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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  • ashtonmartin - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Yes Linux may be free to download but the time you spend getting it to work right and the incompatibilities will offset the cost of Windows. The nice thing about Windows is that I haven't had to read a manual since Windows 3.1 when I first started using computers.

    If your time is valuable, Windows will be much cheaper in the long run.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I agree. After several tries at Linux over the years, I gave up, and decided Windows was simply a better value to me (especially since my copy of Win7 was free, and another copy was only $49). I'm thinking my next fray into another operating system will be OSX. Reply
  • imaheadcase - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    The steps involved won't ever appeal to anyone in the mainstream world.

    The fact is, people want to install a game and play fast. Consoles and windows make that possible. The setup for linux is the time waster.

    The one thing linux can't do right, never has, was make things simple. Open source is the cause for the cluster of bad ideas in the linux community, so many projects, nothing ever is the end-all-be-all solution. While the idea of everyone making something better sounds like a utopia, with no actual direction it makes for total confusion the the people not involved.

    If you want any evidence of that, take a look at when wal-mart tried to sell Linux computers, the returns on the was off the charts, some local stores reported everyone returns in my area. The leading problem? Could not get printer to work. lol

    Linux based OS have a place, its business applications. Pure and simple.

    All this is IMHO.
    Reply
  • Captain Picard - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    As Yahtzee would say, the short answer is no.

    The long answer is, noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
    Reply
  • jmurbank - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Linux is here for gaming, but developers are not here because there are no OpenGL tools to help creating 3D objects. At this time, the only way to create 3D objects with OpenGL is through a trial-n-error process. Also there is no easy way to handle networks unless the developer does not mind using Qt from Trolltech. The one problem with Qt for the developer is the program have to be open sourced or else the developer have to pay $1000. Reply
  • lordmetroid - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Any games I got for my computer runs on a native Linux binary.
    I love Quake and Unreal and the latest software I got myself was World of Goo.
    Reply
  • marc1000 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    congrats on the writing. the only thing I would like to say about the article is that you never explained what is "X" (the graphics manager), on the first page. I always had interest in linux but never got used to it, so I don't run any distro in my machines at home. Maybe I look to it with looking for simplicity in the first time, and even with the great recent advances, the experience overall is still a little hard... IMO. Reply
  • blowfish - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Who in their right mind would pay £40 per year for software that might allow a game to run significantly more slowly than it would on Windows?

    I'm no big fan of Windows, and would love to see more Linux use - but my dabblings with Linux have been wholly unsatisfactory. It seems like there's no alternative but to learn more than you should about Linux to get anything working - simple things like media players, for example.

    The only real growth in Linux use will be in things like Expressgate, used by Asus on recent motherboards, as a quick way of booting up and getting online. Otherwise, it's just for Geeks with the time on their hands to fiddle around enough with it to get it working.

    Shame on the Linux community for not coming up with something better suited to mainstream use. It's as if they suffer from the same snobbery against "noobs" as most online forums, which results in a very effective damper on mainstream adoption of Linux.
    Reply
  • Jackattak - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Couldn't agree more, blowfish.

    Until the Linux community makes it easy for a layman to install apps and works severely on compatibility issues (and somehow gets all the software and hardware manufacturers of the world to start supporting Linux), there will never be widespread adoption from John Q. Public.

    Based on the conversations I've had with Linux users, that suits them just fine when brought up. However, they're also generally the first to start crying about how Microsoft stymies their attempts to get a bigger "marketshare".

    Make it easy for John Q. Public to use, and you're in.

    Until then, Linux will never be anything but a geek's OS used by less than 1% of the PC-using planet.
    Reply
  • sammyF - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Just a note about "Until the Linux community makes it easy for a layman to install apps" : You mean, like .. I don't know.. one centralized package manager, in which you only have to enter what you want and it pukes out a list of possible software packages, which you only have to click to download AND install? Yeah .. maybe it should also check for new software versions automatically and update anything that needs updating instead of just the OS!! Wow! Now, THERE is an idea!

    (check "sarcasm" if you don't know about it yet)

    About the hardware compatibility, it's really an individual case thing. I had plenty of notebooks and desktops which just ran perfectly out of the box after installing Linux, and required the manual download and installation of new drivers in windowsXP or Vista (can't say much about Win7, sorry). On the other hand I've seen the exact opposite phenomenon too (not running easily or at all in Linux, worked flawlessly in Windows after a reinstall). Globally, Hardware support in Linux has vastly improved from its state just one year ago though.
    Reply

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