The Problems We Had With Windows Gaming On Linux

By RPS on September 4th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.


RPS chum James Carey has been losing himself in the land of Linux, and looking at the highs and lows of using a gaming OS that is not Windows. You can read part one of his adventures with getting the operating set up and running just here. This latest article looks at some of the problems he encountered. James is a veteran gamer, but – like many of us – only a Linux dabbler.

Last time I encouraged you all to try Linux for gaming. I firmly believe we’re going to need it if the open and democratic PC gaming culture I grew up in is to exist in the future. But it’s not an easy transition to make. There are huge expectations to mountaineer over, and the terrain is riddled with deep command line crevasses to fall into. But if you have the right stuff, there’s quite a view. Come with me for a ramble.

I left you in high spirits, PlayOnLinux looked like offering me my existing Windows game library on Linux with minimum hassle, the Ubuntu desktop wasn’t THAT hard to get used to. There were even some nice native Linux games like TeeWorlds to enjoy – games that I’d never have played if I hadn’t tried a new OS. (Yes, there’s a Windows version, but I only found out about the game through Ubuntu’s Software Centre).

Predictably, though, things got less rosy pretty quickly.


The Wubi installer for Ubuntu was great in that it was a hassle-free install of Ubuntu to my second HDD right from inside Win7, but it had created a tiny partition for the new OS. I needed more space if I was going to install games. I decided to remove the existing Ubuntu installation entirely, opting instead for a straight up install of Ubuntu on the second drive, installing directly from a CD rather than the Wubi Windows installer. This apparently has the added benefit of improving speeds in Ubuntu, though I haven’t been doing anything intensive enough to notice any radical boost since making the switch.

This second attempt at installing Linux was if anything even smoother than using Wubi, as I had the option of auto-downloading proprietary drivers (like nVidia) and updates during the install. Once it was all up and running I could get back to using PlayOnLinux to install some games.


I hadn’t really been pushing things with the first attempt. Having installed Mount&Blade and the original AVP (a game which I can’t get to work in Win7 but runs very happily in Ubuntu), I thought it was about time to push for a little more graphicsability. Medieval 2 Total War installed smoothly (another game I have trouble getting to work on Win7), but when I tried ArmA2 I hit the wall.

There wasn’t a PlayOnLinux install script for this game, so getting it to run was down to my own fiddling, forum-scouring and guess-work. There hadn’t been an install script for Medieval 2 or AVP either, but both those worked without any tweaking. A slightly more modern game like Arma2 obviously required more attention. Back to the forums. Back to messing around with settings, adding libraries randomly in the hope they were the missing element. Back, in short, to faffing around blindly in Linux just so I can play a game.

All my optimism about the ease of using Linux was evaporating. But more experiments were required to be sure that this was going to be the pain it seemed to be: I tried a DX10 game, nothing punishing, just Crysis 1. It was the same story. Eventually I did manage to get into both of these games, but neither is working properly yet, with missing textures and crashes being common to both.


I also thought it was about time to install some voice comms. Fortunately, I use Mumble for most of my gaming comms and there’s a native install for Linux. But even this native software is problematic. Depressingly, installation required a command line. It was, of course, the easiest possible line you can imagine “sudo apt-get install mumble” is all you needed to type to get it installed, but so much for never having to use the terminal…

Comms woes were only just getting started though. Turning to the trusty Hero Squad RPS Mumble server I bothered some DOTA players for a mic check. No joy. Some hours going through audio settings wizards and sound manager settings got me nowhere, the root problem being that output sound was somehow being fed directly back to input in a horrible feedback loop. Nothing to do with the mic picking up the speakers mind you, some more fundamental gremlin. Cue more trips to the terminal, more managers installed and tweaked with, more failure. Balls to it. I’ve given up for now, but I’ll get it working eventually.


I’d also got tired of having to change the boot order of my drives in bios to switch between booting Linux and Windows. Wubi’s dual boot set up had automatically created a bootloader for the first attempt, but my fresh install onto the second drive had no such thing. I wasn’t going to live with that. Plunging headfirst into terminal-love I actually attempted to manually edit the boot menu, pointing to the windows drive, the partition, even the sector, in code, creating my own menu entry for the Win7 installation. Somehow it worked. Somehow I’d done something slightly clever. Something Linuxy. As someone said in the comments last time, memories of editing HIMEM and CONFIG.SYS came back, this low level tinkering was somehow familiar. Not exactly pleasant, but doable. Achievable. Within my abilities. If push came to shove, I could do this…

This, then, is the rub: Forget the fantasy of using Linux for gaming without really having to try, or without problems. That’s something that isn’t going to happen until, perhaps, Valve officially add Steam to the OS, and even then you’ll still only have access to certain games.

So where does this leave us in future? Where now for prospective Linux-using gamers? Well, with SOME Steam games you can play on Linux, but all the above difficulties I had for everything else. It’s that or accept the route that MS want to take Windows and stick with them. Or just stick with Win7 for as long as that OS can last. But eventually Win7 will loose support and we’ll have to hope that whatever MS replaces Win8 with takes a step back in terms of openness and interface.


That makes me glum. I feel like I have to make a choice: I have to choose whether to hope for a desktop-friendly, openness-supporting change of heart from MS, or to try and make a go of Linux in preparation. Maybe with Valve behind it and a bunch of new Unity driven games coming to it, there’ll be a more general uptake of development for Linux and a real movement could begin, not limited to Steam games. Linux really could be the new and open home for PC gamers.

But even if that happens, not everyone will come along for the ride. I see the PC gaming culture I grew up in being squeezed out into fundamentalism. The Middle Class of PC Gamers (highly Windows-literate but not really that techy when you get right down to it), disappearing. You either go full blown tech-head and relearn computing in Linux, or you just accept the new locked down paradigms of Windows, Mac, and Steam.

I want to choose choice. Even with all the trouble I’ve had and the failures I’ve faced. I’m going to keep messing around in Linux and hope that I’m not too old to learn new tricks. I hope you’ll all come with me.

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216 Comments »

  1. klmx says:

    Penguinface?

  2. simoroth says:

    For a long time I had my hopes set on React OS http://www.reactos.org/en/index.html A fully binary compatible replacement for Windows. Sadly the project is still barely a prototype.

    That said, if XP can last us ten years, I’m pretty sure Windows 7 will last us a good decade or two. At least until Microsoft comes crawling back or Apple swallows the world.

    I hear they even forced the metro interface on server users. …it boggles the mind.

    • Cinek says:

      I REALLY wish that one would succeed, as currently it seems to be the only reasonable alternative to Microsoft Windows rule. And independent OS being compatible with windows software is a win-win for everyone.
      We don’t need another OS from UNIX family, seen dozens of them, all failed for being good alternative to Windows on desktop PCs. Can’t wait for something refreshing the market. At least a little bit.

    • DrazharLn says:

      React OS is vapourware, furthermore, replicating the whole wimdows environment is a pretty odd thing for an open source project to be doing. We already have a better software environment. The way forwards would ideally be to get game developers to use the great tools we already have.

      Edit: I meant to say “environment for software”, as in, linux is a better environment for software to exist in. I do also think that linux has better software than windows, but that’s a more debatable point.

      I try not to be the typical windows hater. Windows 7 wasn’t that bad, but I prefer the philosophy and practicalities of linux.

      • LionsPhil says:

        we already have a better software environment

        This kind of “Micro$oft Winblows is crap” attitude is one of many reasons why Linux is doomed to forever be behind the curve—too much of the community (sadly, mostly including the developers) have their heads stuck too far up their politics to even look at the competition since Windows ’95.

        That, and this wonderful article. Which is, incidentally, why Valve are in for fun with Steam-for-Linux.

        • gunnarflax says:

          That guy has been using Mac for several years and have been fighting hard to get Linux to embrace Windows technology (Mono, Moonlight). The API changes issue is much his own fault since he was one of the creators and developers of the GNOME Desktop Environment and it’s their API’s that are constantly changing, not the Linux kernel. So yeah, that guy *really* knows what he’s talking about…

          • LionsPhil says:

            Yeah, I know. Possible blindness to being part of the problem aside, the problem stated is correct.

            Also, the kernel thrashes constantly. Internally, it’s outright philosophy, which is one reason why nVidia et. al. have a hard time of it (although it’s hard to feel too much sympathy given the state of their Windows drivers isn’t stellar either). It’s better externally, but not perfect; header files in particular have been shuffled about (although this is mostly something for libc and out-of-tree drivers to worry about, and libc ends up insulating most userland software from kernel changes), and the gratuitous version bump to 3.x—while absolutely trivial—also confused a bunch of stuff, mostly that assumed that code targetting 2.x kernels wouldn’t work unmodified on 3.x so it should bomb out as unsupported during build.

        • Kaira- says:

          Relevant discussion about the article, featuring comments from Alan Cox, Linus himself and Miguel. This especially is relevant:

          That made me laugh. There was KDE and Miguel then came along and created the very confusion he’s ranting about. He was also core to ramming CORBA down peoples throats which then had to be extracted slowly back out of the resulting mess that blighted Gnome 2.x and occupied vast amounts of developer time.

          He’s dead right about the way the Gnome people keep breaking their compatiblity eveyr time not just with the apps but with the UI, with the config (which is still worse now than in Gnome 1.x !) and so on.

          However it’s not an Open Source disease its certain projects like Gnome disease – my 3.6rc kernel will still run a Rogue binary built in 1992. X is back compatible to apps far older than Linux.

          And Linus had this to say:

          The gnome people claiming that I set the “attitude” that causes them problems is laughable.

          One of the core kernel rules has always been that we never ever break any external interfaces. That rule has been there since day one, although it’s gotten much more explicit only in the last few years. The fact that we break internal interfaces that are not visible to userland is totally irrelevant, and a total red herring.

          I wish the gnome people had understood the real rules inside the kernel. Like “you never break external interfaces” – and “we need to do that to improve things” is not an excuse.

          Or “different users have different needs”. The kernel was – and is – happy to support both the SGI style thousand-CPU machines and the embedded vendors with cellphones and routers. The fact that they have different needs is very obvious.

          I personally think that one reason that the Linux kernel has been so successful was the fact that I didn’t have a huge vision of where I wanted to force people to go. Sure, I wanted “unix”, and there are some very high-level concepts that go with that (fork,exec,files etc), but I didn’t want to enforce any particular world-view outside of that very generic pattern.

          • FrankGrimesy says:

            I really don’t think you should hand wave away the critique of Miguel de Icaza.

            Especially because Alan Cox does agree to the position, that GNOME does break the ABI too frequently. But whatever, he insulted Linux so he has to burn …

            Argh, this was meant to be a reply to the other guy, attacking the messenger (even though he readily concedes doing certain things wrong in the past).

          • Kaira- says:

            If GNOME breaks ABI, it’s GNOME’s fault. Kernel doesn’t break ABI. And the kernel is Linux.

          • Cinek says:

            Kaira – you see, people don’t give a *** what broken what. Thing is that: things don’t work and noone really knows why nor why is that, including the developers. Things like that repel people from Linux like nothing else.

          • FrankGrimesy says:

            Sorry, but there are serveral things you mixed up.

            The kernel internal ABI/API is subject to change. We can discuss this, but it is a lost cause because Linus said so.

            The kernel external ABI doesn’t change.

            But neither was criticized by Miguel. It was criticized that the user mode developers did adopt the approach of the internal API/ABI. And that because of this ‘we can change the API/ABI anytime we want’ the developers got frustrated and turned their back on the platform.

            Why?

            Because developers do use user-mode libraries and not the linux kernel directly to write their programs. And if those change every 2 years, you get into the cycle of continuously adjusting your programs for newer library versions, breaking APIs and deprecated functions. This is bad.

            Sorry, but I won’t change my program just to connect to linux audio api #4 when it did work fine with linux audio api #3. I just don’t have the time, I have to work for my money.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Yes. And the unfortunate fact is that while GNOME is not Linux, and isn’t even GNU/Linux, it *is* “Linux” as shipped as a desktop OS. It and its FreeDesktopisms are part of your “Linux” even if you run KDE or XFCE these days. In 12.04 even my damn Ubuntu Server install has dbus and accountsservice.

        • roryok says:

          that actually was a wonderful article. Thanks!

      • simoroth says:

        Oh I agree, but that wont make the 4000 or so PC games on Steam suddenly recompile themselves for the Linux desktop. :(

        I’m going to be testing Maia on as many Linux setups as possible, its daunting, but Linux users are always the most appreciative.

      • futage says:

        Moreover, ReactOS uses Wine’s code to provide DX stuff. So it’s never going to be a much better solution than Linux+Wine anyway.

    • FrankGrimesy says:

      ReactOS has the problem of reproducing the windows API bug for bug, which even MS with more then 10x the manpower cannot guarantee 100% (as we all know ..).

      That is a doomed project from the start.

  3. Goker says:

    Mount&Blade! \o/

  4. varangian says:

    >Wubi’s dual boot set up had automatically created a bootloader for the first attempt, but my fresh install onto the second drive had no such thing.

    Perhaps you just missed the option on install? It’s perhaps a bit too easy to do, on the dialog where you choose which partition(s) to install Ubuntu to there’s a dropdown that selects where the bootloader is going to go. As I recall it defaults to the disk where you’re installing Linux but presumably you had your Windows disk set up as the primary boot so it wouldn’t do much good there. On the plus side you can wear your ‘I reconfigured Grub and didn’t nuke the system’ T-shirt with pride.

    • LionsPhil says:

      To be honest, I’d say the two independent bootloaders approach is a lot better: for one thing, you can pull either drive out of the system and still boot off of the other fine. Keep separate environments separate and reduce the scope for awkward problems to emerge.

      Even my motherboard from ten years ago lets me choose which drive to boot off of by thumping a key (usually F8 or F12) during POST, without having to go through the more involved and permanent process of actually changing the default boot order to CMOS.

      • ColOfNature says:

        If you’re on two different drives you might as well keep the two bootloaders and set the bios to boot the Linux drive, then have grub chainload the Windows mbr as needed. That way you set the boot order once and you’re good forever, but you can still yank either drive and have a working system.

  5. gunnarflax says:

    I’m sorry but this article is rather ridiculous. First of all, if you can install mumble through the command line, you can install it in the Ubuntu Software Center, they use the same repositories so you could just have searched for mumble there and clicked install.

    Secondly, the boot loader should recognize the other installed operating systems immediately, but if you don’t install it to the MBR then it is Window’s bootloader that starts and it must be manually edited. Ubuntu’s bootloader does everything automatically, Window’s don’t.

    Thirdly, you can’t base the “gaming on linux” experience on playing windows games in linux. That’s like saying “Hey, I put this ps3 game in my xbox and it doesn’t work, xbox suck!” You should base this experience on playing native Linux games. Wine (which you use as a compatibility layer between the windows games and linux) is not a preferable way of playing games since the games are not native to the platform.

    EDIT:
    You are making everything too complicated for yourself, probably the sound settings in the System Settings application will be enough to get the audio working correctly. Don’t just google around since you might confuse answers meant for other distributions. I recommend that you first check askubuntu.com

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      > Thirdly, you can’t base the “gaming on linux” experience on playing windows games in linux.

      We’re not, and you miss the point. This *is* an series of articles about Windows gaming on Linux. Hence: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/08/21/how-easy-is-it-to-play-windows-games-on-linux/

    • jezcentral says:

      But most of the games that most of us want to play (surely the point of the article?) are written for Windows.

      EDIT: Oh well, if I’ve been Ninja’d, at least I’ve been Ninja’d by the best.

      • sophof says:

        Yes, which is why you shouldn’t use linux to play games currently. The fact that you can still play quite a lot of windows games, even if it often requires some work, is a plus, not a negative. The big negative is that there are hardly any native games.
        It might sound like nitpicking, but the difference is important and the aim of this article therefore a bit useless. As someone else said, just imagine that you could play some PS3 games on your xbox with some work, that would be regarded as a plus I hope? However, the fact that the xbox is not made for PS3 games would make it a pretty big negative for playing those games.

        It further enforces the stereotype that linux is all commandline and ‘hackery’, which is simply not true in the case of the ubuntu distro, it is just different.

    • Anarki says:

      Name a native linux game that anyone apart from you has heard of?

      • Kaira- says:

        Amnesia. Penumbras. Doom 3. Jagged Alliance 2. Neverwinter Nights.

      • Kirby says:

        Unreal Tournament 2004.

      • byteCrunch says:

        99% of the games in every Humble Indie Bundle (some have been flash *spit*), not to mention numerous other native linux versions of various games.

        • Cinek says:

          lol, hope it’s just a joke. It’s hardly a proof for anything, the fact that some niche games run on Linux.

          • Swyyw says:

            Sorry for the ad hominem, but why are you here? Indie games is like half of what this site covers.

          • gunnarflax says:

            The main issue for the majority of games not being supported on Linux (or mac) is that few of the proprietary game engines have support for them. Unreal Engine 3 had a port made by Ryan ‘Icculus’ Gordon but that one was never released (no one knows why). The same with World Of Warcraft. Now CryEngine3 (http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTA4Mjk), Source and Unity all have Linux support up their sleeves so it’ll be interesting to see how the situation will look in 3 years.

          • rustybroomhandle says:

            Bastion and Psychonauts are niche?

          • Cinek says:

            gunnarflax – I heard texts like that ever since the age of Win 95SE.
            Sorry, but there won’t be any dramatic change in next few years or so.

            Swyyw – for the other half, kickstarter news, and some quality games (which are extremely rare among indies – Bastion (being semi-indie) is probably one of these few gems that go above usual mud).

          • uh20 says:

            ohhhh, so that means you will be missing out on blops2, and microsofts famed directx11, look, the gaming scene is not good, but you have to collapse the entire world tech wise before you get a better resolve then what microsoft is pushing us through

          • PopeJamal says:

            Honestly, most of my gamer dollars went to “indie” devs so far in 2012 because most of the “mainstream” games are shit. I’ve only been interested in “niche” titles anyway, so losing access to Manshoot Vol 35: isn’t a big loss. To each his own I guess.

      • gunnarflax says:

        Left 4 Dead 2, Heroes Of Newerth

      • mrwout says:

        Heroes of Might & Magic III

      • Shivoa says:

        Name a game that has been in an indie bundle, chances are it got ported to Linux (one of the interesting things those bundles help pay for is expanding indie titles to Linux).

        To guarantee a game (with a native Linux version) that you’ve heard of I’d Google Ryan ‘icculus’ Gordon

      • DAdvocate says:

        The replies above tend to prove Anarki’s point, every example is either an old Windows game ported over the Linux as an afterthought or a small indie title which needs every sale they can get.

        As a fan of games like HoMM3, do you not think I’d also want to play HoMM 4, 5 or 6, none of which have been ported to Linux (I know WINE *can* work with 4 and 5 if you’re willing to work at it, but there are no native versions).

        I don’t mean to diss Linux, it has it’s advantages, it’s just that gaming is not one of them.

        • gunnarflax says:

          Please refer to my reply to Cinek. Windows users has lots of preconceptions for Linux that it isn’t a good platform since games aren’t made for it. It’s just as good if not better (http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/linux/faster-zombies/). it’s simply a political issue and legal issue (S3TC texure compression). Microsoft has tried very hard to become the biggest through marketing such as “Windows/xbox exclusive”. But I urge to give it a go, it’s not hard at all if try you Ubuntu by installing it through Windows (as James did in the first article of this series)

        • Shivoa says:

          His point was “Name a native linux game that anyone apart from you has heard of?” and people named a shedload of games with native Linux version that everyone has heard of.

          So I’d go with the opposite of prove: contradict. The above comments all contradict and disprove his point. Because there are many games with native Linux versions and you may notice a lot of that work has been accelerating recently. All it would require is a few more large engines to decide to support it (all major engines have OGL code paths for PS3 or even OS X so this is less work than some people think – it’s blocked on a perceived lack of demand and yet Humble bundles seem to show there are a lot of people who run Linux and like to give people money for games).

        • DAdvocate says:

          @gunnarflax I’ve had Linux installed in various guises for over a decade so I don’t speak from ignorance when I complain about gaming on Linux. My experience is similiar to the article in that Linux gaming is really just Windows gaming from a few years ago with a lot more hassle getting stuff to work.

          @Shivoa you’re being pedantic, Anarki was (poorly) trying to illustrate how limited the native Linux game selection is and the replies have demonstrated that in abundance with the need to stretch back to titles such as Doom. Was this supposed to convince me that Linux is a contemporary gaming platform?

          I also think you are being wildly optimistic in your forecast, Windows is so dominant in gaming that anyone interested in playing games has already been forced to use Windows, so why go through the cost of porting anything to Linux unless it’s for an old game as a PR exercise? Second, games are buggy enough trying to handle multiple PC configurations with Windows, how much worse do you expect it to be on the multiple distrubition world of Linux?

          • gunnarflax says:

            I’m not saying that gaming (as in game support) on Linux is on pair with Windows. I’m just saying that it’s not as bad as Windows users usually says it is. I’d say that it’s better on Linux then on Mac. Mac only supports… what is it, OpenGL 2.1?

            The majority of all distributions are based on Ubuntu so if you target Ubuntu you most certainly get support for a couple of hundred distributions. The thing is that people won’t have to port their games to Linux themselves if their game engine supports it (CryEngine3, Source, Unity, etc.)

          • Kaira- says:

            I think you meant to say that majority are based on Debian, not Ubuntu. ;)

          • gunnarflax says:

            Alright, Debian/Ubuntu :) but Debian isn’t the distribution being targeted by e.g. Valve and hardly any other gaming company, which was why I said Ubuntu :)

          • Sakkura says:

            @Kaira
            Cue Slackware and Red Hat protests.

          • ColOfNature says:

            Gentoooooooo!!!

          • PopeJamal says:

            I think what you fail to realize is that Microsoft has less and less of an interest in ALLOWING you to play games on your beloved PC. Why should they allow you to play Battlefield 7 on your PC when they can essentially force you to play it on Xbox 4 or whatever? All they have to do is wave an envelope filled with money under EA’s nose and it’s a done deal.

            Once these games are only available on consoles, then they’ve got you on the line for:
            -A console purchase (that’s their custom hardware, so no money to people like asus, etc)
            -A controller purchase (might be included with the console)
            -A registered CC number for purchases in their walled garden
            -A fat percentage of the sale price of the game (once the PC is out of the picture, it will be really easy to justify a $80 – $100 standard for AAA games. DLC and nickel-and-dime FTW!)
            Why would they NOT want to do that?

            As a bonus, they’ll be able to use your own “linux sucks at games” argument against you:

            “Why should we make a PC version? The titles always get released late so it’s not contemporary and it always has more bugs than the console version. It’s just so much more complicated!”

          • Archonsod says:

            “My experience is similiar to the article in that Linux gaming is really just Windows gaming from a few years ago with a lot more hassle getting stuff to work. ”

            By the same token, you could say Windows gaming is really just Xbox gaming from a few months ago with a lot more hassle getting stuff to work.

            It’s something of a moot point in the first place though. The quality of gaming depends entirely on the gamer. The latest AAA game is unlikely to appear on Linux on release, but not everyone actually cares about that. In fact, there’s plenty of people around here that, to read their posts, appear stuck in 1998 in the first place.

          • DAdvocate says:

            @PopeJamal Here are a few facts for you:
            Q3 2011 Revenue for Microsoft
            – Windows & Windows Live: $4.445 billion
            – Server & Tools: $4.104 billion
            – Business: $5.252 billion
            – Online Services Business: $648 million
            – Entertainment & Devices: $1.935 billion
            The revenue from the 360 is a subset of the Entertainment revenue, which as a whole makes up only ~10% of Microsofts revenue. One of Windows greatest strengths is the support they provide to 3rd part developers to produce and sell software on Windows without hinderence, so you genuinely believe they would risk screwing all that to increase console sales? Perhaps you should take off your tin foil hat.

            @Archonsod “By the same token, you could say Windows gaming is really just Xbox gaming from a few months ago with a lot more hassle getting stuff to work.”
            Let’s compare Linux to Windows with Windows to the XBox.
            - Any game you play on Linux has long since been released on Windows, this is untrue for Windows/XBox where ports constitute only a small proportion of recent game releases.
            - Linux can only offer to match the Windows gameplay experience (which is often unattainable due to the emulation penalty). Again this is untrue for Windows/XBox which offers far better graphics and a different control scheme.
            Finally in regards to your point about gamers being patient, if you are reading and commenting on a video game website, then you probably care about playing new releases within the decade they were made, especially when the delay will only result in an inferior emulated version.

      • mashakos says:

        I’m one of those people who feel that the Windows native game collection is anemic. Compared to Linux? Yeesh!

        As an OS for cutting edge web or server side software development (among a vast array of other quite impressive real world applications) there is no contest: Linux wins handily. There is no need for you die hard Linux fans to try convincing people it’s also good at other things like, I don’t know, browsing the web or typing a grocery list. The people who appreciate linux are already using it. Hence why most embedded devices run on custom linux distros, and why some version of Linux is practically installed anywhere great work is being done in a computer related field.

        • futage says:

          I think you’re missing the point of this article by a mile.

          The premise is that gaming is coming to Linux. Valve are porting Steam to Linux and talking about it as the future of PC gaming. While that might not entirely come to fruition, we’re almost certainly going to get Steam for Linux, with Left 4 Dead 2 at launch and presumably the rest of the Source based games to follow along with all the games that are already on Steam which have native Linux versions (not many AAA titles but a decent proportion of indie games).

          The assumption is: Some of us, those of us who would like to play more games on Linux, would like to make preparations for this. These articles are an exploration of that, from the standpoint of a user who is very used to Windows but largely unfamiliar with Linux. There are inaccuracies in the articles but I think these serve as indications of where Linux is getting it wrong (in terms of new users), where it’s confusing people.

          So no, Linux isn’t particularly good for gaming, currently. There are, of course, native Linux games but they’re generally not very good (a crass generalisation of course but I’ve been using Linux for 20 odd years and gaming for longer than I care to remember, so it’s a crass generalisation based on experience). There are some great games on Linux, even a few for which Linux is the predominant platform. But there’s obviously nothing like the breadth and depth of choice on Windows and any suggestion that a ‘serious’ gamer would be content with Linux only games is ridiculous.

          However, back to the first paragraph, if Valve succeed then this will all change pretty rapidly. Look how fast OSX opened up as a gaming platform when it got Steam. Of course it’s not even close to catching up with Windows but… it’s at the point where a gamer wouldn’t mind spending extended periods on OSX. That’s hopefully where Linux will be in a year or two, and that’s what these articles are in preparation for.

          • Bent Wooden Spoon says:

            This is the most spot on comment in this thread so far.

          • mashakos says:

            “I think you’re missing the point of this article by a mile.”

            1) I assume you are replying to my comment directly above your answer. My reply was a response to a general opinion voiced by Linux fans – “gaming is fine on Linux, we have a ton of stuff to keep us happy”
            2) I remember when a bunch of nerds were excited about a Linux distro for the Amiga (that was 21 years ago for the kids here). I will say this: Linux will never become a viable PC gaming platform unless the current PC gaming ecosystem has collapsed or is near collapse.
            Might not be a bad thing really, the music industry was in turmoil after P2P sharing got popular, then the iPod and iTunes came along. Now we have $.99 singles.

            As things stand though, Linux will remain a very niche / imaginary platform for gaming. There, I called it.

          • futage says:

            Yeah, sorry mashakos. My comment was partly in response to you and partly in response to a bit of everything in these comments.

            I think your 2) is pretty wrong. The ‘ecosystem’ is far more tolerant of diversity than it used to be. Dev tools are, for various reasons, far more platform agnostic than they used to be. When you’re coding for Windows, xbox, ps3, Android, OSX and iOS already, adding one more platform into the mix is not really a big deal, especially when it’s openGL based. It’s not like the old days when you’d essentially be starting from scratch to port to an alternate platform. Android shows how quickly a gaming platform can spring up and the agility with which devs will hop on it, using already extant tools for the most part.

            Linux doesn’t have to dominate to be a success. OSX only has ~10% of the desktop market, probably far less than that in terms of %age of gamers, and it’s considered (and indeed is) a success. That’s in part because Apple are making massive profits, of course, which is a pretty objective measure of that success. Linux won’t really have such criteria upon which to judge how it’s doing (since there’s no one’s going to be making a profit on the platform). All it has to do is be such that it’s economically viable for the games producers to port to it, and I don’t think that would take much. If Linux gets up to 3-5% of games purchases (which doesn’t seem unreasonable once Steam’s been on there a while) then that’s a pretty hefty piece of pie.

          • mashakos says:

            @futage:
            I completely agree with your assertion that adding Linux to a multi-platform title’s development cycle is not impossible, but I don’t think that a 5% user base (quite optimistic since it’s about 4 times the size of the existing linux user base) would be enough for major game companies like Rockstar or EA to release linux versions of multi-platform titles as regularly as they do for Windows.
            There would definitely be more releases than at present, but not to the extent where 95% of multi-plat titles include a linux version.
            In addition to that, there’s the big issue of the fragmented distros and the level of support (drivers, compatibility, a unified setup system that doesn’t need users to resort to sudo level commands in order to make it work on their particular distro) required to keep customer satisfaction from taking a nose dive. I will say that all these assumptions are made by taking into account the influx of new Linux users who are primarily interested in the OS as a gaming/media platform – not the existing enthusiast user base.

            Too many factors for me to see Linux becoming a major gaming platform. The only scenario I see where this could be a reality is if developers are forced to look for an alternative to windows, where they would then take more drastic measures to ensure universal compatibility and acceptable performance (maybe a gaming-centric distro managed by a consortium of game developers as well as a tightly controlled driver repo aimed at ensuring optimum driver support for the wide array of existing gaming/media hardware).

            The Mac platform is significantly easier to develop and distribute on when compared to windows due to it’s tightly controlled hardware ecosystem, so I’m not surprised that Apple’s desktop app store and Steam took off in a relatively short time. That coherency simply doesn’t exist on Linux, unless I’ve been away from the distro scene for so long that I’m out of touch (stuck with (remotely managed) SUSe for the past 5 years only for LAMP development)

    • Sephster says:

      As stated above, anything that can be installed using sudo apt-get can be installed through the Ubuntu Software centre. I checked this myself and Mumble turns up as the first result so I am guessing that the author just typed something wrong? The command line could have been avoided entirely in this case

    • Gnarf says:

      “That’s like saying “Hey, I put this ps3 game in my xbox and it doesn’t work, xbox suck!””

      It isn’t like actually putting the game into the wrong console and seeing if it will work, because in that case that’s obviously not worth doing (while in the Linux/Wine case it might possibly work). Apart from that, it totally makes sense to take into account that Demon’s Souls will play on(/is available for) a PS3 and won’t play on a 360 when considering them as gaming platforms.

    • jalf says:

      Secondly, the boot loader should recognize the other installed operating systems immediately, but if you don’t install it to the MBR then it is Window’s bootloader that starts and it must be manually edited. Ubuntu’s bootloader does everything automatically, Window’s don’t.

      Yeah… so the article is “ridiculous” because something that could and should have happened… didn’t happen. And that’s the author’s fault, rather than Linux.

      He’s pointing out the problem he has getting his games to run on Linux. Very controversial, I know, but let’s face it, it’s relevant if you’re a gamer who want to get your games running on Linux.

      Thirdly, you can’t base the “gaming on linux” experience on playing windows games in linux.

      You sure as hell can’t base “the gaming on linux experience” on playing the couple of games that have official Linux ports either.

      The “gaming experience”, on *any* platform, is the one that gives you access to games.
      And the fact is that right now, most of the games that gamers want to play, are available on Windows, but no Linux port exists. It is not “ridiculous” to want to play those games.

      It is ridiculous to claim that “the gaming experience” should somehow be measured *without* playing these games.

      Unless you’re up for the task of porting those hundreds and hundreds of AAA games to run natively on Linux, then yes, the only relevant “gaming experience on Linux” is the one that goes through Wine.

      • gunnarflax says:

        > Yeah… so the article is “ridiculous” because something that could and should have happened… didn’t happen. And that’s the author’s fault, rather than Linux.

        Yeah, since he chose that option during the install. It also hasn’t anything to do with Linux – it’s the kernel, not the bootloader.

        > The “gaming experience”, on *any* platform, is the one that gives you access to games.
        And the fact is that right now, most of the games that gamers want to play, are available on Windows, but no Linux port exists. It is not “ridiculous” to want to play those games.

        >It is ridiculous to claim that “the gaming experience” should somehow be measured *without* playing these games.

        It isn’t ridiculous to *want* to play those games and sadly there aren’t as many AAA games on Linux as on Windows but you still can’t make that comparison. You don’t rate a Windows game as crap since you can’t get it running on Mac, do you?

        • LionsPhil says:

          The bootloader (and the install procedure) are part of “Linux” where we’re talking about Linux as a complete operating system.

          Yes, I know. We should all be saying “Ubuntu GNU/Linux” for the world beyond the kernel. But the only people who can be bothered to keep that are the FSF, and we try not to make eye contact with them if possible.

    • kazriko says:

      Ah, someone else beat me to it. Yeah, you can install mumble from the software center. The only reason most guides give the command line is that it’s far easier to paste a command line in a howto document than to painstakingly screenshot and document a step by step guide to finding it in the software center… I even tell people command lines in windows sometimes to avoid having to give them detailed instructions.

  6. Kirby says:

    So, I’m kind of a long time Linux-user (never even used Windows 7 or Vista) and quite liked this short feature. Almost all my gaming needs are possible as well, as I don’t bother with stuff that has any kind of DRM to it, which only leaves me with old games and some Indies anyway, but the OCD-me can’t help to provide one correction to the article: Installing mumble would’ve been possible through the graphical software center. The command line provided basically just means, that it is part of the repositories and thus in the software center as well.

  7. mashakos says:

    @James Carey:
    After reading your first article, where you stated that running native windows games on Linux was painless and with few compatibility issues, I at first wrote you off as a person who likes to grab attention by broadcasting poorly researched, outlandish claims (linux is finally ready for the (consumer) world! PS3 is a super computer! Also, if you beat Street Fighter II 100 times in a row without losing a round, you get to fight Sheng Long! 100% verified.)

    Reading this article however, made me reconsider my earlier dismissals. I was under the impression that the first article was some sort of Tutorial, when in fact it was just a part of a series of first impressions you were having with Linux.

    This is actually much more informative to the uninitiated than a badly written “tutorial” from some kiddie nerd with unsubstantiated claims.

    Keep it up!

    • HellHitZ says:

      > After reading your first article, where you stated that running native windows games on Linux was painless and with few compatibility issues, I at first wrote you off as a person who likes to grab attention by broadcasting poorly researched, outlandish claims (linux is finally ready for the (consumer) world! PS3 is a super computer! Also, if you beat Street Fighter II 100 times in a row without losing a round, you get to fight Sheng Long! 100% verified.)

      There’s no reason for you to have thought that, since this line is right there at the end of the previous article: “Next time: Problems.”. This alone makes it obvious the article was part of a series and that the author had his fair share of problems with Linux.

      • mashakos says:

        I must have missed that line after reading the overly optimistic (naive) first few paragraphs, and rage quitting the internet…

        Yeah, my bad.

  8. Lars Westergren says:

    I think the biggest obstacle is not for users, but the constantly moving APIs for user visible things like audio, packaging, rendering. See the current kerfluffle between Miguel and Linus re Gnome for example. Doesn’t really matter whose fault it is, it adds expenses to all developers to support all possible combinations of KDE, Gnome, rpm, apt, alsa, pulseaudio, etc.

    And whenever someone goes, “This is irrational, here, let me solve it!”: http://xkcd.com/927/

    “Many eyes makes for shallow bugs” was an early slogan of open source, “Big egos create infinite forks” seems more appropriate these days.

  9. Swyyw says:

    Small correction:
    If you’re able to type “sudo apt-get install mumble” and that works, then it *must* mean you should be able to install that package through one of the many GUI tools (ubuntu software center, or synaptic).

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      That’s sort of the point here: James is reporting his first-hand experiences as a gamer trying to get this stuff working, and didn’t get Mumble down.

      • LionsPhil says:

        If anything, I think it’s demonstrative of:
        1) If you Google about for how to do things under Linux, you’re going to get a lot of bad advice (I’m assuming that’s where the apt-get command came from anyway—and it’s not actually wrong in this case, and is arguably a nice, concice way to achieve the right result [under the hood, Ubuntu Software Centre will be using apt anyway]—it just left James with a mistaken belief that some things aren’t in the USC), and you won’t be able to tell if it is or not. (Worse, there’s plenty of advice that was correct at the time, but wrong now—Ubuntu’s own help wiki on configuring wireless is a good example of continual thrash on How To Do It, even if NetworkManager has hopefully avoided you needing it in the majority case if you’re lucky.) Some of the advice is outright ruinous and will only lead to cascading problems (for example, if James had found someone telling him to install Mumble from source…).
        2) The Linux community will be really, really quick to snap at you for getting it wrong if you dare imply that Linux was at fault.

        • Swyyw says:

          In reaction to your second point, I think there’s some exasperation over the reputation of linux as a tinkerer’s OS (it is true that it allows you to be, if you so desire), and how it shapes behaviours and expectations.
          I think part of it is self-fulfilling. If you tried to install a piece of software on Windows and at some point they had you open up the command line for one of the installation steps, you would take pause and your reaction would be “now wait a minute! isn’t there an easier way?”.

        • Naum says:

          LionsPhil: I have generally found the Linux community to be friendly and helpful. The advice given was usually neither out of date nor as incomplete as I’ve often experienced it in the Windows sphere. Not that I’d had to ask for help very often, as the excellent documentation (judging by Windows standards, whose documentation has literally not helped me once in years) has enabled me to solve most problems without resorting to forums and such. (This excludes the official Ubuntu Wiki, which is indeed not great. I’d recommend UbuntuUsers’ instead.)

          I’m not saying that your experiences are wrong or your own fault or anything, but I still wanted to put my very different ones next to them.

      • LXj says:

        Well here’s the thing: you can 1) go to your start menu, find Synaptic, launch it, search for mumble and click some buttons

        Or 2) you can open terminal, type in “apt-get install mumble”

        Both will achieve the same thing and (2) is definitely faster and easier to put into a guide on web page which you probably googled. Except it involves the oh so scary command line, and everyone has this stereotype that CLI is bad, evil, archaic, non-modern, unintuitive and will eat your babies.

        For any long time Linux user it’s very odd stereotype, why CLI is bad. There are some things that can be dealt with more effectively with CLI, and there are things that can be dealt with more effectively with GUI. Unless you’re using Windows, of course — CLI in Windows is painful to use

  10. Cueball says:

    Pulse Audio is a lot better than it used to be, but it is still terrible when you’re trying to do things in more than one application.

    Mumble is in the Ubuntu Software Centre though – a one click install. Command Line FUDdist. :p

    Ad

    • Kaira- says:

      Really? What I’ve used PulseAudio it’s been rather pleasant experience, except for the fact that it doesn’t direct sound automatically to my USB-headset on connection. Otherwise no probs, I can direct one application’s sounds to speakers, another to my USB headset and third to laptop’s headphone jack.

      • RabidZombie says:

        Kaira: I think that was fixed/improved in recent PulseAudios. However, you’ll probably have to wait for a new version of your distro to get all the upgraded packages.

        Cueball: Pah. PulseAudio with multiple applications is exactly when it shines. Audo mixing between multiple applications is why we moved from ALSA to PulseAudio in the first place.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Annoyingly, I can say the same of Windows 7. :(

        I don’t know who decided that once an application starts pumping sound to a device, that relationship should be sticky, but I would like them to try starting a game then plugging in front-panel headphones only to be greeted with silence as the mixer stubborn still directs it to a turned-off pair of speakers, with no apparent way to correct this short of restarting the game after the headphones.

        • Kaira- says:

          Curious, on Windows I’ve had a bit different problem (and the USB-headset is made by MS, of all things!) – plugging in works just as it should, audio gets directed to it, you name it. Now, when I unplug, however, the mixer may decide to still try to direct audio to the not-connected headset. Cue cursing.

  11. Shivoa says:

    No talk of the Desura client for Linux? It is basically a Steam for Linux project at this point (obviously tied to your Desura rather than Steam games collection).

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    Also, it’s important that Linux users take a deep breath before exploding after these articles. Remember that we are coming into this as interested parties who happen to use Windows for gaming. RPS itself is interested in and wants to support Linux, hence us commissioning an honest account of what happens when a gamer decides to take his gaming to that OS.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Here, here.

      This is a chance for the open source community to show off how helpful and reasonable we can be, not how aggressive and unhelpful.

      I think Mr Carey is doing a fine job of documenting realistically what a transition from linux to windows is like for pc gamers.

  13. san says:

    As the title is a bit misleading (all the issues mentioned affect wine/crossover only) you could consider it changing from:
    “The Problems We Had With Gaming On Linux ”
    to
    “The Problems We Had With Windows Games On Linux”

    • pyroneil says:

      Sorry, but the Mumble, audio issue is exactly the kind of thing I have continually encountered with Linux in the past, and is completely unrelated to it being a Windows game.

      • Archonsod says:

        Yeah, but to be fair you can hit similar things in Windows. The difference is usually that a *nix distro will tell you what’s wrong. Windows on the other hand will tell Microsoft what’s wrong instead …

  14. Yosharian says:

    Horrific. Christ, I have enough problems with Windows sometimes. As someone else said, if Windows 7 can last another 5 years… perhaps by then we’ll have a more user-friendly Linux.

    • san says:

      user friendly as in 100% binary compatible with windows.. dream on boy, dream on!

      • Donjo says:

        Yeah, shut up boy: Linux gaming is for real men or mature women.

        • fyro11 says:

          The one that induces headaches just to get a game running? And consolites continually belittle PC gamers for the amount of input needed to get games running how they’re meant to be. Now, imagine Linux from a consolite’s perspective. And yes, as far as “getting games to just work” goes, they have it best. We just usually have a lot more leeway (superior graphics, config files, modding etc) on top of the difficulty curve. Remember, being a PC gamer doesn’t necessitate being a dab hand with OSes and CLIs.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The problems, sadly, run deeper than “just work on it some more”. The experiences here are not substantially different than they would be ten years ago, save for the names of the software.

  15. GallonOfAlan says:

    The article is spot-on and is an accurate reflection of getting a lot of software, not just games, to work on Linux.

    Basically if it’s in an official repository and you can install it via your distro package manager you’re usually laughing.

    Otherwise be prepared for a degree of faffing ranging from some simple shell commands to a world of hurt involving conf files, obscure forum posts, fighting dependencies and compiling things yourself.

  16. soldant says:

    This is not a big surprise. Native support is still going to be the best and most trouble-free method, but that’s a big ask. Getting older games to run isn’t an issue. Getting your new release Nargle Wars 2 will be a different matter.

    But can I point something out? Windows 8 is hardly less open. I’m running the RTM right now, and I haven’t touched the Windows Store. All it sells are WinRT apps. It doesn’t affect Steam. x86 apps may appear but they all redirect to the developer’s website – there’s no purchase option. It doesn’t affect Steam/Valve at all. All of this FUD about Win8 being less open is nonsense – save for the new interface it’s the same Windows as ever, except it’s faster at everything except gaming (where it lags by a tiny margin due to immature GPU drivers).

    There’s no need to rush off to Linux, the gates aren’t closing. Valve are just looking to corner the market more than they already have. What better way than to introduce their own Linux distro with their own built in Steam store! Oh but wait, isn’t that part of their problem with Windows 8…?

    • ColOfNature says:

      Belittle FUD re Windows 8 closed ecosystem. Spread FUD re Valve Linux distro.

      • soldant says:

        Sarcasm, actually. Though it’s rather amusing that people actually want a SteamOS. I’m sure Valve have considered it.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Yeah, ditto here. Running Win8 RTM and I play Steam games and GW2 and freeware games and all the stuff I used to enjoy from Windows XP up. I don’t know what the big kerfuffle is about Win8. Maybe they’re planning to make Win9 only support Metro apps. I dunno. Win8 is pretty much better than Win7 in every conceivable way and hasn’t restricted my computing whatsoever.

      Honestly, I think Gabe Newell et al are just in a huff about the Windows and Xbox stores bundled with the OS. Microsoft squandered their PC game partnerships thanks to the universal revulsion to GFWL whereas Steam woos more studios all the time. Steam on Windows is here to stay, today and tomorrow.

    • mashakos says:

      Yeah, I don’t think this Microsoft Master Plan of World Domination makes much sense.
      1)
      Windows is not just a consumer product, it is used in the workplace as well. Restricting the distribution and installation of apps to a widget style app store will have severe consequences from Microsoft’s most valuable source of income.
      2)
      Most regular Windows users over the age of 18 usually reach a limit of purchased software once their more important needs are met, moving on to smaller purchases of utilities from then on. If Windows locks out the purchasing of new non-metro apps, most users will just stick to what they have: last year’s Photo Family Studio or MS Office would do fine for most people. So there is a risk of a backlash from the consumer where they lose interest altogether in the platform and might even move to more refreshing alternatives.
      3)
      If this happens, they will almost certainly lose most of their independent software developer base. Considering that Windows already has a “hidden tax” in the shape of technical support, adding yet another layer of profit loss will be the last straw for small devs.

      I personally see pushing Metro as the dominant UI in Windows to be a blunder from the design team rather than a sinister corporate plot. I’ll bet they will revert it to secondary status on desktops in a future patch

      • PopeJamal says:

        You don’t think that plan makes sense? I would ask you this then:

        What alternatives do people have?

        This is especially pertinent considering the current discussion we’re having about how poor of a platform Linux is in some ways. The Mac isn’t much better because most people won’t be willing to pay a 30% premium on their hardware just because it’s apple hardware.

        • mashakos says:

          you’re forgetting that large portions of the existing PC user base have more or less moved on to tablets for their daily needs – or consoles for gaming, and that for professionals moving to a Linux or Mac based infrastructure can be feasible if the alternative is a locked down, royalty and license infested environment.

  17. JimDiGritz says:

    I love the idea of Linux, however whenever I have tried to install any distro over the past decade I have ended up spending hours trying to get the most simple of things working, running all sorts of compilers and arcane command lines.

    Then I find out that my sound card or wireless card stubbornly refuses to work and I slink back to Windows to actually get some work done or play a game.

    As a complex and deep hobby I could understand that Linux could become quite a tinkerers paradise.

    The fact that not one single Distro has made installing or using Linux straightforward shows why only the hardened command line warriors and sys admins use it. I mean how hard can it be to provide installers for applications? Most people will stare blankly when confronted by a tarball or asked to compile a program to do the most basic things…

    • Kaira- says:

      Installing Ubuntu or Mint is as straightforward as you could dream it to be. Installing software is easy via packet managers which usually have GUIs, and even when they don’t, you download .deb or .rpm, doubleclick it and would you look at that, the packet manager was invoked and tells if this package needs some dependencies to be installed. If you are staring at a tarball, you untar it like you would do with a .zip. If you are going to compile the software yourself and install it that way, then you might want to question yourself do you want it and how badly, because these softwares are usually in early early part of their development if they don’t provide binaries or repositories.

      • GallonOfAlan says:

        Upgrading Mint to a newer major version isn’t though … back it up data to external HDD, install new version from scratch, restore backup? No ta.

        • Kaira- says:

          You can always try to do upgrade with apt-get, but there’s a reason it’s disabled by default in Mint as opposed to Ubuntu – it’s prone to breaking, and clean installation is usually much better choice. And well, all you need to do is to install it again and not format your /home-partition and you’re pretty much set.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I’m not really sure quite why Mint is getting all this buzz, given it’s more-or-less Ubuntu with yet more crap bundled on top.

          Stick with Ubuntu. dist-upgrades are still kind of painful, but to their credit I just upped a server box from 11.04 to 11.10 then 12.04 and a desktop from 11.10 to 12.04, and very little has broken for once.

          (That “very little” is praise is perhaps indicative of how this usually goes.)

          • DrazharLn says:

            Agreed on mint. It’s overhyped and inferior to both ubuntu and debian.

          • frenchy2k1 says:

            Can you come back to me when that was ever a possibility for windows to upgrade a major revision and have little break up?

            People tend to complain about Linux (and they should, there are many things that are not up to par), but they would let the same problem slide under windows.

            Major version under windows will NOT allow you to upgrade, only to reformat and reinstall from scratch. WinXP to win7 was the latest like that (and it probably could have been made to work, as you can both upgrade from winXP to Vista and from Vista to win7, but the power-that-be decided that a full reinstall would be safer. They were probably right too…).

            Similarly, people complain about the lack of hardware support under Linux (sound and wireless being the 2 biggest culprit), but if some hardware is not supported under Windows, it’s the manufacturer’s fault. Quick hint: it also is under Linux, there just is a full community dedicated enough to actually WRITE the DRIVER instead of the manufacturer. And both sound and wireless have very closed specs or IP protected parts that make it very difficult.

          • LionsPhil says:

            You realize you can upgrade from Ubuntu 11.04 to 11.10, and 11.10 to 12.04, but not from 11.04 to 12.04 in one go, right?

            Also that Microsoft don’t release a new major version of Windows every six chuffing months, nor does the old one stop receiving new software. Ten-year-old XP installs can still run the latest programs, save some DX10/11 games. You won’t find all of 12.04′s latest software packaged in the 11.04 repos, let alone 04.10 (which is still not as old as XP!), and for installing from source, see everyone in the thread saying “you don’t need to do that any more”, because you certainly shouldn’t.

            If you make it more necessary to more frequently do major upgrades, then you have to make it a smoother process.

      • deke913 says:

        I dozed off after ” Installing Ubuntu and Mint”. Which is what 90% of people looking at Linux feel. I’ve never even heard of a “tarball” or the .dot references you made. My nephew can install games and search windows with the search bar, and add mods even sometimes with no help. When Linux gets that easy then it will be successful and not until.

        • Kaira- says:

          Tarball (.tar.gz) is a archive format, much like .rar or .zip. Install software on Ubuntu or Mint – open software manager/package manager, search for software, click install, all dependencies get installed with it. No need to open browser. The thing is, Linux, even when resembling Windows, is not Windows. If you go in with mindset that it should work like Windows does, you are going to have bad time.

          • deke913 says:

            Yeah, and thats sad for me because I really wanted to like it but couldnt wrap my mind around it not behaving like windows. To some degree all systems act like windows well enough for most people to use them. Mac is close enough that i have no problem and even my android phone mimics windows funtions such as folders and such. Having said all that I am STILL fascinated by Linux and the possibilities.

        • sophof says:

          I would say Linux is easier, windows is just what people are used to. You or your nephew wouldn’t know what an .exe was or why there was a C: or D: directory either if you were used to linux instead. Claiming one or the other is more obvious is a bit silly imo.

          Also, I think people only fear a CLI because microsoft move from DOS to windows, never changed their cli and as a common user you only use it as a last resort. That doesn’t say anything about a CLI however, just about their implementation. In my experience, fixing problems in linux is easier because of it. And let’s be honest, PCs will ALWAYS have some problems for the user.

          In summary: it is only about what your used to and how much time your willing to spend on learning something new. Only after that can you say anything about which is more intuitive.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      What Kaira said. I think the ‘you must compile source from tarballs’ argument is due for retirement as it’s simply not true for everyday use.

      • JimDiGritz says:

        Rusty & Kaira,

        Thanks for the replies… maybe things have changed over the past 12 months… I hope they have.

        • Kaira- says:

          12 months? What did you use, Gentoo?

          • LionsPhil says:

            Even Gentoo doesn’t subject you to raw tarballs—that’s what portage is for, after all. From a user-just-wants-this-installed point of view, emerge and apt-get are much the same, except the former takes longer and is easier to break.

            Linux from scratch, perhaps? :)

  18. Red Pen says:

    I’d like to present a different approach to beginning to use linux. This is what worked for me and your experience may vary! Most articles I read seem to suggest starting with something like Ubuntu or Mint as they will be the most familiar to users of Windows and Mac. Personally I think that this familiarity can also be a drawback as it is easy to get confused when something is different.

    My suggestion (and how I first started using linux two years ago) is to try Archlinux. This distribution has a very interesting philosophy of simplicity (under their own special definition of simple). For me, this `simplicity’ meant that I could actually understand some of what I was doing. More importantly it helped me to *learn* as I installed and used my system.

    The first thing you should know about Archlinux is that the documention (Archwiki) is amazing.

    The second thing is that it is a bare minimal install. So you will have to (get to) set lots of things up for yourself. This may be daunting but as I mentioned earlier the documentation is excellent.

    This will take much longer than an install of Ubuntu or Windows. However once you finish, you will hopefully be much more comfortable with your system.

    • Kaira- says:

      Suggesting Arch for someone with 0 experience is pretty much equivalent of throwing a person with no knowledge of swimming in to the deep end of the pool to teach them how to swim. Arch has probably the best documentation available, and luckily it can be used for most other distributions as-is or with little modification, but still.

      • gunnarflax says:

        Agreed. Recommending Arch for beginners is a really bad idea. Go with Ubuntu, it’s the most newbie friendly and is the one primarily focused on by the gaming/software industry.

        • Red Pen says:

          I should clarify my comment. I am a beginner and before learning Arch had never used linux before. So I disagree completely with both of these statements.

          I think that what it provides (more so than any other distribution) is a well laid out sequence of things to learn that build on top of each other. Similar to how you learnt anything in school.

          Your comment on `newbie friendly’ is interesting I think. My goal was to learn about linux, not to just jump in and play games as quickly as possible. So for me Arch was newbie friendly. This is (I guess) the difference in our opinions? Maybe if someone’s motivations are different then my advice won’t be as helpful.

          With that said, I am now completely comfortable installing and playing lots of games!

          • gunnarflax says:

            True, but the majority of people don’t want to have to *learn* how to use an OS just to run the apps which they want to use.

          • reyn78 says:

            I absolutely second the Arch Linux comment. It has a really good wiki and tutorial that makes installation much easier than it looks while teaching linux basics.

            Unfortunately all the talk about Ubuntu and clones being best for noobs misses the point. Linux is NOT Windows. Ubuntu makes an impression it is, but sooner or later you run into trouble – just like in case of this article, and then you just don’t know how to deal with that, where to look for help etc.

            It is not possible to do most Linux stuff without understanding how it works at least a little. If you learn it from day one it becomes much more natural. This really is the main problem of migration from Windows to Linux – people want to have “the other Windows” and expect to run Guild Wars 2 and MS Word 2012 off the bat – and honestly that very rarely works.

            As for gaming Wine HQ has a nice list of what works and what doesn’t – also tips and how to’s to install games and accounts of others’ successes and failures.

            Personally I found this to be the best gaming solution for Linux – especially now that HD space is so cheap – a small 100Gb partition with windows, steam, chrome and skype. Works like a charm :P Rebooting takes waaaay less time than battling Wine et al.

    • Mu says:

      I approve this message. Arch Linux is the distribution that made me a Linux user. I had tried Ubuntu/Xubuntu/Kubuntu/Suse in the past, but I always had problems with them. Sometimes an update reinstalled grub or something, and messed my MBR. Dealing with X11 was always horrible, things just didn’t seem to work out of the box on my system. Also, for some reason, the major distributions always felt very bloated and slow – kind of like using Mac OS X (I’m not trying to flame here, that’s just how I’ve felt when trying OS X).

      However, when I tried Arch Linux, everything kind of fell into place. I understood what X11 was about, I understood what was the purpose of KDE, Gnome, Qt, Gtk+, XFCE, etc. I also knew that my system used ALSA, not OSS, which is something I didn’t know when trying Ubuntu. It makes me feel much more confident when I don’t have to guess what to do, when I have to tweak some settings.

      Of course, the important factor here is that I am a power user. I know what IRC is. I know what SSL is. I know the difference between Internet and Internet Explorer. I know way more about computers than the usual “solitaire + web browser” people. As has been said already, Arch Linux is not suitable for someone who just wants things to work, for someone who does not care what is installed on his system, but it is a worthy alternative for those who are more technically oriented.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It’s a worthy alternative for those with more time to burn.

        Which is one reason why quite a chunk of older UNIX vets ended up moving to OS X. They got a UNIX-ish environment where they never once had to edit x11.conf. They all know how, far more than the X.Org era where things autoconfigure if you’re lucky. They just don’t want to waste their time on it. “Faffing with the configuration” is not the task most people are trying to achieve with their computer.

        Just the self-proclaimed snobbish “power users”.

        • Wisq says:

          Hear, hear.

          As children, we have “lots of time and not a lot of money”. That continues through our teen years, to varying degrees. But as we get older, many of us — especially those using their Linux skills to obtain lucrative high tech jobs — reach a point in our lives where we switch to “lots of money and not a lot of time”.

          That’s why I use OSX and not Linux on the desktop. That’s why I have an iPhone and not an Android device. That’s why I have a Windows box that I use solely for gaming. That’s why I have 400 games on Steam and only a handful of recent ones that (sadly) aren’t Steam-managed. That’s why I purchased a professional mixing console for my desk instead of mucking about with daisy chaining my multiple computers’ audio through each other. Etc.

          I’ve given up on “Linux on the desktop” at this point. I’m happy enough having it on my servers (including my home server / firewall), where I can SSH in and run stuff as much as I want. Maybe in several years, they’ll have come up with standard APIs for everything (so they can still have choice without making everyone’s life more difficult for it) and solved all the problems people typically have these days. But I’ve stopped holding my breath, and I’ve stopped considering it reasonable to spend whole days configuring my desktop, or fixing things after an update.

          Linux makes everything possible. OSX makes the things I actually do every day easy.

          Of course, that still leaves me with a lamentable Windows gaming machine. Which is fine so long as I play things the way they’re meant to be played. But as soon as I start trying to heavily mod stuff, I realise just how utterly shit the Windows UI/UX is compared to OSX. So yeah, I’m still in favour of someday being able to play my games on Linux. (In the mean time, maybe Microsoft could actually hire some UX designers?)

  19. gunnarflax says:

    I just have to say that I really enjoy the varied content, especially the indie games, that is posted on RockPaperShotgun! Keep up the good work! :)

  20. jrodman says:

    Congrats; you’ve discovered what longstanding Linux users already knew.
    Running games on WINE is tricky stuff. The whole idea is fundamentally difficult. You have to be bug for bug compatable with whatever undocumented windows stuff might exist and you have to implement all the APIs Microsoft produces, and do it all performantly, and translate it all to systems you do have available. And you have to do it all without changing semantics or behavior.

    It’s a hard problem!

    That’s why people ask for proper ports, and not hack jobs.

    There’s not much wrong with Linux for gaming, except for critical mass. And I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.

    • HellHitZ says:

      It’s a hard problem indeed.

      And your explanation is pretty good. It might help some people understand why the wine-based Limbo port from Humble Bundle was so hated by Linux users (not sure if there was a story about that here on RPS).

  21. enVy says:

    I like Linux for multiple reasons, first of all its much safer and faster than windows! You can customize it from kernel to gui in the exact way you want, without “any unstable” additional applications. I like the critical perspective that the developers put on it (ytbe – “Why Linux sucks”) and besides that you have a community that is able to help! Of course you also have a lot of people who are able to help you out with any windows problem but chances are big that you will meet a little kid that either flames you or tells you to reinstall windows >.<

    Give it a try guys, if you're not familiar with linux start with Ubuntu or Linux Mint, im sure the most of you will love it.

    • mashakos says:

      “You can customize it from kernel to gui in the exact way you want, without “any unstable” additional applications.”

      Linux has zero unstable apps developed for it? Where is this Fountain of Eternal Bug Free Perfection the Linux devs drink from? I WANT TO KNOW

      This is what I was talking about in the 1st page of the comments, some people just talking nonsense…

      • HellHitZ says:

        You seem to think that “not unstable” = “bug free” which is not true.

        With that out of the way, maybe you can understand the OP’s comment a little better. You can indeed customize your Linux installation right down to the kernel, without using any unstable apps/parts. What’s more, you don’t even need to do it yourself, some distributions are purposely built like that (Debian Stable comes to mind).

        • mashakos says:

          When talking of bugs in the context of my reply I am referring to system halting code. Please tell me that doesn’t exist in Linux…

          EDIT: Customising the entire OS is great, just not for everyone. I’m fine using a closed source OS, if it has the level of adoption that Windows gets. Seeing under the hood of an OS always is of course invaluable when optimising software, but again until Linux is out of the “work in progress” phase as far as consumer use is concerned most people are not interested in it’s major advantages (since they will have to deal with it’s status as a niche platform).

          The only people who would invest in Linux are those who stand to gain immensely from putting in the effort, engineers and developers. Then there’s those weirdos who like to “customise” but don’t program. What i sup with that?

          • HellHitZ says:

            You didn’t specify that. But in all honestly, I find the Linux kernel way more stable than old versions of the Windows kernel. I have never had a hard crash (i.e. the system halted and can only be fixed with reset) with Linux (I may have been lucky), and up until XP and (a bit with Vista) that Windows managed to be as stable for me. And believe me, I do way stranger and breaking-prone stuff in Linux than Windows.

            Your edit brings up a completely different point from the original one, a point I mostly agree with. Linux is not for everyone and most people get no real benefit from using it. However, average users who use their computers to browse the net and little else can do that as easily on Ubuntu as they can on Windows. Is there a learning curve? Yes, of course, the same there is for anyone who never used Windows.

            Also, you talk of Linux as “work in progress” and I have no idea what you mean. Linux is as much work in progress as Windows. The difference is most Linux distributions release way more often than Windows. But there are lots of distributions which go with the rock solid, not on the bleeding edge philosophy (again, Debian stable comes to mind). Even Ubuntu has a LTS version which aims at this, and this is the version intended for average users, not the non-LTS versions.

          • mashakos says:

            @HellHitz: for me, “work in progress” as far as non-technical users are concerned is never to require or have the need for the command line. For all it’s faults, Windows reached that stage with Windows 2000. You will definitely have a better user experience if you are familiar with cmd and regedit, but it’s not a show stopper.

          • Naum says:

            I unfortunately fail to see what “work in progress” and the command line have to do with each other. If your comment is to say that not every command line call the average user might need is wrapped in a GUI yet, hence that the ‘GUIsation’ of Linux is work in progress, that is indeed true.

            If the latter would be a desirable state, I don’t know however. Surely, the vast majority of configuration stuff should be GUI-based, but does it hurt to focus some development time on other things and have the more obscure options remain command line/conf file only? If I were Average Joe, I don’t know if it’d make too much of a difference whether I followed some forum post through the vast landscape of windows, dialogues, menus and submenus that is the Windows GUI or copy-pasted instructions into a terminal.

            Then again, I don’t understand that general fear of the command line which shines through in the article as well. As long as you only copy-paste stuff, neither innocent children nor your PC will die, and sometimes it is just *a lot* more efficient to do things the old-fashioned way.

    • GallonOfAlan says:

      > first of all its much safer and faster than windows!

      Might have been true in Windows 98 days, not true now.

  22. Dan Puzey says:

    Whilst I completely appreciate the desire to game on Linux, I still don’t understand the Win8 complaints. Microsoft have changed… the start menu. Into something that works almost exactly the same as the old one.

    If you use Metro (and non-geek users *will*, because it’s exactly what your average email-and-calendar-checking non-power-user wants), you get apps from the store, exactly the way Apple has been doing for 4 years. If you are buying games or “power” software that runs on the desktop, you can buy it from anywhere and install it however you like. There’s no restriction except on the stuff everyone says they don’t want anyway – so where’s the complaint? This doesn’t stifle or restrict Steam – it might *compete* with Steam in some market segments, but we keep saying that’s no bad thing.

    I can still install Steam, play my games, use the desktop, ignore Metro, use the mouse and keyboard… so I don’t understand what the complaint is. The best I can see is that some parts of the media have driven the idea that you can’t support both touch-screen and keyboard/mouse without compromising one or the other, but if you *design* for both you can *support* both, in the same way that Windows 7 supports both keyboard and mouse.

    Regarding the Linux comments: the suggestions that Googling won’t ‘t give you the correct results, and that there are “many GUI tools” to install the same application, is part of the problem. Posing those as solutions is helpful to this specific case, but doesn’t help the uptake of Linux by a community that can sometimes struggle with Windows’ “click the download link and choose Run.”

    • gunnarflax says:

      The fact that there are many different GUI-tools that can be used doesn’t make any difference for the average user since only one is the preferred way and distributed in Ubuntu. There is only the Ubuntu Software Center.

      > “click the download link and choose Run.”
      With Ubuntu you only have to click link in the web browser and it opens in the Ubuntu Software Center. You get all the information and screenshots there directly and click install. Even easier I would say.

      > the suggestions that Googling won’t ‘t give you the correct results
      Not what I implied. I recommended checking askubuntu.com for answers. If he googles how to configure GRUB2 (which is the bootloader) he can get results for several hundred distributions since it’s not distribution specific. It’s as simple as to know what to search for, which you have to learn when looking for answers for windows or mac as well. Google also learns what you want to find from your search history (called ”search bubble”) so that means that he will most probably not find an answer relating to Ubuntu since he’s been using Windows before his transition and might even find an answer to a problem relating to Windows.

      Of course is Google the most used tool by myself for answers to everything Linux related. I just recommended askubuntu.com since it’s a stackexchange site dedicated to Ubuntu questions which answers stay relevant. (Right tool for the right job, am I right?)

    • DrazharLn says:

      I agree. I don’t like microsoft or windows, but the app store seems to be the subject of a lot of misinformation. It may be the default place to find software, but it will not be the only place. Only iOS has gone that far.

      That said, Linux is a better environment for pretty much all software. It would be great to see games developers and users realise that and begin the transition.

      • mashakos says:

        Until a universally accepted “vanilla” distro is a reality, where hardware vendors can collaborate with a unified consortium of developers to make the OS as intuitive and “Plug ‘n Play” as Mac OSX … I don’t see it happening.

        Oh right! Now I remembered that awesome $40 dual core Android PC. You could say that Android is a manifestation of what I just described (it is basically a linux distro), although even Android is quite a bit fragmented at present.

        Mac OSX is basically the ideal version of Debian – in terms of what can be achieved to make computers as accessible as possible – and yet has barely made a dent in the grand scheme of things. *shrug*

    • Grape Flavor says:

      Yeah, you know, I panicked too when Windows 8 was revealed, but after a few months I’ve come to realize this anti-Windows 8 hysteria is just not rooted in facts. It’s based on instinctive fear of change and generous application of the “slippery slope” concept.

      The Start Menu is gone, replaced with a full screen interface. Good, bad, neutral – it’s hardly the end of the world. If you really loved the SM that much there are already a number of third party replacements. So what else has changed? We get an iOS-style tablet-friendly ecosystem bolted on to the side of the same Windows we use today. Embrace it, avoid it, your choice. And I cant emphasize that enough: your choice. Much unlike iOS, you have the choice of both paradigms.

      There has been a sea change in computing, whether we like it or not. For the average user, the desktop PC paradigm is in steep decline. The tablet paradigm is surging. This is what the public wants, and Microsoft is adapting with the times and offering users an experience that is friendly to this.

      I’ll tell you what – when Microsoft actually comes out and says the “desktop” mode is being discontinued, that all software must go through their store, that’s when I’ll panic. That’s when you can say “I told you so”. And no, I don’t see it as an inevitability, in fact, it makes very little business sense for MS to do such any such thing in the foreseeable future.

      Windows 8 is bad news for Steam, that’s true. MS is encroaching on their turf. But it’s not the PC gaming apocalypse. People need to get a grip.

      • PopeJamal says:

        GabeN used to work for Microsoft, so I’m pretty sure he knows how they think. Plus, I mean he seems to be a pretty forward thinking type of guy. Steam was well ahead of its time, as was Half-Life.

        Despite that, you still feel that the fears of the Windows App Store are just “baseless slippery slope arguments”? Have you been watching Microsoft’s behavior for the last 20 years?

      • InternetBatman says:

        Even though there has been a massive change in the way people use computers, the operating system should be designed for the device it’s running on. Windows 8 was designed to be a chimera between two devices with very different input methods, so it’s no wonder that people are skeptical of their one-size fits all approach. I think MS should design phone and tablet appropriate systems, but not bolt it onto the desktop paradigm to try to push it into the market.

        Furthermore, the change in UI seems needless (much like the ribbon in office was), a change for change’s sake rather than a better way to solve the problems that face users.

  23. wsjudd says:

    Surely you could have installed Mumble through the Ubuntu software centre if it was available in apt-get?

  24. AmateurScience says:

    Mentioning config.sys and himem etc: it’s those shenanigans that drove a lot of people into the console space during the 90s (well, me for certain). Nobody wants to spend hours messing around trying to get a game to work. I worry that the closed nature of Windows 8 isn’t a bitter enough pill to swallow to stop people taking it up when the alternative is a system that effectively doesn’t work much of the time.

    • svick says:

      WIndows 8 doesn’t have a closed nature. It does add one new component (the Market) that is closed, but all of the old applications still continue to work. So, you can still use Steam, or any of your “old” games, nothing changed about that.

      • fish99 says:

        It’s scary that some people don’t realize this.

        • Unaco says:

          What’s closed about Windows 8?

        • TheD says:

          It is scary that idiots like you don’t understand that shoving a closed program ecosystem in peoples faces is a very real threat to the openness of the windows platform!

          • fish99 says:

            Insults aside, did you also have the same problem with Steam when it launched, because that’s a closed system too. And while the W8 app store is technically a closed system, that doesn’t mean W8 is a closed system. You can still buy your software anywhere you choose.

            Also I get the impression the app store is intended for metro apps only, so really it’s just there for the people running W8 on tablets to give them their IOS app store fix, it’s not supposed to be the new place to buy photoshop, or your games.

            Unless the app store leads to a situation where all software has to be bought from the app store, then there basically is no real harm to it, but can you really see Microsoft doing that? It’d drive a ton of deveopers and customers over to Mac. I guess you can make a case for it being anti-competitive having the store built in, but that’s about it.

  25. rustybroomhandle says:

    RPS, will this series also eventually cover Linux gaming on Linux?

  26. fish99 says:

    “I hope you’ll all come with me.”

    You just gave me an article full of reasons why I shouldn’t.

    My prediction is surface will fail (the cheap one doesn’t run most windows software, the other is out of most peoples budgets) and MS will be back with a ‘desktop friendly’ OS in W9, and a separation of their desktop and mobile OSs. MS will wake up and realize how important the business sector is for their profits. And the fact that windows will have a store from now on, well it really doesn’t affect you if you don’t use it. And besides, W7 will still be a viable gaming OS in 5 years time. I know people who still game on 12yr old XP.

    Also for the record RPS should stop perpetuating the myth that W8 is a closed system simply because it has a metro app store. You don’t have to use it, and all your regular desktop software still works. I won’t be using W8, because there’s honestly no incentive with W7 working just fine, but come on… consumers need accurate information.

  27. mrmalodor says:

    Forget about gaming on Linux. Until Linux developers get their heads out of their asses and implement proper DirectX support, Linux will never be a viable gaming OS.

    • HellHitZ says:

      Linux developers need to get their head out of their asses and implement support for a proprietary Microsoft API? I have a slight suspicion you have no clue what you’re talking about.

    • Kaira- says:

      Ahahaha… ha.. ha. You do know that they can’t implement DirectX-support, because the framework is proprietary? The best we have right now is Wine, which captures DirectX-calls and translates them to OpenGL.

      • jalf says:

        What, exactly, makes it impossible to re-implement the DirectX API? Are we talking about legal problems? Technical? Something else?

        It would be a lot of work, but I don’t see why it “can’t be done”.

        • LionsPhil says:

          It is being done, and that effort is (part of) WINE (and various forks of WINE). It’s just hard. And a moving target. So WINE is always behind.

          That it works as well as it does is a wonder of the software world.

          • mrmalodor says:

            An honest admission right there. *nix systems will always be behind.

          • Kaira- says:

            *NIX is behind when they have to play catch-up on proprietary system and reverse-engineer stuff? Impossible.

    • gunnarflax says:

      Funny :) do you have any idea what you are talking about? If you did you’d probably say Direct3D and not DirectX. I’d say that OpenGL is much better in a multitude of ways – cross-compatibility- and performance-wise. Just look at the benchmarks which are coming out of Valve (and they even have a translation-layer from Direct3D calls to OpenGL, which means overhead, and still manage to get better performance)

  28. n0s says:

    Wouldn’t worry too much about Metro (orwhatevertheygonnacallit). Once M$ see that massive numbers of users refuse to use this obviously nerfed and impractical system, and sales figures for W8 turn out far far faaaaaaaaar below what they wanted them to be, they will come crawling back to the community begging for forgiveness with either a fix for W8 that gives power back to the user, or a quickly rebranded version called W9 or something similar.

    There is a reason for the fact that the basic OS desktop has not changed significantly since the early days of the very first Windows releases. Even pre-windows systems had the very basic desktop concept. It works. Don’t change stuff that works.

    And should they fail to rethink their massive failure of forced dumbification, it will very soon mean a fall from the throne and progressively more viable alternatives will start popping up. Linux development does not stop or wait for M$, by the time the choice is either Metro or Linux, the current Linux issues will have been fixed, or workarounds/fixes will be a lot more easily available as the community shifts away from M$’s massive failure. When millions of disgruntled ex-Windows users start turning to Linux in the numbers of millions and millions, the solutions now buried in long long forum posts and hidden in obscure locations, will be dug out and made a lot more available than they currently are.

    Also, there are already heavily modified versions of old Windowses out there on the more, erm, illegitimate “markets” for those unwilling or unable to step even into the conservatively renewed Vista or W7. This will also continue in the future.

    W8 will be the ugly bastard child of Windows that nobody wanted. Like Vista or, *shudder* ME, and the market will adapt as Metro’s failure becomes apparent.

    • vodka and cookies says:

      Ah to live in a bubble.

      You do realize that the entire world has shifted towards touch interfaces, not just this generation but kids even toddlers becoming accustomed to them.

      There is almost no growth in the PC market it is highly stagnant, but there is huge growth in phones/tablets.

      The world is changing and touch interfaces are a huge part of that, you may not like that but to think that MS or anyone else for that matter will ignore touch and go back to catering to mouse/keyboard leet power users is utter delusion.

      • GallonOfAlan says:

        Touch interfaces in the lying around, consuming media sphere, sure.

        In the business world, where lots of people have to do lots of typing and data entry, touch will make little difference.

        In the gaming world, do you really we’ll be playing anything other than simple phone-style casual games on touch? Jog on.

  29. vodka and cookies says:

    I have to agree with some of the other comments here perpetuating FUD in those last lines about the openness of Windows 8 is disappointing to see in RPS. There is nothing locked down about Windows 8 it installs all the same applications as before.

    There seems to be a concerted effort by some people out there to brand Windows 8 as Windows RT which is the locked down iPad style OS. They are separate products & no-one will be getting their hands on Windows RT as it only comes on embedded Arm SoC’s.

    No PC user will ever encounter Windows RT on their PC.

  30. fyro11 says:

    As far as W8 goes, there’s two issues that people defending it keep forgetting:

    - Yes, W8 remains open, but MS is referring to the W7-like desktop interface and any programs as ‘legacy’ which implies the direction in which they intend to go.

    - Too many assumptions are being made about W8 being a failure with: a) less uptake than forecasted, or b) alienating desktop/power users. Remember, this is a world post-iOS, an operating system that has changed the world and its expectations of computing.

    With a phone that can arguably meld both the consumer and corporate needs into an easy to use UI, why should MS do anything different?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Because people have jobs and want to use their desktops to get stuff done, not piss around on Facebook and play Angry Birds.

      Well, OK, maybe not want. But need.

    • fish99 says:

      Surely a large majority of the computer using business world still gets to work and sits down at a desk with a screen, mouse and keyboard. There’s few IT jobs you could do proficiently with a touchscreen.

      I think you’re vastly overplaying the impact IOS and touchscreen interfaces have had on most people. I use my tablet 10 minutes per day to play stupid little games. It can do nothing productive. It’s not even a good internet device since it fails when you want to interact rather than just consume. The exception to this would be smart phones which come into their own when you’re away from a computer, but they’re an evolution of the phone, they don’t replace a computer when you need to be productive.

  31. derbefrier says:

    Linux has been and also will be a “gaming OS for nerds”. When i say nerds i mean people who don’t mind tinkering with some software for hours to get it to work. All this stuff is too much of a hassle with no gain for the average gamer. Windows runs everything easily and with little to no problems and i don’t have to use google or keep my “Linux friend” on speed dial just to get a game i want to play working. until i can download a game or just put a disk in, click the install button and start playing, Linux will stay a niche operating system for computer nerds who enjoy that kind of stuff but for the rest of us that just want to sit down and press a button to play a game there is literally no reason to even attempt this.

    • uh20 says:

      i know right,
      your knowledge is almost right, linux at this rate will be surpassing power and usability over windows, whats actually holding it back is that windows has a monopoly, they can cripple linux support by simply creating their own windows-only stuff
      and when that happens, linux could be your bitch of super o.s’s, but it could never reach the ease of windows

      i always stress theres a lot more people that can support linux at any one time because all you really need to do is a year of linux usage and a bit of ogl coding and your practically a developer.

      so if you have tons of nerds, you can try and group em up and make something amazing for the normal user to use, right?

  32. TheFlameBeneath says:

    While I love Linux, and while I actually use it almost exclusively, I have to say that it greatly suffers in the “gaming” department. It’s true that you *can* play Windows games on Linux, for the most part, but they are often a hassle to install and you are never sure that they’ll work out of the box.

    I use PlayOnLinux as well, as I found it very useful in the past years. Also, on Wine AppDB (http://appdb.winehq.org/) you can find a huge list of games and programs rated by how well they work under Wine, and usually with various suggestions on how to install them correctly. While some games are almost as easy to install as in Windows, many others have problems and are just a bit too complicated to install, since they aren’t really important software.

    I would be willing to work around the various solutions for software I *need*… but just to play a game? No, thanks.

    That’s why when I bought my new PC I left it in a dual boot configuration (Windows 7/Ubuntu). I use Ubuntu for EVERYTHING, except gaming. Believe me, it’s just better. Windows is nonsensical, as soon as you get a grip on how to use Ubuntu effectively… but Ubuntu beats Windows only when you can run native Linux applications. There is plenty of them, except for good games.

    Of course the definition of “good games” varies, but as a past hardcore gamer, while I find native Linux games (indies and the like) entertaining, I still think that most great games are part of that vast part of the gaming world which is mostly restricted to Windows users.

    Also, modding. I LOVE modding. I often prefer older games with better modding support to modern games where modding is castrated to leave space for DLCs. You already know the hassles of installing and playing a non-native game under Linux… now imagine modding it. It’s just easier to mod REALITY so it suits the game you want to play. Or to keep Windows installed alongside Linux, and use it for gaming.

    I would love to ditch Windows, and I seriously hope that Steam coming to Linux is just the first step in a serious effort by developers to support this free operating system. In the meantime, I just play on Windows.

  33. elvencode says:

    When i used Linux in the past i’ve found two main problems: one is that it’s fundamentally a server-oriented OS (command line based) with a GUI appended to it, the other is that every distro and every some time the command line keywords and general “details” (ex. OS main menu, GUIs to configure something, command line steps to do X, binary compatibility) change from little to completely.
    I think it’s positive to evolve. Probably from a server administrator view Linux has become better to configure and manage but are these features really needed for a desktop, very often single user, perspective? It can be very useful to check up things with command lines when problems occurs or a software crashes or is slow but do the end user really need to go there when there’s an end user problem?
    They should map every possible need in a GUI, but in the past i’ve seen that many times the windows done for this purpose just show you the content of a textual configuration file in a graphical way, then they rewrite the file back when some data has changed and saved from that GUI. There’s no full (or any) explanation on the various settings if not searching in the internet, no feedback and often these windows don’t even help you fix the problem or create new problems (ex. the text file has been edited manually and when the GUI rewrites the data it loses some important information, or that option is new of the OS and the GUI doesn’t handle it). It’s a pain for sure.
    I like more OSs like BSD that should have a more stable set of commands, or UNIX-like systems like BeOS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BeOS) that it was designed from its roots to have a full features and responsive GUI and was a really nice system to use in the years.
    I’d put my cash on opensource projects like Haiku OS, that aims to recreate an modern BeOS with better compatibility with Linux. It’s years they are working on it and it’s quite in a good state of development. If some important work would be done to have drivers compatible or easy converted from Linux it’d be a feasible option for desktop users instead of the server-with-a-gui Linux. Here’s the website of the project https://www.haiku-os.org/

  34. Unaco says:

    “This, then, is the rub: Forget the fantasy of using Linux for gaming without really having to try, or without problems. That’s something that isn’t going to happen until, perhaps, Valve officially add Steam to the OS, and even then you’ll still only have access to certain games.”

    This is, for me, most definitely the rub. I spend half of my days wrestling with obscure and esoteric software, command lines on UNIX systems, super computers (it’s SUPER SCIENCE! if it’s done on a super computer), and things like that. When I come to play video games, I don’t really want to wrestle with anything. Whether that’s the OS and installing the thing, or a mod that needs 5 downloads and lots of set up, or even going through some long and complicated process to get an old game working on newer systems. I know others get a kick out of all that fiddling around… I used to myself. But these days it feels like work, when all I’m looking to do is play.

    I don’t mind wrestling in a game… but wrestling to get into the game? No thanks. I’ll be sticking with Windows for my gaming, being the easiest and least hassle option out there for me.

  35. uh20 says:

    ive been using linux for quite a while now, and there are ups and downs

    THE UPS
    -its free
    -i can toggle the gui for server hosting without really losing it, so no coding for a server, just drag and drop files
    -with my future computer i have been collecting cash for, i will multiseat it, meaning i can get a replica of the desktop like it was 2 computers
    -basically more advanced stuff can be done
    -your not funding microsoft for anything, and i say this is a good thing because otherwise they get to do more devious stuff to stop the competition that is linux
    THE DOWNS
    -every freaking game out there requires a bit more effort because wine, if you go past dx9, then wine cant even fully support your game, and you get wierd things, this of course is not the fault of opengl, just that wine does not support the dx10/11 procs well yet
    -because of the millions of smarts getting put into linux, you tend to get too many choices and forks in the road to stay comfortable first time
    -everything is basically developed free, so that means a lot of technical talk and technical stuff can appear around your desktop to once again make your mind blown with uncomfortable.

    but to stay fair, this is rps, so the only thing you should care about is games, and its not good yet, and probably wont ever be until we get rid of directx, its microsofts little b that gets added in to make sure windows will always support games better, by simply making the games incompatable with linux.

    and this is a silly battle, who will win, a bunch of developers vs. a few developers + the ability to cripple support for linux at any time, what a sad world we live in.

  36. Vander says:

    I tried Linux and i like it. I like the fact that it is open-source, i like some UI, i like some progams on it. But dualbooting is a hassle. Seriously.

    Why would i want to reboot my pc every time i want to play a game? And reboot it again when i finished and want to use my browser or listen to music, since Windows do it very well? I do it a few time, then i become lazy and just click on the shortcut on my desktop. And ask myself: “Is linux really worth the hassle for me, gamer?” And the response is no.

    And even for those who dont play, like a few of my friends whom i maintain their pc: is linux worth re-learning how to use the os when you know how windows work? Changing the programs they use because it is not disponible on linux? With 7 who crash a lot less than before (i didnt even see a BSOD since i use it), well, no.

    That’s the problem: with 20 years of using windows under my belt, i don’t feel like changing is worth it. I games where disponible natively on Linux perhaps…

  37. PopeJamal says:

    “But even if that happens, not everyone will come along for the ride. I see the PC gaming culture I grew up in being squeezed out into fundamentalism. The Middle Class of PC Gamers (highly Windows-literate but not really that techy when you get right down to it), disappearing. You either go full blown tech-head and relearn computing in Linux, or you just accept the new locked down paradigms of Windows, Mac, and Steam.”

    It’s nice to see that others see the intended “end game” (har har?) for gaming on the PC. Thank you. I’ll be right there with you trying to weather the stormy waters of change.

  38. tamccullough says:

    Personally, I am very happy you are going to stick with Linux. I started a similar journey 3 years ago. Finally started feeling pretty comfortable about a year back, and have thought twice about it.

    Ok. I am lying. Can anyone ever truly be happy with an OS?

  39. U-99 says:

    Win7 support will last for another 5 years at least. Plenty of time not to waste fucking with some other OS.

  40. Homo_erectus says:

    Native linux gaming looked like it had a future until around 2002. I used linux exclusively from mid-1998 until 2002 when I simply gave up. The problems this article describe are the exact same problems gaming on Linux had in 1998, 1999, 2000, etc. It has not gotten better.

    If you want to play games on a PC, when they come out and as their makers intended them to look and sound, you’re running windows (and mac os in a very few cases).

    If you can be happy spending as much time twiddling with shit as you do playing, only to get less graphical detail, lower performance, and bugs galore, and even then only getting to play like 30% of the games that are available for windows, then gaming on Linux might be for you.

    If you have limited time and just want to install, update a driver or something and play. Windows is the hit.

    Maybe this will change with Valves work on Linux, maybe it won’t. But right now, mainstream gaming on Linux is a fools errand.

    I’m not at all happy about this. I’ve sunk hundreds to thousands of hours into gaming on Linux. I want it to work. But the fact is that it doesn’t.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      “2002″ and “nothing has changed…” ?

      Utterly useless misinformed bollocks in your comment. Installing stuff in Linux is generally easier than in Windows, and you seldom have to fiddle with drivers.

      This RPS article is about playing Windows games in Linux, which is fiddly at best because it relies on a reverse-engineered abstraction layer. Native games do not have that issue.

      Example: Bastion. If I want to buy and play Bastion, I go to the Software Centre, click “Buy” and it installs from there. The end.

      Most of what you wrote are just plain lies.

      Desura have been pretty good about making their cataogue easy to manage too.

      • Homo_erectus says:

        Truth hurts, I guess.

        A few games have native clients and are easy to install and play. Quake 3, UT2K4, Rune, Heavy Gear, all had easy to install native clients by 2002. If you only played those games Linux gaming was fine.

        The selection of native games is vanishingly small though in comparison to the size of the windows catalog. Most of us have hundreds of games in our steam libraries and almost none of them will install or run easily or well in Linux.

        If you want to play games that aren’t linux native, Linux sucks. It’s a waste of time and effort as it stands now, just like it was in 2002.

        I’ve been using linux for almost 12 years. I love linux. I have no patience for gaming on the platform though. I don’t care about drivers or installing games. I’m perfectly capable of doing both in most any OS under the sun. What I care about is that games are running well, working correctly and looking like they were intended to by the developers. This is where Linux fails. And that’s after you’ve spent hours futzing around with wine or playonlinux just to get the damn games installer to run.

        Unless Valve pulls off something amazing, mainstream gaming on Linux is a pipe dream. Set your expectations accordingly.

      • Sakkura says:

        Good luck finding Crysis 2 or Skyrim in the Software Center. Bastion? Small potatoes.

  41. rustybroomhandle says:

    Ack, some days I find these types of “discussions” infuriating – days when I should know better than to participate. :P

    WINE is a screwy way to play games, but I see the point of this series. If a Windows user were to jump ship to Linux, s/he’s left with the issue of what the heck to do with his/her massive library of Windows games. I believe part of Valve’s strategy is to try and facilitate this transition. We don’t all have our entire library of games on Steam, however.

    If Valve were to even partially succeed though it would be great. Not an easy task though. There are some easy wins though in the form of .NET games that can be ported to mono/monogame, or games that already have native Linux binaries.

    Linuxers would balk at this, but next up the easy tree would be games that can flawlessly run under WINE with the tweaking already done. Folks bawled like babies when a WINE-wrapped Limbo was included in a Humble Indie Bundle. For me it ran superbly well, so it really did not matter to me.

    Beyond that, proper porting would need to be done. Either proper ports, or getting developers to compile their binaries under WINE-lib.

    However this goes down, it should not be up to the users to solve these issues and it’s good that Valve is taking some initiative here.

    Linux can be a suitable substitute as primary PC gaming OS. It already does perfectly fine with games that are built and packaged for it. Going forward is just a matter of seeing what works and what does not, and then fixing the things that do not.

  42. LionsPhil says:

    So, for those of you who dual-boot:

    Why not just Windows, with Linux under VirtualBox?

    You’re paying for a Windows license either way. The only really hefty performance hit is on graphics, which you pay on the half where you’re not playing games. You still get the Linux environment to live in, and only lose the bit it struggles with—dealing with the quirks of real hardware. You can just suspend the VM, switch to a game, and resume the VM in a matter of seconds, without the same level of close-and-reopen-everything disruption as rebooting. (And if the game isn’t desperately demanding, even stopping the VM is unnecessary.)

    We have such stupid amounts of RAM and storage these days that’s it’s surprisingly practical.

    • DrazharLn says:

      I used to dual boot my gaming computer before it broke, but I might try virtualization this time. Depends if I can get my collection of native linux games working in the VM.

      My concerns would be that w7 takes way longer to boot than linux with a lightweight desktop environment and that the win7 part is more likely to break or catch malware (particularly keyloggers) than the linux part. Having my linux stuff compromised because of windows would be upsetting and potentially expensive.

      I’ll have to think about it.

    • Naum says:

      Gentoo is my primary OS, so I’d rather run Windows in a VM. ;) Besides, it would add the Windows boot time to my Linux’s, which is always a Bad Thing, and fiddling with the VM would surely create new problems with networking and stuff.

      Ultimately, though, it’s the irrational feeling of having a somewhat optimised system where ext4 doesn’t run on top of NTFS, plus the fact that setting up a Linux system has never proven too difficult for me up to this point. GRUB2′s automatic install is decent (until you switch to EFI, at which point prepare for battle), and when choosing Linux-compatible hardware the rest also mostly works out fine. Except for ALSA/PulseAudio which *never* works out fine, but that’s a different story.

  43. postrook says:

    I’m thinking about moving to Linux/Canada.

  44. ButchCore says:

    I’ll certainly rejoin that initiative, in the hope that things get smoother eventually of course…

  45. pbnjoe says:

    I knew that Windows 7 would lose support eventually, but I didn’t know it would also “loose” it ;)

  46. Solidstate89 says:

    This vendetta you have against Windows 8 is getting out of hand. To have the opinion you don’t like it is one thing – a completely legitimate thing to have as it’s an opinion. But this out-right lying and FUD spreading needs to fucking stop. Windows 8 doesn’t prevent you from playing, tweaking or modifying your games anymore than Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, et al ever did. If you don’t like specifically because of the new startpage; I disagree with you wholeheartedly and I think it’s a bit hilarious – but it is your opinion and you are entitled to it.

    But to outright perpetuate this “locked down” bullshit is ridiculous.

    • uh20 says:

      strictly speaking windows is locked down bullshit, why do you pay $100 to use it if its not.

      and the metro interface does interfere with menu’s, tasking (switching between the 2), and performance (2 engines running at once).

      thats not even counting the optional but obvious in practice problems, like the specific development tools needed to have metro support, and what about the future, could windows just take us down that pipe, hell ya, especially if people like you think no more than windows is the $100 proprietary investors answer

      so, alongside that, you complaining about perpetuations in general is showing how little you think about whats important (linux campaign), and whats not(critisism about the linux campaign),

      sheesh, you get a headache as a linux user, for every linux user, there are 48 windows users that use simple afterthoughts to say windows is better, and then theres you people, the ones that dont directly say it, but obviously have never seen how bad windows is internally and especially feature-wise

  47. MiKHEILL says:

    Mac is fine. It’s (mostly) easy to install and set up a hackintosh, the porting scene is larger than the linux one (portingteam.com has easy to use wrappers that enable mac games to play just about any pc game with only a 5-10% performance hit vs windows usually), and there are plenty of native mac games to boot (about 30 of my 100 steam games are mac compatible, and I only discovered this after purchasing the vast majority of them).

    Beyond all this, the user interface of OS X is something that I find by and large to be far superior to the Windows interface in terms of features, power and in some respects flexibility (comparable flexibility in interface customisation, but focused on different areas vs the Windows approach). And of course it’s Unix core gives it most of the advantages of linux (albeit vastly less customisation in this case).

    Of course this is just my opinion, and I am certain that many of you will vehemently disagree with me.

  48. ribobura osserotto says:

    sudo apt-get install synaptic
    sudo apt-get purge software-center
    sudo apt-get purge pulseaudio

    Enjoy a superior package manager front end with full repo coverage (no more need for cmd lines) and having all of your audio problems solved. Also change the article’s title to “The Problems We Had With Configuring Wine”.

  49. Arky says:

    you know what would be neat is some followup articles with a few penguinheads in the posse providing tech support. that way you could get cleaner and quicker answers than the usual googling and headscratching. sure, thats sort of cheating if the idea is to show what the average windows gamer can expect when trying to play windows games on Linux, but it’s all about building up community knowledge in a way so then the next average windows gamer can just come to RPS first and have an easier time of it.

  50. valczir says:

    I’ve been a linux gamer for the past 6 years. Let me tell you, it is a hell of a lot better now than it was back then – Guild Wars 2 has been working reasonably well with a reasonably small amount of work since the first beta. The amount of work to keep it working in beta 3 and release ramped up a fair bit, but at least it’s still working.

    I would request that [edit] anyone trying out linux for gaming (not just the author of the articles)[/edit] keeps the following places/things in mind:

    1) WineHQ AppDB – Here, you can look up how well a given game works with Wine as well as get some good guides. I was the primary manager of Dungeons and Dragons Online on that website for ages, and tried to keep the guides well-documented and simple enough for anyone to follow. I’m now one of the managers of Guild Wars 2 and am in the middle of doing the same for that game (although it’s a little tougher to make GW2′s installation easy, in the current state of things).

    2) CodeWeavers’ CrossOver – This is a proprietary wrapper around Wine, with simplified graphical interfaces for most things and support for multiple Wine prefixes without having to know really weird things (q4wine and PlayOnLinux help some with prefixes, but POL is buggy [in my experience] and q4wine isn’t easy to use). They will also provide full support for any issues you face.

    3) Canonical makes some … interesting decisions, usually to appear more Windows-like and to support the extreme cases. For example, audio mixing can be supported by hardware or by drivers – alsa doesn’t bother to handle software mixing because it assumes that you will buy hardware that has mixing support (either via drivers or hardware) if you need it. Pulseaudio, which ubuntu uses, really doesn’t do much other than audio mixing and some remote play capabilities. These are nice features, but are only useful in niche cases. Most people either only have one application playing audio at a time or have an audio card that can do hardware mixing (the c-media oxygen chipset, which is I believe used by Asus for their sound cards, is a very good audio chipset that works well with linux).

    That’s not to say ubuntu is bad. It’s just … harder to support. And some things that would be low to moderate in difficulty on other distros is like pulling teeth on ubuntu.

    There isn’t much better than ubuntu for simple ease of getting it set up without being forced to learn the linux way of doing things, but if you can handle a learning curve, look at (in ascending degrees of difficulty) debian sid (or aptosid, or something else debian-sid-based), fedora, arch linux, or (for the really challenging, you-will-know-linux-before-you-finish-the-60-page-install-document, cliff-face learning curve) gentoo/funtoo. They are not inherently better than ubuntu at everything, but in my experience, they’re better than ubuntu for people who are a little more tech-savvy, patient, and eager to learn.

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