Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What's New In the Filthy Pants PPA

I originally created my Personal Package Archive (PPA) to distribute my SVN builds of HandBrake, which has worked out really well. However, I have since added a number of programs, the functions of which may be a bit esoteric to some, so I thought I would take some time to explain what each program does (in alphabetical order):


An anonymous, encrypted BitTorrent client built using free and Open Source code. It uses an advanced, planned mix network to protect users' identities, though it will not magically make your illegal torrents safe.

The client routes packets through a number of intermediary nodes before they reach their final destination. The intermediary nodes cannot confirm what information their neighbors are sharing or whether they are the source of the information or simply a relay point. Additionally, all communication with both peers and trackers via Anomos is end-to-end encrypted.

Here's a screenshot:


In the simplest terms, BSNES is an emulator for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). However, it was written primarily by a determined individual known as byuu whose goal was to create the cleanest, most accurate SNES emulator in the world, using entirely from-scratch code (i.e., without reusing code from existing emulators, such as SNES9X).

BSNES is so accurate, in fact, that it has reached nearly 100% compatibility with commercially produced games--even the ones with crazy, specialized chips, like Star Ocean--without the use of buggy, game-specific speed hacks.

Unfortunately, great accuracy comes at the price of insanely high hardware requirements: to get full 60 fps, users will need a high-clocked Core2Duo or AMD Phenom/Athlon II cpu.

BSNES supports a number of attractive video filters, including HQ2X and SuperSAI, as well as OpenGL-based pixel shader filters with compatible graphics cards and drivers.

I include 3 separate packages for bsnes in my PPA: the standard Phoenix/GTK-based GUI (bsnes-gtk), the older, now-deprecated Qt GUI (bsnes) and an optimized build of the Qt GUI (bsnes-sse2).

Here's a screenshot:


Another piece of software from BSNES author byuu, Curse is a barebones, no-frills hex-editor. It must be invoked from the command line (e.g., curse [file to edit]) but will then open a window displaying the hexadecimal data. Like BSNES, Curse's code is written with a focus on cleanliness and efficiency. It's missing some features that would be handy, but it's still one of the only programs of its kind on Linux that doesn't require Mono....

Here's a screenshot:


Dolphin-Emu (not to be confused with Dolphin the file manager) began its life years ago as a Nintendo GameCube emulator. When Nintendo decided to keep the Wii's architecture relatively unchanged from that of the GameCube (the proverbial "two GameCubes duct-taped together"), the emulator was adapted to work with Wiimotes via bluetooth and Dolphin-Emu became the first game console emulator to play commercial games at full speed during the life cycle of the console.

In addition to full-speed emulation of many commercial games, Dolphin-Emu offers support for high-definition upscaling of graphics, along with high-resolution textures and support for shader-based filters.

Here's a screenshot of it playing Ikaruga:


A highly useful video transcoding tool designed originally to rip DVDs but later updated to support transcoding of nearly any file that can be decoded by FFmpeg/libavcodec.

The program is geared mostly toward the use of the open-source x264 codec, but it also supports FFmpeg's mpeg4 and Ogg/Theora codecs. It also supports AC3 and DTS passthru, as well as support for soft subtitles and some support for vobsubs.

My packages are updated whenever major features are added or codecs are updated.

Here's a screenshot:


This was an attempt by a fellow named gonza to update HandBrake's extremely deprecated QT4 GUI code to something functional. Unfortunately, he didn't stick with it long enough to satisfy the other HB devs and his code was never included in the official SVN repository.

This package is here in case anyone wants to use it, though it is sorely outdated.


This is a library used to interface with Wiimotes via bluetooth. It is required by Dolphin-Emu and is supposed to be built automatically as part of its build process. Unfortunately, this did not work on the Launchpad build farm, so I just bundled it separately and included it as a dependency for Dolphin-Emu.


This is a build of the highly accurate, cross-platform NES emulator, NEStopia. This emulator is cycle-accurate and supports some nice filters, including blargg's awesome NTSC filter, which is also available in bsnes.

Here's a screenshot:

Nvidia-Cg-Toolkit (no longer available)

This is a set of proprietary libraries and tools created by Nvidia. They are used in several modern emulators, including Dolphin-Emu and PCSX2. Since the source code is not available for these tools, the package contains the binaries for both i386 and AMD64 architectures, and the appropriate ones for your system will be copied into the appropriate directories.


This is a Debian fork of the popular PCSX Sony Playstation emulator. It is highly compatible with commercial games and uses plugins to add features and functionality. This is a more recent version than the one included in the Ubuntu Universe repository.


Another fork of PCSX, this variation has a bit more active development.

Here's a screenshot:

rtmpdump (no longer available)

This is a toolkit for RTMP streams, with all forms of RTMP supported, including rtmp, rtmpt, rtmpe, rtmpte and rtmps. In addition to rtmpdump, this package includes the server programs rtmpsrv and rtmpsuck. These tools can be used to listen in on rtmp server handshakes and give access to unencrypted streams. This allows users to download encrypted and obfuscated streams, such as those used to stream television shows from network websites (e.g.,


This tool automatically removes headers from ROM images and is a must-have for use with bsnes' Phoenix/GTK GUI, which does not support libsnesreader and all of the fancy file formats that entails (.smc and all of the other myriad SNES file extensions, as well as compressed archives). This version presents a fancy, polished GUI that facilitates large-scale, batch purification.

Here's a screenshot:


Yet another piece of software from BSNES author byuu, Upset is a lightweight UPS patcher for use by ROM-hackers. As with his other software, Upset's code is focused on portability and cleanliness.


An actively-developed variant of the popular Gameboy Advance emulator, VisualBoy Advance. It has a nice GUI and performs a bit better than the standard VBA package.

Here's a screenshot:

VLC (no longer available)

This media player is based on FFmpeg/libavcodec and will play almost any video file you throw at it, without the need for external codecs. While there is already a package included in the official Ubuntu repositories, this updated version includes support for Google's WebM format.

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