Building Asteroids on a Raspberry-Pi

My asteroids running on a Raspberry-Pi 3B+Silly me completely forgot that Raspberry Pis have a different CPU architecture compared to my PC. You just get used to something working on Linux and it was only after copying and it didn’t run that I realised my mistake. So I now have to recompile Asteroids (from Chapter-48.zip).

I’ve had a Raspberry-Pi 3 B+ for a year and wanted to run the Linux asteroids on it, now that I have it working on Ubuntu.

To do that I had to setup  Pi, running Raspbian downloaded from the Raspberry Pi website onto my Windows PC and then I used Win32 DiskImager (free Windows software) to burn the Raspbian OS onto a SD Card. Raspberry-Pis boot from SD Cards and the better and faster the SD card, the quicker the OS runs. Get a class 10 with A1 SD Card if you can.

After the Pi booted and Raspbian was installed and configured I had to enable SSH on the Pi; it’s disabled by default.

So now my PC was talking to the Pi using the excellent free WinSCP.  I copied all the files over, including the masks, sounds and images folders and all the source code and my exe built on Ubuntu which was the wrong file type. (Trying to run Intel code on an ARM- good luck with that!)

Now it turns out that the Raspbian version I installed (I’d gone for the Raspbian Buster with desktop and recommended software-2.5 GB download) included the non-dev version of SDL2. But as I needed to recompile the whole program, I had to install Visual Studio Code, Clang and the dev versions of SDL2, image and mixer.

Visual Studio Code on Arm?

Haedmelted VS Code running on Raspberry Pi 3b+Microsoft don’t do an official version for Raspberry-Pi or other ARM boards. However I discovered that a developer called Jay Rodgers has taken their source code (VS Code is open source) and  you can get a version from his site. It’s very usable on the Pi. Almost but not quite identical.

After installing the dev versions of libsdl2, image and mixer, I was almost able to compile it. I’d installed Clang but unlike the version on Ubuntu which was Clang-6, the version on Raspbian (based on Debian Buster) is Clang-7.

This means you have to edit the tasks.json file in the hidden .vscode folder. On line 25 where it says “command”: change the path to “/usr/bin/clang-7”.

That built ok, but when I ran it, it stopped with an error in the errorlog.txt file. For some reason, it failed loading the file “masks/am2.msk”.  Now I’d had no errors copying files from Windows to the Pi. This had been a very intermittent problem when copying several files in one go from Windows 10 to Ubuntu running under Hyper-V. Occasionally it would come up with some weird error but usually copied OK on the second go.

Despite several attempts, I could not get it to load that mask so as a temp fix I commented the line out. This means that one of the four asteroids sizes can never collide with anything. But it now ran.

However, I’m only getting about 25-27 fps with it in the early levels, not the 60 fps that I get on Ubuntu on other hardware. Given that the bulk of the work is blitting graphics, I suspect the GPU is just a bit under powered. Apparently on the Raspberry Pi 4, the GPU is newer and twice as fast as on the 3B+ so I’ll have to try it on a 4 when I get one. But the game works and is just about playable.

Now I’ll have to try and figure out why it won’t load that one mask. This has the makings of an interesting bug…

 

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