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Review: Railroad Tycoon II Gold for Linux 64

Posted by Hemos
from the buy-out-and-destroy-your-competitors dept.
Kurt The Pope, most notable for his recent reviews of CodeWarrior and Code Fusion has taken time to play in a slightly different IDE [?] - Railroad Tycoon II Gold, by Loki. Click below for the skinny.

Rating 10/10
Buy from Lokisoft.

When I survey my life and contemplate which computer games have sucked my time away from being an otherwise productive citizen, Railroad Tycoon stands out high on the list. I spent many a summer afternoon with my friend Nate and his 286 building railroad empires while our peers were out living healthy and energetic lives. Now, Loki has released a new version of Railroad Tycoon, Railroad Tycoon Gold Edition 2, for Linux. RT2 is very similar to its predecessor, but has improved graphics, more scenarios, campaigns, multi-player support, a terrain editor and an improved and more complex financial model.

At the game's core, as the name implies, you build railroads. You ship passengers, mail, and a wide variety of other raw materials, goods and products from one location to another. If you send raw materials to a city with the appropriate industry, it will create a finished product for you to ship to another city. You have the option to select how difficult of an industrial model you wish to use. If you chose the basic, option, you can ship anything to any city and they will buy it. This obviously makes it much easier to find a buyer for your goods. Think it will be fun to ship every carload of coal in the United States to Alpena, MI? That's fine, because they'll happily pay for it. For those looking for a little more challenge or a more realistic game, you can choose an advanced model which only pays a fraction of the price for goods not demanded, or the expert level where you basically get nothing for undemanded goods.

But if you are only playing to build a railroad, you are missing the real fun of the game. If you play your cards right, it will be no time before you are making money faster than you can spend it. It is time to become a true robber baron and create monopolies that would make Microsoft drool. If you have a couple hundred thousand spare dollars, you can begin to buy up all of the industries around your railroad-though you have to be playing the most difficult industrial model to do this. While you do need to be careful to buy and hold only profitable industries, this is an easy way to earn a little money.

The real monopoly building fun, and frankly the most fun part of the game, is playing a ruthless corporate raider. RT2 has added features such as buying or selling on the margin give you that extra edge when playing the market. Thanks to the designer's decision to separate corporate funds from company funds, you can now first personally buy up a bunch of a competitors stock and thereby guarantee some votes when your company attempts to merge (or more accurately, take over) the company.

While the game concept and design are excellent, there are a couple of minor issues with the game. First, the scrolling is very slow which makes is a little bit difficult to get around the map. Second, if you choose to start a new game on a large map, it can take a little while for the computer to create the game. Both of these items, while they can be corrected with a getting a faster machine, the performance was somewhat slow for a fairly well loaded Pentium II.

Overall, this is wonderfully addictive game. There are a wide variety of difficulty levels, depending on how complex of an economy you want to play. If you are they type who would rather control the world's economy than run around through caverns shooting thiings, this game is a must buy.

Note: Railroad Tycoon II Gold, which this game is, is different from Railroad Tycoon II. As Gold implies, it comes equipped with more scenarios, and more playability.

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Review: Railroad Tycoon II Gold for Linux

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  • by euroderf (47)
    If you want signal blocks, go blow some major bucks on a Märklin digital layout ! If you spend enough cash there's seriously nifty signalling.
  • I also had quite a bit of fun with Transport Tycoon. I liked RR better though.

    Then there was the ultra-cheezy (no pun intended) Pizza Tycoon... scope out the neighborhood, open pizza stores, arrange furnature (!!!??), and fight off (or join!) the mafia. Yeah, what a game...

  • No signal towers! How the hell do ya run a
    railroad without signal blocks?
    Otherwise, an awesome game.

  • I always liked strategy / simulation games more than (most) arcade games.

    The Linux gaming market really appears to be taking off.
  • Talking to my local Babbage's was an exercise in pain. The counter person said they don't carry it. I asked about special order, she said no they won't do that on a store level, it has to come from corporate. I politely asked for the manager and he gave me the same song and dance. Only thing they have for Linux is Quake they claim. Looks like I'll have to find another retail outlet to boost Linux gaming awareness.

    Of course, there are 6 copies of MacMillan's (sp?) Linux in the back with the productivity software.
  • I don't have the Loki version, but I've played the Windows version of RTK2 a lot (before they came out with the 'gold' or '2nd century' expansions). Here's my impressions:

    1 - It's 'realtime strategy'. But, luckily, you can pause it and still give commands to the game while time is not passing, thereby making it feel like a turn-based game if you prefer this. (At the harder levels, real-time strategy eventually becomes a contest of dexterous fast mouse usage rather than the fast thinking it bills itself as.)

    2 - It is an excellent strategy game because of all the different aspects to keep track of: Stock market. Industries' input and output needs. Choosing trains that comprimise top speed for good steep grade performance, or visa versa. Laying long track to go around grades or straight track with steep grades. Laying expensive electric track that allows fast trains or laying cheaper 'dumb' track that requires self-powered trains. It's good on the complex strategy front, but...

    3 - You really need to leave your common sense at the door and think within the rules of the game. If you do what would make sense in the real world, it doesn't work well in the game. For example, each city produces N number of passengers a year that want to go somewhere. Apparently they must really hate their hometown because the same number of people will want to leave regardless of where you actually take them. Since you make a lot more money taking passengers a long distance than a short one, you are better off setting up train routes that send people on the most illogical journeys. (For example, if you have laid track across the US from New York to LA, and you also have track from LA to San Francisco and track from New York to Washington, DC, you are much better off by not offering any passenger service between LA and SanFran or between Washington and New York, but instead to take all those passengers all the way across the country. (So theoretically, if a person wanted to ride your company's trains from Washington to New York, they'd have to go by making a stopover in Los Angles.) There are a few other examples where following common sense will get you in trouble, but this is the most glaring.)

    4 - It comes with a neato scenario editor where you can build your own maps and lay out the type of economy and so on. The editor also has a nice event-driven 'scripter' that will let you customize what happens during the scenario (for example, hardcode that a particular territory will open up on a specific date, or that a new industry will appear in a certain location in a certain year, etc.) It's the most flexible editor I've seen for a commercial game like this. It doesn't approach the flexibility of a true scripting language, since you have to use a GUI to edit the bits and pieces of it and you can't just edit the whole thing at once, but it is still pretty good.

    5 - The scenarios have vastly different victory conditions, that make you think in different ways. Sometimes the winner is not the one with the best railroad, but the one with the best stock portfolio, for example. (I lost a scenario once even though I was the only railroad left in the end. The other Barons had bought more stock in my company than I did, so the profits I made were going to them more than me.)

    6 - Yes, it can get tedious. This game has the common failing where even though you can set stuff up and let it go on its own, the commands to organize this aren't descriptive enough and so you end up manually helping your trains along too much. As another poster said, the game needs a better way to describe how you want to resolve conflicts of track or station use. (In what cases does train 1 wait for train 2 and in what cases does train 2 wait for train 1 - your control of this is too tedious and manual.)

    All in all, I really liked the game for about 4 months, and then the small problems got way too tedious and annoying. But all this talk is making me want to get back to it again. I probably won't buy the Loki version because the game wasn't good enough to warrant me buying it twice just so I can use it on Linux too. But if I hadn't already bought the Windows version, I think it would be worth it to get the Loki version. Most of the reality problems RTK had were the sort of problems all similar games seem to have. (Civ was replete with them, but it was still fun anyway. Anyone ever notice how in Civ, if you sent your soldiers out to stand and guard something your citizens got unhappy for having 'their boys' out in danger, but if you send the units off and get them all killed right away, the citizens were all right with that.)

  • To the guy who was suggesting a new slashdot
    poll about how to get rid of immature, irresponsible,
    and boorish posters, well, I suspect someone's
    already come up with a solution. They send them
    over to slashdot.
  • Actually, I have both for Windows-- I just anted to know whether gtting the Linux Gold package was worth my while.
  • What features does it add that aren't in the Second Century?
  • Blah! I went looking around lokigames.com for this very demo 2 days ago, and there's no mention of the demo on the RT2 page. Thanks for the link...

    /me prepares to add RRT2 to the list of Loki games he's buying. Civ:CTP, Myth2, RRT2 so far.
  • EB used to have the latest games and have people that knew what was coming out. The last two times they have failed me badly. I won't go back. Unless they get a clue real fast they are going to miss the boat entirely. Of course, with the limited shelf space of the stores around here, who blames them for not carrying everything. But they should at least be aware of games coming out (where they have failed me before) and be prepared to do what it takes to counter the growning online sales and new trends in gaming, OS, etc.
  • Not for now. Because of the relative instabilities inherant in cold fusion, they've decided that it's better to limit it to 2 devices per bus. Thus, they went with IDE. In a few years, as the technology matures, they may move to SCSI or FireWire.

    -Dave

    (P.S. The original post was a joke, right?)
  • I'm surpriesd nobody has mentioned tt. The engine it had when it was released for DOS was just incredible. The designers had written (in assembler, no less - I'm pretty sure it was anyway) a neat little windowing system, where you could have subwindows showing the action on vehicles in other parts of the map siting over the main view. It was just amazing. So smooth, almost bug-free (and many of the bugs there were were fun, interesting) and incredibly playable. In fact tt-deluxe was in some ways less fun because you couldn't do some of the nasty corporate things that yo cold get away with in tt, like demolishing into cities to build rail yards, or buying up land next to your competitors rail stubs and releasing your own trains onto them :) :). I never got into railway tycoon but played tt to death. Does anybody know what happened to the main author? I've never heard of him (Syd Mier?) since...
  • Linux is quickly getting fantastic games.
    RRT is a good example. I'm of the old school of stratergy games and I really liked it.
    But games like Quake3 and Unreal Tournament are just fantastic. (if you own a 3dfx...)
    I would like to see some other major game developers to work on Linux versions of their games.

    Linux is slowly but firmly getting to the point that even my mother can write her notes and my 4 years old son can have fun. And none of them can mess my work or the whole system.
  • Because the graphics are bad enough to hurt one's eyes.
  • Because the graphics are bad enough to hurt one's eyes. Looking back on those old DOS games it is amazing that we were able to play any of them, they are so blocky and hard to undertstand what you're looking at.
  • While this is pure speculation, I'd also say the average UNIX user probably has better-paying jobs - combine this with the will to support companies that make games for Unix, and I'd bet the Labyrinth Wonder that the rate of software piracy is much, much lower in the Linux market than in the Windoze market.
  • Linux Civ:CTP was also availabel at Brinkmann, a department store in Germany. They only had the German version, and who in their right minds wants to play something translated?

    But at any rate, I was surprised to see it there. I hope someone bought it.
  • I've got both games, and both are excellent but very different gaming experiences.

    RRT2 happens in real time - there are no turns, although you can speed up the game and slow it down when you need to plan where your rails are going.

    You also have the option of playing scenarios as well as randomly generated games. The scenarios, for the most part, are based on actual historic events, which makes it more exciting than Alpha Centauri because the events are more familiar to you than, say, being the first to discover Organic Superlubricant.

    Get the game. It's a great strategy game and very challenging.
  • I am not a big strategy fan, but I like an occasional strategy game or two. Alpha Centauri (Alien Crossfire kit) is rocking my world right now, and I was wondering how Railroad Tychoon compares to it. Any first-hand accounts?

    --

  • Loki does help OSS projects. They work on the SDL library which is something other projects are using. We use SDL for our clients for worldforge. http://www.worldforge.org
  • I remember playing the original for hours on end. The only black mark that this game had was the arbitrary 32 station or train limit. This kept me from reaching my goal of total World Domination.

    Have they fixed this problem, or will I still be limited to a mimi-empire?

    -BW

  • It comes with all the extra scenarios from the second century addon pack plus 12 more and the strategy guide in html form. Essentially, its just package deal with a little extra. Got that from Poptop's site. [poptop.com] The second century is not the game itself, just an addition to it. I think that might have confused you a little.
  • I nominate that post to the /. hall of fame, for the category of "Insightful Humor".

    Hey Rob, can we have a Hall of Fame, please, can we?

    --
    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • I've heard that they aren't telling. Someone on Linux Today speculated that it's because they don't want the other game vendors to realize what a lucrative market Linux games is.

    Of course, I don't have to tell you what the other possibility is, do I?
  • And just think, Bill Gates gets to do all this fun stuff every day of the week.

    -Warren
  • You mean "Offtopic Insightful Humor", right?

  • I listen to well-stated arguments about cases when Windows is better. There are a few - one of them is games. Topical example: Windows got Alpha Centauri, arguably the best strategy game ever released; Linux got Civ: CTP, the also-ran among Civ games. (It's really too bad Sid Meier doesn't pay attention to Linux.)

    When someone flames someone else simply because they bashed Microsoft, though, I agree wholeheartedly. Most likely they're not actually hired by Microsoft - just brainwashed by them.
    Or maybe they're simply trolls.
    --
  • Well, in AC all the technologies do have odd names - but on the information screen, there's quotes and text about the technology. It may look boring at first, but there's some really cool stuff in there, including things that are quotable on their own.

    Best quote in the game, paraphrased because I don't exactly remember it:
    "Beware of he who would restrict your access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master." -Lal
    --
  • SimCity 3k is the game I so wanted to love, but I couldn't use it for more than 5 minutes without thinking, "Why hasn't it LOADED yet?"

    Obviously I don't exactly have a top-of-the-line computer. So I played SimCity 2000 instead. It loaded in all of 10 seconds, and I had a blast.

    --
  • But you need a copy of windows for VMWare to work. Not all of us have that "luxury". Plus, why install this alternate OS just to run in an emulator? Of course, if it works under wine/dosemu that's a whole different story. :-)
  • I guess we can see where the overspill of Segfault [segfault.org] is now residing...
    How's about a /.poll, Rob; "Best ways to rid yourself of immature, useless posters on an interactive website"...
  • 2) Competition -- There would certainly be more compeittion of there was a lot of demand. Economics teaches us that people don't leave $20 bills lying on the sidewalk.

    That's right, folks! You heard it here on slashdot first! There's absolutely no reason whatsoever for anyone to go into any market that hasn't been tapped yet. After all, economics teaches us that demand for a certain type of product automatically implies supply of such products, with no need for such silly things as entrepreneurs or innovation. Gee, you've sure taught me a few things.

    Idiot. Go back to economics 101.

  • I must admit, this is the traditionalist side of me coming out, but why not play RR Tycoon, the original that we all know and love in an emulator (ala VMWare). Dont get me wrong, I love loki stuff, and buy it all, but in this case, its the same thing as civilization, the newer releases are cool, theyre fun, but they dont give me that same warm fuzzy feeling when I play them.
  • SimCity 3k is the game I so wanted to love, but couldn't play for more than 5 minutes without thinking, "This is boring. I hate cities built by these sort of rules. I'm wasting my valuable time."
  • Well, no one is mentioning sales figures, but Loki is still solvent. So, they must be doing ok. I've seen this game and CivCTP for sale (way in the back, tho) in the local Babbage's and EB. I even saw CivCTP for Linux available in Wal-Mart! Who'd have guessed?

    I have decided to get Loki's port of Heavy Gear 2. I'm not much for strategy, but blowing stuff up, just what a Web deveoper needs...:)

  • Now, you wouldn't be asking a company to release very private information the is crucial to their business's ability to survive... I mean, you wouldn't be suggesting that Loki should release information that would benefit their competitors, would you? :)

    Whether they are selling or not, Loki has a strong disincentive to release the number. If they are selling like mad, the numbers will bring competitors into the market (draw some Supply and Demand lines... :) ), if they are selling lousy, letting the competition know this would allow them to avoid a dead market, which would be bad... If Loki decides to escape to another market, they'll let their competition collapse into their market.

    I'm willing to bet that that sales are strong for the following reasons:

    1. Community - Linux users (not the programmers, they guys who are standing on the shoulders of giants) like to support companies supporting Linux. It seems like their way of giving back, which I think is terrific.

    2. Low competition... as fun as Xtetris is, Loki faces minimal competition, even if the market is small...

    3. Market is larger than numbers dictate... while Linux is a tiny % of desktops, it is a much larger percentage of "useful" desktops. My grandparents aren't going to buy any game, whether it works on their system or not. I would say that the average Linux user (or rather, type of user that would run Linux) buys 5 times as many games as the average user. If this is true, than if Loki can suck up the money that would otherwise go for games for the Win98 partition, the potential market is HUGE.

    4. Pent-up demand


    i.e. You're damned right, they can't give that information away, it would be like giving away the keys to the kingdom. I mean, that would be like someone giving the source code to... oh wait... :)

    Good luck Loki! Visionaries deserve their piece of the action.

    Alex
  • http://www.linuxcentral.com

    Lower shipping rates than Loki too...
  • Loki make it absolutely clear on their site (which seems to be down at the moment) that they don't really *want* to sell to the public, and that they'd prefer you bought from a retail (on-line or bricks-and-mortar) store. The only reason they sell direct is to make sure that people can *always* get hold of a copy of their games, even if it means paying a little more. This is probably more relevent to non-USA customers, as there are certainly countries in which there is a Linux community, but where there is no local Loki reseller.

    In some ways, it is better to buy from traditional retailers anyway. Loki, for all their apparent success so far, are still trail-blazers, and in a strange way, you take away from their success when you buy direct from them. If (to mention an example national UK computer store) PC World sells 50 copies of CivCTP nationwide, while 1000 copies are bought direct and on-line, there is almost no chance that they'll carry the next product from that company. It is better for Loki to have huge retail sales, which are very visible, to give them a boost for the future. Plus, they are a development company, not a retail company, and handling direct orders (processing, packing, posting, etc.) can easily take up a lot of time which they would prefer to spend coding (and I'm sure we want them to spend more time coding as well...)
  • What I wanted was some kind of simple scripting language where I could write a few simple rules for my vehicles and stations, rather than having to point and click for absolutely everything. Are there any games like this? (And don't say Core Wars :)

    While it's still deep in development, WorldForge [worldforge.org] has exactly this plan in mind.

    In parallel with our C++ server development effort, we are also developing a powerful scripted AI tool called Cyphesis [worldforge.org] which allows players to create customized scripts in Python. Cyphesis is a complete server in and of itself - you can run a game completely independent of any other server or client, although since it's in Python you're limited to a rather small number of entities.

    Cyphesis bases its scripting on 'goals'. Rather than specify, "Move north, south, south, east, up", you will specify, "go to smithy and buy an axe" and the character uses internal AI logic to determine its path and what to do when it gets there. Cyphesis' author, Aloril [mailto], has plans for building in a wide wealth of artificial intelligence building blocks. If you're interested in helping develop AI stuff, drop him a line.

    We intend to make very good use of Cyphesis in the WorldForge game system. In addition to being useful to players in running their own scripts, it can run goal-based monster AI's, ALife sims, and so forth.

    While Cyphesis is still in alpha testing, you're encouraged to download it and check it out. And if you'd like to help developing it, or any other part of the WorldForge gaming system, hop on by our joining [worldforge.org] page for a todo list to get involved. It's a big system, as you can imagine, and we'd love to have more programmer and scripting help! :-)

  • I really like the fact that more 'strategy' type games are coming for linux. I really like that genre, but I think more are needed. Sure, there are myth and quake3, but I'd like to see something other than shooters and strategy.

    How about an open source game that doesn't just emulate windoze games, but does something new and better.

    Check out WorldForge [worldforge.org] then. We're building a game system for building massively multiplayer online roleplaying and strategy games (as opposed to the traditional twitch games). We're designing it to allow others to be able to reuse the bulk of it but change the game rules logic to be able to mold it into new and interesting forms.

    You'll probably want to check out our FAQ [worldforge.org] first.

    If you'd like to join the team and help build this game system, we'd love to have you. Hop on over to the WorldForge join page [worldforge.org]. Then come on by our irc server: irc.worldforge.org / #forge.

  • Sid Meier? Sid Meier was involved in Civilisation (note: not CTP), Alpha Centauri, and Gettysburg! He recently left Microprose to set up Firaxis Games. He wrote the original Railroad Tycoon.

    On the other hand, Transport Tycoon was written by someone else (albeit for the same vendor). I can't remember the name (Chris Carter springs to mind), but the same author recently released Rollercoaster Tycoon.

    All these mentioned are great games! Many don't come for Linux, which is why I still boot to MS....

  • The thing I always found with the original RailRoad Tycoon was that the game always panned out the same; instead of making big strategic decisions, I was faffing about with the minutiae (sp?) of bus loading/unloading decisions at individual stations.

    What I wanted was some kind of simple scripting language where I could write a few simple rules for my vehicles and stations, rather than having to point and click for absolutely everything.

    Are there any games like this? (And don't say Core Wars :)

    OT: The X10 adverts are downright offensive, Rob. Bin 'em.
    --
  • Hmm. I've been checking the local EB and Babbage's for any linux games but they always look at me with a blank stare.

    I ordered CivCTP from loki directly, but I really wanted to buy MythII from a normal store. :/

    I can't wait until q3 comes out, tho. It is going to rock being able to stroll up to the guy at Babbage's and say, "I want a copy of quake 3 for linux" and not have him say "is that like macintosh?"
  • It builds, slowly, especially in markets like Linux games, where there is a high perceived risk. When the truth comes out about Linux games - whether good or ill - competition will decide whether to appear. Competition is only immediate when people assume that entering the market is a sure thing. Until then, well, there's always reluctance to be an early adapter.

    I've seen enough enthusiasm about Linux games around here that I think people would buy them. More intriguingly, I think most gamers consider open source a less important issue than for tools such as operating systems and web servers.

    I see people cheerfully talking playing closed-source games who would never even dream of using a closed-source OS.

    D

    ----
  • All I can say is I bought Civ:CTP and I love it. I'm having a blast playing it, and I got a free FreeBSD CD from (I can't remember if it was LinuxMall or LinuxCentral... sorry...).

    I'm having as much fun with FreeBSD as I am with Civ:CTP. Still run Linux on all but one of my boxes, though...

  • by mplex (19482)

    This game has been out for a while now. Not the gold version but still. It has been reviewed by every game site and I have never seen a low rating or even an average rationg. I think it got strategy game of the year for strategy games+ magazine (something like that). Anyway, if you are even remotly interested in railroads and strategy games it will not dissapoint you. Up close it looks like a model trainset, the graphics are just incredible. I heard they used model rr buildings to model the buildings in the game after. It was done to make things cheaper but things turned out even better. Anyway, just a very good progression on the original and if any game is a representation of a "good" game, this is it.
  • That's funny, I can think of why sales are low for the exact same reasons...

    1) Community -- The Free Software / Open Source crowd don't like software that doesn't generally like or support closed source software such as the type Loki releases.

    2) Competition -- There would certainly be more compeittion of there was a lot of demand. Economics teaches us that people don't leave $20 bills lying on the sidewalk.

    3) The desktop argument -- Linux runs lots of servers... those don't need games. Why would the average Linux user buy more games the average other OS user?

    4) Pend up demand -- see #2.
  • do i have to point out the irony in that this was posted by an Anonymous Coward...??

    ;)
  • Games are somewhat different from other software becasuse we don't need them. If my O/S isn't Free Software, then the company that I bought it from can revoke my licence at any time and prevent me from obtaining a new one - so If I were going an all-commercial-software solution one company (The O/S developer) could legally prevent me from using *any* software that I had. I don't like that plan.

    With games, although the standard commercial licence still is obnoxious and lame, if my licnece is revoked for a game... I've lost a single game - Not a $500 Office Suite, Not $10,000 'worth' of software, just one game.

    The issue with the "Open Source" development model is similar. Bugs in your O/S or an important program like a Web Server screw everything up, cost a lot of money to fix, and otherwise basically suck.
    With a game, yea - bugs suck, but they aren't fatal and can't cost millions of dollars.

    There's also the fact that there just aren't that many good games that are Free Software. XArchon, FreeCiv, and XShipWars just arn't as good as StarCraft, Quake II, and MechWarrior III.

  • by MichaelKVance (1663) on Monday November 01, 1999 @08:20AM (#1572529)
    ftp://ftp.lokigames.com/pub/demos/rt2/

    I don't know if we ever announced this... but the tarball should work.

    m. vance
    programmer, loki
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday November 01, 1999 @05:38AM (#1572530)
    Has anyone heard how many copies of Civ-CTP Loki has actually sold (vs. "shipped") ?

    I've heard that they aren't telling. Someone on Linux Today speculated that it's because they don't want the other game vendors to realize what a lucrative market Linux games is.

    At any rate, a figure for the number of copies sold, crossed with a survey of what fraction of Linuxers actually bought a copy, should give us a ballpark figure for that elusive "number of Linux users".

    --
    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?

"I'm not a god, I was misquoted." -- Lister, Red Dwarf

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