How Easy Is It To Play Windows Games On Linux?

By RPS on August 21st, 2012 at 3:00 pm.


For the next few weeks, RPS chum James Carey will investigate games on that other PC platform, Linux. He’s dabbled in Linux before, but is exploring this from the perspective of a veteran PC gamer trying gaming seriously on the platform for the first time.

With Windows 8 causing PC prophets to forecast doom in the lands of PC gaming, with its philosophy of freedom and rightness, and with Valve getting behind it, Linux, the open operating system, is clearly the future of PC gaming.* But is it still a total pain in the ass? Turns out it really isn’t… I know! I was surprised. Here’s what happened.

*Maybe.

An underestimated part of Microsoft’s hold on the OS market is down to DirectX and games. We’d all jump ship if only we could play all games on Linux, right guys? But then I would say that, because games are what I DO with computers. I’m sure you’re the same. If not, why are you here? But there’s a problem: Linux has always been a nightmare for those who don’t want to make time to learn its inner workings. The last time I made any serious effort to use it was Hardy Heron, about 4 years ago. It was getting easier back then, but all too often: Urgh, command line! And “hey, where’s my driver?” Things that Windows users aren’t so used to wrestling with.

On top of that, finding any useful info to troubleshoot when these hiccups occur is like an archeological dig through the info-strata of dead distros. The level of assumed knowledge involved in Linux-learning is staggering. This must be what it was like to grow up without computers. I feel like someone’s clueless Dad at the interface. Everything is strange, hidden in unexpected places, unfathomable… other. If you’re a PC gamer then you already know your way around the guts of Windows, even more so if you’ve been installing games on that OS since the mid-90′s, like me. It’s second nature. So using Linux, simply by virtue of this lack of familiarity, is a ball-ache. It seems to be deliberately contrary to Windows paradigms just so they can shout ‘hey we’re different! We’re better!’ when that’s exactly what turns people off using it. So that is the first hurdle.

But step back for a moment and get some perspective. Is this a viable alternative to Apple and Microsoft control of computing? Only if it can support our precious gaming. With Valve getting behind Linux in a big way, is it worth you and me installing it and preparing ourselves for the revolution? And just how easy is it to install the operating system on my PC? And how tricky is it to install a game? Do I have to know what a partition is? Sudo whatnow?

Here’s the question I asked: Can you go from reading this post on RPS in Windows, to playing a game in Linux, without touching a command line or scouring forums for answers, in under an hour? Yes. You can.


And no, this isn’t about to become a full on How To, cos it’s simply not complicated enough to warrant one.

Here’s what I did and what you should definitely try: Grab the installer from here and run it. [IMPORTANT NOTE: I installed this to a NEW drive, installing it to the same drive as your existing Windows install is probably not advisable, although the Ubuntu site claims it's fine]

That installer grabs the latest Ubuntu from the servers and installs it to a drive of your choice, automagically assuming you want to dual-boot, which of course you do. After installing, it’ll ask you to reboot, automatically booting Ubuntu first time around so you can get things configured. When you reboot after this initial configutation boot you’ll be presented with a dual-boot screen allowing you to select Windows or Ubuntu. And that’s Linux running on your PC.

Once you’re in there, things mostly get configured without you having to do anything, drivers were found and installed for nearly all my hardware without me even being aware of it. Stuff just worked, as you’d hope and expect. The exceptions to this were my TrackIR and graphics card. Helpfully, Ubuntu points this out to you straight away and simply says ‘Hey you need these proprietary drivers! Wanna install them? They’re all official from Nvidia and everything!’ So with a few ticks and clicks your system is up and running. No command lines, no internet scouring.

So, what about games then? There are a LOT of native Linux games out there now, and these are as straightforward as games on any other operating system. But what if you don’t want to play World of Goo, Braid et al? What if you want to play something that was made for Windows and has no Linux version? What then?


I’d originally planned to install something I assumed would be more Linux friendly due to its age and universal nature, like Doom 3 or something, but it turns out you don’t have to make these assumptions. You’ve probably heard of Wine, the Windows emulator for Linux port of the Windows libraries. You’ve probably heard that, yeah, you can get windows games running in Linux, sometimes a bit slower maybe, sometimes with glitches, but running. And you’ve probably thought: balls to that! I just want to install and play a game, not fight a system. If Linux is ever going to work as a mainstream OS for Windows Gamers, it’s got to be 100% painless. No compromises, no excuses about different Linux contributors with differing goals leading to clashes, no rationalisation of the difficulty curve.

Bottom line is: If it’s harder to play Windows games in Linux than it is in Windows, most people won’t try to play them in Linux. Which means they won’t try Linux at all. Which is harsh, why should you be able to play a Windows game in another OS after all? But that’s how I think it is.

What surprises me is how close we are to exactly that scenario of ease and access. You still can’t just pop a Windows DVD into the drive, under your fresh Ubuntu install, and double click the install .exe, but it’s almost that simple now.


This ease is partly because there’s a built-in app store in Ubuntu called The Software Center. From there you can download free and paid for apps for your shiny new OS. One of these apps is a wrapper for Wine called PlayOnLinux and it’s the closest we’ve come yet to the above ideal scenario for gaming. Installing it through the Software Center is simple, a couple of clicks and PlayOnLinux is installed and ready to accept your Windows games. There’s a huge list of games and applications it already supports including some very recent stuff I was surprised to see included, but even if your game isnt on the list, it’s pretty straightforward to create an installation. Usually it’s just a case of pointing to a few folders in drop down menus and following menu prompts. I’m not going to say it’s without issues, even some ‘supported’ games on the list gave me a headache (Max Payne) but others went smoothly, were up and running in the same sort of timeframe youd expect if you were installing it on Windows. I was playing a round of M&B Warband, multiplayer and all, in minutes.


Yes, I still had to dick around a bit with display resolutions in the Wine configs. Yes, I DID go on a Linux forum to find that out. But NO, I didn’t have to use a command line. For the first time ever when trying Linux. That’s gotta be progress, right? Okay, so it’s still not as easy as installing the game on Windows. Maybe it won’t be until Linux gets Steam, maybe not even then. But my god it’s getting close…

Next time: Problems.

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265 Comments »

  1. nERVEcenter says:

    If Valve’s scheme goes according to plan, manufacturers will start making drivers for Linux to appease consumer demand, more games will be released on the platform (Kickstarter has proven that at the very least, indie studios are willing to do that), and the user experience for many distributions will ease up as the community expands.

    The big thing is going to be ignoring people like Richard Stallman. Sometimes, it seems like he’d rather Linux be a platform that no software developer can put food on the table developing for.

    • Valvarexart says:

      The guy is a joke. I don’t know why people are even taking him seriously.

      • GallonOfAlan says:

        Yep. He’s paranoid and an anachronism.

        • maweki says:

          He has his merits on the extreme to keep us in check. The farer he is on the outside, the less crazy the middle can get.

          • monkeybars says:

            That’s not how middles work. The further to the extreme one side goes, the more that same way the middle will go to stay in the middle.

            Because that’s where a middle goes. In the middle.

          • maweki says:

            If all people are in the middle and one moves to the top, the middle will be slightly to the top of those who formerly where in the middle, last time I checked, at least.

          • monkeybars says:

            Borings_ _ _ _ _ Middles_ _ _ _ _ Insanes
            Borings_ _ _ _ _ _ _Middles_ _ _ _ _ _ _Insanes

            See what happened? The borings have stayed the same, but the middles have been pulled further across the insane continuum, so while they’re still the middle, their views have become more insane compared to the borings. Unless the borings were to become more boring to balance it out, the further the insanes go, the more insane the middle gets. They never won’t be the middle, but that doesn’t make their changing sanity any more sane.

          • Premium User Badge

            jezcentral says:

            Which is perhaps why you need extreme people. If you want to shift the middle, being part of that average group won’t help.

            EDIT: Damn, ninja’d by mere seconds.

          • Lazyjim says:

            Thats not how the world works though, you don’t have ‘boring’ on one side and insane on the other. You stand on a knife edge between bottomless pits of insanity.

            If the ‘middle’ tries to maintain it’s position while one brand of insanity gets more extreme, it ends up edging closer to the other.

          • Donjo says:

            This is a great argument, I don’t really have anything to add, just that I’m here, watching bemusedly from the sidelines. BUT WHICH SIDE????

          • Tacroy says:

            How has nobody mentioned the Overton Window yet? It’s exactly what you guys are talking about except it’s a staple of American politics.

          • midwaslll says:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKZZEPoVb4c

            It’s exactly C:/Users, but done correctly and consistently because it’s always been like that.

          • thebigJ_A says:

            Gah! Now the spambots are disguising their links as links to youtube. It’s the apocalypse, I tell you!

      • b0rsuk says:

        Easy – because he is often right.

        “Obama signed NDAA for 2012, making it possible for American citizens to be detained indefinitely without any form of trial or due process, only because they are terrorist suspects. At the same time, we have SOPA, which, if passed, would enact a system in which websites can be taken off the web, again without any form of trial or due process, while also enabling the monitoring of internet traffic. Combine this with how the authorities labelled the Occupy movements –
        namely, as terrorists – and you can see where this is going.
        (…)
        The crux of the matter here is that unlike the days of yore, where repressive regimes needed elaborate networks of secret police and informants to monitor communication, all they need now is control over the software and hardware we use. Our desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and all manner of devices play a role in virtually all of our communication. Think you’re in the clear when communicating face-to-face? Think again. How did you arrange the meet-up? Over the phone? The web? And what do you have in your pocket or bag, always connected to the network?

        This is what Stallman has been warning us about all these years – and most of us, including myself, never really took him seriously.

        That’s the very core of the Free Software Foundation’s and Stallman’s beliefs: that proprietary software takes control away from the user, which can lead to disastrous consequences, especially now that we rely on computers for virtually everything we do. The fact that Stallman foresaw this almost three decades ago is remarkable, and vindicates his activism. It justifies 30 years of Free Software Foundation.


        http://www.osnews.com/story/25469

        • alundra says:

          Google “Brandon Raub I love my country” to see how NDAA is a reality.

        • Claidheamh says:

          It’s a bit scary really, to see so many of his predictions from almost 20 years ago coming true right now. It’s easy to dismiss him as an eccentric hippie (at least I did, because, well, he is), but the thing is, he had a theory about what would happen with the massive spread of proprietary software, made some predictions, and now we see them coming true.

      • seamoss says:

        Before you slam someone as a “joke”, you should take the time to read up and understand his contributions to modern computing. I’m no fan of rms and disagree with much of what he says, but the man is an icon in the Linux/Unix world for what he has done. Linux and its whole “ecosystem” (hate that word when it’s used in this context) would not exist in anything near its current form if it wasn’t for Stallman.

        • othello says:

          Agreed. He’s a smart guy and has very interesting things to say (he talked at my university). He acknowledges the good that Steam can do for Linux, but in the end says that he cannot support it because of non-free software.

          Also, from a programmer’s point of view, the GNU libraries and utilities are amazing. The fact that so many important pieces of software can be free and open are a testament to Richard Stallman’s idealism.

      • Kaira- says:

        Saying RMS is a joke is just a testament to your profound ignorance.

        • Saldek says:

          I couldn’t agree more!

          A few quotes from the Wikipedia article on Richard Stallman

          On the terms copyright, patent and trademark:

          “These laws originated separately, evolved differently, cover different activities, have different rules, and raise different public policy issues. Copyright law was designed to promote authorship and art, and covers the details of a work of authorship or art. Patent law was intended to encourage publication of ideas, at the price of finite monopolies over these ideas — a price that may be worth paying in some fields and not in others. Trademark law was not intended to promote any business activity, but simply to enable buyers to know what they are buying.”

          On related terminology and software developers being able to put food on the table:

          “I think it is ok for authors (please let’s not call them creators, they are not gods) to ask for money for copies of their works (please let’s not devalue these works by calling them content) in order to gain income (the term compensation falsely implies it is a matter of making up for some kind of damages).”

      • El_Emmental says:

        He is a joke because he still believes we should care ? Nice one pal, you’re an example for us all.

        Fatalist people will see everyone as a joke… to the point of being a joke themselves.

        Hell, I’m much more cynical than I wish I was, but when RMS talks, I listen to him and am pretty happy to see there’s still people trying to shape our future rather than letting it happen and say “told ya everyone !” to sound like a smart guy.

        Governments and companies are locking down IT (software+hardware) and the Internet (as we know it) ?
        - RMS: we should fight this, and set up a system preventing any further destructive restrictions right now, because the freedom, liberties and rights of all users (including companies) should be preserved.
        - fatalist: ha ! I knew it ! while everyone wasn’t paying attention, these snoring sheeps, using my common sense I knew they would lock it down ! who’s laughing now, facebook mongrels ! Only stupid hippies can pretend fighting The Man, give up already, get real !

        • Iacus says:

          No, he is a joke because his position is extremist. The world isn’t so simple that a single, immovable stance on software is the most desirable for all cases. Stallman has some really important points to make, and he could have chosen to do so in a rational, reasonable manner. Instead, his cause is severely undermined by his fanatism and judging by his poor grasp of semantics, I believe clouded by his own delusions.

          • El_Emmental says:

            [...] his position is extremist [...] The world isn’t so simple that a single, immovable stance on software is the most desirable for all cases.

            His position is theoretical and global, and in an IT world only made out of cheap’n'quick compromises (business >> ethics, always), he’s a great reminder of what we should strive for.

            If you read the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”, your own country’s constitution or any “bill of rights”, and doesn’t re-interpret the text to make it sound like “just be good most the time, you know, good”, it’s plain extremist and won’t work 99% of time: are you really starting a revolution every time you’re not happy with something, or asking the highest court to deal with everything that is “wrong” in the country ? Nope. Then should we get rid of these texts or ignore them ? I don’t think so.

            in a rational, reasonable manner”

            That’s the job of each citizen to do that, RMS is asking people to go 100% free (as in freedom) software/hardware, like your constitution is asking you to protect and defend your nation and the citizens’s rights at all cost, like your religion (if you have one) is asking you to be good with everyone (exceptions often added later by religious leaders), like your parents are asking you to behave correctly in public and with others. Do you do that all the time ? Certainly no, but you try. That’s the whole point of RMS: we should try, we shouldn’t forget we should try.

            Instead, his cause is severely undermined by his fanatism and judging by his poor grasp of semantics, I believe clouded by his own delusions.

            That’s not the role of RMS to sell the “free software/hardware” movement to the crowd, that’s like saying scientists should be teachers first and foremost.

            You need several layers to have a working system, you need a Stephen Hawking, a Carl Sagan, a science teacher, a science enthusiast, to finally reach a “normal” person.

            You need some people to create and discuss the theories, then some people to define the theoretical base, then some other people to interpret that base, then some other people to adapt that interpretation to real-world situations, then some other people to teach that adaptation to oblivious people, then these people to use that system, then some other people to talk about that system to the common.

            That’s asking RMS to shave, get ripped, get a suit, and start telling people how trendy and hype it’s to run on Linux, and how writing on LibreOffice makes you unique and smart. What’s next, paying celebrities to say they’re using GNU/GPL licenses softwares for their everyday life computer-ing ? That’s asking a man fighting for freedom to imprison himself in the most widespread social constraint.

    • Bilateralrope says:

      The thing with RMS is that, while he will complain loudly about closed source software and DRM, he won’t move to try and stop you.
      Even if he wanted to force closed source software out, his own ideology prevents that being possible. As long as Linux remains open source, any code put in there to try and stop programs running can easily be removed by people who want it removed.

      So you’ll just have to ignore him in regards to games unless open source titles show up that you want to play.

    • El_Emmental says:

      You need to ignore Richard Stallman because he’s forcing everyone to question the morality of our jobs. When he’s refusing closed software, fighting software patent, he’s forcing you to look at the consequences of your actions.

      Like when you go to the offices, do your job, go home and play video-games. Are you working for a hedge-fund ? A company producing toxic chemicals ? A weapon factory ? A company suing people/companies over copyright infringement ? A company dealing with international container shipping (allowing sweatshops and cheap workers to be used for the western markets products) ? Does your company is exploiting a foreign country lack of development or overall corruption to get cheaper ressources/workers ?

      So yeah, Stallman is that annoying hippie reminding everyone we’re all guilty of many terrible things, bursting our artificial “I’m a good person” bubble.

      Ever drank bottled water (when the tape water is healthly where you live) ? Are you drinking soda frequently ? How f*-ing annoying… isn’t it ? Damn hippies.

      Now think about how funny it will be when drinkable water will be extremely expensive and we’ll start massive worldwide wars over water sources, and get terrorist attacks from countries lacking drinkable water. Damn annoying hippies, indeed.

      • Ragnar says:

        No, actually I work for a company providing early childhood education for lower-income families, and don’t drink bottled water or soda.

        I don’t know who this RMS guy is, but I’m pretty sure you’re only managing to piss people off with your baseless assumptions and accusations. How about trying to tell me why I should care about him without accusing me of being a greedy fat-cat who creates toxic chemicals, sweatshops, WMDs, and exploits third world countries while sipping on Diet Mr. Pibb? (Btw, that should be the villain in the new Bond movie.)

  2. h4mst4h says:

    Glad to see this as I’m thinking about installing Linux, but since playing games is what I do most I’ve kept my distance.

  3. djbriandamage says:

    I’ve been one of Windows 8′s biggest proponents in RPS comments and forums but I plan to read this series with great relish. I’m a big fan of Linux (for everything but gaming) and would absolutely consider dropping Windows if I felt there was a reasonable alternative that wouldn’t cost me my 300 Steam game investment.

    • mittortz says:

      Yeah, really. I’m not even opposed to Windows 8 (unless the whole MS trying to control PC games with a walled garden thing actually has merit). But there is not a whole lot that keeps me attached to Windows. It’s MS Office and games. That’s a lot more than it appears I guess (drivers and engines and whatnot) but still.

      If Valve could pull off something crazy with Steam, I’d consider switching. I have a Macbook that does Office just fine. The only other issue is Starcraft 2, which I cannot give up. How do Blizzard games do with Linux? I know they’re native to Mac and PC out of the box.

      • Zikzor says:

        I have played all of the “newer” blizzard games including SC2 on Ubuntu without any problems.

        I don’t know how hard it is to install these games on non NTFS (read non windows) partitions as I’ve always used my windows installs directly through wine. Once installed however the updaters work fine in Linux.

    • Kadayi says:

      Pretty much my view as well. Unless Valve are intending to hand out large cheques with every Linux install present motivation to consider switching is less than zero.

    • enobayram says:

      I used to use Steam on Ubuntu 10.04 without any significant troubles. I didn’t even have to use playonlinux. Using the installer with wine simply installed steam, and I installed and played many games from the Steam interface without any troubles. Strangely enough, now I’ve tried to do the same on Ubuntu 12.04, and I couldn’t get Steam to run on wine. The bottom line is, if I had that said experience 2 years ago, without any support from Valve for wine compatibility, I think it must be very easy to keep Steam running on wine once Valve starts to make an active effort. That said, I don’t think Valve is aiming for a Steam client running under wine. They’d probably develop a native steam client, that runs games on wine unless the game has a native Linux port. This way, they can also support native Linux games better.

      On a side note, I don’t think supporting Windows+Linux is a big issue as a developer. I prefer working on Linux much more than on Windows for software development. Then you simply use cross-platform dependencies, and voila, you get cross-platform support for free.

  4. BattleMage says:

    Using the Desura client for Linux is straight forward and easy. Install client, login, download and install linux titles purchased from Desura or through an IndieRoyale Bundle and play. It’s really just working for most of the native Linux games.
    Quite like Steam, just with a working offline mode.

    • monkeybars says:

      Minus all the games.

      • Shodex says:

        Minus all the Gabe.

      • Gnoupi says:

        Most indie games are on it, though. Even more with the regular Indie Royale bundles

        • monkeybars says:

          That hardly counts as all the games. Or even most games. Not all of us exclusively play indies, and I can get those same indies on Windows right now, so there’s no real reason to switch yet.

  5. Milky1985 says:

    At the end – “For the first time ever when trying Linux.”

    At the start – “He’s dabbled in Linux before”

    Which is it :P

    It seems a lot simplier now, but you did say you needed to go to folders and files, which means going through linuxes archaic directory structure with its refusal to use folder names longer than 4 characters for the important folders, which will confuse a lot of people :/ (hopefully they stop that soon)

    I don’t think a big swich will happen until it bcomes native, steam will help with that if it makes the jump

    Wonder if a linux steam will be able to get your windows games running via wine, I assume it would be licencing issues there more than techincal issues stopping it with the wine stuff (and not sure of legality cause of the frameworks and DX)

    • MaXimillion says:

      First time WHEN trying linux that he hasn’t had to use the command line.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Reread his last paragraphs. He’s saying that for the first time ever he didn’t have to fiddle around in the Linux command line BASH shell. That’s a huge improvement over my last attempts at Linux a few years ago.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Feel like he should be using commas rather than full stops if that is the implication :/ Doesn’t read like first time not needing a command line to me but i might have just read it differently.

    • monkeybars says:

      You must have learned how to pull quotes from Fox News.

      • Milky1985 says:

        I quoted the entire sentence for the quote from the end of the article, and the relevent part for the quote at the start, sorry if this offends you.

        • monkeybars says:

          But you took it completely out of context. The sentence immediately preceding the one you quoted gives it the context of the command line. Just because you use a full sentence doesn’t mean you’re quoting properly, but nice try.

          • Milky1985 says:

            Not out of context in any way shape or form, both of them were discussing his use of the OS in question.

            One i might have gotten confused about as people are saying it refereed to something else (that would have been made clearer if commas rather than full stops were used) but still in context. In fact fi the commas were used the context then would be unarguable, THEN you would have a point if i cut it out from the commas.

            It seems my questions have offended you in some way, you obviously seem to have taken my quoting personally since you decided to make a bad comment rather than giving a possible answer to my question. God forbid someone question articles :P

            Thought RPS commenters were better than this.

          • monkeybars says:

            “Is that the high road over there? It looks like… No, no, it’s just the backhanded path.”

            They haven’t offended me, I made the Fox News joke and you got defensive. I’m enjoying this. I write for a living, so I was trying to educate you with a little levity, but that seems like it was for naught.

          • HothMonster says:

            @milky

            It is out of context though. “For the first time ever (WHAT) when trying linux.” Since you did not include the what, which in this case is set forth in the preceding sentence, you took the quote out of context. Not every sentence is a self contained entity, you often have to look at the proceeding or following sentence to fill in implied meaning. He could spend hours forcing that paragraph into a single sentence, but then he would be a poet not a games reviewer, or maybe a poet games reviewer.

            “For the first time ever when trying Linux I didn’t have to use a command line, I still had to dick around a bit with display resolutions in the Wine configs and yes, I DID go on a Linux forum to find that out; but still no command line.” Is an ugly unwieldy beast, but he doesn’t have to do this to make all these thoughts in context for this time trying linux.

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      Naum says:

      If any Linux distro ever changes the basic folder structure, I’m switching to something else. And if everyone does it, BSD is still out there. There’s such an enormous amount of logic and elegance in those top level folders that it well warrants the price of having to learn the mnemoics once. Not that they’d be any complicated: /boot for data used during the boot process, /dev for devices, /mnt for mount points, /root for root’s data, /etc for system-level configuration, /usr for userspace programmes, /lib for libraries, /media for removable media, /proc for process and kernel data, /bin for binaries, /sbin for system binaries, /sys for system information, /var for various stuff that changes frequently, /home for home directories, /tmp for temporary data. With the exception of /etc, there’s nothing obscure about it.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Sorry but for the AVERAGE user that its ridiculously obscure. It might be great for us techies but the average user will have no clue at first glance what the hell those folders are.

        Which means they are more likely to do damage to the system by deleting what they consider unimportant ones. Like that lib folder, its not needed right?

        • tuluse says:

          The average user won’t care, they probably don’t even know what their Windows directory structure looks like.

        • HellHitZ says:

          Someone who never touched a computer can look at Windows’ folder/drive structure and find them archaic too. Why is that? They are not used to it. Just like the average Joe can find the Unix folder structure archaic just because he’s not familiar with it. In my opinion, ant being familiar with both, the Unix structure is way more intuitive and predictable than Windows’.

          But all of that is beyond the point. In Linux, and especially if you only have 1 user in your computer, you hardly need to know there’s stuff outside of your home folder, and that’s the experience the average Joe should have.

          Unlike Windows, where most people still use Admin accounts like it’s the normal thing to do, in Linux a normal user account doesn’t have root privileges, so when trying to mess with something outside of your home folder a user will be faced with a “no, no” message, which greatly diminishes the chances of the user messing up their system by deleting system folders or something.

          Of course there’s sudo and su which can be easily abused, but that’s a matter of teaching people good practices, just like teaching people not to use a Windows Admin account as their main account, and not turning off UAC. How easy is it to instruct people with good computing practices? Hard, very hard apparently.

          • Chorltonwheelie says:

            The very first thing a Windows user should do is turn off the f*****ng UAC.
            Do you lie awake at night worrying that users are fiddling in regedit?

          • Josh04 says:

            Very hard indeed.

          • Kaira- says:

            “The very first thing a Windows user should do is turn off the f*****ng UAC.”

            No. Nope. UAC can be annoying (clearly more so than the prompts for sudo password on Linux), but it shouldn’t be disabled.

      • vonkrieger says:

        What about /opt?

        • othello says:

          Misc stuff. For example it can be used for alternate versions of libraries. It stands for optional.

        • Josh04 says:

          For things which, for whatever reason, want to ignore the regular folder organisation. It’s totally where Steam for Linux is going to install.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Oh also users put all files they don’t want into /bin and then empty it right, as thats the bin where you put the rubbish? Whats a binary, is that like secondary cause theres no folder for that.

        This may sound like me being deliberatly stupid, but i have worked tech support so this is the sort of thing you get asked when working it by users :P

        Still remember the lady who was asking where her files go after she stored them in the recycle bin for safe keeping.

        • othello says:

          Why would someone be messing with the root directories anyway? In order to do that you should assume they’ve set up sudo and know how to use it.

          Also, the Windows folder hierarchy is archaic. The way Unix directories work is actually quite elegant (see pretty much anything in /dev).

          • belgand says:

            While I use and prefer Linux saying the folder system isn’t archaic is going a bit far. Sadly while there’s always a reason for it many things in Linux are rather archaic and go back to the 70s and 80s when computers were very different. As much as the system is based on sensible ideas a good deal is also based on tradition and interlocking elements that can’t deal well with change.

            For example, /usr. While it makes a certain amount of sense to have a separate /usr and /bin root directory it mainly comes about because of the days when hard drives were tiny so you could separate things onto different drives to optimize performance.

        • tormeh says:

          And that’s why file-managers and even the command line starts in the /home/[current user]/ folder, because you’re not supposed to mess with the top-directory folders. Even knowing they exist can be a challenge. Editing them usually requires sudo access either through the terminal or a program started with sudo access through the terminal.

          In short, grandma won’t ever know anything other than /home exists and if she does she won’t know how to view them and if she does she won’t know how to edit them. /home/[current user]/ simply looks like the top of the file-system to the user.

          • Premium User Badge

            Rikard Peterson says:

            Yes, for a grandma who just want to use the web browser, a word processor and maybe play some Tetris, Linux has been quite useable for quite a while. (If she could get someone to set if up for her.) And it’s obviously useable for the Linux experts. But I’m not convinced that it’s worth messing with for someone like me, who sits in between those levels.

      • tyrsius says:

        So much logic?

        mnt = mount?

        Tell me, why abbreviate it? Why not put the full name in there. Is “mount” so epic a word in length that it must be abbreviated?

        This is the “logic” that drives me crazy in Linux. Totally needless abbreviation. You don’t EVER need to type the full word after naming it the first time. Even in the console, you could type “m-o-TAB” and it would complete the word for you. The longer form is just as easy to type, but its also impossible to confuse with another word. Linux does this *everywhere*. Abbreviating words with confusing shorthand to save ZERO KEYSTROKES and confuse new users.

        Logic my ass.

        • Kaira- says:

          Because there was a time when saving space in folder addresses was important (see: Telnet). It’s legacy from that era.

        • Josh04 says:

          It’s funny because the folder for temporary media like CDs and flash drives is /media, following exactly the logic you gave. The devs ain’t stupid.

          • narthollis says:

            /media is new root level folder, which is why it is a full length word rather than /mda or something like that.

            Also /media is for user-level automatically mounted media not explicitly for cd/dvd’s and usb drives.

            I recall when my dvd was mounted at /mnt/dvd

        • Premium User Badge

          Naum says:

          Saves me keystrokes when I type cd /mnt rather than cd /mount. There used to be a time without bash completion, and short but descriptive folder names still beats Tab all the time.

          I will admit that, for a short period of time when I had just begun to learn Linux, I was upset like you about the abbreviating. Then I started to see the structure behind things and the reason for making path names as short as possible, and now I can hardly stand the mess that Windows’ directories (which are so obscure that nobody ever uses anything beyond C:\Users and C:\Program Files) are. The fact alone that I have to put programme calls in quotes because Program Files has a space in it regularly drives me crazy.

          • sparkles says:

            You don’t have to put it in quotes. Just use the escape char before the space.

            e.g. $ cd /home/.wine/Program\ Files/

          • Premium User Badge

            Christian Dannie Storgaard says:

            Also, don’t forget that “Program Files” is only called that in English versions. Good luck fixing your foreign friends Windows installation if you don’t speak their language as the folders will be called something else (also, don’t forget about the (x86) version of it to make things harder to find). C:\Users is also a recent addition and quite a few programs/games still put stuff in C:\Windows\Profiles. Apart from that there’s the whole C:\Users\USER\AppData vs. C:\Users\USER\Application Data\ vs., C:\Users\Public\App(lication )Data. Nay, I say Windows’ folders are a mess for users.

      • Ovno says:

        I’m a c/c++ software engineer and I still find that obscure admittedly because I don’t know it, but still, its not the easiest to approach without any prior knowledge…

        And as a techie not knowing what folders do what is like finding the bloody ribbon bar in office, suddenly all your old skills are for nought and everyone around you tells you its better, but you still feel like your mum trying to program a vcr…

    • AaronP says:

      Not the way it works. As an end user, you should not worry about system files at all. You shouldn’t be fiddling with that stuff unless you are an advanced user or a distro mantainer. When you open your file manager, you’ll notice that it opens to your home directory, which is located at /home/$USER, which is simple enough. All of your user data is stored in this directory.

      It’s exactly C:/Users, but done correctly and consistently because it’s always been like that.

    • rfry11 says:

      I find it odd that you think Linux’s file structure is archaic and just in general bad.

      I prefer navigating to /home/ryan/documents to get to my documents then having to navigate to C:\Users\Ryan\My Documents. It’s much easier to read, it’s much easier to write scripts or programs to point to the right directory, and it never changes. Programs from 15 years ago still know where to put files if they need to put them into my Documents folder, which is something that seems to change every couple versions of Windows.

      • x-jay says:

        ext3 is very effiecient I find. Use tab to autocomplete commands in Guake/Term and then shoot back to Windows and try to do a similar thing in Command Prompt. Windows is as powerful as a bent spoon in that regard.

        • mashakos says:

          windows command prompt had tab autocomplete in since Windows 2000

          • solidsquid says:

            The command prompt will also add quote marks to folders sometimes, which is irritating if you’re wanting to open something inside that folder

    • PopeJamal says:

      “which means going through linuxes archaic directory structure with its refusal to use folder names longer than 4 characters for the important folders, which will confuse a lot of people”

      Although it might be confusing for some, they didn’t just pull it out of thin air:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filesystem_Hierarchy_Standard

      Specifically:

      “For the most part, it is a formalization and extension of the traditional BSD filesystem hierarchy.”

  6. aliksy says:

    I’ve had mostly good experiences with Linux (for work and dicking around), but there are definitely pitfalls for the inexperienced user.

    Also I really, intensely, perhaps irrationally dislike the Unity interface. Pretty sure it’s not hard to change it without going to a whole other distro, but still.

    • djbriandamage says:

      You should be able to get another Xwindows shell like Gnome or Fluxbox or KDE from an application manager like LILO or aptget. You can choose which X shell to use at the logon screen if I’m remembering correctly. It’s easy to get many GUIs and flip between them until you find the one you like.

      • Premium User Badge

        Naum says:

        Last time I checked, LILO was a boot loader, so I’m afraid you won’t get a lot of applications out of it. ;)

        • djbriandamage says:

          Yeah, I know LILO is a bootloader like GRUB but I’ve also seen an application manager like aptget or synaptic with the same name. I can’t seem to find any reference to it now. Maybe I imagined it? I believe it was in Red Hat a few years ago.

      • pepper says:

        If im not mistaken then its (given your doing this as root):

        apt-get install kubuntu-desktop(or your own preferred window manager)

        logout, select kubuntu as the interface in the login in screen and your good to go.

        Atleast thats what I did when the auto upgrade on my laptop poo poo’d the interface, fixed some packages from the command line, grabbed the interface and I was up and running again.

    • aadi says:

      Unity is awful. Maybe not Windows 8 or GNOME Shell bad, but definitely awful. What you want is Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon, which is Ubuntu based with a lovely and useable shell.

      • Premium User Badge

        jezcentral says:

        “Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon?” This is another problem I have with Linux, I honestly have no idea whether you are joking or not.

        • physicser says:

          No joke, it’s just a bit cumbersome to make everything clear:

          Linux – enough said
          Mint – Distribution
          13 – Version
          Cinnamon – The user interface

          Kind of not completely unlike saying Ubuntu (or Kubuntu, or whatever other flavor) Precise Pangolin (not that that’s how anyone actually says it, but you know). And I will agree that Cinnamon is quite nice.

          • Premium User Badge

            jezcentral says:

            Excellent, I may just have found the world’s best flavour for a chocolate blend.

          • pepperfez says:

            I would urge you to reconsider your pangolin-flavored chocolate.

          • Donjo says:

            I… I still don’t know if you’re joking.. Precise Pangolin eh? WHOOSH. The joke seems to have gone up another level, and way over my head!

          • PopeJamal says:

            Precise Pangolin.

            It is a common practice for “tech” people to create “code names” or “project names” for their software or hardware. That can’t use the final name because the final name hasn’t been decided, so it’s easier to come up with an unofficial name so that all the other tech people know what you’re talking about. Ubuntu does this as well as many other Linux groups like the Mint and Fedora folks.

            Ubuntu is a version of linux. They have a six month release cycle (every april and every october). The full name of the current version of Ubuntu could be considered:

            Ubuntu Linux 12.04 LTS – Precise Pangolin

            Only Ubuntu and 12.04 are important. All the rest are extra detail, but it basically boils down to:

            Ubuntu – The particular version of Linux. Like the brand of Llinux. “Linux brought to you by the Ubuntu people”
            Linux – Well, it’s linux
            12.04 – This version was released in April of 2012
            LTS – “Long Term Support” – This version will be supported for several years
            “Precise Pangolin” – A fun codename used primarily on people involved in the inner workings of the Operating System

            BTW, they progress through the alphabet with animal names like: “Hardy Heron”, “Intrepid Ibex”, “J Something”, “Karmic Koala”, “Loopy Lorax”, stuff like that.

        • TheAngryMongoose says:

          Personally I prefer a cool refreshing Mint MATE.

          (Not really- a little disappointed with MATE; too many clicks)

      • physicser says:

        Agreed, once they rolled out Unity, I dropped Ubuntu and picked up Mint, no regrets.

      • Andy`` says:

        You can also just install Cinnamon (or another UI) on top of Ubuntu to replace Unity. It’s a little wobbly, I don’t think the seperate install is as up to date as the Mint version, but the option is there if you’re lazy like me and you just want to give it a quick try without burning a disc.

        Any idea if Mint Debian is worth a look in? It sounds tempting and I want to give Debian a try, but being relatively new to Linux I’m not sure if I’m just going to melt my face off trying to use Debian right now.

    • Premium User Badge

      jimbobjunior says:

      I’d suggest that you should try it again if you haven’t already done so recently.

      I used to vehemently dislike everything to do with Unity when I tried it in Ubuntu 11.04. I had to build a new work machine and installed 12.04 with a view of changing the desktop manager. A lot of the problems I had with it had been addressed (slow type-ahead, no dual-monitor support). I’ve been working happily with it for the last couple of months. The keyboard interface means I barely miss the old Gnome-like “start” bars.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I’ll add my voice to the people calling for Mint. It’s Ubuntu based but prettier, and I found it far easier to use as a Windows user.

  7. philbot says:

    “This ease is partly because there’s a built-in app store in Ubuntu called The Software Center”

    Oh the irony. The sweet sweet irony.

    Could someone please explain why It’s OK for ubuntu to have a built-in app store, but it’s so damn offensive for Win8 to have one?

    • WittyUsername_01 says:

      A. It’s free
      B. Its not as locked down as the Win8 store.

      It’s Linux for God’s sake, by definition it’s better!

      • sabishi_daioh says:

        I thought the problem with windows 8 wasn’t really the store (although anyone with an Xbox 360 or who has used GFWL is already retching because those stores aren’t great.) but that it’s just another example of how Windows 8 decided that instead of being a good desktop OS that also works well on tablets or a good Tablet OS that can be used on a Desktop without feeling like you’ve just got a big phone on your desk had two conflicting UIs and had the desktop and mobile elements stab each other to death in a car park instead of working together.

    • djbriandamage says:

      On one hand, I think you’re right. Win8 has its own store (as does OSX and iOS and Android) but it doesn’t seem to get in the way of any other store. I can still use Steam and Origin and GOG and Uplay on Win8 unhindered so I don’t understand what Newell’s doom and gloom comments are all about. I wonder whether he’s just scared of serious competition.

      And on the other hand, does Ubuntu’s “store” actually have a single piece of software that can be bought for money? I thought it was a repository of freely available open source software.

      • Valvarexart says:

        Yes it does have apps that cost money. But you can uninstall the app store if you want to on Ubuntu. You can’t do that in Windows 8.

      • D3xter says:

        Of course that will stay like that forever if it takes off, right, right?
        Microsoft won’t be tempted to take 20-30% off of Software sales with their next system (pushing that on both customers and companies as the Gatekeeper, like they’re doing on consoles and other devices) and Windows 8 RT isn’t already completely locked down and they aren’t using that Secure Boot?

        Also I personally just simply don’t want their “AppStore” or their “Xbox Live Software” or logging in with a “Microsoft Account” or ANY OF THAT. So I just won’t change to Windows 8 and hope it crashes and burns and if not I will be using Windows 7 for as long as I can and hope by then Linux is in a proper enough state to be changing.
        I especially see potential in every game on KickStarter being asked for a Linux version and to commit to Linux, making Unity4 support Linux and with the push of Valve/Source and the others we might as well get Unreal Engine Support, after all they already have an OpenGL Codebase for Macs…

        • djbriandamage says:

          Of course they’ll take a 20-30% cut. They’re giving developers a store with 1.5 billion customers. You think Steam is a free public service?

          Don’t like the app store? Remove it from the Start button and never look at it again. Don’t like logging in with a Microsoft ID? Disable it and log on locally. Don’t like Xbox software? Don’t run it.

          Don’t like this version of Windows? Wish horrible things for it so that even the people who enjoy it are deprived.

          • HellHitZ says:

            You missed his point…

            What he was asking you (rhetorically) was if you thought Microsoft wouldn’t be closing Windows more and more in future iterations, because that way they can get 20-30% for *every* piece of software people want to install in their Personal Computers (emphasis on personal).

            Call me tinfoil hat user or pessimist or whatever you want, but the answer to that seems pretty obvious to me. As D3xter already stated, Windows RT is already locked down, and they even force HW companies to force secure boot (unlockable) on their Windows RT devices if they want Windows certification (of course they do, unless they are Chinese and don’t care). That’s just another piece of evidence.

            Also, notice how you can only get Metro style apps from the Windows Store. You can put “normal” apps there if they only use Metro style APIs, which are severely limited. They say they’ll allow “normal” apps there when the OS launches, those apps will have to go through certification and they will have to provide a third-party payment system, unlike Metro style apps. Well, at least they still allow sideloading of Metro apps… ah no, they don’t, only if you have Windows 8 Enterprise Edition or something. So, Metro is supposed to be the future of Windows, and you can only get Metro applications from the Windows Store?

            Sure, Windows 8 might not be such a bad thing from a lock down perspective, but the future of Windows sure seems pretty gloomy.

          • Grygus says:

            To be fair, there were people who enjoyed Vista, but because it crashed and burned they got a more refined version in Windows 7, so everybody won, including the people who liked Vista. If Windows 8 fails in the desktop marketplace (an eventuality that seems highly likely to me,) then maybe Windows 9 will be a nice product; after all, that does seem to be the pattern for Microsoft operating systems (Windows 98 was a great improvement on Windows 95, and Windows XP was Windows 2000 done better, as well.)

          • djbriandamage says:

            Apologies if I missed the intended point. I remain skeptical of claims that Microsoft intends to shut out all third party stores, though.

            I think their RT edition is intended for very limited devices that couldn’t comfortably run desktop software anyway. I’d rather be given the choice of where to get my software, personally, but I can speak from experience that my netbook was so slow it made me cringe – that’s a PC where I wish I had a streamlined OS with simplistic apps so that I could get tasks done without waiting for the disk to churn.

            Microsoft has a history of bending over backwards to retain legacy compatibility for as long as possible. That’s why they still sell 32-bit editions of their desktop OSes and why they embed utilities like Windows XP Mode and Hyper-V.

            Most of all, Microsoft wants to sell their own software. If Windows prevents people from doing their daily computing then it won’t sell. Microsoft has been around long enough that they know not to kill the golden goose.

      • Kittim says:

        The Windows * store wont prevent you from installing Desktop software, but you *have* to use the store to install New UI programs.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Store

        Mind you, I can’t help but wonder if MS have a means of extending this to all Windows software, perhaps that is penciled in for Windows 9/10.

    • Kageru says:

      An app store is not an issue. An app store that is exclusive and proprietary (you will get not software from elsewhere, software from here is sold only here) is a convenience rather than a concern, much like steam.

      • djbriandamage says:

        I’m not sure where you get this idea. Glancing at the Win8 Store I see many common apps like Cut The Rope (a game available for Windows XP and up, OSX, iOS, and Android) and Metrotwit (a Twitter client for Windows 7 and 8 that can also be downloaded or bought directly from their website).

        • Jason Lefkowitz says:

          The issue comes with apps designed to use the new UI style in Windows 8 (the artist formerly known as “Metro”). Microsoft requires that “Metro-style” apps be distributed only through the Windows Store.

          • djbriandamage says:

            Ah, thanks for the clarification. I need to correct my previous statement then – there’s a desktop version of Metrotwit available for Windows 7 and 8 but the Metro UI version is only available through the MS app market.

            I agree that it’s a shame you can’t get Metro apps from anywhere but Microsoft’s official store, but I don’t foresee this having a great affect on us gamers. Maybe casual gamers who play Zyngaville but not far beyond this.

          • Kittim says:

            @ djbriandamage

            Re Windows Store. The problem with the store is that if it becomes the only way for end users to install software, then it will greatly affect everyone. It may not happen in Windows 8 but if it gets mutely accepted by the masses then you may be looking at a totally locked down future version of Windows.

            That’s bad for everyone except Microsoft.

          • djbriandamage says:

            @ Kittim

            That’s a very large if

    • maweki says:

      Last time I looked, the Ubuntu Software Center was just a glorified wrapper for aptitude/synaptic/the apt packaging system. So you can (even through the gui) add 3rd-Party sources and have them displayed along the other software. There are 3rd-Party sources like GetDeb and PlayDeb which have loads of software not found in the official package repositories.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Because there are hundreds of up-to-date Linux distros that are available that don’t have this app store.

      There is only one Windows 8.

      It comes with the app store.

      • monkeybars says:

        Hundreds of distros, you say. That sounds fun.

        • Kaira- says:

          Differences in distros are not nearly as great as say, between Windows and Linux. They all use the Linux kernel, and build upon that with different packages. Hell, you could take, say, Ubuntu and if you want to go through all the hassle make it use the same packages and systems as Arch.

          • monkeybars says:

            Having never used Linux, how easy it is to change from one distro to another? Like, say the distro you’re using is (inevitably, I’d assume) outpaced by one of the hundreds of others: Is it a simple upgrade, or do you have to wipe everything?

          • Kaira- says:

            Technically all you would need to do is to preserve your /home-folder and you’d be good to go. However, sometimes this doesn’t quite work out, especially if the distros use modified versions of desktop enviroments in which case config-files can cause trouble (as I found out when switching back from Crunchbang to Xubuntu). Also, for a casual user the biggest differences between distros probably is the use of desktop enviroment (XFCE, LXDE, Gnome, Cinnamon, Openbox, KDE, etc) and the package managers (apt-get, yum) and their wrapper-software (such as Synaptic, some distros don’t have any wrappers).

        • Premium User Badge

          Naum says:

          Most of those are specialised in some way (smaller, safer, more optimised, special programmes etc.) and/or made for very tech-savvy people. The big ones aimed at the mass market are Ubuntu, SuSE, Fedora and Mint. (Hope I didn’t forget any big players.)

          • iniudan says:

            Debian, CentOS (which is basically just Red Hat except don’t need to subscribe to tech support =p) for those that want more stable system, but that stability sacrifice release cycle speed, so will not really be good for gamers. =p

            Fedora I wouldn’t put in in aimed at mass market, even through it among those with the most user, has it tend to go for the latest tech, since it is a testing ground for Red Hat, so see lot of change between version, oddity (like bin folders location change in latest version) and some stability issue (nothing major usually but you can find yourself with software that are still in beta/developer release into the mainstream package library, for example with Fedora 17 you had Eclipse Juno while Indigo was still the mainstream release version at Eclipse foundation itself.)

    • Premium User Badge

      bglamb says:

      It’s to do with the fact that, due to the differences in the way the two work, Linux’s is there to remove restrictions on what the consumer can do, whereas Microsoft’s is to increase them.

    • PopeJamal says:

      “Could someone please explain why It’s OK for ubuntu to have a built-in app store, but it’s so damn offensive for Win8 to have one?”

      Because Ubuntu has neither the ability, nor the intention to lock you into ONLY buying things from their store. Is that a good enough reason?

      Microsoft have both the ability and the intention to do so. Sure, it’s to supposedly to protect you from evil hackers and pedophiles, but lock-in is still lock-in.

  8. WittyUsername_01 says:

    Yes!!! I can comment before the flame wars start!!!

    Anyways, this is genuinely exciting to me. I’m still planning on using Windows 7 for the next few years, but it’s great to know I don’t have to spend a year learning command line if I ever decide to switch. Although before it becomes a viable platform, we’ll need gamers who take the time to figure shit out so that if we have an issue; we will have a resource to go to specifically for gamers.

    Although, I will be going for a Comp. Science degree next year when I go to college, so maybe I could start learning now…

    • maweki says:

      As a computer science student you will figure out very fast, that the only professors, you can really learn something from, are proponents of the unix way and they will need you to know your flavour of unix by heart.
      But its easy and fast, once you get the hang of it. I have problems using Windows because of the assumptions how systems should work (95% Linux user – windows only for gaming).

      • WindPower says:

        This has been my experience as well.
        Those that used Windows were all boring read-from-textbook-do-exercises-from-them-make-exam-done professors.
        Those who didn’t were clearly passionate about their topic, and were much better at teaching as well.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Funny but for my course those tended to be the ones that got ignored the most beause they would be so focused on the zealotry and less on important things.

        Like the course matter.

        In fact in my Comp Sci course most of the stuff we did was platform independent so it didn’t matter what the hell you used.

        But guess each uni does it differently. I know ours decided half way through to move the comp sci department from the engineering deptartment to the maths department :P

        • maweki says:

          The algorithms are platform independent, of course. But if you write a c-program with a recursive and an iterative algorithm, compile it, decompile it to assembler, show the difference and then time it in front of class, the Linux tools are rather neccessary.
          This particular lesson was about how compilers optimize end-recursion to while-loops in order to save stack-space and execution time.

        • Premium User Badge

          Bluerps says:

          The math department? Really? In my university computer science is its own department.

          Anyway, I don’t think that the choice of OS has played a role in any lecture I have heard while studying computer science. Either the topic was general enough to be applicable to any OS, or it was completely theoretical. Apart from the actual lecture, some Professors might have mentioned their preference, but most didn’t.

        • Saldek says:

          The zealotry, you say? Sounds grim.

      • Unaco says:

        I work/study in a CompSci and Maths department of a UK University currently (one of the top 10 in the UK)… Day to day, all of the members of Staff use Windows or Mac OS’s. No one in the Department uses a ‘Nix OS on their main desktop system (one colleague did, but his use was shortlived – until 64 bit Windows systems – and he’s since left anyway). We have them for clusters and supercomputers and the like (I use one quite often myself), and a lot of the research done uses these systems, and our network admins are users of them… but none of the teaching and research staff.

        I learned plenty from these Professors (and the Lecturers, the Readers, the Research and Teaching assistants) and they didn’t require me, or any of their students, to learn any particular ‘Nix flavour at all. I think they’d likely be quite f*cking offended by the implication that they can’t teach anything of worth because they don’t use a particular operating system. In fact, if a Professor has difficulty teaching Computing Science without recourse to a specific OS, they can’t teach what they want to teach independent of the platform… then I’d be quite concerned with how they were teaching.

        • Premium User Badge

          Bluerps says:

          In the computer science department I work in (german university – not top 10, but it’s ok), it’s mostly down to personal preference. Our admins install Linux per default, but it’s no hassle to get Windows in addition to that.

          • Unaco says:

            It’s the same in ours… It’s down to preference and the technicians will install and help with whatever software and OS you want to use. All (or the vast majority) choose Windows/Mac as their primary OS. They still teach things perfectly well.

          • Premium User Badge

            Bluerps says:

            Yes, of course. As far as I know it’s pretty mixed here, but I haven’t seen any connection between choice of OS and quality of teaching.

          • Unaco says:

            “I haven’t seen any connection between choice of OS and quality of teaching.”

            Precisely, neither have I… because I doubt one actually exists. Maweki insists there is though.

        • sparkles says:

          I think, more than anything, that linux’s transparency is what makes it a good platform for education. You’re correct in that CompSci concepts should be taught independent of platform, of course.

          At the same time, here in the US, a large portion of developers use linux, or at least have passable linux administration skills. The big companies like Google, Apple, and even Microsoft use *nix desktop environments. And if you’re in IT, you’re useless if you don’t know Linux. Windows servers are terrible in comparison to the capabilities of a properly configured Linux server.

      • soul4sale says:

        And as an English major, you’ll learn how to use commas. Yeah, yeah, yeah, no one likes a grammar Nazi…

  9. maweki says:

    Wine is not an Emulator! How much do you have to name the software that, so that people get it?

    It is Linux port of the windows libraries.

    Edit: Now corrected in the article. For further clarification “Wine” stands for “Wine is not an Emulator” and is a native port of Windows System libraries, so that program’s system calls are transparent.

    • arccos says:

      People would take the name more seriously if it didn’t seem to derive from an Abbott and Costello bit.

      Recursively naming software may seem clever, but it turns off most people who have asked me about it. They want an OS that just works, and being given a puzzle in the name of some of the software makes them roll their eyes and walk away.

      • HellHitZ says:

        I find it weird that people get turned-off / don’t want to use a piece of software because of it’s name. Functionality and ease of use are what (should) matter. Sure, a descriptive name helps with the discovery, but other than that it’s (or should be) irrelevant.

      • maweki says:

        Because since the dawn of time, software has been named for reasons. Why exactly did the Apple guys call their company the way they did? Or their Macintosh? Not the first and not the last company to give things stupid names.

      • Saldek says:

        You just don’t like cleverness, arccos.

  10. Premium User Badge

    RaveTurned says:

    “That installer grabs the latest Ubuntu from the servers and installs it to a drive of your choice, automagically assuming you want to dual-boot, which of course you do. After installing, it’ll ask you to reboot, automatically booting Ubuntu first time around so you can get things configured. When you reboot after this initial configutation boot you’ll be presented with a dual-boot screen allowing you to select Windows or Ubuntu. And that’s Linux running on your PC.”

    Really? You can install a dual-boot of Linux on an NTFS formatted disk and have it just work, without damaging the existing OS and data already on the partition? Dieing to know how that works. Automatic shrinking of the NTFS partition? Using an NTFS file as a block device (which presumably impacts performance)? What about swap space?

    • maweki says:

      He didn’t say it was a non-empty drive. Could have been a different one than his windows-one. Still dual-boot, ain’t it? ;)

      • Premium User Badge

        RaveTurned says:

        I should have included the preceding single-sentence paragraph: “Here’s what I did and what you should definitely try: Grab the installer from here and run it.”

        If it only works with a non-empty drive the passage is misleading – and potentially dangerous for someone with only the one disk in their machine who is enthused by the idea, follows this advice and wipes their Windows install. Doubly misleading in fact, because with Windows gone it’s no longer dual-boot. :P

        • Premium User Badge

          bglamb says:

          Don’t be too quick to complain. From the Ubuntu website it looks like it will happily install alongside Windows on a single drive.

          • Jim Rossignol says:

            I’ve added a note in there about this. It does seem that it will install to a drive along with Windows, but in this instance James did install it to a fresh drive. Discretion advised, certainly.

          • Safewood says:

            Yeah, but it is rather risky shrinking your partitions. I used to run linux once upon a time and I ran with 3 partitions, 1 small which linux was installed on 1 small for windows and a third which both used.

          • maweki says:

            Recent builds (since 2011) of parted (the better of the partition softwares), will shrink/resize ntfs partitions. I still get sweaty palms if I do it.

          • Daichin says:

            Infact, Wubi, the installer used, doesn’t install to a partition at all. Instead it installs to a file on the hard disk. No partitioning happens, and thus your data is safe.

      • codename_bloodfist says:

        You don’t need an empty disk for this. Here’s the article on Wubi for those interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wubi_(Ubuntu_installer)

        • Premium User Badge

          RaveTurned says:

          I’m aware of Wubi, but surprised if it’s being recommended as a good way to test gaming on Linux. I might be mistaken (and correct me if so), but I’d have thought that gaming, especially through Wine, would be fairly disk-intentive at times and swap-intensive almost constantly. Wouldn’t running from a disk image on NTFS cause an exaggerated performance hit compared to using a separate partition?

    • Premium User Badge

      Driveshaft says:

      Yup. You simply select ‘install along-side Windows’ and it does it all for you.

      However, I used a sweet little piece of software by the name of GParted (included with the Ubuntu .iso) to manually trim down my Windows partition and stick in the required root/home/swap etc.

      If you don’t mind taking the time and you know how to work with partitions, I definitely recommend doing it manually to give you that extra bit of control.

      Another neat thing, if you run Steam in Linux via Wine (or when the Linux version arrives), you can tell Steam to access your game files from the Windows partition (so you don’t have to shift everything over).

    • b0rsuk says:

      Actually – yes, you can install Linux on your Windows partition without making needing a separate partition. And it doesn’t hurt your data. It’s called Wubi:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wubi_%28Ubuntu_installer%29
      “is an official Windows-based free software installer for Ubuntu, which installs the software on an existing Windows partition, thus without need for partitioning.”

      It’s not a perfect solution, but it can’t be perfect when it uses an inferior filesystem like NTFS. For instance, defragmentation is a feature unique to Windows. Better filesystems, like ext3 and ext4 used by Linux, de-fragment on the fly without performance penalty.

      • WindPower says:

        This is not really true. They just allocate storage blocks non-contiguously in order to minimize the probability of fragmentation, but it does inevitably happen when your filesystem gets really full. If you mount it manually, you’ll see that it reports the number of files that are fragmented (Something like “0.4% non-contiguous files”). Still, there is no question that it is clearly superior to NTFS.

    • Premium User Badge

      Naum says:

      Fun fact: My Win8 install recently wiped my Linux partition, repartitioning and using it for itself, without asking or warning me or even just indicating that it would be using anything but the disk space I had told it to use. Of course, the Ubuntu installer will be about 10 times smarter about it, shrinking the NTFS as necessary and making its own partitions in the resulting free space. And most importantly, it will tell you what it’s about to do, that the operation can be dangerous and that you should always make a backup when hacking partition information.

      • uh20 says:

        lol, 2 years ago i dual booted in linux, a year later i made a windows xp install with an extra code, wiped everything the frick out

        you kind of assume the linux way is the norm, but windows is sooooooooo invasive and restricted its not even funny, i have a multiseat computer running different desktops and when i see windows7 desktop it still makes me laugh at how little choice you get over it

    • Milky1985 says:

      Shrinking and resizing NTFS partitions can be done, its only tends to go wrong if the disc is quite full and fragmented. Not had any issues so far all the times i have done it both at work and home

      (cross fingers due to jinxing it for next time)

      • Archonsod says:

        It’s pretty straightforward. The only problem with NTFS is Microsoft do love to stick metadata in the middle of the drive, which Windows refuses to move. Usually a decent third party defrag program will shove it back to the start where it should be.

    • PopeJamal says:

      “Really? You can install a dual-boot of Linux on an NTFS formatted disk and have it just work, without damaging the existing OS and data already on the partition? Dieing to know how that works. Automatic shrinking of the NTFS partition? Using an NTFS file as a block device (which presumably impacts performance)? What about swap space?”

      Aside from adding the appropriate tidbits into the registry for uninstalling and things like that, Wubi creates a giant file INSIDE YOUR NTFS PARTITION. When you boot into Ubuntu, the NTFS file system is mounted, then the giant ubuntu filesystem file is mounted as the root filesystem. So when you are in the file explorer, you have access to your root file system, and any files on the NTFS partition as well.

      Obviously, there is overhead involved, but it’s more than fine for testing things out. Generally speaking, graphics or cpu are the bottlenecks for games and neither of those are affected in any way by running Ubuntu using the Wubi method.

  11. grundus says:

    I’m very interested, but unfortunately it would have to be all or nothing. If I still need Windows for some things I just won’t make the switch, I tried dual booting back when I was using my Mac as a gaming PC and it was just a pain in the tits.

  12. thrymr says:

    “Maybe it won’t be until Linux gets Steam”

    I really haven’t tried this myself but from that list you posted via Link:

    http://www.playonlinux.com/en/app-4-Steam.html

    Steam
    logoInstall this program
    Informations
    PlayOnLinux installer creator: Quentin PÂRIS
    Supported platforms: Linux, Mac OS
    Number of download: 209915
    Actions
    Source code | Last changes
    Description
    The famous gaming platform from Valve.

    • Timothy says:

      There is a huge difference between running Steam via WINE, and running a native version of Steam for Linux. Yes, you can kinda fudge using Steam on Linux at the moment, but it’s a crapshoot wether or not each individual steam game will be happy under WINE.

      Actual real proper Steam for Linux will be kinda like Steam for Mac; a subset of Steam games will have the Linux versions available for installation, and you can play those without any of the WINE fiddliness that I expect to be detailed in the next article.

  13. Premium User Badge

    jezcentral says:

    Does this mean I can download Ubuntu onto my (Windows, obviously) c:, click on install, reboot (presumably), then install PlayOnLinux and be playing a supported game from my Steam account on c:? (Without wiping Windows.)

    Jeez, I used to be hardcore. Editing autoexec.bat, config.sys and himem held no fears. Younger me would be ashamed of older me.

    EDIT: Ah, I see that the answer is No.

    EDIT: Ah, I now see that the answer might be Yes.

    • SiHy_ says:

      Same here, man. The terrible things getting older does to you.

  14. bill says:

    I generally preferred linux to windows, but there were always a few apps that i needed windows for, and dual booting was a pain. Having to keep the familiarity with two different operating systems at once was hard work, and i just found myself booting into linux less and less (despite preferring it).

    the weird point for me is that older games tend to be a lot EASIER to get running under WIne than under newer versions of windows.

    • seamoss says:

      I’ve been using Linux for gaming through Wine for 3-4 years now. Almost all older games are easier to run on Wine under Linux than they are on Windows Vista/7. In Wine, I can set the “emulated” WIndows version (2000, XP, etc.), I can have a virtual desktop so that I can run games “fullscreen” in a 1024×768 window, I can have a separate installation (“bottle”) for each of my games (each with a different release of DirectX, even old ones), and on and on.

      In fact, some people are using Wine on *Windows* to get older binaries to run!

  15. DerRidda says:

    “So using Linux, simply by virtue of this lack of familiarity, is a ball-ache. It seems to be deliberately contrary to Windows paradigms just so they can shout ‘hey we’re different! We’re better!’ when that’s exactly what turns people off using it. ”

    That’s a bit unfair, people have to realize that Linux is not Windows, never wanted to be, never will be.
    It’s a Unix based operating system and was deliberately designed to mimic those and that’s exactly what it does. No one ever brings up this kind of criticism against OSX even though it’s exactly the same there.
    It’s Unix based as well but the user experience is generally cited as one of the most intuitive and easy to pick up ones out there.
    That’s not because it mimics Windows, far from it, it’s because it’s a well curated experience with very sane defaults which is something that Ubuntu is trying to do for the Linux desktop and they are quite successful with that approach.

    • WindPower says:

      Indeed, someone coming from Linux and trying out Windows could say the same.

      “So using Windows, simply by virtue of this lack of familiarity, is a ball-ache. It seems to be deliberately contrary to Unix paradigms just so they can shout ‘hey we’re different! We’re better!’ when that’s exactly what turns people off using it.”

      Okay, that last part may not apply (because people still use it since they have to put up with it), but still.

    • Premium User Badge

      RaveTurned says:

      I don’t think it’s that unfair – it’s just a very Windows-centric viewpoint, which given that we’re on a PC gaming blog is fairly unsurprising. Also saying that OSX doesn’t get the same kind of criticism is disingenuous. I’d be very surprised if you’ve not encountered anyone who, even though they consider themselves computer literate, will still bash on Macs primarily because they’re Not Windows (common complaints “It’s only got one mouse button! Where’s the start menu!” etc). If you haven’t, be thankful.

      The issue is that because Windows has such a large share of the desktop market, the Windows paradigms and conventions are the ones most people are aware of and can relate to. To some people, computer literacy means Windows literacy, and it can be really frustrating for someone who considers themselves to be a power-user to be thrust into a new environment where they can no longer do the simplest things because the rules of the system are completely different.

      It’s not so much about how intuitive the interfaces are on their own, it’s about how well they match up to the user’s expectations, and for a great deal of people those expectations are Windows-like. This goes double for PC gamers, who are both currently steered to Windows as the primary supported gaming platform and more likely to be power-users in order to squeeze a little bit more performance out of their hardware.

    • InternetBatman says:

      It’s a bit unfair, but there definitely seems to be some of that going around. Gimp seems particularly bad in this regard.

  16. Optimaximal says:

    An interesting aside for this line of thought is ‘How easy is it to play Mac OS games on Linux’. More developers are creating games/ports for Mac OS (largely because of the App Store walled garden) but once on Mac OS, it’s a much shorter jump to get software running on Ubuntu because of the behind the scenes similarities.

    Yes, there’s the hardware/cost barrier, but there’s also less reason* why any developer who releases a game on Mac OS shouldn’t be able to also get it running on a decent PC running Ubuntu or another popular distro with decent driver support, since the usual barriers (namely DirectX/XNA) are already done away with.

    * – other than the unfounded ‘but my games will be pirated’ argument, which has been basically destroyed by the figures of who pays what in the indie bundle scene.

    • thrymr says:

      actually that ‘my games will be pirated’ argument becomes less and less valid.
      Over at GamesCom several publishers have announced more ‘Free to Play’ titles and general hype about that model is going up… (we all know that is equals ‘pay to win’ in most cases)

      This gives developers less and less arguments for not supporting Linux…
      Especially since OSX is some kind of Unix dreivate if i’m not mistaken, hence the binaries could be adapted easy enough?
      Well, last time i had to do this cross plattform stuff was several years ago, so i’m terribly outdated on that matter. :)

  17. derbefrier says:

    if game companies start supporting Linux and make gaming as easy as it is on windows i will move over without hesitation. I am just to lazy now a days to sit there and tweak and scour forums to figure out how to run a game properly.

    • maweki says:

      So you don’t play Triple-A-releases then? ;)

      I have more problems running my Steam-Library in windowed mode than doing about anything in Linux. But Linux is my native OS, so maybe that doesn’t count.

      • Premium User Badge

        jezcentral says:

        “So you don’t play Triple-A-releases then? ;)”

        Oh yes, he went there!

        I can see the PCGamingWiki (whose Kickstarter sadly failed) getting some more traffic because of this…

  18. Jason Moyer says:

    I don’t really understand why people want to run a unix variant on their desktop at home. Unless you need a secure remotely accessible multi-user environment or are serving data it’s complete overkill. You’re also not really using it to its strengths if you don’t want to have to dig into its guts to customize things. If you do want a unix variant that has the simplicity and hardware/software support somewhat comparable to windows you’d be better off with OSX anyway.

    • nasenbluten says:

      Yeah and you will be better off paying ridiculously high prices for shit hardware to Apple too right?

    • Jamison Dance says:

      Lots of reasons.

      * You like supporting free software for philosophical reasons.
      * You don’t want to pay the money for a Mac, or for Windows.
      * You are a software developer or technical person who needs a good development environment.
      * You like tinkering with things, and want your OS to be one of the things you tinker with (Seems mad to me, but I have met some who feel this way).

      • Jason Moyer says:

        Well yeah, using it for development or wanting something highly customizable or being a geek (I mean an actual geek and not a “omg I totally buy every new pop technology that comes out” geek) are good reasons. I love unix (preferably freeBSD, although OSX is great too) but there’s really no reason for people who primarily use their PC’s for gaming to even think about it.

    • maweki says:

      You mean not having to worry about viruses, having months of uptime and having machines running as fast as the day you installed them, is not ok?
      And multi-user is not the point. But I have lots of software on my desktop machine that I will never need on the road with my laptop. When I am at home, I will still run them from the bed in a remote x-forwarded ssh-session. So multi-machine, single user.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        If linux had an installbase comparable to Windows I think you’d find the malware issues to be fairly prevalent. That’s not a really great thing when you think about how particularly nasty most linux malware is. It would be kind of hilarious to see something with the security level of UPlay running natively on linux and having a million systems handing out root like it’s candy.

        • maweki says:

          The Unix permission levels does not allow that, now, does it? Rights-escalation-exploits do exists. But running as root at all is not the unix way and it happens much less on Linux than on windows. Installing does happen as root, but only the package manager runs as root. The software itself never gets to see what root privileges feel like.

          • FrankGrimesy says:

            So it’s not a virus, if it only deletes all your documents, or installs itself in your user login script to allow user mode bots to run?

          • jonfitt says:

            I can guarantee you that a huge number of people will grant root access to something not because it needs it, but because it wasn’t working and that got it working.
            Or if the shortest route with least roadblocks is just to log in as root all the time, that’s what a good number of people will do.
            Look at what happened with UAC. People disliked being asked the question about rights escalation, they just wanted it to default to yes. Quit bugging me and make it work. Results over process, every time.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Exactly, Frank.

            1) Windows actually does split admin priviledges in normal use these days (and people bitch, because UAC pops up—gksudo, or the MacOS X admin prompt, of course, are perfectly fine).
            2) It’s almost completely useless for personal computers because you can still utterly ruin someone’s day (including in subtle ways like installing new root certificates and proxies in your browser profile for SSL MITM attacks, for example) with just their normal priviledge level. Under a classic UNIX-like model, if Firefox can write to its settings when I run it as me, anything can write to Firefox’s settings when I run it as me.

            AppArmour/SELinux-style priviledge dropping/mandatory access control is more useful, but not yet really widespread AFAIK; it’s still a bit of an ad-hoc deal because it’s fundamentally per-app. IE, Flash, and Adobe Reader all use restricted priviledges under Windows IIRC (i.e. the usual vulnerable suspects); I think under Ubuntu it’s still off by default but profiles do exist for quite a few apps.

            There’s also Sandboxie, or chroots, but neither are the default OS-supported way to do things (yet). And fundamentally sooner or later you start hitting the problem that you kind of want some cross-app pollination, since that’s why you have a filesystem in the first place.

      • Milky1985 says:

        You cannot say about any os “do not have to worry about viruses”

        There are linux viruses out there, mostly very old ones and probably don’t work any more, but they do/did exist.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_malware

        Wish people would stop saying “don’t have to worry about viruses in X OS if you move from Y OS”, puts people in a false sense of security. Like saying you don’t have to worry about getting your hosue getting burgled if you move from london to a small village out in the sticks.

    • Premium User Badge

      RaveTurned says:

      Windows licence – expensive.
      Mac hardware – more expensive (despite being the same hardware as other PCs).
      Linux – free!
      ‘Nuff said. ;)

  19. nasenbluten says:

    When DirectX 11 is supported I’m in.

    • Shodex says:

      Open GL is superior to Direct X anyways. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

      • nasenbluten says:

        Yeah, tell that to the developers… I just want to be able to play DX11 exclusive games.

      • vandinz says:

        OpenGL isn’t better than DX11 at all. Where did you get that idea?

        • maweki says:

          Valve seems to think it’s fast enough

          “why does an OpenGL version of our game run faster than Direct3D on Windows 7? It appears that it’s not related to multitasking overhead. We have been doing some fairly close analysis and it comes down to a few additional microseconds overhead per batch in Direct3D”

  20. Mayjori says:

    sad it may be but i ragequit linux when i couldnt watch netflix on it.

  21. vonkrieger says:

    Linux was way ahead of the curve by being the first Free to Play OS, they just took their sweet time implementing the item shop.

  22. DrGonzo says:

    Is there a version of Linux which isn’t very crashy? I’ve tried a few version in the past, one of them being Ubuntu, and it was incredibly unreliable. Since Vista I’ve got used to my pc never, ever locking up (and only having a problem at all maybe once or twice a year) and I’m not willing to give that up. Found Linux to be wobbly at best in the past. Plus what about framerates?

    • maweki says:

      As far as I can see, Fedora gets most of the developer-love. That’s what we (me and many other students at my university) started using after Ubuntu introduced unity. I feel that it is very stable and I only have trouble getting a tv-decoder-card to work, which I think is a hardware issue, because it isn’t recognized by windows either.

      Fedora pretty much works out of the box and open source drivers are up to date. But I have no idea, how well the proprietary drivers are integrated.

      • Premium User Badge

        Naum says:

        When I had a look at it the last time, Fedora was pretty strict about its Open Source philosophy and didn’t even offer the proprietary nVidia/ATI drivers in their official repo. That was one of the things that put me off a bit. Can’t say much about stability because it didn’t survive on my disk for very long. (Besides, my Gentoo is running extremely stable. Wouldn’t really recommend it to a Linux novice though. :P)

        • maweki says:

          Why is that? :D
          Had it as my first Linux when I was 13 and was cured of Linux for about 2 to 3 years. But this was the time when you were supposed to do a Stage1 and spend half a day compiling your toolchain. Another day to compile your desktop environment.
          Good times.

    • vonkrieger says:

      I was in the same boat, had ubuntu on my netbook about two years ago and it was very unreliable. It often wouldn’t wake out of sleep successfully and just felt shaky in general.

      However, I took the plunge recently and tried dual booting Ubuntu/Windows on my new laptop which I purchased a few months ago. (The lenovo T420, which in fairness is a very Linux friendly lappy.)

      I haven’t felt the need to boot into windows once. Todays Ubuntu is rock solid.

  23. aadi says:

    In the past I’ve dabbled with Linux but never taken it seriously. I was horrified at the clumsy touchscreen farce of Unity and GNOME 3 and glad to have Windows. I thought, GNOME can afford to go crazy; Microsoft is inherently conservative because it has billions to lose.

    Now that I’ve used Windows 8, I recognize the irony and see the danger of being subject to Microsoft’s whims. When GNOME went crazy, users who do actual work at Linux computers switched to other shells and carried on enjoying productivity. In Windows the shell and the kernel are inseparable. If you want kernel updates and ongoing driver support, you must accept Microsoft’s one and only shell.

    Personally, I don’t want to be a serf in Microsoft’s walled garden and can’t accept a shell that makes using my computer an awkward frustration. I do work with this thing. Life in Microsoft’s garden has been mostly good to me the last 20 years (I skipped ME and Vista) but my next OS will be Linux. (Probably Mint 13 Cinnamon.)

  24. RogerMellie says:

    Looking forward to the series so thanks! It’s as easy as it says to get it running. It’s now installed and I’m currently downloading updates as we speak. Not intending to game with it but just wanted to give it a bash.

  25. Ultra-Humanite says:

    I’ll take the option where I keep using Windows 7, thanks.

  26. rustybroomhandle says:

    Good article. PlayOnLinux is great, and WINE in general is getting rather a lot better than it used to be. However, the problem I seem to run into most of the time when trying to run Windows games under WINE, is DRM. Solutions (problems?) like Securom often make it impossible to get Windows games running under Linux.

  27. ScubaMonster says:

    Wine still isn’t an alternative, not unless it made significant leaps and bounds since I last tried it. Some things just simply don’t work, not just games but certain software as well. I had problems with Civ 4 that never got resolved (though it may be fixed now). The very latest games often don’t work until things get fixed. There is a list of compatible games that work fine with Wine, but that list is pretty short when you factor in all the games out there. I haven’t worked with Linux and Wine in over a year or so, so some of my complaints might be addressed, but I seriously doubt everything runs flawlessly either way. When I’m already running a perfectly good copy of Windows 7, there’s no reason to switch at all.

    It’s better than nothing but there is still no way I can switch to Linux 100%.

  28. rustybroomhandle says:

    For those who want to dabble, I would suggest sticking to Ubuntu and its derivatives, like the several-times mentioned Mint 13 (Cinnamon) or what I amusing DreamStudio, a media-centric distro. Reason is not because they are “better”, but because the community is huge and answers to any questions are just a search away.

    • aadi says:

      More advice for dabblers: download VirtualBox and virtualize whatever version(s) of Linux you’re curious about. Free, easy, no danger to your existing setup.

      • maweki says:

        Not the best advice, since you will never know whether your hardware is supported. Better do download a live-cd or live-usb-image and just boot into a live-system. Native hardware and still no installation to your disk.
        You can’t install additional software, but you know the driver’s states.

  29. The Random One says:

    “If Linux is ever going to work as a
    mainstream OS for Windows Gamers, it’s got to
    be 100% painless.”

    I… I misread that last word as “pantsless”.

    What does that say about me?

  30. vandinz says:

    Recently installed Linux (Ubuntu) on the bedroom PC to try it out. Then removed it and installed Windows 8 consumer release to compare it. Prefer Windows 8 I’m afraid. Very easy to use, no messing “setting things up” to get stuff to work and extremely fast, even on a below par PC which the bedroom computer is.

    Linux was OK but it’s no better than Windows so I don’t see the point in all the hastle to try and get Linux running the same as Windows, why bother? Also, if Linux ever becomes the number one OS then trust me, the money men will be in there like Flynn to ruin the experience. To be fair, Windows is not that expensive in the scheme of things and all updates are free, where’s the issue?

  31. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    For the record, most of the annoying differences between linux and windows is actually microsoft exploiting it’s monopoly by breaking compatability and forcing linux into not being able to be compatible with them with patents.

  32. skooma says:

    As someone who dual boots Mint, just install Windows and be done with it.

    I know my way around a CLI, and it takes me at least 2 hours to get anything done with Linux because I have to go back and forth with Google to get something to work.

    • Archonsod says:

      Funnily enough, I actually use bash or the Windows command prompt 90% of the time because these days the GUI’s are so bloated it’s far quicker than navigating through six or seven windows.

      Never had any issues getting Linux up and running either. Unlike Windows and Microsoft’s ‘pick a bunch of random numbers’ error code policy.

  33. dirtrobot says:

    The 4 pages of raging debate has convinced me that it’s clearly not a viable alternative.

    I’m a little bummed RPS has been sucked into the latest game journo faux drama because it generates so much ridiculous unfounded debate (on both sides) and attention (+ ad clicks!).

    I can’t wait for windows 8 to come out so everyone will STFU about linux vs. gabe vs. windows.

    • PopeJamal says:

      The problem is this: that’s not going to happen. Things aren’t going to just die down and be “OK”.

      Microsoft has always been passive-aggressive about cooperation in regards to standards because they can afford to since they pretty much “own” the desktop market. They have now decided to use that leverage to move forward with an agenda to turn their platform (the desktop computer) into a DRM filled, locked-in mess. End game for them is that you will not have a choice. That is worth repeating:

      You will not have a choice.

      You will have to use approved software on an approved operating system running on approved hardware. They’ll say it’s to protect you from the evil, evil hacker types, but in reality they will just be protecting you from having the option of giving people money who aren’t Microsoft.

      If you’re OK with that, then fine. Have fun. As a person who has feed his children by working in the computer industry for the last 12 years, that’s a very scary proposition.

      I can’t speak for everyone, but personally, I’m not trying to spread the word about this because I’m just being a difficult asshole. I’m not trying to be a contrary hipster. honestly, I’m not even doing it because I care about humanity or whatever. I’m doing it because I don’t want even more rich assholes having even more control over my daily life.

      I’ve invested better than 20 years into gaming and I’m not about to give up on it just because Microsoft want us all to buy all our games through Xbox Live and play them on overpriced consoles. Screw that, and screw them.

      • Jac says:

        I’m with dirtrobot on this.

        So you’re basically saying that you’ll switch to linux and happily buy your games in the new world through linux steam, which is essentially a DRM filled, locked in mess?

        If microsoft ever did go down the route of locking the windows desktop down so you had to buy everything through them then i’d gladly move to linux, but only if i then didnt have to buy all my games through valve.

        Never going to happen anyway. Microsoft would lose basically all their enterprise customers and would no doubt be torn a new one by the anti-monopoly bodies.

      • soldant says:

        Can we stop spreading this FUD? This is not happening with Windows 8 and it’s unlikely to happen with Windows 9. PC gaming will die long before Microsoft shoots itself in the foot with requiring x86 software to be certified. Valve’s fabricated outrage at the Windows Store should not be quoted as fact.

        Furthermore, the advocates for a hypothetical SteamOS are effectively looking for the same arrangement as we currently have under Windows 8, except it’s Steam/Valve, not Microsoft. In terms of pricing that might be better, but in terms of principle it’s the same thing and therefore wrong (apparently). It’s no wonder Valve would currently like Linux to be a successful platform for gaming – they’d effectively own the market for Linux gaming without any real competitors. There’s no benevolence here, it’s all business.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Indeed. Gabe is not, in fact, Santa. He’s an ex-Microsoft businessman; a very good one. That doesn’t make him automatically evil either, but this is very much him spotting and reacting against threatening competition.

      • Solidstate89 says:

        *SniffSniff*

        Whoo-whee. That is one massive pile of bullshit right there. At least two stories tall.

    • uh20 says:

      funny thing is your comment actually started a debate…

      why can people not agree free is better, especially when its .99 to 1 performance

  34. Hans Kisaragi says:

    Wine should not be promoted. Its not a solution its a delay and a hinder to the real problem.

    getting real native games..

    Valve is moving in the right direction.

    • Emeraude says:

      Agreed to a point: Wine is taking more resources than it should, but it’s still a very useful piece of software which many of us are glad exists.

  35. MythArcana says:

    If developers would just stay away from the dreaded DirectX extortion trick, we could stay on Win7 and avoid Win8 completely…but they won’t. There’s a whole wave of $1.99 games they need to push on the tablets and money is more important than integrity and quality these days.

    I won’t be on Linux as I need functionality. I won’t be on Windows 8 as I have a brain and no trendy tablet. That leaves Windows 7 until someone pulls their head out of their ass (and that probably won’t be MS).

  36. Jahandar says:

    As a long time linux user at work and home (I keep two PCs on my desk), I am really excited to see this trend and where it might lead. One of the biggest hurdles is support from the larger companies like NVIDIA, with their drivers often lagging behind.

    It was always a chicken and egg scenario. Gamers aren’t ready to jump in until the driver/software support is there. Companies don’t want to to invest the time/money unless the gamers are there.

    Hopefully with Valve just jumping out there they will be the catalyst to break this stalemate and get things moving.

  37. Roshin says:

    I have run Ubuntu on a couple of previous machines, but for whatever reason I can’t do anything with the current version of Ubuntu. It installs fine, but refuses to recognize any of my USB ports, which leaves me with no keyboard or mouse. I’ve tried plugging them into every port, but no luck. There is nothing actually wrong with the ports either. They work fine in Windows 7. I’d like to make the jump to Linux, but right now it’s impossible.

    • jamesgecko says:

      I’ve had that happen to me a few times. I rebooted, went into the BIOS menu, and enabled “USB Legacy Support” (or something like that) and it started working. Sometimes there’s also option for “PNP enabled OS” or “Plug and Play OS”, so try that too.

  38. Sayori says:

    WINE cannot run higher than 9.0c officially. I’ve seen instructions on their wiki and forum but can’t really confirm if it’s a legit.

  39. Spiny says:

    I’ve tried the Windows 8 trial in a VM and I’d encourage anyone here to do the same. I thought it was horrible. I’m steering clear until I see what Win 9 is like. Windows 8′s worst enemy is Windows 7, it’s just too damn good.

    I like Linux on the other hand too & just wish it was better at games. Looks like there’s been strides of progress made. If you’re trying out Ubuntu and don’t like the Unity interface (the big icon dock thingy on the left), then I can thoroughly recommend installing Cinamon for something more familiar. Indeed, you can switch between any number of desktop UIs you have installed right from the login screen. As an alternative to Ubuntu check out Linux Mint which comes in a few flavours (all minty, one of them Cinamon :))

    I’ve got Ubuntu on dual boot so I may just play along with this series! :)

    • Solidstate89 says:

      I’ve used it quite extensively as far as back as the Dev Preview, re-installed the Consumer Preview when that was released and finalized my trial with it by installing the Release Preview.

      I honestly quite enjoy it. The start page is just that – a giant page-sized start menu. Nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing you need to go to the Metro page to access except for pinned programs or to do a search. Everything else can be accessed by right clicking on the bottom left corner instead of left clicking.

      It’s really just a leaner Windows 7 with a full-page start menu. All this hate it receives is completely alien to me.

  40. U-99 says:

    I wonder what’s up with this fuss about Windows 8? Gabe Newell made a lot of noise, but he never explained, what exactly was wrong with it. It’s very unmature and strange behaviour for such a big man. If you accuse something or someone you need to show some proof, or you’re just talking bullshit. I had some experience with Linux, can’t say I liked that.

    • InternetBatman says:

      A lot of people don’t like the UI, and many don’t like the fact that a store is bundled into it and access is restricted to certain basic parts of the UI in favor of the store.

      • soldant says:

        Modern apps (formerly Metro) can only be sold through the Windows store, much the same as iOS apps. Curiously though I’m running the RTM, and when I installed the beta of Google Chrome it also installed a Modern UI version of Chrome which isn’t on the Store. Gabe is making noise because apparently stores aren’t allowed unless they’re Steam.

        Also people don’t like the UI, which is a separate issue, and has some merit.

  41. Beelzebud says:

    Any article about Linux should start out like this: If you hate using your computer, Linux is not for you. However if you love computers, take the plunge!

    Once you go Slack, you never go back.

  42. Tei says:

    Game devs… are not very good at writing multi-platform friendly code, to say the less.

    Its not rare to find a game website that don’t even work on chrome, firefox and safari, and need f^^ing Internet Explorer. So go figure.

    • dirtrobot says:

      That’s because it’s pretty much impossible to do it elegantly without requiring months of work. Unless you’re self-publishing there’s no way you’re going to be able to convince a publisher to throw you a few more bucks so you can appease the group of linux hobbyists with a port. Nevermind directx vs. opengl usability issues.

      The steam library will not survive the theoretical leap to linux without 99% casualties.

  43. Dog Pants says:

    Is that a Sir, You Are Being Hunted background I see?

  44. costa says:

    Why so much animosity for using the command line? For some tasks, it’s far more efficient and intuitive than a GUI. A straight rule like “No Command Line Allowed For Anything!” seems pretty closed-minded to me.

    • jonfitt says:

      Every press of a key on the command line is a branching 95-way (ish) choice where each choice is critical and none is explained. It’s more efficient if you know what you’re doing, but it always assumes you know what you’re doing and offers little to no help if you don’t.
      I would not want to use a system without one (I use it on Windows more than most), but the occasions where it is needed should be in the very small percentages for an operating system suitable for most.

  45. jonfitt says:

    I’ve bounced off Linux a few times over the years.
    The first time was back when people used modems. I found out that my modem was unbeknownst to me the bad kind that had proprietary drivers and would maybe possibly work if I tinkered and recompiled the kernel. I have no fear of the command-line, but I will not be re-compiling the kernel. Kthxbai.
    -
    The next few times were in the modern age of the home router and I got everything up and running with a dual boot, but just found no reason to boot into Linux. There was nothing it could do that Windows XP couldn’t, and Windows XP had all the games. Once the novelty wore off I uninstalled.
    -
    Essentially my home PC is a games box, and I want whatever operating system gives me the easiest, fastest, access to the most games. I can see how Linux could fill that need, it could operate faster with less bloat than Windows, but until all or even more games work on it I’ll also need Windows, so what’s the point?
    Why not keep using Windows 7 until it’s 10 years old like XP?

    • soldant says:

      Because XP was in dire need of replacement to avoid being stuck in a tech backwater where they kept bolting things onto an ageing kernel that needed to die. MS bungled the release of Vista (or to be more accurate, they fell short of Longhorn) but driver manufacturers have to shoulder the blame there too.

      But otherwise I agree with your post and it highlights one critical point – any assumption by Valve or Linux fans of a mass exodus to Linux assumes that Linux offers some significant benefit in the move. People are comfortable with what they have, and they’re not going to uproot everything that they use just because Valve wants them to use Linux/SteamOS. Linux doesn’t let me do anything different than Windows for my PC usage habits, even if Steam was on Linux. Why would I switch? It’d be painful learning a new file system, finding new apps, etc just to say “Hey guys, I’m running Linux.”

  46. belgand says:

    Sadly the move of Ubuntu to Unity has caused numerous headaches, especially with regards to drivers. I had plenty of problems before Precise came out and then once it did it caused new problems… in a Long-Term Stability release! Not minor ones either, but the entire screen coming up blank every time. Something that was reported by a large number of users. Clearly they didn’t do very thorough testing since this is supposed to be considered stable for installations for… what, three years?

    It’s not even just myself. A friend of mine who works as a reliability engineer for Google was complaining the other day about his day-long wrangling with Unity just to get it to display properly without breaking.

    Ubuntu is trying to rip-off Apple with their terrible interface and it’s clearly still quite half-baked. Pushing new users to Linux right now, especially users that will have demanding graphics needs is a bad idea as it could easily end up turning people off from Linux for good.

  47. kasztelan says:

    The fun part is that using various Linux distros almost exclusively for more than half of my “computer life” I find Windows very cumbersome. I cannot really understand why you need to search Google for decent DVD player (which takes considerable amount of time, since a lot of top results are trails/spyware/younameit) and then trouble yourself about updating it manually.

    I feel it’s the same about Mac-Windows switching — even Mac power users find it hard to find their way around Windows desktop.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      Conversely I find Linux and Mac rather cumbersome to work around.

      And what’s all this about DVD players? WMP plays them by default out of the box. And if you want a third party, nothing like using MPC-HC. I fail to see what your point is.

  48. rustybroomhandle says:

    I foresee confusion though – Ubuntu’s desktop environment is called Unity, and they’re talking at Unite 2012 – the Unity 3D conference in Amsterdam this week about using Unity 3D to build/deploy games to Linux users on Ubuntu.

    There’s also a Linux distro called Unity.

    TOO MUCH UNITY !!!!

    • TheWhippetLord says:

      “TOO MUCH UNITY !!!!”
      First time I’ve seen that allegation about the Linux community… :P

  49. Solidstate89 says:

    I’ve messed around with Mint quite a bit but it still doesn’t do it for me. Come the fall, I’m taking advantage of the 40 dollar upgrade to Windows 8. I do always like reading stuff like this so I’ll keep my ear to the ground for the next installment.

  50. uh20 says:

    ahh yes, i have been using ubuntu (xfce desktop) for quite a while now for both a game server and a desktop
    for servers, its ****ing amazing
    for general desktop usage, its probably better than windows8 will even be
    for gaming, not so good, but possible for most
    for special actions like disabling gui, multiseat computing, its there, unlike windows, but could use some polish for non-command line use

    in conclusion: MAKE GAME COMPANIES MAKE GAMES VALVE!!!