Well that Kubuntu experimentation didn't last long.
After my last post I proceeded to install VMWare Server in Kubuntu. That went relatively easily, and I prepared a Windows XP VMWare image.
The image creation was also relatively smooth, although it took 2 or 3 times longer than a normal Windows install. For some reason anything involving disk access (so, most of the installation) seemed to stall at various points.
Anyway, with Windows installed I then went on to install Steam and Half-Life 2 from the installation DVD. Again, there's nothing special to write home about that process, and Steam went and downloaded the many megabytes of updates that have accumulated since the last time I played Half-Life 2 (2+ years ago).
By this point my hopes had been raised pretty high. Sadly, they were to be dashed. Although Steam was apparently running successfully, attempting to launch any of the games would turn the (Windows) cursor in to an hourglass for a few moments. There'd be a bit of disk thrashing. And then the hourglass returned to a pointer. Other than that there was no sign of any activity to indicate that the game had started (or might be about to start).
So I looked at alternative solutions. I found this forum post about Windows games on Ubuntu that had some pointers. I tried Wine. However, although the installation seemed to go well, and I could use it to run simple Windows apps (wordpad.exe, et al), it didn't do anything when asked to run the Half-Life 2 installer -- it just returned almost immediately to the command line with no apparent error messages.
I briefly considered Cedega. But that's pay-ware, and their online compatability database suggests that there are still some problems running Half-Life 2.
So, plan B.
I've ditched Kubuntu, and instead installed Windows as the primary OS on the machine. I've got VMWare Server for Windows installed now, and I'm installing FreeBSD 6.2 and Solaris 10 virtual machines so that I can pick up the DTrace work from where I left off.
The Windows installation was something of a palavar. My original Windows XP CD is old. So old it predates Service Pack 1, never mind Service Pack 2. Amongst other things this means that the installer doesn't recognise disks large than 128GB. Since the Ultra 40 has a 250GB disk this would have required me to partition the disk, something I'm loathe to do.
After first installing Windows I experimented with the Disk Management Tool to see if I could grow the partition (after installing SP2). However, that failed, with an error explaining that this wasn't possible because the disk had originally been partitioned by an older version of XP.
So I did some digging on the web and turned up Autostreamer.
In a nutshell, this takes your existing, pre-SP2 install disc, a copy of SP2, and creates a new XP install disc with SP2 installed. Booting from this I was able to create a partition that spanned the entire disk, and install XP SP2.
So in the prior 48 hours I'd managed to install XP 3 times -- once in to VMWare, once from a pre-SP1 image, and finally from an SP2 image. Frankly, that's enough for my lifetime.
Oh, and Half-Life 2 is now installed. So I've had a happy few hours spent blasting Combine too. Now if only they'd hurry up and release Team Fortress 2.