What is Electric Sheep ? Why would I want this thing ?


Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?1

If you've never heard of Electric Sheep, it is a collaborative abstract artwork.

When computers "sleep", the Electric Sheep comes on and the computers communicate with each other by the internet to share the work of creating morphing abstract animations known as "sheep".

Anyone watching one of these computers may vote for their favorite animations using the keyboard. The more popular sheep live longer and reproduce according to a genetic algorithm with mutation and cross-over. Hence the flock evolves to please its global audience. [...]

You can design your own sheep and submit them to the gene pool. The result is a collective "android dream", blending man and machine with code to create an artificial lifeform.

Installation for Windows or Mac OS X

Just go to the download page.

Installation on Linux

There aren't precompiled binaries for Ubuntu, in fact you're told to install it from source aka. to compile it. It's been a long time I wanted to try Electric Sheep but I never got around to compile it. Eventually I did it and the following is a summary of the steps I followed.

The README instructions are pretty succinct but I managed to get it working.

1. Install system dependencies
sudo apt install subversion autoconf libtool libgtk2.0-dev libgl1-mesa-dev libavcodec-dev libavformat-dev libswscale-dev liblua5.1-0-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev libxml2-dev libjpeg8-dev libgtop2-dev libboost-dev libboost-filesystem-dev libboost-thread-dev libtinyxml-dev freeglut3-dev glee-dev
sudo apt install libwxgtk3.0-0v5 libwxgtk3.0-dev
2. Build flam3

Flam3 is a dependency of Electric Sheep, we need to install it.

git clone [email protected]:scottdraves/flam3.git
cd flam3/

Now make will probably fail, the fix is to edit Makefile to put the correct version of the failing rules (replaced 1.14 by 1.15 in my case):

ACLOCAL = aclocal-1.14    # -> 1.15
AUTOMAKE = automake-1.14  # -> 1.15
3. Build a .deb package for flam3!

checkinstall is a nice tool that we will use to replace the sudo make install step. It builds a .deb package that makes installation and uninstallation easy:

sudo apt install checkinstall
sudo checkinstall

You can fill all asked questions with the default values, except for the package version that has to be valid (I used 3.1.1). Once the .deb is built, just install it:

sudo dpkg -i flam3_3.1.1-1_amd64.deb
4. At last: build Electric Sheep
git clone [email protected]:scottdraves/electricsheep.git
cd electricsheep/client_generic/
sudo checkinstall
sudo dpkg -i client-generic_2.7b33-svn-1_amd64.deb
5. Enjoy!
$ electricsheep
$ electricsheep-preferences

Thanks for reading !

[1] Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1968.