Introduction by Jarred

A few months back, I wrote an article looking at battery life on a couple of laptops using several different OSes. Windows XP, Vista, and 7 were the main focus, but I decided to test battery life on Linux running Ubuntu as well. Naturally, the Linux community wasn't happy to see their OS place last in the battery life results. One of the readers actually took the time to offer his help in getting a Linux OS configured "properly", and we started work.

Eventually, we abandoned the follow-up article as I had other pressing matters to get to and troubleshooting Linux from half a continent away is difficult (plus we started with the NV52, and ATI support under Linux is still lacking), but I offered Christopher the chance to write a couple pilot Linux articles for our site. He had shown a much better knowledge of Linux and I figured getting someone passionate about the OS was our best bet. (I'll let Christopher tell you what he does for his "real job" if he so desires.)

As a side note, with Anand's call for more writers, this sort of passion for any technology is what we like to see. Show us you know what you're talking about and you care about the technology, and there's a good chance we can use your skills.

With that out of the way, here's Christopher's first Linux article where he provides a concrete look at something few have ever attempted: Windows Gaming on Linux.


Over the past few years, there has been a common question on the Linux vs. Windows desktop front: does the Linux desktop have the ability to play various major release games, and if so what is the performance difference between the two? Linux is commonly overlooked as a viable gaming platform in most communities. Our intention today is to shed some light on what does and does not work inside Linux, as well as give solid performance data for those looking for another option in the gaming world. Each OS has areas where it shows superiority over the other, but for the sake of staying true to the purpose of this article we will only be focusing on the game performance/functionality differences.

Unfortunately there are very few game releases that support running inside Linux natively. To combat this issue there are a few Linux projects that will allow Linux users to run Windows applications - note that we did not say "emulate Windows". We have selected three Linux projects in order to complete our initial round of testing. Our open source project selection "Wine" is a free, easily downloadable project that is created to support both Windows games and applications. The second selection, "Cedega", is a closed source implementation of Wine focused on gaming. The final selection is Crossover Games which like Cedega is a closed source implementation of Wine allowing for enhanced usability and gameplay over Wine.

Some are probably asking at this point, what is Wine? The Wine project was started in 1993 to allow Windows applications to be run under Linux. Wine takes the Windows API (Application Programming Interface) and implements it in the Linux user space. Since Wine is running in user space and is not a part of the Linux Kernel, it relies on the wineserver daemon to provide your basic Windows kernel functionality as well as other various tasks of X integration.

As a quick recap, there are two basic goals we want to complete in this article. First we want to compare performance and functionality of games between Linux and Windows. Second, we will look at the performance and functionality differences of Wine/Cedega/Crossover Games.

Wine Projects: Which Vintage?
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  • tomaccogoats - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    The only real reason i use windows over linux is because of it's game support. I'd totally switch to linux 24/7 if they could make a game play the same in Windows, and in Linux Reply
  • mindcloud - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    I completely agree. Games is the only thing I use windows for. Reply
  • rs1 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I wouldn't. Linux has too many usability shortcomings that have never been adequately addressed. Everything from connecting to a wireless network (and woe unto you if you need to switch between networks frequently, or between DHCP and static IP connections) to getting the networked printer to work still requires more effort, and more user knowledge, than it should. Reply
  • tracyanne - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    What a load of rubbish. I use Linux (Currently Ubuntu), and Windows on the same laptop.

    I can move from network to network, Wireless and Cable, and be connected to multiple networks, Multiple wireless plus cable. Every time I switch networks on Windows I have to restart the network daemon, or run repair. Linux just switches transparently.

    Typically I suspend the machine, then travel to whereever I'm going then wake the machine up. Every time I do Windows has trouble connecting to the new network, and I have to run repair or restart the daemon.

    Linux just display a message saying I'm disconnected, then after a few seconds the network icon changes and a message saying that I'm connected appears.

    As far as printers are concerned, I have no problems their either. I typically work on a Windows network, which has several printers on it. All of the printers appear and can be aquired, and for all but one the drivers were installed automatically, all I had to do was click OK the initiate the the install after the system offered to download and install them. The one machine that didn't I had to go to the manufacturers site for the drivers, which had to be installed manually.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Sounds more like a wireless driver problem than a Windows problem, as I routinely travel between various locations and never have issues with my laptop connecting/reconnecting. What WiFi card and drivers are you running, Ralink? I've had reasonable success with Atheros, Intel has never given me problems, but the few times I've tested a Ralink chipset I've been disappointed at best. Reply
  • Amiga500 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Try a modern version of ubuntu.

    You'll be very surprised.

    I had MUCH less issues getting my wireless network on ubuntu 9.10 than I did on Win7.
    Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Ubuntu gets worse with each release. Reply
  • rs1 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I did that, not too long ago. I found I had more issues with Ubuntu than I did with earlier versions of SUSE and Red Hat. Maybe my laptop is just not the most ideal platform for Linux, but I've never once gotten the "it just works" feeling from Linux that I get from Windows. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    If this was Windows Vista I would totally agree. However with Window 7 out (and for only $30 for students), there is little incentive to switch to Linux just yet. Office 2007 is vastly superior to OpenOffice, the Flash video support on Windows runs MUCH better, and with Windows 7 out, the interface is much cleaner and much more stable. Furthermore, there is far FAR more compatibility.

    Ubuntu 9 has come a really far way in its OS. You spend much less time in Terminal and there is a lot more software. However, for only $30, I still would prefer Windows 7.
    Reply
  • Penti - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    Well for business (there's no commercial consumer linux distros any how) it doesn't matter as you just stream (from a Citrix/remote desktop/terminal server/virtual XP) your Office 2007 applications to your Linux and OS X desktops. Same with all the rest of the win apps. You can stream Linux/OS X apps to windows too.

    For consumers there's really no reason to run Linux, your computer already has a legit copy of Windows or OS X. Community distros lack (free) legal support for patent video codecs and a lot of finish. Sure you can run homebrew codecs such as FFMpeg/libavcodec (as ffdshow, vlc etc uses) just as you do on Windows for your warez, but nobody can ship that as an official part of a distro no less can a computer OEM ship computers with it.

    There's no drop in replacements for apps such as MS Office, Office 2008 for mac doesn't cut it in a corporate environment even. If MS can't do it you shouldn't expect any one else to be able to do it either. But that said, that doesn't mean you can't create an alternative word processor, spreadsheets, document management (others than SharePoint) or email client environment. Certainly companies like IBM do try where possible. But it's no replacement, if you need Office then run office, the same exact office as the ones you work against. If you need a word processor/office productivity app just for your internal corporate environment you might get away with a lot of other solutions. If you just need the ability to open and write basic doc/docx files even Google Docs or OS X internal TextEdit does that.

    Of course multimedia means == Windows, even over OS X in a lot of aspects especially the one you mentioned Adobe Flash. For professional use or like creating multimedia/video OS X might be or fit better. Depending on preferences of course. But for consuming it's MS Windows hands down. But for gaming, well all the Windows computers (new too) aren't up to gaming at all, laptops or small form factor PCs with weak integrated graphics etc can't do it. So I don't see how not why not to just run a separate gaming machine with Windows regardless if you run a Linux, Windows or OS X laptop, Linux or OS X low end PC, mid-end work computer as your main machine. There's no reason to do everything on the same machine. Everyone aren't even Windows gamers now days. That's not why you have computers today it was like in the 80's and early 90's, but today is another world. Use what you need, that might be something other then Windows, it might not. There's really no reason to run a unified environment today mixed does fine for a lot of things.
    Reply

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