world, Pong is alive and well.

pong_curses

When I first looked at Joe Bentley's curses version of pong at http://pigseye.kennesaw.edu/~rbentley, I thought to myself, "Self, this is just plain weird," but I quickly realized that Joe may well have captured the true spirit of Pong.

When you get the source, extract it with tar, switch to the source directory (pong_curses) and just type "make". After the millisecond or so that the compile takes, you'll have a pong_curses binary that you can run from the same directory:

   ./pong_curses &

Pressing the "k" key moves the paddle up while pressing the "j" key moves the paddle down. To quit, press "q". It's all pretty simple and silly, but if the hallmark of pong authenticity is simplicity, then perhaps Joe's pong_curses is the most authentic pong of them all.

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