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Install ArchLinux on BeagleBone Black (Updated)

A few things have changed since I last wrote about installing ArchLinux on BeagleBone Black. This is an updated tutorial for release 4.13.0.

ArchLinux is a great operating system for low-cost ARM based embedded devices, such as the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black. The development team for the ARM port is doing an excellent job optimizing and updating the package repository.

There were some changes to the installation steps since the last time I wrote about Install ArchLinux on BeagleBone Black. Below you can find the condensed summary of the installation steps that I take on BeagleBones now.

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25 More Amazing UE4 ArchVis Projects

The third batch of real-time architectural visualization projects in Unreal Engine 4.

It has been a little over a year since I last covered architectural visualization in Unreal Engine 4, and quite a lot has happened in the meantime. One of the main trends this year is the transition from pre-rendered sequences to interactive virtual reality experiences, made possible by the availability of affordable head-mounted displays, such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

On the Engine side, several features were added that may be interesting for ArchVis projects. In 4.12 we released support for real-time planar reflections and clear coat shading models that work great for shiny surfaces. In 4.14 we added a forward shading renderer with MSAA. It is particularly well suited for VR applications due to its performance characteristics for stereoscopic rendering. In 4.16 we introduced volumetric fog, which some users already started to utilize for impressive ambient lighting effects.

Sequencer has also seen some great improvements over the course of the last twelve months, and we have another major feature update scheduled for the upcoming 4.17 release. Many users asked for better integration between Media Framework and Sequencer for rendering ArchVis videos with embedded movies. This is something we’re still working on.

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Adding New Asset Types to UE4

Adding custom asset types is an important, yet underused feature in Unreal Engine 4. This article shows how to accomplish this task and offers some deeper insights into the various APIs.

Almost everything you interact with in Unreal Engine 4 is some type of content asset that can be created, imported, organized, viewed, and edited in the Content Browser. The Engine includes a large number of asset types out of the box. That doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t want to add your own. The asset types shipping with UE4 were designed for wide applicability, but at some point your game might benefit from introducing custom assets tailored to your project’s specific needs.

Adding new asset types requires programming and, depending on how ambitious you are, can become quite involved. The basic steps to get up and running are pretty straightforward though and always follow the same pattern. In this article I will try to convince you that this is not some black magic art mastered only by a chosen few, but a simple process that can be copied even by less seasoned programmers.

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Another 25 Amazing ArchVis Projects in UE4

The second batch of real-time architectural visualization projects in Unreal Engine 4.

Since my last post with 25 Absolutely Stunning ArchVis Projects in UE4, the community has been very busy creating new amazing works of architectural visualization in Unreal Engine 4. Using material from the community forums and Twitter, as well as suggestions by my readers, I was able to assemble another big collection of noteworthy examples.

Each of these have one or more interesting aspects, such as lighting and shadows, materials, mood, scene composition, and cinematic presentation that may inspire your own work. So, without further ado, here are another twenty-five examples of the finest real-time eye candy for all you architects and interior designers out there.

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25 Absolutely Stunning ArchVis Projects in UE4

A selection of architectural visualization projects released by UE4 users in the recent months.

It has not even been a year (although it feels like two to me) since Unreal Engine 4 was released for free to the general public, and there has already been so much awesome work in the community. Browsing the forums for everyone’s latest projects that are being brainstormed, work in progress, or newly released is a great way to get inspired and motivated on a slow day.

What I find particularly impressive is the growing number of highly skilled artists working on architectural visualization. I remember building a luxury mansion level for my very first game project in the early 2000’s. PCs were so much slower back then, and the practical limit for the number of polygons in view was about three hundred. We’ve come a long way since, and so much has changed. Photo-realistic interior and exterior environments can now be rendered and even experienced in virtual reality in real-time.

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Recovering FreeNAS Configuration from ZFS Boot Drive

This article explains how to rescue a FreeNAS server with failed USB boot media and provides details on how to read files from ZFS volumes.

Just in time for the holiday break I had to deal with a FreeNAS server that failed to boot due to a defective USB boot drive. The drive started failing during a recent FreeNAS update. Of course, this happened after a number of configuration changes were made to the server and before any backup took place. To make matters worse, the server was located four thousand miles away with nobody nearby to repair or reinstall it on-site.

As a result, I had a not so welcome, but appreciated opportunity to learn about the inner workings of FreeNAS, and was able to prepare new USB boot media that successfully restored the server. For the benefit of others who may end up in similar situations, I am documenting my findings below.

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Why Your Idea Might Not Make It Into UE4

So many ideas, so little time. If you came up with suggestions for cool new features in UE4 and wonder why they’re still not done, read on!

So you’ve had this great idea for a new feature in Unreal Engine. It makes complete sense, will be useful to so many users (but especially yourself), and shouldn’t be too difficult to get up and running for experienced guys like us. Even your friends on the Forums and AnswerHub like it, and yet there has been absolutely no traction for months. So what is going on?

This is a question I am confronted with almost daily, and I often have to cut the answer short. This article attempts to explain in more detail some of the main factors that affect the decision of whether and when a new feature will be implemented in UE4.

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Hooking into the Windows message queue in UE4

I recently came across several community projects that try to process Windows messages by hacking the Engine’s message loop, but there is a better way. Earlier this year I added the IWindowsMessageHandler API, which does not require any Engine code changes and keeps your plug-in completely self-contained.

Some third-party hardware and software SDKs for Windows communicate with the host application via Windows messages. When trying to integrate such SDKs into Unreal Engine 4 plug-ins, access to the Windows message queue is required. There are many examples on the internet that show how to use the message queue, and it is often tempting to shoehorn such code into the Windows platform layer in UE4. However, this makes the plug-in less modular and more dependent on future Engine changes, and excludes a potentially large number of users, because not everyone is able or willing to merge Engine code changes. It also prevents the plug-in from making it into the Unreal Engine Marketplace.

Luckily, there is an Engine API that allows any plug-in to intercept and process Windows messages without requiring such modifications. This article explains how to use it and provides working sample code on Github.

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The Ugly Beauty of the Cologne Cathedral

I finally had a chance to take an up-close look at the Cologne Cathedral. The famous building is known for architectural superlatives, but the extensive vandalism it has to endure is equally fascinating.

I spent the week in Cologne, Germany to attend Evoke 2015, where I have met with old and new friends from the demoscene, as well as GDCE and GamesCom – Europe’s largest conferences for video game developers and consumers.

This year I finally found some time to visit the city’s Cathedral, the enormous structure and world heritage site whose construction started in 1248 and wasn’t completed until 1880. It is known for its architectural superlatives: it was the world’s tallest building in the 1880’s, houses the world’s largest freely swinging ringable bell, is lined with beautiful stained glass windows and filled with many treasures, some of which are over one thousand years old.

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Install ArchLinux on BeagleBone Black

The installation of ArchLinux on ARM based embedded devices is well documented online, but I always forget the extra and optional steps that are assumed to be known.

ArchLinux is a great operating system for low-cost ARM based embedded devices, such as the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black. The development team for the ARM port is doing an excellent job optimizing and updating the package repository.

The official website has instructions for installing ArchLinux ARM on the BBB, but is missing the details for post-installation steps that are generally not known by users who are just starting with ArchLinux. The best, most detailed and up-to-date ArchLinux installation tutorial I found is the one written by The Mukt, but at the time of this writing it appears to be offline.

Below you can find the condensed summary of the installation steps that I usually take on BeagleBones.

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