LabPlot 2.5

Whether it's your own list of comma-separated fermentation temperatures or the uptime of your server, you can visualize data on Linux many ways. The de facto choice for making visual sense of varied data sets is Gnuplot, but it's not the easiest tool to use. Gnuplot is typically run from the command line, and good output requires scripting. Plus, Gnuplot doesn't do anything to help you manage your data; if you're serious about tracking changes, you'll have multiple sets from the same sources. This is where LabPlot can help. It's a KDE application that's not only an effective GUI to your data plots, but also a GUI for managing multiple data sets and projects within a single application.

You start off by creating a new project. It could be for your homebrew temperatures or for your own laser-ranging retroreflector moon-distance experiment. Either way, LabPlot helps you keep both sets of data separate, as well as each set of readings, within a single project. But what's really clever about the way LabPlot manages a project is that it doesn't need to contain just data sets. In fact, you can choose from several different data source types, including matrices, spreadsheets, and CAS worksheets. The latter is a way of integrating external tools, such as R, KAlgebra, Lua, and Python, within LabPlot, and the wider "worksheet" type can be used to group different kinds of worksheet objects, such as plots and labels. You can also import the data you've already gathered, thanks to its support for ASCII, binary, HDF5, NetCDF, and FITS formats, with many options to control the import process.

When it comes to making a plot, you'll find cartesian, polar, and parametric equation types, and a brilliant functions browser  – all missing from Gnuplot – that lets you browse many different function libraries; the standard set includes powers, cube roots, and sign functions, alongside other common options. Different libraries offer elliptic integrals, zeta functions, and many different distribution functions to help you make sense of your data. For data analysis, there's linear and non-linear regression, Fourier transforms and filters, and various interpolation filters. You obviously still need to know what you're doing with data, but you don't necessarily need to know how to use LabPlot to get meaningful results without too much effort.

The GUI works around the data hierarchy, much like programmer's code in an IDE. Worksheets are listed per project, and selecting one will allow you to change the size of the plot, the background, and layout. Selecting or creating a plot within a worksheet unlocks most of the toolbar, which is useful for zooming in and out, scaling, and labeling each axis. Output includes PDF, SVG, and PNG, as well as LaTeX, and you can choose to output either an entire worksheet or just a selected subset of data. It's a brilliant tool if you need to work with data.

Project Website

LabPlot features 2D plotting, data analysis, and professional output, all with an excellent project management workflow.
LabPlot is one of those rare open source projects with excellent documentation.

Action RPG

Flare: Empyrean Campaign

You know when a game opens with the soothing sounds of a lute that you must be engaging in a role-playing game (RPG). And that's exactly the case with Flare: Empyrean Campaign, a wonderful open source "action" RPG campaign built with the Flare game engine. Action, in this sense means that the game isn't turn based and plays out in real time. You move, cast spells, and engage in combat directly as the events happen. It's reminiscent of games like Baldur's Gate and, more closely, Diablo 1 and 2. You start by selecting your character and your character class; this affects your starting statistics and inventory. You're then dropped into the story.

The Empyrean Campaign features immersive and beautiful isometric environments that are the backdrop to exploration and adventure. You wander about discovering people and places, finding quests along the way. Quests usually involve attacking lots of skeletons and zombies in a certain location before fighting a final boss and returning to the quest source to get a reward. It's classic hack and slash and spell casting. Like Diablo, there are waypoints for fast travel, and you move between areas when small arrows indicate a direction. Windows open to allow you to manage your inventory, trade with other characters in the game, or see your character stats. The game mechanic should feel very familiar if you've played these kinds of games before. Flare, the game engine behind the game, originally started out as an engine for the first Flare game, now imaginatively called "Flare the Game." The game engine has been split from the old projects to enable projects like the Empyrean Campaign to be made. And if this campaign is anything to go by, this split has been hugely successful.

Project Website

The Empyrean Campaign is built atop the Flare game engine, which is a great way to build Diablo-like games for yourself.

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