Linux Gaming: Are We There Yet?

by Christopher Rice on 12/28/2009 2:00 PM EST


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  • apexwm - Thursday, January 07, 2010 - link

    I've been a Linux user for over 12 years. Up until recently, getting Windoze software, particularly games, has been a challenge until the past few years. Recently I purchased two new Dell Inspiron desktops, and got two nVidia 9400 GT cards for them, and installed Fedora 10 Linux. I was pleasantly surprised as the excellent performance of 3D games in Wine. The key is the nVidia cards, which have excellent support in Linux. Other cards like ATI do not, and you will probably have issues with non-nVidia cards. My suggestion is to stick with nVidia, and you should be in good shape. And, there is hope if you still cannot get games to run in Wine,.. and that is VirtualBox. VirtualBox will allow you to install a complete Windoze 2000/XP virtual machine, with Direct3D support integrated. This allows you to run games in there as well. Reply
  • FlyTexas - Sunday, January 03, 2010 - link

    Why on God's green Earth would you BOTHER?

    That is a whole pile of work, to do what, play some games kinda ok?

    Windows is NOT that expensive. If you can build your own computer, you can buy a copy of Windows.

    I've used Linux, I get the benefits for servers, it really does shine in many ways there...

    But for the desktop? Good lord, why bother?
  • ap90033 - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    I AGREE. Technet Plus is $250 with coupon, and that gets you TEN of Windows 7 Ultimate and 10 Office and TEN of most of Microsofts software.. DUH or you can go OEM for around $100 you can get a MS OS and PLAY ANY Freakin' Game you want. Reply
  • Penti - Tuesday, January 05, 2010 - link

    Actually according to Microsoft OEM-software isn't allowed on self built machines.

    Retail copy is not THAT expensive ($300 for 7 Pro/320 for Ult) but, why not just copy/pirate as you does on any other self built Windows machine. Technet is btw dependent on existing OEM-licenses. It's a volume license and software assurance. Nobody, nobody legally license software for their self built computers.
  • eekamouse - Monday, April 26, 2010 - link

    The answer to your question is incredibly simple, Linux is by far the most stable, robust and powerful desktop operating system on the market, not to mention the most beautiful kde4 / e17 put windows 7 to shame compiz adds effects windows users can only ever dream of..

    Windows doesn't even come close to what I can do on Linux.. If I had to buy Linux I would, I wouldn't buy windows. Windows is mediocre at best. Its logging capability is non-existent, its performance is mediocre, the notion of a registry is just asinine having to reboot on package updates is stupid, its lack of a good shell is just a joke, Its user management is third rate, its tcp/ip stack is pretty poor its security is shit. IE has to be the worst browser on the market.. Its features are mostly gimmicks.. In 20 odd years of being in the market Microsoft has produced nothing original, its been copying from freebsd left, right and centre and even more so copying Mac and Linux.. Why get an operating system that has no original ideas of its own ? Why pay money for an os that has to copy everyone else ?

    So why would I run Linux ? Linux performance has always put windows to shame. It has some of the best schedulers, some of the best file systems, the best security models practically any program I want is just an apt-get away. It also has the best shell, bash.. Most importantly it has vim and it has loads of different programming languages and I can use it to get my work done, without having to faff about looking in a bajillion websites to try and find software to do my work.. I don't have to worry about adware and spyware because everything comes from a central repository and is open source so its guaranteed to do exactly as advertised and its all signed.. I don't have to worry about viruses because there are practically none in the wild and even then the Linux security model has had privilege seperation from the start (windows uac ? blatent rip off of sudo and badly implemented) ..

    The hardware support in Linux has become so good that I can connect a printer to my usb port and it automatically detects what it is and configures it all for me without me having to do anything. In windows I would have to faff about searching for the driver.. I connect my ps3 playtv tuner to my Linux box and it works out of the box I connect the ps3 eye and it works out of the box.. Everything just pretty much works and it works well and all out of the box.. The Linux hardware support is nothing short of amazing. It has more hardware support than windows because it works on practically every platform available..

    By the way this article has to be the worst article ever..

    Short answer : Linux gaming are we there yet ? No

    No it will never be there until there is first party support for games.. Games like

    Primal Carnage
    Quake Live,
    ET: Quake Wars
    Savage 2,
    ET: RTCW,
    Quake 2,
    Doom Series
    Unreal Tournament 1 / 2 etc
    Penny Arcade Adventures (ep 1 n 2)

    Which all had/have native Linux clients. These are fine to look at and compare against their windows counterparts and to try and determine if Linux is capable of running games..

    Will it be there soon, will it be able to play the latest and greatest games ? Well that depends on the publishers and developers.. There is no hardware or software limitation stopping it. Most multiplat games released on consoles are developed using OpenGL or a variant of it, because the ps3 uses openGL quite obviously and all multiplat games support the ps3.. This means that the engines already natively support OpenGL are capable of running on Linux without much difficulty, the only question is is it worthwhile for the developer to build a native Linux client ? If this is true and Steam is coming to Linux, then yes Linux gaming will be there, yes Linux will become a very viable gaming platform.

    Trying to determine whether Linux is ready for gaming by running wine to try and run a windows layer on top of linux,to then run directx and then run windows games on Linux is frankly just retarded..

    This article proves nothing other than absolute and utter stupidity. If you run Wine to play games you are part of the problem, wine is the problem not the solution.. Wine has to constantly try and catch up to and match Microsoft to try and match the changes microsoft makes to its closed source dls and operating system.

    Its all fun, but ultimately its a battle that will never be won, because you are dependant on Microsoft and trying to decode and work out Microsofts system.. Why would publishers and developers bother porting games if people running Linux try and hack the game to work through wine and dont ask the developers for a native port ? Its just such a stupid idea.. This is why this article is just so ill conceived and so badly thought out..

    Its like using cygwin on windows and trying to say is windows ready to be a competent Unix like operating system ? Can windows run a good shell ? Can it be a good server ? Sure you can get stuff to work, but its pretty much shit and it will still be shit as a server operating system even with cygwin adding some GNU tools.

    Also to the AnandTech editorial team, by and large I love reading your hardware reviews its great to read the reviews and to get a good understanding and another source of verification for hardware capabilities. I also really respect the fact that you have tried to run a Linux column, but please please please understand Linux is not Windows..

    You have to understand and respect the origin of Linux and try and understand the operating system, not to blindly expect it to behave and act like windows looking at the article :

    Revisiting Linux Part 1: A Look at Ubuntu 8.04 By Ryan Smith.

    I get it he really doesn't know much about Unix as a whole, but seriously at least do a little bit of research before writing a column.. The worst suggestion in that article was about the FHS and renaming stuff like /home etc.. This is where most Linux people were probably banging their heads on their tables and slapping their forheads at you, do you have any idea how damn beautiful the fhs is ? I can jump onto sun solaris / FreeBSD practically any variant of Linux practically any Variant of Unix for that matter and know that logs are stored in /var usually /var/log.. All configuration exists in /etc/ .. All program files is in /usr All home directories is in /home , All system programs in /usr all spooled data in /var etc... Why fix something that isnt broken ? Why fix something that is better than on every other platform.. Where is windows config files exactly (yeah i know the horrendous registry) where are programs ? where is a specific binary where are logs ? where is the temp directory ? where is user data stored ? its all such a freaking mess , stuff is scattered throughout the system and some of it is locked in some really obscure registry keys..

    Windows pre xp installed stuff in c:\windows\documents and settings vista it moved to c:\documents n settings and now in 7 its c:\user like at last the clueless idiots worked out that having a central place to store home directories is a good idea.. An idea they ripped straight from Apple which is basically /home from unix world (infact I think its a hard link to /home so they are still maintaining fhs in some messed up way, what they are doing is getting incredibly messy as well).. So to ape on /home is just stupid.. /home is exactly what it is /users is well dumb its my home directory its my home in the system its not the "users" directory its my home its the user home in the system.. Please understand the concepts because once you understand the concepts you begin to realise just how backwards windows is..

    If you only understood the beauty of this method.. My /home is mounted as its own partition.. I reinstall my os I change stuff my /home is preserved I dont lose any of my data my documents follow me.. Try and move users around on a windows machine, its the biggest and slowest pain in the ass in the world.

    Having drive letter to connotate partitions is just asinine.. Think about that for a second.. I have a partition which is part of 1 drive but that partition is the D drive.. Which moron came up with that convention ? I should be able to have a partition and map that directly into a specific destination within the filesystem into a specific directory its still the same drive after all.. I should be able to treat it as its own entity its own partition but be able to map it to any location within my system.. My disk space on c:\ is running out oh no what do I do ? What can I possibly do ?

    Do I add another drive and dump the data across to this other partition and start installing stuff there ? How stupid is that exactly ? Why cant I plug in another drive and take the logging directory for example compress it reserving permissions and copy it across to a new partition within this drive and then map this partition to become the new logging folder in the exact same place within the partitions and remove the old logging folder and free up space on the main system ?

    Even better than that with LVM (which all linux distributions use by default) I can add another drive add the drive to the same volume group and increase the size of the volume on the fly and add partitions on the fly.. This is proper design this is proper architecture... Further examples look at btrfs the new upcoming Linux filesystem it beggers belief people are willing to develop technology like this and make it all open source for everyones benefit, it is by far the best and most sincere act of humility and humanity around.. Take a look at ZFS (Sun Solaris ) An absolutely beautiful crafted file system as well..

    This is why I say windows is just mediocre, because it is just that its a very very mediocre operating system and has a long way to go until it can compete with unix operating systems or with Linux.

    End of my rant
  • ravigehlot - Sunday, May 23, 2010 - link

    I agree with you for the most part. The Linux platform is well thought out and more robust. I have been using Linux since 1998. But until more companies start to adopt Linux as a Desktop option and begin to develop drivers for the Linux platform, it will be 2nd to Windows and 3rd to MAC. It's just reality. Yes, MOST printers work in Ubuntu out of the box when you plug it but some still don't. The few that work still isn't fully supported. My Brother printer prints text just fine but it chokes on images or PDF files. Yes, the FHS in Linux is all the way better and well designed. There is no need to get at the prompt level anymore. So proven that DELL has adopted Ubuntu Linux as an option. Why? The GUI just works fine for most people.

    Wine is a shame at all levels. Like you said, it will never catch up and most programs brake big time on Wine. VirtualBox is a much better idea.

    I would still like to see software like Photoshop, AutoCAD and CorelDraw for Linux. People would pay FULL price for these softwares if they didn't have to pay for an OS like Windows. We aren't there yet.

    As far as virus for Linux. There aren't any malign viruses for Linux because there aren't that many people to infect. When Linux takes 50% of the Desktop Market then you will see viruses being developed for the Linux platform. It isn't reality yet because it isn't worth yet. Linux only has about 8% of the market and as we all know is mostly servers. About 3% of Linux is Desktop users. I wouldn't put my time into trying to infect only 3%. So for now, Linux is safe.

    Just my $0.02 cents,
    Ravi Gehlot
  • eekamouse - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Sorry been busy, but I thought I would just answer your points now..

    If you look at the platforms Linux works on (From Android to the top super computers in the world), it actually supports more hardware, look at the cpu and architecture support.. Linux works on Sparc / x86/ x86_64 / ARM .. ... Practically any platform you can think of it works on and has been ported to and when you combine that hardware you would also know that for a fact Linux supports a greater hardware range than practically any other OS out there..

    The Mac has the worst hardware support , not by kernel design or actual OS but by actual support, the actual Darwin Kernel and BSD core is nothing short of impressive, I also think Mac OSX is just a far better platform than Windows..

    Next to the issue of security..

    There is just things you dont seem to understand where Virus or Security is concerned. It is nothing to do with market share but to do with design..

    Lets take market share into consideration.. What is the most popular web server on this planet ? The top million busiest sites are 70% Apache I dont know what percentage of that is Linux but it would have to be high 80-90% odd running Linux..

    Put simply Linux is the most popular web serving platform with majortiy share.. Now how many times has IIS been attacked with Worms and Virii and how many times has Apache ?

    Feel free to do research into this I think the only real worm to effect Apache was the slapper worm thats about it.. Pretty pathetic. I didnt even bother trying to count the IIS outbreaks, no competition ...

    I am not saying Linux is the most secure or best designed I am sure I would have OpenBSD bods jumping up and down and screaming at me if I said that..

    It does however come with a few very important security features.. Firtsly is true privilege separation, no one logs in as or should log in as root , in ubuntu root is even completely locked out and only sudo escalates privileges..

    Next we have Chroot , dont trust a user or a process on the system ? Chuck it into its locked down process environment.. It can function properly, but will have limited access to everything.. Easy to use and completely locks down the process.

    Next we have apparmour and SELinux ..

    They implement Mandatory Access Control / Role Based Access Control..

    Each process within the system is ring fenced .. Suse Actively uses AppArmor and so does Ubuntu. Policies are written for each program such as FireFox and it is ring fenced by the policies applied to it..

    SELinux is just extreme overkill actively being pushed by redhat /fedora but we are dealing with complete fine grained control over processes and users and access to locations.. As far as security models go its incredibly secure and also incredibly annoying, because its so secure..

    Windows only now after how many years has implemented what can be classed as a true multi user system with effective privilege separation.. Sorry Windows XP doest count, it was a hack and every one still logged in as root/administrator.. In windows Vista there was the introduction of UAC and the downgrading of user rights.. User Access Control is what Linux has had from the start, its Sudo under a different name... It also happens that current windows vista/7 systems have been far less susceptible to the age old Virus problems, exactly because the core systems is locked out..

    The other issue with Windows security is the mess in which it tries to organise itself, its like swimming in a sea of shit.. c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts ? Seriously What complete moron stores the hosts file in that location Why are using etc, isnt that a Unix folder ? This is the other problem, how can you separate out processes and location properly when your layout is just so clandestine and horrible ..

    When it comes to malware.. Half the time windows users have to rely on untrusted sources to get programs and install programs, which can then in turn dump a whole load of malware and bloat onto the system.. In Linux this cannot happen, for a very simple reason.. We have centralised package management.. I want to install firefox I do an apt-get install firefox or a yum install firefox.. The packages are all verified and signed you can check the authenticity of the package maintainer and of the package..

    So you see when you take the defence mechanisms that are built into Linux it becomes very apparent that even with Majority market share it is just not as susceptible to the security issues Windows has been.. This is wholly due to the fact that Unix has been around for around 30 years and Linux borrows heavily from the Unix Paradigm and the Unix Model.. Put simply it is the evolution of Unix..

    Its not the be all and end all operating system, it is ultimately created by humans and we are fallible, we make plenty of mistakes , but what it offers is much better than the Microsoft counterpart..

  • eekamouse - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    Btw Ravi I hope you don't take that personal, just me adding more cents to the convo.. I also like your site its nice. Reply
  • valentin-835 - Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - link

    You guys are fussing too much about OS !!
    With gaming it's a bit more complicated than that.
    Over the years we had overly complicated graphics API. Plus the fact that
    manufacturers of video cards have done such a stellar job at hiding
    the hardware and jacking up prices.
    There is hope for Linux.
    It's called Open CL. And it's coming from, you guessed it, Apple.
    For details, check their website.
    The more and the sooner game developers adopt it, the better for everyone.
    Microsoft won't like it because it will kill the DirectX monster API they have
    created. Just like Web programming killed the Windows API.
    Progress is about change. Some don't like it. That's all.
  • due40 - Wednesday, September 08, 2010 - link

    Oh, most people use windows, not linux, so in that situation you're absolutely right. Do not bother if you do not need linux.

    However, for someone like me, where for work purposes windows does not have what I need most of the time, the tables are turned.

    And then you go the extra mile, to get your favourite windows game to work under linux.

    That's all. Because, why, on God's green earth, would I put up with a working environment that does not suit me if I have a working alternative ?

  • ficarra1002 - Friday, February 11, 2011 - link

    Most people don't use Linux because it's free. They get it because its better. You may think its too much work, but that's you. Reply
  • stoggy - Friday, April 29, 2011 - link

    Yea those linux gui server utils are great they make it really easy. then its worth the trouble.

    why did you even read the article if its not worth the bother?

    why do i use linux for a desktop? Because windows cant do what linux can do, period. Even worse is when Windows makes me do what linux does for me.
  • zerobug - Saturday, January 02, 2010 - link

    Very good move from Anand, hiring a Linux expert for a better coverage on what's going on in the OSS arena. I welcome this initiative. The present article was a good choice and I'll be checking often for what's following. Good luck and a happy new year to the team and all their readers. Reply
  • ReviveR - Saturday, January 02, 2010 - link

    Comparison is quite unfair, but Linux doesn't actually have to win Windows to become a gaming platform.

    Just today I connected my N900 to TV and played some Star Control 2. It worked really well as cheap console replacement.

    It probably also has more processing power (CPU & GPU) than Nintendo DS or PSP. You can connect it to PC, use some bluetooth based controller like Wiimote etc. I think that when Maemo starts gaining some speed it could be a very nice Linux based gaming platform also.

    If you think how successful Wii has been and then consider that something like N900 can handle bigger resolutions than Wii, offer all the development advantages of Linux etc... The tech is there, all it would need is users realising the possibilities.
  • minime - Saturday, January 02, 2010 - link

    I'd like to see more real-life server test (incl. Linux [based] solutions). Something like "Which software stack/solution is able to serve the most users (while being practical meaning, incl. security)" (use-case: webserver, database, java, etc.).

    Then the other way around, keywords: AMD, Intel, PCI-E SSD vs. SATA SSD, GPGPU, etc.
  • ChristopherRice - Saturday, January 02, 2010 - link

    In the future, I'd like to do some server articles for sure. Reply
  • minime - Sunday, January 03, 2010 - link

    Cool, thanks! I do believe this is something a lot of readers would like to see and would differentiate from the ordinary IT-blog/news-sauce Reply
  • jediknight - Saturday, January 02, 2010 - link

    I'd be interested in seeing what performance would be like using a VM. Or Is performance so poor as to not even be worth attempting? Reply
  • FluffyTapeworm - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    It would be interesting to see how well running windows + games under vmplayer, virtualbox, etc stacks up. I assume it's likely to be less efficient, but it might still be useful for many older games. Reply
  • vol7ron - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    This article didn't really introduce anything new. All it says is that some people have found a way to manipulate Linux using Wine/etc to play some games.

    That sounds no better than someone issuing a keygen to use an application. Of course, the legalities are better, but you get the point: to only be able to play SOME games at a considerable performance impact does not make this option enticing if you already have Windows.

    All it says is: if you're a Linux user and you want nice gameplay, we recommend you dual boot, as always, because the games you probably really want to play, won't be worth the effort.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.

  • haplo602 - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    why that's easy, just compile them under windows and you are ready to run .... Reply
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Reading through the comments you will see part two will include some native games and ati.This will give us the full gamut of what Linux can do native or not between the two parts. Reply
  • flywheeldk - Friday, January 01, 2010 - link

    And in part three we will run native Linux games on Windows, just to even the score ?

    Or perhaps we are content with declaring one contender as the looser before the match begins.
  • Zap - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Props to someone making the move from reader to contributor! Reply
  • hechacker1 - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    So what configuration settings and tweaks were required to make these games run?

    As somebody who absolutely loves linux for its superior speed and stability, as an ATI user I know it is almost impossible to get any DX9 game going with all the features. Nvidia does much better with wine.

    So for TF2 were you able to run with DX9 and all highest quality settings? For the hardware you benchmarked I would expect nothing less.

    Furthermore, you show average FPS? I am more interested in the minimum and average, especially when it comes to a FPS.

    If you visit the TF2 wine page, it recommends DX8 mode, which makes the game run faster, but with such poor quality you'd be missing out on a lot, especially with such powerful hardware.

    I tried switching to linux completely at one point, hence why I bought an ATI card that theoretically has open specs and drivers. Eventually I suspect ATI would be a better choice because of their openness.

    But the last time I checked, it's just better to use Windows 7 if your a gamer. It is so easy to virtualize linux (even with 3D for compiz) it just makes sense to have WIndows as the host OS.

    I think the details would help show if it is really practical. Hey if TF2 and other source engine games run (L4D, L4D2) with highest quality setting, I would go back to linux full time.
  • jmurbank - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    ATI is not open as you might thought. There are two drivers for ATI graphic cards. One is proprietary and other is open sourced. The driver that is proprietary comes from ATI and written by them. The open source drivers comes from Xorg or ATI may answer questions that the open source community have, but they are basically not helping with the coding. AMD has provided documentation on how to access the microcode that is stored in the graphic card BIOS or AtomBIOS, but this does not mean they are completely open. Though even if you use ATI's proprietary Linux drivers, 3D support is mostly there compared to Windows.

    I do not recommend using Compiz or Beryl on a daily basis. You can use it to show off what Linux can do and brag that Linux is the first to implement this fancy feature, but it comes back to haunt you on its compatibility. Flash does not work well with it and not all programs in Linux are compatible with it. Again it is a good feature to show off, but not a feature to use on a daily basis.

    Team Fortress 2 should work in Cedega 7.3. Just make sure to update Xorg to the latest stable version for your distribution. If possible change graphics rendering in the game from DirectX to OpenGL. Left 4 Dead should be able to play in Cedega 7.3, but Left 4 Dead 2 can not. Like what the author of this article said older games are more supported than the latest games.

    I am a user of both ATI and nVidia graphics. I found nVidia is the best on terms of support for any operating system. nVidia's GeForce8 and above provides OpenGL 3 in Linux while other graphic brands and Xorg are stuck on OpenGL 1 (best support). The quality you are looking for is for OpenGL 3. Sure Xorg has support for OpenGL 2, but it is only mostly supported, so DirectX 8 is the highest it can go.
  • Veerappan - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    "ATI may answer questions that the open source community have, but they are basically not helping with the coding."

    This is not true.

    AMD has multiple employees on their payroll who contribute code to the open-source Radeon drivers. Off the top of my head, both Cooper Yuan and Alex Deucher are both paid by AMD to develop the open-source Radeon drivers. And John Bridgman, while he doesn't commit much/any code for the Radeon drivers is indispensable for PR purposes and community relations.
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Send me an email and I can give you additional information on my setup. Reply
  • hechacker1 - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I am most interested your TF2 configuration, as it relates to other popular source engine games.

    How about it? I think posting it here would be best to get the info out to people with similar questions. Frankly, your article isn't really useful without this info.

    *If* TF2 requires all sorts of quality lowering hacks, it is just not comparable to Windows. Though I would say it is playable and fun either way.
  • ravaneli - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I know Wine supports Company of Heroes, but the 64b version would not install on my computer at all. I have a 3-way RAID0. Then my video card is 9800GX2, which requires SLI to operate optimally. I love the Ubuntu on my laptop, and I want it on my desktop now, but only if I can play company of heroes.

    Can it be done, or should I give up? I am not dismantling my RAID.

    Any advice appreciated. Anand, I would love to hear from you too.
  • ravaneli - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I meant the 64-b version of Ubuntu will not install on my RAID0. And even if it did, does Ubuntu support SLI? Reply
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    What raid controller are you using? And yes nvidia supports sli in linux. Reply
  • ravaneli - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    The motherboard controller, not sure what it is. Gigabyte EP45T UD3LR.

    Do I need to download and install anything in Ubuntu to enable SLI? Like NVidia driver for Ubuntu?
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Using the on-board fake raid controller? Reply
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Tell you what, send me an email and I can get you in information your looking for. Reply
  • ravaneli - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I tried to look up your email but failed. How do u send an email to a member?

    ANyway, you are correct. Using the on board Intel raid controller.

    I can't install XP without the Intel driver on a floppy too. Is there a similar trick for Ubuntu?

    My email is veskovasilev @ yahoo or gmail
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I know your using ubuntu, however arch has an awesome wiki on this. I'm sure some other ubuntu users can grab your specific wiki on installing over fake raid. However below is the link for archlinux fake raid. To be honest you should use software raid rather then fake raid. Although for this article I did use fakeraid to stay true to the setup.">
  • ravaneli - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    I looked at that and got really scared. If I have to assign a probability to me doing all of this right, it would be below 5%.

    This is what I don't like in Linux. It is still quite user unfriendly. If you just browse the web and don't need anything other that the programs (good list) it comes with, then it is fine. But any kind if adjustment to a different purpose is a nightmare if you are not a programmer.

    Anyway, I thank you sincerely for your help! I will be building a new machine soon, and will use SSD instead of RAID0 for speed, and I will make the dual boot there.
  • stmok - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    At least the author is a fellow Arch Linux user! ;)

    As for the feedback around here, its the same thing over and over again. (As with other tech websites).

    (1) Most open source devs don't care for mainstream consumers. The software they wrote is made for their needs...They're happy to share it with everyone, and allow modifications/improvements using a community model.

    So trying to threaten them with comments like "Linux will never attain Windows marketshare" is pretty much an empty one. They'll just ignore you.

    (2) ...Nor do they care for desktop marketshare. Why would they care if its not their business to begin with? Apple and Microsoft are businesses; desktop marketshare means a lot to them. Its their core and they build services/apps around it.

    (3) Its "desktop" distro developers like Canonical (Ubuntu), etc that care about the mainstream user's needs. The overall goal of such organizations is to eventually use Linux as a platform for commercial applications sold via online store. (I'm not sure that would work well, as this approach has failed in the past).

    (4) Using ONE distro (like Ubuntu) is NOT representative of ALL Linux. To really appreciate Linux; you'd have to delve into distros like Debian, Arch, Gentoo, Sidux, etc. The reason being, no one distro is made EXACTLY the same.


    Arch Linux is a rolling release distro: You get regular updates instead of specific distro version releases. Its main advantage is that changes are gradual over time.

    Ubuntu is a point release distro: Its fixed at releasing specific versions of applications. Changes here, are encountered as distinct "bump ups". You'll often end up formating/installing a new release than upgrading because new versions of components can cause weird issues.

    (5) Linux will never be for the mainstream user, so get it out of your heads...And it shouldn't bother. That's not its strength.

    Linux's real strength is in servers (infrastructure), super computers (clusters), purpose specific systems/workstations, embedded devices, and enthusiasts who prefer what Linux offers and are willing to go through the learning curve.

    If you're just a computer user who's doesn't want to endure any learning curve and just want to use a computer; don't bother with Linux. Its best if you shift responsibility to a third party like Microsoft or Apple by paying for their solutions.

    Linux brings responsibility to the user. Some folks make not like that, so it really won't work for them.

    As for games? Buy a console. :)
  • haplo602 - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Amen to that ... finaly a comment worth reading ... Reply
  • LazLaong - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I share your POV, except.....on point [5]

    Never say never.
    As I consider Linux to be mainstream or at least a mainstream alternative, far more so than say... eComstation, BSD, Darwin, ReactOS, MorphOS, SkyOS, Haiku, etc........

    Even though
    ....that may not be one of it strengths or goals.
    ....or have parity in the common channels.

    It does have some exposure via netbooks and speciality shops.

    It also gets exposure via word of mouth from a tech aware friend/family member that wants less support calls.

    Outside the US, in Europe, South America etc, there is more exposure & awareness.

    World wide it may have equal or even greater usage than OSX.

    Not just for geeks any more.
    Quite a large part of the mainstream are those casual/general users who just need the most common services ~ Web, Productivity, Media, and Linux can be a simple inexpensive & secure solution. Once properly installed (usually by a tech aware friend/family member) it is pretty much set and forget. I have over the years done several dozen, to them the computer is just an appliance and Linux especially distros like the Ubuntus serves them well.

    So while the numbers may be small in comparison to the total more people are becoming aware & interested. And you can choose you level of interest/involvement the same as with any system.....

    Not impossible, but I certainly don't expect it to ever overtake MS and it should not have to.
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I think Linux is a great desktop OS for your standard user that does not game. I have recently taken an "older" life time windows user and ported him over to Linux. The response was that the computer is more responsive and it does everything this specific user needs it to do. All I did was take a few minutes to show him around and have not had to provide support since. With the advancements in Gnome/KDE/Xfce its very easy to port over your standard windows user with little to no problem. Often this also gets many more years out of the users aging desktop which is a good money saver.

    Also as a tip if you are using Linux as a desktop get out and try the new BFS scheduler by ck.
  • dealcorn - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    In a down economy I suggest a Linux article that targets two birds with one stone. How many Atom cores does it take for a headless home file server running NFS, openSSH server, software raid 5, Mythtv backend, and a torrent client? Do you need hardware assisted encoding for analog signals? Is performance/energy use reasonable? Personally, I like redundant storage for a couple TB of media files and moving background stuff to a low energy use 24X7 platform where it will not detract from the performance of my primary computer has appeal. I am curious whether you really record and play and download torrents and serve files all at once on a low cost home platform? Reply
  • defter - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Good article, but confusing title, it should have been: "Gaming under Wine" or something similar. Now it gives an impression that Linux is very slow for games, which is totally incorrect.

    If you want to test Linux gaming performance, you should use games that run on Linux natively. In this case the performance is roughly on par with Windows.
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I choose this specific title as this is part one of an overall gaming review in Linux. A sneak peak into part two will have some native games and ati joining the lineup. The native games will likely change some opinions on Linux gaming performance. However these titles are very limited. Reply
  • Soulkeeper - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I only play games that can run natively on linux or have a loki installer ...
    like wesnoth or ut99
    This is all the gaming I need.
    I've been content ignoring windows only games for years.
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    And trying to compare them directly is at least non trivial.
    I'm glad to see Linux section again :)
    Number of comments and the average number of word in each are impressive.
    Now, me too a very long time Linux user. And there is at least one Windows installation at home all the time. (gaming, corporate win only things etc.). I could live with Windows only, but prefer Linux. My main (and the only one i really care about) desktop probably has settings/tweak/(whatever) as old as 7-8 years (decision to make Linux main OS) or even more.
    The thing is, that it is amazingly easy to keep your familiar environment during OS/HW upgrades.
    I'm talking about switching distributions, 32 to 64 bit, numerous HW upgrades.
    So can say that Linux has saved me a lot of time on restoring "My System" after reinstalling OS for some reason. Actually I have less reasons to do it under Linux :)
    As a gamer I prefer FPS games so my gaming under Linux is better than average. Both ET, Dooms, Quakes and UTs clients are available native. A lot of open source free games like Nexiuz.
    Since I use Gentoo, I'm more exposed to changes behind the wallpaper. My guess is that in not so far future, Linux may become better gaming platform than Windows. I have another example of games working better in Wine than on Windows. WoW - i so it running faster in Wine than XP (dual boot).
  • Landiepete - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    You are proposing that I use an OS other than Windows , after which you want me to spend money on non-open source software, and a considerable hassle tuning it to each app, to enable me to run windows software. That about the cover it ?

    May I respectfully suggest you have your aircon ducs checked ? You have stuff growing in there.

  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    While harsh I have to agree with the OP. With the current state of Linux gaming there is no way someone will switch (or use) it other than to boast they got a particular game to work. WINE is one thing (since it's free), but paying $40 a year for a program that occasionally works but where in most cases the performance is significantly degraded is unacceptable to me.

    Remember the games being tested were not current, and the system was well above average. What you need to do is look at % differences not just to say the fps was fine on all the games. The resolutions tested were also on a 20-22" LCD which while very common will be reduced quite a bit going to a 24" screen, having a midrange system, or on newer games. Then you have to play the game of chance to hope the program you shelled out cash for (or just as important spent time researching a fix for) is the one that will actually play it with limited crashes. And let's face it, with the current state of games seemingly released in WORSE condition in regards to bugs (due to the large number of multi-ports and rushed deadlines), the last thing a gamer needs is another bug.

    As it stands (and what most people that use Linux do) dual booting with a copy of Windows for gaming is the only sane option. I pretty much fall into that camp. I use a Knoppix Live CD that I boot to for banking and financial transactions, but when it is time for music/movies/games/etc. I'm on Win7 (dramatically better than Vista IME).
  • Jovec - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Gaming on Linux had a shot before the massive push by developers to consoles. Now, few even want to support Windows.

    The ironic thing for me as a gamer and long-time linux user is that I can get open source apps for Windows for everyday tasks (often the same program I would use in Linux) while having the benefit of native windows gaming. Pair that with a linux VM for anything else, and there is little reason to use Linux as my main OS.
  • JimmiG - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    True, the OS is only a small part of the computer. What matters is the applications you run on top of it. It's easier to find Windows versions of open source apps than it is to try to make closed source Windows apps work in Linux. I think the way to make more people switch to open source is not to force them to change OS and ditch a ton of applications they're familiar with - Instead, release more and better free, open source alternatives for Windows, until suddenly one day people realize that they are almost only using such apps. Then the switch to Linux will come naturally I think.

    I use my computer for browsing the web, typing documents, making music and playing games. Linux works fine for the first two but not at all for the latter two, and that's how it has been for the past 10 years. Getting the audio latency down under Linux requires a lot of tweaking, and then there are no DAWs that can match Cubase or Ableton live, not to mention you have to run plug-in instruments and effects using some Wine-like workaround.
  • Penti - Saturday, January 02, 2010 - link

    Well the thing is, their aren't can't be any replacements for Windows. Both the movement and users need to understand that.

    Linux is only commercial/supported in the server and workstation space any way.

    There's no complete commercial video decoders for Linux for hardware accelerated decoding thats up to Windows or Mac standard or format support etc, DVD etc. Sure there's PowerDVD for Linux, Fluendos DVD-player etc but getting them to work in the latest distro wouldn't really be possible, neither can they be included in a free distro. There's no legal or decent video editing suit. There's as you said no commercial DAWs. Sure again there's commercial high-end video editing software that runs on RHEL and high-end workstations used for movies. But it's none existing in the consumer and prosumer space.

    The problem is there's no consumer linux, no computer supplier or OEM that supports it. There's linux in a lot of consumer things, Android, Maemo, most consumer routers and file servers, so the possibility is there. But only when theres support from the makers otherwise their will never be complete hardware support, even for the little OEM/model-specific buttons and so forth. It will lack working video decoders OOB (out of the box) and a lot of finish users expect and need OOB. It isn't enough that companies such as Intel supports F/OSS and Linux distros. So much are computer model specific and to iron out all of those things without support and testing wouldn't be possible. The maker must supply driver kits for the hardware and installation kits for the OS. If they do it work just fine, that's what they do in the workstation space.

    Alternatives aren't replacements. OS X users know that and so do any realistic Solaris or Linux user. That's why there's virtual machines and app streaming.

    Users shouldn't switch and replace. They should just use what they need. Linux might have a bigger role in the client space in the future. However there are limits in a patent riddled world. Particularly when it comes to multimedia. Getting that into the free world isn't possible, and bridging the cap between free and proprietary making it free of cost wouldn't really be practical for someone independent as it would cost millions to have it freely distributable. No company has any interest in paying for such a products/software any way. So homebrew solutions have to make do for now, which is a mayor drawback as it robs OOB experience and hinders companies from using it to make money and or build solutions on it for the users and to include it in free distros because of fear from the courts which can forbid distribution and issue billions in fines. It's not a matter to take easy. The server world looks differently that's why it works there. There isn't the same monopoly on technology there.

    It works on Maemo, WebOS, Android etc because they are none free commercial distros that includes commercial codecs that the device-makers pay for. Free consumer software isn't possible with just free code in an unfree world. Free of cost is only possible when someone pays for it to be so. Then not just for the development like say Mozilla but also pay for it to be legally distributable and that's a mayor issue or problem.
  • haplo602 - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Nice article. And the comments are also as expected, nothing new to see there.

    Anyway I was expecting a failure report on the ATI side of things even before I opened the article. I was trying to get Eve Online running on an old x1650 card about a year ago and the major issue was the driver. Native linux games/opengl apps were perfect. I see nothing much changed there.

    The one advice you lack is this: If you want serious 3D under linux, forget about ATI. Whatever their progress through the last year in drivers and support, they still have major issues with Wine (partly because Nvidia is faster to implement new OpenGL features in their NV extensions, so Wine folks code for NV mostly. Also the ATI implementation does lack some).

    That out of the way, Linux is fine for one group of people (myself in the group): Home desktop with mostly internet browsing, a bit of video/music, light gaming mostly games from the bargain bin. Not the latest hardware. These folks are completely satisfied with Linux.

    (btw the above group is aprox. 80% of home users. AT is mostly read by geeks, so disregard most of the comments negative about Linux).

  • Holly - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Honestly, if the usability of linux towards normal people was so good many try to claim, there wouldn't be this discussion, this review and neither boasting talk of linux-liking folks. Simply because it wouldn't be needed.

    The louder something gets defended the higher is the liking it doesn't do what it is supposed to.
  • haplo602 - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    you mean like all the folks here saying Windows is better ?

  • Holly - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    both linux and windows... since there is nothing like universaly better system imo. Reply
  • jackylman - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    ATI has been putting a lot of development time/effort/money into their open-source stack. They've recently got OpenGL 2.0 working on RadeonHD cards. Now it's going to be a few months before OpenGL 2.x apps are running like they should (and unfortunately, even longer before this code finds its way into mainstream distros).

    Nevertheless, ATI/Intel/VMWare are rapidly bringing the open-source Linux graphics driver stack into something resembling modern usefulness. It would be nice if other companies (*cough nVidia, VIA) contributed to the Linux development effort.
  • shangshang - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    and it barely is making Windows scare. I still remember all the linux fanboys declaring the death of Windows over a decade ago. Yet 2 decades later, Linux is still a joke on the commercial desktop platform.

    You'll still have your geeky college "elistist" boys with the snobbish mentality that if you don't know linux you suck. You'll still the academia world using linux (and Windows). But other than this, the desktop world is a Windows world. And most important of all, the BUSINESS PC world is still a Windows world. At least with Microsoft, you'll get support even if you have to pay for it. But with Linux, good luck. Try asking a question on a Linux forum, and you'll get an answer like "have you reat the 100 page cryptic manual before posting?"

    And now with Windows 7, I don't see why would any typical home user or coporate user using Linux.

    And spare with the the "free" softwares on Linux. OpenOffice is a joke compared to the Office 2007 with its integration.
  • tomaccogoats - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Unix is much better in terms of shared computing. If working on a large project Unix OS's make it simpler to share files. Many corporations utilize Unix servers in their intranet for this reason. Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Openoffice is not really an argument for Linux, since you can get it free on Windows as well. Reply
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Captain Picard - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    As Yahtzee would say, the short answer is no.

    The long answer is, noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • TheHolyLancer - Tuesday, January 05, 2010 - link

    look try this, install vm-ware tools in ubuntu and tell me how it feels vs installing it in windows xp/server 2003/7 under vmware workstation or esx/i

    or how about drivers that you download and is not in the repo? unlike windows where you can either point the stupid wiazrd to the folder and let it do its thing, or run the .exe, its just CLI all the way...

    sure, everyone blames .exe for troubles like viruses and what nots, but hey it is a surefire way for one to get something onto your computer, you may not know what it is, but with a simple double click and a few nexts, a driver, or a game, or a virus can be on your computer instantly (and for others to fix later...), and linux can't do that, maybe for security, but hell it's highly inconvenient to my mom when she can't double click through any issue.

    this may be a simpler gripe than say the hardware support issue, but it is a large issue for everyday users, or lazy in-the-know user like me, for one, I always keep a backup for my ubuntu VM that has everything configured, while not for winodws as a reinstall is just that much easy...
  • phcoyote - Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - link

    I've installed numerous Desktop Linux systems for a variety of users. It's a side business. A good number of them are of the type that barely know how to right click.

    The interesting part is that almost all of them are actually finding it easier to install software in Ubuntu than on Windows. Some use Synaptic but many are actually using Add/Remove which is even easier.

    Click Applications - Add/Remove. Select a category. Put check mark beside desired app. Click Apply. Really, it doesn't get any easier than that.
  • LuCiPh33R - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    The problem is that they don't ALL use it. Any CLI will never be acceptable to 90% of PC users. Reply
  • Veerappan - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    I agree that a CLI package manager is more than we should expect the average user to be able to handle... but I would recommend that you check out Ubuntu's Synaptic. It's a GUI package manager that is launched directly from the "System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager" menu entry present on the default gnome install.

    Launch Synaptic, select what programs you want to install/remove (it has a handy field for search keyword entry), and then click the Apply button. Synaptic handles figuring out all of the dependencies for you, and a minute or two later, your new program is installed and ready to use (relevant menu entries are auto-created).

    Knock Linux for other reasons, sure, but Synaptic (admittedly only in Ubuntu right now) is pretty slick.
  • ChristopherRice - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Isn't synaptic functional in fedora as well? Reply
  • Jackattak - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Precisely. sammyF, I know of what you speak, and you know darned well that isn't the case in every single scenario. Reply
  • ProDigit - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I'm using Linux right now!
    I've been using it for quite a while now.
    The only reasons I use windows at times is because of it's ability to compress data on NTFS partitions (eg: on external HD's). Also for it's ability and range of games.

    A lot of games no longer work on the latest U/Ku/Xubuntu (v9.10 and up), something with the kernel.
    In Windows, there's some sort of compatibility. Linux changes every 3 months in kernel(or so), which is why so few companies tend to build something good (like a decent game) for Linux. Yes, there's DOOM and Quake, and you can emulate PS2 and DOSBOX, but that's nothing like running a modern game in it's own window (say Crysis, or Rally 2, or even simple games and creators like spore)!

    For applications, there are little applications I use in Windows only. Most of my tasks consist of viewing video files, and audio files, creating a document in open office (sometimes gives smaller font errors when using it on MS Office), transfer files, and be on the internet a bit.
    Those tasks I can do on Linux pretty fine.

    Like some user said,Windows is only there mainly for the games! If Linux has stable builds that will be supported for years instead of months, and graphic card manufacturers will recognize the need for those cards in a Linux environment, and more and more games will become available on Linux, I guess near to half the population will start using some form of Linux OS, because it is free, and hopefully will have a database of compatible games available too!
  • jmurbank - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    The kernel has nothing to do what program works or what program does not work. The kernel controls hardware, so nVidia and ATI have to follow the versions and game developer companies does not need to unless they created special modules or drivers to increase performance of their game. The problem that companies have is there are several thousand Linux distributions to make sure the software works while Windows has only one. The problem with all these distributions is each one uses different library versions. Probably your problem is the libraries in your distribution or to be more precise is the glibc library is not using the required version. If your distribution has the required libraries, then it is not compiled with backwards support. In this case, complain to the maintainer to make sure they include the backwards compatibility for the library or just do it your self.

    The real problem for game developers trying to write games for Linux is there are no tools to aid designing in OpenGL. Also OpenAL, multi-platform audio, is controlled by Creative Labs and they have not pushed it to where DirectX is where today. SDL is a combination of OpenGL, OpenAL, and input device support for multi-platforms is limited because it does not have any network support.

    It is not just libraries and no OpenGL developer tools that causes problems. ATI is also causing problems with their poor software support since they started their company. Using ATI's proprietary drivers in Linux provides limited 3D commands. These limited commands makes using Cedega and other similar programs becomes unstable and unreliable. Do you think game developer companies like EPIC want to be stated to be providing favorites to only nVidia because nVidia is the only company to provide full support. If EPIC does publicized Unreal Tournament 3 for Linux and it only supports nVidia graphic cards and not ATI's, EPIC will have a big problem that will be more complicated than Verizon and AT&T.

    Another thing businesses are tightly wrapped around market share. If they see Linux that has the most share, they will develop programs for that OS instead of Windows. Since Windows has the most market share, they design for that OS. The market share is only the tip of the ice berg which means there are more issues in the waters that makes market share irrelevant, but companies do not want to buried their head in these issues because to them it will cost them money. Unfortunately, money controls everything.
  • Penti - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    Games are created for a game engine, it's their job (the game engine developers) to create tools for development and designing. There's no reason to do the bulk of development on Linux either. It's just the game engine that must support Linux, there's no reason to support every distro or glibc version, however distros should be better with backwards compatibility so you don't need to run an old distro or such. It's a problem and an old version of glibc should be able to be included just as you have old VS c++ runtime environments in Windows. However a game engine should be very portably either way. It should be code that can be easily recompiled for newer glibc/other libs. Not optimal maybe, but now we see backwards compatibility dropping and introductions of XP mode in W7, same can of course be done in linux distros to provide backwards compatibility. To integrate an old virtual distro into the new distro to run apps for the old distro. That as a feature in itself. Of course also Apple shows what can be done with GCC if they do it slightly different. But developers should expect to have to upgrade for/support the latest OS, service pack/upgrade any way no matter if it's Windows, OS X or Linux. A lot of Win apps are broken when service packs come out, new OS versions come out and so forth.

    Drivers are a big problem though. But it's overcomeable if they get ATI and nVidia on the boat. Maybe they should release their own distro for gaming just to show what can be done if collaboration is done properly... Finish is what most distros lack.
  • darkstar56 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    WOW usually does pretty well on linux. I know a few people that run it fine on it, they don't lag or have problems in raids.

    Though wow is usually stable on all platforms, except Mac OSX atm.
  • DrMrLordX - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Funny you should mention this.

    Running Xubuntu 9.10 and the latest build of WINE I can get through Synaptic, I have had nothing but trouble with World of Warcraft.

    The first problem is that every time you launch the game via launcher.exe, it will write-protect your entire WoW directory if you have the game "installed" to a Linux partition (it does not do this if you run the game from an NTFS partition). So you run the game directly with wow.exe. This write-protect scheme was apparently stealthily implemented to prevent multi-boxing. Fat lot of good it did.

    Secondly, I get uncontrollable mouse spin that makes things . . . very interesting. Basically my character is mouse-turning in one direction constantly until I can get it to stop, which isn't very often.

    Thirdly, sometime the server just punts me for no apparent reason when I'm running the game under Xubuntu 9.10/WINE. Why? I don't know.

    Taking a few short minutes to do research on the problem, I found no explanation for the server disconnects and one solution for the mouse spin problem which, apparently, did not work for me at all (a package that I do not have installed was blamed for the problem).

    Someday I might put in the hours, days, or even weeks of work necessary to get WoW running properly on my Linux install. For now, I boot to XP.
  • handbanana - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Very nice job on the article. I am not a big fan of Windows and there lies the problem since I must swallow my pride and play games on it.. Its a vicious cycle Reply
  • atfuser - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Nice write-up.

    It seems that things haven't changed much. Support seems a bit better with these commercial forks of the Wine project, but the support for these older games was spotty.

    I personally wouldn't be able to justify paying $50 per year for the commercial versions. That's more (per year) than I paid for Windows (XP/7) Professional, and I can play any game out of the box.

    Once you're talking about paying for a linux setup then you have to ask yourself why you're picking it instead of Windows 7. I know some people will make that choice because they hate MS or they want to support the open source community, but neither of those reasons offer enough incentive to me to make the switch.

  • ssj4Gogeta - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    A $120 Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade will definitely last you a few years. It's cheaper than paying $50 every year for a Wine project and you can be sure that all the games will work out of the box, at full performance and with no glitches. Reply
  • Patrese - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Nice article... things are actually better than I imagined regarding Linux gaming. But here's my question: the testbed is pretty much high end, and gets quite a respectable overclock... would there be a big drop in performance while using a mid end setup? It would be nice to see how things work on a Core2 (Duo or Quad) with a 9800GT or a HD4850, for instance. Reply
  • anactoraaron - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I am no linux expert in any way, but I was also curious in regards to stability with the overclock. Just because the system passes prime95 in windows does not guarantee stability in linux/wine, and by frying the motherboard and PSU (as stated by the article) I would only assume you were having issues related to the overclock, not just the wine projects.

    I would like to see this test again at stock everything, and maybe with a SSD. This would remove a few variables.

    Then maybe throw in a normal linux box as part of the testing (like the core2 and 9800gt mentioned above), as I have yet to know a whole lot of people who go out and spend $1000 on a build and not get windows. Yeah, yeah, I know there are those who do, I just think those people would be in the minority with regards to linux.
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    The computer failed due to multiple power outages because of an internal power source issue supplying the computer/ps. That has been remedied with some additional infrastructure. The OC running on the computer has been that way for over a year, and has caused no instability within windows or Linux. In fact many compiling tests had been run post the review for a future article. These tests put far more stress on the cpu then any of the games run. Also these tests did complete properly, the problem arose after these tests in which the computer received a series of surges that resulted in a failure. Yes it was on a pretty expensive surge protector, however its going to be moved to a full apc setup post rma.

    As for attempting some tests on a moderate setup, I couldn't agree more. I'll work on trying to source some parts so we can have a high end and a more common setup. In this article I really wanted to show the best case scenario in the comparison. Thanks for the feedback.
  • Spivonious - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I hope to see more of your articles in the future.

    Just wanted to point out a small grammatical issue. When listing examples of things, use "e.g." not "i.e." Just a pet peeve of mine.

    e.g. = "exempli gratia" -> "for the sake of an example"
    i.e. = "id est" -> "that is"
  • marc1000 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I guess what he meant was "In Example", but I gor your point. I didn't knew the "official" meanings too. Reply
  • theqat - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Just writing to mention that Heroes of Newerth (by S2 Games) also has a well-supported Linux-native client. It's currently in open beta but they always get the Linux client out for a new patch within a few hours, and they show no signs of halting support. Reply
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Amiga500 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Sorry, disagree very strongly.

    Recently shelled out for Win 7 professional... and rebuilt the machine. At the same time, installed ubuntu 9.10.

    Ubuntu 9.10 has a better interface, better desktop features, better desktop "fancy graphics" and better stability (2 crashes with 7 so far, albeit neither critical crashes).

    Ubunutu is a better operating system. No arguments on that.

    Of course the only problem is program compatibility. Is that linux's fault? With the constant changing of kernels... possibly.

    However, I hope 9.10 is getting so close to good enough, that after 10.04, there will be less need to upgrade the kernel so quick - resulting in greater incentive for 3rd party programmers to support the system.
  • Griswold - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    "Ubunutu is a better operating system. No arguments on that."

    No its not because what you describe are not the only factors that make or break an OS. An OS is only as good as the work and tasks you can get done with it - and that includes but is not limited to your mostly subjective claims of superiority in usability and stability. For others, its the other way around at the bottom line - for most others, that is.

    I regularly check out various linux distros and so far, even setting them up to do what I need to do (which is more than just browse the web and write emails) is more of a hassle than most people are willing to go through. So, in the end, its NOT the better operating system. At best, it may be the better technology under the hood...

  • akse - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I started working at my current job about a year ago, using Ubuntu 8.04 and now I'm running with 9.10. I've had average experience with Linux OSs before but now I started to use them daily.

    I always felt Linux was the OS for me and yes it really felt like that for long. But recently there have been some things that I have started to hate about it.

    Or probably it is just that Win7 and Vista have improved so much from XP times that I really love to use Windows now. So far everything is working so well on my home computer with new Win7 installed after using 2 years of Vista which also worked great.

    Of course there are many things at Linux OSs that you can't beat with Windows, but then again there are many things in Windows that doesn't work quite right in Linux or you have to make 30 mins of work to make them work, which is fine but sometimes frustrating.

    Anyways 9.10 Ubuntu interface kinda pleases me but they should try to figure something new for the Top and Bottom Panels, I like the new status area.

    My work laptop has Ati Graphics card in it which makes the Linux experience even worse :)

    Well about gaming: In home I have win7 and other computer next to it runs Ubuntu 9.10 (too). I have wine there which I use for 1 thing only. Whenever I get into playing Diablo 2 again I use it to have a second character online at the same time :) It works just fine, though I have to play it in windowed mode to work, which is the case in win7 and vista also.
  • sammyF - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I agree on the Flash support, linux definitely needs more Adobe-Love on this one :/ The rest of your post is pretty much humbug.

    Win7 is 30$ for students, maybe, but by far not everyone is a student. It's also the price over and over again if you own more than one computer. It would also be quite something if Office2007 was actually included in the price you're naming. The home and student version of Office2007 is listed as $79.99 (down from $149) at (probably can get it a bit cheaper elsewhere, but you see the point)
    I will spare you the horror of finding free software that does all the stuff you can get for free through an easy to understand click&install interface in linux ... and I won't talk about grabbing the latest drivers for your hardware, compared to a very high chance that everything runs out of the box in linux.
    "The interface is cleaner and much more stable"? which one? Gnome?KDE?XFCE?AWESOME? some other one? Besides, most DE or WMs are easily customizable (without even touching the terminal)

    Okay ... and then "There is far FAR more compatibility" ... This Anandtech article should be proof enough that you got it backwards. let's see :

    Linux -> 100% compatible with linux software, partially compatible with windows software as old as win3.1 through one of the packages mentioned here.

    Windows7 -> 100% compatible with win7 software, probably vista soft too ... partially compatible with winXP software if you happen to have a version with the XP compatibility thing. 0% compatible with linux software.

    Winner through KO : Linux
  • ManjyomeThunder - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Uhh, Linux doesn't have ANY support for Windows applications. Linux is the kernel. Now, if you want to say that using 3rd party applications on certain Linux distributions can provide some level of Windows API support, then you would be correct.

    In the same way that saying that Cygwin provides Windows users with a UNIX-like environment and an implementation of the POSIX API.

    Both have some support for the other's API and applications through third party applications, but they're both fundamentally different. However, Windows has a larger amount of applications, and thus one could say that it does have better "compatibility".
  • sammyF - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    yeah, you're right, sorry. I got carried away I guess. Additionally, whether in windows or linux, there is always the possibility to run the other OS in a vbox.

    I'm just tired of reading "it has more/better compatibility" and similar ~sentences~, as they just don't make any logical sense : Compatibility with *what* or *whom*? And my foot is also longer.
  • LuxZg - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Out of all this reading, only thing I can say is - why bother at all? Either dual-boot Windows and your favorite Linux distro, or run one OS and keep other in VM (preferably Windows and Linux in VM because of 3D support in VMs).
    As for the pricing, author here recommends buying two products, plus a third one for a price of over 100$ - PER YEAR!. For 100$ you can get OEM licence of Win 7 Home Premium, giving you great compatibility through dual-booting, and you can use it till next OS gets here. That's minimum 3 years, meaning you've just saved yourself 200$. OK, you can use just Linux+Wine and go the completely free route - but is it really worth it? I mean let's face it. For casual gaming Linux is fine, and so is it's brethren OSX. But if you're avid gamer, you spend so much money on games and hardware (CPUs and graphic cards) that it's simply hard to give an excuse for NOT using Windows. Only negative is having to support two OS-es on every computer that you game on, but than again, if you have one computer it's not that much more work, and if you have many, than it's better to dedicate one for just gaming (just Windows) and be done with it.

    It's hard to convince anyone that Linux is good for gaming when all you get running without much trouble are games few years old... That's - casual gaming. Very casual :)

  • sprockkets - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Both the opengl people and Microsoft tried to merge all the 3d api's together, but both failed to do anything about it. Both are to blame.

    You know that whole thing about Apple only allowing Cocoa on the iphone to develop with to protect the platform? Same with DirectX stuff.

    At least OSX has some commerical support going for it with Blizzard.
  • medi01 - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    Why would Microsoft cooperate to make Windows less attractive? PC games support is the only nearly exclusive "windows" feature.
  • Penti - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    The 3D API aren't to blame nobody designs games to run directly on DX or OGL, they write code and do graphics/content for a game engine and plenty run on both DX, OGL and variants of both of them two, on Windows, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3 and several engines also on OS X and Linux. You don't create game content for an specific OS.

    Running virtual Windows for 3D Windows apps is really the way to go anyhow, now days you can get a dedicated graphics card for accelerated graphics if your computer has Intel VT-d support anyhow. Sure you need a separate graphics card and a retail (or just as you do on your wincomputer pirated) copy of Windows. But it's doable. If you need Windows then run Windows. Or just have a separate gaming computer. (Which probably will be cheaper anyway.)
  • niva - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    This is not true. Most games these days are designed for windows almost from the ground up. Most graphic engines, to speak of your argument, are optimized for dx and d3d which is Windows. The opengl branches get very little attention because of the smaller user base. Look, even id software seems to be dropping opengl in the future, at least I heard rumors of this.

    Windows has won the gaming front hard. They don't seem to be paying much attention to it so there is a chance new platforms like the iPhone could take over at some point with different apis.
  • CastleFox - Friday, April 09, 2010 - link

    I have been searching all around the internet for linux gaming coverage. I have had success with WINE myself but I know for the higher end games it can be more of a struggle. I hope to see more Linux coverage soon Reply
  • Setsunayaki - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - link

    I've done linux gaming for many years...

    The reason I switched to Linux years ago for some gaming was because I was part of a highly oppresive shooter community. The community was small and used everything from IP tracing tools to disrupt your privacy and threaten you over MSN. These people also attempted to create modifications that would scan your computer in search of any modifications your were working on, along with a lot of information being transmitted.

    Linux allowed me to control the access levels a lot closer, and it also helped me make a better gaming server using Wine due to how Windows XP was an OS from 2001, while the Linux version I was using was far more reliable and its netcoding was a lot better.

    The key thing to Linux is Nvidia Cards. Forget ATI. Sure, ATI may have the performance crown due to the price crown...but when you factor in the best video card for cross-OS performance you will find that Nvidia Cards win in Linux, Mac and for the most part challenge ATI cards well on Windows as well....making Nvidia the leader it truly is (as much as I love ATI/AMD)...

    Once I had Linux setup, I found myself that although my framerate was lower than Windows PC Gaming, I still had over 60 FPS which is one really needs and some overhead in my favorite games and due to the netcoding, I had lower ping in every game I played vs Windows based PCs possibly due to the fact Linux is about networking and its netcoding and processor scheduling was far better.
  • olbrannon - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link Reply
  • SniperSlap - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - link

    First off, I didn't see anything about World of Warcraft or any other games running in OpenGL mode. Let's keep in mind that the difference in performance between WINE and Windows is mostly due to the fact that WINE will always be playing catch-up to DirectX. When games are run using their OpenGL renderers, I've noticed a bold increase in performance when running under Linux. This is largely due to the fact that Linux makes use of internal resources more effectively, conducts HDD access more efficiently and overall is much leaner.

    Second, I'd really like to see the comparison between nvidia and AMD video drivers soon. On top of that, in the same review, I'd like some looks at how AMD is planning on improving support and performance in Linux.
    My understanding is that they've made some pushes in this regard somewhat recently, but still have a long way to go. The biggest concerns with AMD drivers that I have isn't strictly about performance. It's also over the quality of the drivers and userspace utilities. In the past, I've seen far too many obscure quirks when using AMD/ATI video cards under Linux. From full-screen rendering literally being upside-down when output over digital DVI (but right-side-up on analog dsub!), right the way to inexplicably poor performance.

    AMD needs to iron out all these quirks and strange situations which will have people going and disabling this, or tweaking that in their WINE settings. They need to take a page from nvidia and rally around the standards and smooth out the architecture and lifecycle of their drivers.

    Which brings me to my third "hope"... I'd like to see any review of nvidia and AMD drivers also look at how the drivers get themselves into the system. Compare the different ways the drivers are modeled. A kernel module? Or is it DRI? What userspace garbage will nvidia or AMD pollute our systems with, and how bad is the interface?

    I recently got an AMD video card and am thoroughly impressed with it. But I'm using it on a Windows system and don't have high hopes that my life will ever be as easy under Linux with AMD as it is with nvidia.
    Any review of linux drivers and 3D will have to be quite comprehensive. We're talking a 10+ page article! ;)
  • Yfrwlf - Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - link

    "We have some other Linux articles in the pipeline as well. In retrospect, we should have started with something a little less daunting, as gaming and Linux was plagued by more problems than other aspects of the OS."

    Gaming and Linux? WINDOWS gaming INSIDE of Linux. The fact that you can do that is AMAZING. Can you play Linux games inside Windows?? lol

    Then the title: "Linux Gaming: Are We There Yet?" Wow. Just, wow. That's the most deceptive article title ever.

    Windows gaming in Linux: Are We There Yet?
    Answer: No, and never will be, as playing perpetual catch-up to Microsoft and DirectX will be just that, perpetual.

    Linux Gaming: Are We There Yet?
    Answer: Mostly, since games made for Linux mostly work on Linux, barring some games that aren't packaged well and don't include everything in the archive/installer. In that case, you can run into dependency hell. This is largely the fault of Linux STILL not having a good open standard (cross-distro, otherwise not a standard) for Linux programs. However, things which are packaged right and contain everything within the archive are fine.

    The number of Linux game titles has been increasing at a faster rate recently due to the increase in adoption, but of course Linux is behind Mac, and both are way behind Windows in quantity. That being said, most anything that is made for Mac as well as Windows should run perfectly in Wine, because usually the Mac version is simply the Windows binary wrapped in a Wine (or Cider, as it is known on Mac) wrapper. (Mac IS Unix after all, too, specifically BSD, so it's basically the same thing as Linux anyway.)

    So, message to AnandTech: How about write up some fair articles about Linux gaming. Some things in this were good, and Linux definitely has problems and sore areas still, but the way you presented this article, like gaming on Linux WAS running Windows games, is stupid as it is always going to be more difficult and a bit silly for anyone to be trying to run one platform's games on a different platform. The best you'll be able to ever hope for, more than likely, is to be able to flawlessly run older programs. Wine is excellent for that, as using Linux + Wine it allows you to run some old Windows programs which aren't based on DOS (otherwise, you can use DOSbox). Some of those programs won't even run on modern Windows machines any more, so Wine can give you a lot of flexibility in running old Windows programs while still running a modern OS. THAT is what Wine is mainly good for, running WoW, and Diablo II, and other games especially those that are OpenGL-compliant and/or have Mac versions, but Wine being the solution for Windows gaming? That is, and will always be, laughable. Microsoft will help ensure that's always the case for as long as they're big enough.

    The best solution for Linux gamers is more Linux games, not more Windows games in Linux. That's what your articles should be focusing on, the biggest games coming, and which have already come, to Linux.
  • bridal gonws - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    Useful info here!Thank you!

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