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Open Source Software Upgrades Games News

Open Source Simulator FlightGear Releases v2.4 70

mikejuk writes "The latest version of FlightGear, 2.4, has just been released — and it has some significant improvements. Now it simulates weather so that you can ride the up draft from a range of hills and seek out thermals — but watch out for the simulated fog! For the future the implementation of an HLA interface means that you can build clusters of interacting simulators and perhaps even work with commercial flight simulators." The FlightGear website has gotten a long-deserved upgrade, too.
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Open Source Simulator FlightGear Releases v2.4

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  • I was watching the video full screen at 720p and noticed quite a lot of weird artifacts to do with the Harrier model. Displays from the HUD were bouncing around outside of the HUD extents, and at one point I thought I saw some huge gaps in the body. So I suppose I have to question where this was coming in. Is it the plane model, Flight Gear itself, or the hardware that created the render?
    • by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @03:19PM (#37228964)

      There are a handful of different HUD modes, the one the harrier is using has been bouncing around like that for a few years now, so I guess it's an issue within flightgear itself rather than the flight model, OSG, or what have you. It only tends to happen when you are yawing around at a fairly low airspeed. It's particularly annoying in the helicopters at times.

      • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

        There are a handful of different HUD modes, the one the harrier is using has been bouncing around like that for a few years now

        Surely that is an easy fix? I tend to wonder about software where the easy things are overlooked, as then I start to question about how well they handle the harder stuff

        • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Saturday August 27, 2011 @03:57PM (#37229436) Journal

          Well that is the thing about volunteer made software isn't it? While I have nothing against Open Source I've found when it is volunteers like the user generated models in something like Flight Gear you run into the age old "Nobody pays for the boring stuff so that don't get done" problem.

          Lets be honest folks, bug fixing in software is like cleaning the shitter, it is a long boring nasty thankless job. Nobody volunteers to clean your shitters at the office right? Nope you have to pay someone to get that done or they will look like the shitters at a truck stop in Alabama pretty soon. That is the problem with the community model. It is simply more fun to make something new than it is to go over old code, especially someone else's old code, and fix the messes.

          How do we fix it? Fucked if I know, the only way i know how is to either pay someone to clean the shitters or maybe take donations so you can offer a bug bounty, ala Google? because checking out software made by the community i've noticed that pattern is pretty consistent, someone reports bug, users confirm bug, bug gets ignored for years while new versions come out that add....well more bugs.If you don't pay someone to fix the bugs they just don't get fixed, it is more fun to create than to clean. it is just human nature.

          • Actually, you just need to watch that each person contributing is making clean tidy contributions. With open source or any software, there is no reason not to put the contribution point right in the middle of the factory floor for maximum visibility. Doesn't translate for you analogy.

            • Uhhh...what EXACTLY does that have to do with bugs and how nobody likes fixing them? it isn't like the developer, whether volunteer or not, said 'I need X number of bugs per LOC" no what happens is the bugs are found later by which time the original developer has done moved on or is working on something new and don't really care.

              So you are back to my analogy. you have code that may have worked perfectly on the developer's system that for whatever reason is sucking the big wet titty now. Maybe he only had a

          • by wrook ( 134116 ) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:39PM (#37232006) Homepage

            While there isn't a lot of research on the topic, what there is seems to indicate that open source software and "commercial" (i.e. not open source) software have similar defect densities. Here's a paper on the topic:


            I've worked on both "commercial" projects and opens source projects. My personal experience has been that willingness to fix bugs is much higher on the open source teams. Usually the authors actually use the product in their everyday life and bugs affect them personally. They are highly motivated to fix them. On "commercial" software projects, my experience is that the authors of the software rarely use it in their every day life. Selection of bugs to fix usually comes from a project manager.

            Both open source and "commercial" projects usually have large backlogs of bugs that never get fixed. The difference is that open source projects usually fix bugs that directly affect the authors, while "commercial" projects fix bugs that directly affect customers who have bought enough units to gain the right to complain (i.e. thousands of copies). However, with an open source project, if the authors decide not to fix a bug you usually have a number of options. You can complain on the developer's mailing list and plead your case. If that doesn't work, you can fix the bug yourself, or hire someone else to do it. With "commercial" software once you file your bug you usually don't even know if they will decide to fix it. You usually don't even know if it was fixed in the next version without buying it and trying it for yourself. If the program manager decides not to fix your bug, you have no recourse at all unless you have already bought thousands of copies of the software and can threaten not to upgrade to the next version unless they fix your bug. Even then they might decide not to.

            "Well that's the thing with volunteer made software isn't it?" is what you wrote. Yes. That's the thing with volunteer made software. You have direct access to the developers to report your bug. You get informed whether your bug when your bug is being looked at. You can make a case for having your bug fixed. And if that doesn't work, you can fix it yourself. What is there that needs fixing again?

            • Oh lord spare us the bullshit!! You can fix it yourself? Right, did you perform your own brain surgery perhaps? because while, and I'm just SURE you'll find this like, you know, totally shocking, 99.9999995% of the planet are not fucking programmers. In fact i think from now on the arrogant "You can DIY" should be met with a hearty "Go fuck yourself" because it is arrogant, douchebag elitist horseshit to think the entire world knows how to code in C/C++. Finding bugs? Easy. Having the several years of colle

              • What you've missed is that the developers of proprietary software move on too (sometime the individuals, sometimes the whole company). Generally the customer does not pay the developers. The developers company pays the developers, and they will only pay them to fix your bug if there is nothing of higher value to the company for them to do. Yes, if it is product which makes the company money, and a lot of customers experience the bug, and it is serious, then it will probably get fixed. Otherwise maybe not. T

                • There is again a BIG difference you seem to be missing,either you simply don't see it or are trolling, can't be sure. you see if a proprietary software house ignores the users? Well then they lose money and sometimes a LOT of money, and that tends to put the fire under one's ass! Hell it even works on the big companies, look at MSFT. Vista sucked, users wouldn't have it, MSFT went back and gutted it and rebuilt it and voila! Windows 7 which is actually awesome.

                  And is there room in candyland for me too? is t

                  • There is again a BIG difference you seem to be missing,either you simply don't see it or are trolling, can't be sure. you see if a proprietary software house ignores the users? Well then they lose money and sometimes a LOT of money, and that tends to put the fire under one's ass!

                    That is pretty much the "product which makes the company money, and a lot of customers experience the bug, and it is serious" case I mentioned. So yes, I do see.

                    The developer has moved on and nobody wants to fix the shitter so after FOUR versions it STILL hasn't been fixed!

                    Actually I do agree that is probably the case and I never said I didn't. What I don't agree with is your claim that this one anecdote somehow proves the general case and your dismissal of the one study cited as being less relevant than your opinions on human nature.

    • Most likely the model. Most of the models are user generated, so some are very pretty with a bad cockpit interface, some are ugly with good physics, etc etc. The real pity is the fact that there have been some awesome flightsims from the Atari ST (F19), through 486 machines and all the way up, but these days they all rely on high-end graphics cards and processors far too much. Come on, give me a good military flightsim like F19 that will run on my netbook, I know you can do it! (OK, yes, an emulator plu
      • by jgrahn ( 181062 )

        ...Come on, give me a good military flightsim like F19 that will run on my netbook, I know you can do it!

        F19 Stealth Fighter? It was a good game, but not so good as a flight simulator. Ugly, and with not very realistic physics. And at the time, bombing Libya seemed unlikely and cruel. Sigh.

    • by Eil ( 82413 )

      Flightgear is an awesome piece of work being an all-volunteer project and I enjoy taking it for a spin every now and then. But my biggest gripe about modern PC flightsims is this: 3D cockpits.

      I can understand completely why some people want them. They look pretty and (if done well) give you an idea of what it's like to actually sit in a plane. But for the most part, I've always found them to be a hinderance to interacting with the simulated aircraft. In most real planes, there are instrument panels situated

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

        Agreed - I love flight sims and hate 3D cockpits. I also hate 2D cockpits that don't have some view that at least gives me a reasonable amount of outside view. Yes, I know a real instrument panel takes up more space than a 19" monitor, but I don't want to have to set up a 14-monitor system to use the thing. Sometimes realism alone isn't the goal - you need to work out the aspects of realism that fit the genre. I wouldn't want a 747 simulator that required 100k pounds of jet fuel to operate either.

      • Meigs Field doesn't look so great in that first link...
  • watch out for the simulated fog

    Wouldn't that just be "fog"...'cause the whole thing's a simulation...

  • As the years go on, FlightGear gets better and better. I remember when it resembled, graphically, FS95 / FS98 years ago, now it looks so much more realistic, etc... if only they'd fix the damned taxiway textures so turnoffs looked right. That's one thing that never changed in all these years.
  • by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @03:04PM (#37228900) Homepage Journal

    Can I fly across Mars now? It'd be cool if they could integrate the NASA(?) maps...

    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      I think $60 for X-Plane isn't bad, and it comes with Mars maps and special planes for Mars. I'm all about OSS, but X-Plane was one package I bought and am glad I did.

  • Flightgear's weak point was always its usability. Weird proprietary interfaces, be it menus, keyboard inputs, or control system, with little help or even information scent to help you take off or let you explore common options. For example it has always been easier to adjust HUD configuration than it has been to even change to a different aircraft. Lots of tempting screenshots and videos around the net, but very little in the way of guidance as to how to get there.
    • Yeah, I remember playing it way back (around the turn of the millennium), and it required use of a middle mouse button for some common function. Of course, this was back in the day well before optical or scroll mice were, well, existent, so using it with a 2 button mouse involved hitting both buttons at the same time (and hitting only one button accidentally of course did something you didn't want to do). And it was a common function (maybe accelerating?), too. Terrible interface design.

      I don't even rememb

      • 3 button mice existed long before mice with scroll wheels were common. Unix systems nearly always had 3 button mice, and PC Unix/Linux users usually managed to get their hands on such mice too. (E.g. Logitech made the mice for SGI and for later Sun boxes, and made PS/2 versions). Flightgear of course started out as a Unix/Linux flight sim.

        What you're complaining about isn't bad UI design per se, but that you were using a windows port of software designed for Unix user hardware.

        • No, I was using a Linux native non-port on PC hardware. Which is, generally at least in my experience, what a lot of people have. And when making what is essentially a game, you should aim at what most people have. Yeah, I have an 8-button mouse now, but in 2000 most Linux users (probably) didn't.

          Which is one reason Flightgear has never really made a major impact. Or, for that matter, Linux gaming in general.

          • Which is one reason Flightgear has never really made a major impact. Or, for that matter, Linux gaming in general.

            What, because you were the last person in the world too stingy to go out and buy a mouse with a middle button, and couldn't figure out how to enable ChordMiddle?

  • OK, I presume the slashdot editor that posted this ADDED the link to the actual website - for which we're grateful - but why even bother to include the original submitter's link to (presumably his own) blog?

  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @03:45PM (#37229284) Journal

    How does it stack up against X-Plane or MS Flight Sim?

    Does it support things like the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke, Pedals and switch panels?

    The "features" page doesn't really cover stuff like that.

    • How does it stack up against X-Plane or MS Flight Sim?

      Earlier versions of FlightGear (I haven't used 2.4.x yet) aren't as good as X-Plane or MS Flight Simulator when it comes to graphics or ease of use on a PC. The overall experience has tended to be more polished with X-Plane or FS. I don't know about non-PC (e.g. actual flight simulator hardware), and, again, I don't know about FlightGear 2.4. The other thing is that X-Plane and FS have the better graphics if you can get them to work at all - X-Plane, for example, only gives me white rectangles instead of te

  • I have tried them all and except for IFR (and that is not even that good, but passable, barely ) practice they do a poor job.

    And yes, I am a pilot.

    I have yet to use one that accurately reflects the maneuvering and performance of a real airplane, not even a Cessna 152 much less a hi performance prop plane like a Mooney or a Bonanza.

    I think the basic problem is they but way to much work into "pretty" and not enough work into actual flight dynamics. I will admit that it is hard work to accurately capture th

    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      The problem with most simulators, including a lot of the engines in X-Plane, is that they are essentially table-driven simulations. They don't compute forces, aerodynamics, and so forth on the fly. The models only fly as realistically as the aircraft designers tune their tables.

      Now this is obviously getting off-topic, but I'm very interested in hearing the specifics of your experience with X-Plane. Austin Meyer claims that the X-Plane flight model can be used to simulate certain aircraft very accurately.

      • by caseih ( 160668 )

        I also neglected to add that I find simulators hard to fly because there are no frames of reference. You basically have tunnel vision and only one eye, so it's really hard to look out a window and orient yourself as you might do on a real airplane in VFR. As well, simulators maybe cause on to focus too much on instruments. I've only gone flying once and that was in a small canadian ultralight (US sport class equivalent) and I found that flying in real life was somewhat easier than on the simulator as I h

        • by grumbel ( 592662 )

          There exist partial solution for that problem, such as TrackIR, which tracks your head movement and thus allows you to look around in the cockpit without awkward keyboard shortcuts. Also most advanced flightsims support multiple monitors, so throwing a bit of money at the problem can help as well.

        • I used FGFS to practice touch-n-goes during rainy days early in my flight training and also found the frame-of-reference to be a problem - I couldn't look out the window to see when I was abeam the numbers. So I modified my Extreme Pro joystick to use the 'twist' feature as turning the head instead of changing the rudder (since I have pedals) and find it much easier and almost natural to use now. The file I use is located on DropBox as mentioned on this thread: []
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's certainly true. However even some of the basic things aren't well modelled. On some planes for instance, you use the fuel pump to build pressure for starting the engine, and turn it back off after pressure is built. But on every flight sim I've tried, the pressure is never maintained (totally inaccurate). In fact, there is plenty of dodginess with the starting procedures in every flight sim I've tried.

      Even worse, the air traffic controllers in the sims don't give a damn what you do in the flight sim

  • A bit off topic, but something that may have broad interest... I'm not at all a hard-core gamer, but gleefully recall being a little kid playing F/A-18 Interceptor and messing around: learning to land on the carrier, and going off-mission to shoot at buildings and do tricks like fly under and around the Golden Gate bridge.

    I would love an Oblivion-style open world game where you fly various modern planes and fighter jets and can go off the primary mission to tackle side quests or just mess around. Even bette

    • by grumbel ( 592662 )

      Pilotwings goes into that direction, only problem is that the last version for home consoles was on th N64. There also has been a recent one on the 3DS.

  • I wonder if it's possible to get realistic ground mapping based on OpenStreetMap data.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann