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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  • rainyday - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    in my opinion linux is not yet ready for mass market use.

    linux still has inferior file management to windows. still no native file icon support in executable, icon association is annoying too. explorer is still superior than natilus/thunar in feature and presentation/interface.

    uninstalling and upgrading programs in linux is still annoying and complicated. there are many ways to install a program (synaptic, rpm/deb, tarball, bin, subversion etc) and at least some of them are still annoying. these are pretty big issue for gaming.

    file sharing and networking can still be unnecessarily complicated and there is still no user friendly driver installation procedure like windows.

    devices in linux still work at generic mode, but windows users are used to having drivers tailors to their hardwares with all features enabled and usually have better presentation and interface.

    in my opinion linux can be used as windows alternative only in computers having routine and specific duties. like checking counters at shopping malls, in cyber-cafes, children's school class room etc.








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  • boltronics - Sunday, May 09, 2010 - link

    > linux still has inferior file management to windows.
    Dreaming. Spoken like a real Windows user who has no understanding of anything else. Why are you in the "Linux" section?

    > still no native file icon support in executable,
    Thanks for the laugh. Funniest thing I've read all day. :)

    > explorer is still superior than natilus
    That's funny too (and I don't just mean your incorrect spelling). Last I checked, Explorer didn't support tabs. Nautilus also includes built-in support for all kinds of protocols too, such as SFTP. I can't think of a single way Nautilus loses to Windows Explorer.

    > uninstalling and upgrading programs in linux is still annoying and complicated.
    What? Learn the package manager GUI and never worry about installing or removing again too hard for you? Give me a break. You think manually installing from a CD or manually searching a website for an installer in Windows is easier? Windows doesn't even have a single consistent installation procedure - every program requires different steps and uses a different wizard. And how do you update those Windows programs? You open every single program and run the "Check for Updates" option or visit all the websites you downloaded the programs from to see if there's something new? No thanks - I've got more interesting things to spend my time on.

    On the off chance I actually wanted to compile a program on GNU/Linux that wasn't in a package management system, it's almost always configure, make, make install. I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to do it under Windows. I'm pretty sure it would involve manually installing a compiler... and if you don't compile code under Windows, why would you mention installing software by compiling it under GNU/Linux?

    > file sharing and networking can still be unnecessarily complicated
    That has been the exact opposite of my experience.

    > and there is still no user friendly driver installation procedure like windows.
    That's because it is just so rare to ever need to install a driver. Drivers should be included as a module that came with your kernel, and as such should work automatically. The only main exceptions are ATI and nVidia proprietary graphics card drivers which are required for running some proprietary games, and even here a growing number of distributions have these available for installation through your package management system. Generally, you won't ever need to do a thing. As such, GNU/Linux clearly dominates in this area too.

    > devices in linux still work at generic mode, but windows users are used to having drivers tailors to
    > their hardwares with all features enabled and usually have better presentation and interface.
    When it comes to ease of use, consistency is more important than having some unique interface. eg, I can tweak the settings of any installed printer using the CUPS web interface, and can also do this in the same way on basically any modern distribution. On Windows you likely have a different utility to change settings for every printer. How is that a benefit to the end user? It's just confusing and annoying. Unnecessary clutter.

    As you might imagine, I fully disagree with your opinion. After all, I'm typing this in Firefox on GNU/Linux.
    Reply
  • Headfoot - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Linux is only free if your time has no value. Reply
  • DominionSeraph - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Drop the GNU. Let Microsoft incorporate DirectX with copyright protections.
    Not rocket science.
    Reply
  • marraco - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    I have lots of games from before Windows XP, like some tomb raiders, and need for speed 4.

    They no more run on windows. No support. No compatibility. (and don't even try to run a game with a 16 bit installer on a 64 bit windows).

    At that older times, nI never had a top video card to run them on all his full glory, and I was somewat disapointed. I just wish to run NFS4 with full antialiasing, and on his full glory.

    I hope they run on Linux. That way linux can add more games that windows.
    Reply
  • shangshang - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    while you're at it, why not go back further to make DOS games run under linux too, that way even more games will run under linux.

    Reply
  • Penti - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    Lol already done, but DOXBox/Dosemu works in windows too. Reply
  • Gonemad - Monday, November 08, 2010 - link

    In fact, reading through the Dosbox "boot" and readme's you stumble on a lot of things seen in a Linux boot, suggesting the thing was first released to Linux, than ported BACK to Windows, which adds to the irony.

    Windows doesn´t support DOS games, but Linux does. How absurd.

    Some games even play better on Dosbox than on native DOS, because of the 640kB memory thingy that was a real pain in the neck back then.
    Reply
  • Schugy - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    In theory wine/cedega has to be slower but as long as it is playable it is ok.

    Other competition is free Intel Linux graphics driver vs. Intel Windows graphics driver or AMD Catalyst Windows vs Catalyst Linux vs open Radeon or Radeon HD driver.

    This article was rather disappointing
    Reply
  • flywheeldk - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    This article is utter B.S. - unless you do another article focusing on running native Linux games on Windows - then it would just be completely pointless.

    Regards
    Peter
    Reply

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