Making my games work

Despite not considering myself a "gamer" (with the exception of Battle for Wesnoth), I do have a bit of a weakness for "vintage" games, by which I mean the ones I played when I was in high-school and college. While I don't have much time for games anymore, what with full-time employment and home ownership, I still like to come back to those old every now and then.

Well, when I tried to fire up my PlayStation emulator, ePSXe, to mess around with my old copy of Final Fantasy Tactics, I ran into a problem - I no longer have GTK+ 1.2 installed! Apparently it was removed when I upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 (or possibly even 9.10, I'm not sure). However, according to this LaunchPad bug, this particular issue is by design and will not be fixed. That kind of stinks, because I have several old closed-source Linux-based games that depend in some way on GTK+ 1.2 (often for the Loki installer).

This sort of thing is a little bit of a sore spot for me, and has been for some time. On the one hand, I can understand te Ubuntu team's position: GTK+ 1.2 is really old and has not been supported for some time. You really shouldn't be using it anyway, so there's not much reason for them to expend any effort on it.

On the other hand, how much effort is it to maintain a package that's no longer being updated? Why not at least make it available for those who need it? This is the sort of user-hostile thinking that's always bothered me about the open-source community. There's hardly any compatibility between anything. Binary compatibility between library version is sketchy, as is package compatibility between distributions. Even source compatibility breaks every few years as build tools and libraries evolve. Ever try to compile a 10-year-old program with a non-trivial build process? Good luck.

And that seems to be the attitude - "Good luck! You're on your own." It's open-source, so you can always go out and fix it yourself, if you're a programmer, or hire someone to do it for you otherwise. And while it's absolutely great that you can do that, should that really be an excuse for not giving users what they want or need? Should the community have to do it themselves when it's something that would be relatively easy for the project maintainers to set up?

Not that I can blame them. As frustrating as decisions like this can be, you can't look a gift horse in the mouth. The Ubuntu team is providing a high-quality product at no cost and with no strings attached. They don't owe me a thing. Which, I suppose, is why it's so great that members of the community can fix things themselves. The circle is complete!

But anyhow, that's enough venting. That LaunchPad thread had several posts describing how to install GTK+ 1.2 on 10.04. I chose to use a PPA repository.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:adamkoczur/gtk1.2
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gtk+1.2

Ta-da! I'm now back at the point I was at a year or so ago when all of my old games actually worked.

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