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Sysadmins get Quake tools

Fragging system processes

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Managing a network just got a whole lot more fun - Aussie boffins have created a version of Quake which finally lets you deal with network problems with a shotgun.

Researchers at Swinburne University, Melbourne, have mapped network services and events onto a Quake Arena, allowing budding BOFHs to utilise skills honed over hours - or days - spent playing games.

The system is called L3DGEWorld, and uses Open Arena, an open-source game based on the Quake III Arena game engine, to render system events and display them as effects within the 3D world.

The idea of navigating a computer network as a 3D environment will be familiar to fans of Tron, amongst others, and even the idea of using extreme violence to manage system processes is nothing new - Doom was being used to represent processes on a single machine almost 10 years ago.

"After I took the screenshot of myself being attacked by csh, csh was shot by friendly fire from behind, possibly by tcsh or xv, and my session was abruptly terminated."

But L3DGEWorld is taking the concept a bit further. Indeed, games were far from the plan when they started by attempting to build their own rendering engine, before realising the time that could be saved by using Open Arena.

Mostly the system consists of rows of pyramids, each representing one server, the appearance of which can be altered in up to seven different ways to indicate its status - colour, bounce height and speed, form, rotation, patterning and size (video).

The user can interact with the systems, using different weapons to have different effects, such as locking down a firewall or getting further information about a system.

The major advantage of such systems, regardless of their base code, is the ability to see massive amounts of information at a glance, ensuring that everything is ticking over and quickly zooming in on areas of concern. ®

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