P-p-pick Up A SpaceChem: GOG Now Supports Linux

By Alice O'Connor on July 24th, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

Shut up about that pun. Look, these fine penguins are from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Penguins_walking_-Moltke_Harbour,_South_Georgia,_British_overseas_territory,_UK-8.jpg

“The year of the Linux desktop” is a phrase people have tossed around with increasing irony since the nineties, but it was never going to arrive explosively. Linux has slowly grown and spread into homes through friendly distributions like Ubuntu and Mint, installed as easy and safer alternatives to Windows or to freshen up old duffers (my netbook is Minty fresh now). Games have followed.

Steam and Humble Bundles have helped urge devs to make Linux versions, and now GOG are in on it. The virtuous virtual vendor of vintage (and virgin) video games launched Linux support today, starting with 50-odd games new and old. It’s the first official Linux store release for some. And loads of them are on sale too.

Linux versions won’t cost anything extra, simply being a download option for people who own a game. GOG’s lineup includes new lovelies like SpaceChem, Kentucky Route Zero, and our Jim’s Sir, You Are Being Hunted, as well as oldies such as Sid Meier’s Colonization and Rise of the Triad. They plan to pass 100 Linux games over the next few months.

They’re a mix of native Linux versions and ones GOG have packaged themselves, which I suspect means they’re on DOSBox. Old DOS games could always run in DOSBox anyway, but look, now there’s no fiddling required. As for how they come, GOG explain:

“For both native Linux versions, as well as special builds prepared by our team, GOG.com will provide distro-independent tar.gz archives and support convenient DEB installers for the two most popular Linux distributions: Ubuntu and Mint, in their current and future LTS editions.”

Say, do you play games on Linux? How does that work out for you? Do you use SteamOS or one of the more desktoppy distributions?

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56 Comments »

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  1. Cockie says:

    Hurray!

  2. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Well, Linux *used* to be my work OS. Guess not any more.

  3. plsdeleteme says:

    Been playing on Ubuntu on a regular basis for years now. Mostly works like a charm, when using proprietary graphics drivers and native clients at least. Especially in the recent years the quality of Linux ports has stepped up significantly. There currently are only a few games (and MS Office, which I require for work. It only runs “okayish” using Wine) which keep me on being on Windows most of the time. With many of the upcoming games like Star Citizen having Linux clients this might finally change. MS Office could then be simply put into a virtual machine.

  4. Chorltonwheelie says:

    Can I be the first to recommend all you Windoze (see what I did there?) users immediately buy a Mac and install Linux on it.
    I’ve seen the future. It’s expensive and incomprehensible.

    • Deathmaster says:

      You lost me at ‘buy a Mac’.

    • Premium User Badge

      DrollRemark says:

      Not to turn this into one of those arguments, but do you really gain much by doing that? I’ve never really burrowed into Linux, but for someone who’s skimmed it, I seem to get most of the functionality through the OS X shell anyway.

      • joa says:

        You do realise he’s being sarcastic? Obviously by doing that you get the worst of both worlds. The overpriced hardware from Apple and the barely functioning operating system from Linux.

      • iniudan says:

        Indeed as OSX is fully POSIX-compliant, thus a Unix system, so there is lot of similarity with Linux.

    • The Godzilla Hunter says:

      Is there a reason you would but a more-expensive mac if you are going to get rid of its OS?

      • Michael Anson says:

        Build quality. Macs are not significantly more expensive than equally-kitted PCs anymore, and while they are difficult to upgrade, they can be very powerful workstations. The Mac Pro is an impressive piece of engineering for those who need professional-grade graphics cards instead of gaming cards, the current iMac line is an impressive system with lovely displays, and the portable lines offer their own advantages.

        I’d still buy a PC, though.

        • Shuck says:

          Heck, Apple has seemingly come from some weird alternate reality lately, as at least some builds of the new Mac Pros are actually significantly cheaper than if you tried to build an equivalent machine from parts, I understand. (Apparently Apple is getting a really good deal on graphics cards from AMD.)

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          I’ve read that Apple makes more profit on its laptops than HP does on 8 of theirs, but like you say it could be a question of collective bargaining, etc.

      • Nibblet says:

        Well, you do get all the other advantages of a closed down proprietary system for a 20% mark up.

  5. Burzmali says:

    I’ve gamed on Linux exclusively since around 2009 and it has only gotten better. First came Humble and Desura, then Steam, now GOG. I have a pretty large GOG library that I pretty much abandoned when Steam started supporting Linux so with that and GOG Galaxy a far chunk of that library should become usable again (especially if they build in Wine support to Galaxy). I game using a normal desktop Linux distribution (a version of Ubuntu), and I use Wine to play Windows games that don’t support Linux, usually through PlayOnLinux, a frontend that simplifies the process.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    > Say, do you play games on Linux? How does that work out for you?

    I’ve tried. Works so-so. Games selection remains limited, and graphics card drivers and WiFi keep being problematic.
    http://blog.sesse.net/blog/tech/2014-07-23-12-28_the_sad_state_of_linux_wi-fi.html
    (I had *exactly* these problems. I have an onboard WiFi with hardly any reception and 50k/sec speeds, and a USB dongle with almost perfect reception and 1Mbit/sec. Guess which one Linus always picks as the primary after 60 seconds of spamming the log with errors and bombarding the router with DHCP requests? I had to go into BIOS and disable it)

    I’m currently experimenting on running Windows on my big stationary, and streaming to my work laptop connected to the TV, stereo and a sort of steambox. Works pretty good with some games (Portal for instance…), but I get choppy framerates and disconnects sometimes. I think this is due to not-perfect WiFI coverage in the house though. Chromecast also gets choppy or disconnects every 30 minutes or so, usually in the middle of the final episode of a great HBO series. It is usually enough that the fridge starts humming for choppiness/disconnects to happen.

    > Do you use SteamOS or one of the more desktoppy distributions?

    Ubuntu. Less than perfect from an open source perspective, but I try to go with the critical mass of users these days to maximize the chances of finding drivers and up to date instructions online. I don’t have the energy to hack around in the evenings and get hundreds of undocumented libs to work together, I do that all days at work and there I get paid for it.

    • puffinmcpuffs says:

      For most of my Linux Wifi issues I have found ethernet bridges to be the best solution. Not the cheapest one but haven’t had an issue since I switched.

  7. Premium User Badge

    mavu says:

    Debian/Linux is what i use for everything i do with my computer except games which are windows only. So i am very happy that more and more games are available on linux, and i dont have to boot windows for playing.
    Also, more game engines seem to realize how stupid it is to use a true fullscreen mode in the time of non-crt displays, and start working windowed. at whatever resolution the user sizes the window. This has always been very annoying for me on linux because while possible to change resolution of the desktop on the fly, it was so rarely used by native software the it often had uninteded consequences (read: bugs) when actually being used. Not to mention the complete disregard this mode has for multi monitor users.

    So, yes playing a lot on linux, liking it a lot, and hope more develpoers start writing/using more easily portable software.

    • Burzmali says:

      Another problem there is that Fullscreen but Windowed might not disable the compositing on your desktop manager, causing a performance drop.

      • joa says:

        Not only that, but unless you use fullscreen mode your graphics card won’t clock up to its 3D clock. In windowed mode it will sit at its 2D clock and you’ll lose about 50% performance.

        Of course if you use Linux it will probably sit at sub-2D clocks all the time because the Gallium guys haven’t figured out power management or clocks yet.

        • nil says:

          to be fair, reverse-engineering device drivers (not to mention the devices themselves) is kind of hardmode.

          documentation makes things a lot better, cf. AMD and Intel.

        • Premium User Badge

          mavu says:

          Well, having a Nvidia card and using the binary blob driver, i have not noticed any performance diffrence between windows and linux. If they exist (according to benchmarks they do) they are smaller than what i can notice without a frame rate counter.

  8. PDP-8e says:

    I don’t even have a windows dual-boot anymore, threw all that nonsense out the window and loving it. Anyway I am having a fun time playing games on linux, I don’t really play many big budget ones which is fine since most of them only run on windows. Many indies run on Linux and I have Gmod, KSP, and Minecraft FTB running native so its pretty much fine. Very many games have Wine prefixes and the like available, or you could write your own.
    So it’s pretty much fine if you are a medium-level gamer, enjoy indie games more than AAA and are fine playing around a bit to get it going.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Aspyr have said they have multiple Linux ports on the way. They did not say which, but it’s a safe-ish bet it’s 2K-published titles.

  9. rustybroomhandle says:

    I am almost entirely on Linux these days. Work & play. Kubuntu on the laptop, Mint on the work ‘puter, Manjaro on the gaming/farting-about machine at home.

    I tried one of the GOG freebies that uses DOSBox and it works alright, although I’d have liked some kind of choice upfront about whether to launch windowed or fullscreen.

    Something to consider: Old DOS games can mostly not be run on Windows any more, which is why they use DOSBox. DOSBox can be tweaked and the runtime modified to make any old thing work, and you can ship different versions of it with different games.

    Thing is, over time the same thing will happen with older Windows games. You just won’t be able to run them on new versions of Windows any more. So the only alternative then would be to run those games under WINE. But there’s no WINE for Windows, since that seems mostly superfluous. So it might well end up that the only way you’ll be able to run classic Windows titles is on Linux or OSX.

    EDIT: Well, I guess a virtual machine could work too but that’s not very click & play.

    • Premium User Badge

      SuddenSight says:

      I feel like I should point out, by the time old Windows games really don’t work on windows someone will probably have made a Wine for Windows (or equivalent).

      Still, Linux is good.

      • DrMcCoy says:

        A lot of old Windows games already don’t work on new Windows versions anymore, or at least very hard to get working. Many of the Windows 3.1 games, for example. Or Discworld Noir. Or Blade Runner. Or Gabriel Knight 2.

        Unfortunately, those often don’t work well in Wine either. For a while, I had a Windows 98 install in VirtualBox (and I really needed that when I RE’d Woodruff for ScummVM), but VirtualBox removed Windows 98 support for some stupid reason some time ago.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      You just won’t be able to run them on new versions of Windows any more.

      I’m really not sure about that. It’s well known that many games from the 95 era are more or less lost because they rely on dirty hacks, ancient third-party software (usually the nightmare known as QuickTime) and coding to the metal of a very specific 3D card, but the majority of games made with DirectX run quite fine even on W8. If there’s one thing Windows is genuinely great at, it’s backwards compatibility.

      And yeah, if they break this compatibility for whatever reason, you can be sure that the demand for Windows NT virtual machines/emulators will skyrocket, so I wouldn’t worry about that too much. The future can be very unpredictable in this field.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      So the only alternative then would be to run those games under WINE. But there’s no WINE for Windows, since that seems mostly superfluous.

      Actually it’s existed for over a decade since the NT4 days and is called Windows on Windows
      Anyone using a 64-bit version of Windows has probably used WOW without even being aware of it’s existence as it is what runs all your 32-bit applications (although they’d be using WOW64)

      The more you know…

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        I guess I should have been more explicit. Yes, and DOS software in Windows run on a similar layer. But those don’t work any more if you are on a 64 bit system, and with Microsoft talking about breaking compatibility of some things even with minor upgrades, I can’t imagine that keeping legacy stuff running forever is really a priority for them.

      • Solidstate89 says:

        Windows on Windows is probably the greatest emulator of all time. All applications that run with WOW64 basically run at pure native speed with almost no overhead.

        It’s actually pretty amazing when you get right down to it, at just how efficient and fast of an emulator WOW64 is.

    • FCA says:

      There is actually Wine for windows (at least, Wined3d for Windows, including ddraw.dll), and this is needed to smoothly play some old Windows (95-98 era) games on Windows 8(.1), I believe due to the fact that old DirectDraw (I believe from DirectX 6 and below) are emulated and very slow.
      See for example http://www.shsforums.net/topic/48732-ddraw-fix-for-slowdownsstuttering/

      This is actually automatically installed by GOG when you install an Infinity Engine game (Baldur’s Gate, Planescape Torment and the like), so they do use Wine already, just for Windows ;)

  10. Keyrock says:

    I’ve been running Linux since sometime in 2001. I currently run Xubuntu. I’ve gamed on Linux for years and years. I stopped buying games that didn’t have native Linux clients, though I still keep WINE around for some of those older games from before. Obviously, only buying games with Linux clients has limited my selection quite a bit, probably a healthy thing for my wallet, but Linux games are becoming much more commonplace these days so that’s becoming less and less a limiting factor.

  11. DanMan says:

    As much as I’d like to, I’m not playing on Linux yet. I don’t even have it installed on my desktop PC. I do have it on my Netbook (Debian Gnome Shell) and Nettop (Xubuntu). The big games still don’t come on Linux sadly.

    Otherwise I’d have switched already, even though I can’t really complain about Win7. I do like the Gnome Shell a lot, too, though. I’m using it at work (Fedora), and it’s a great desktop environment. If only it didn’t leak memory that badly.

    • iniudan says:

      My laptop as been on Linux for years (CentOS, need to do migration to version 7), but still using Windows on my gaming PC, most game I play are now available under Linux, but no point to bother migrating until I get a new one, as this one getting a bit old and hopefully budget will be there by the time Witcher 3 is release.

      EDIT: hmmm, reply unintended DanMan, sorry.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Chuckaluphagus says:

    I’ve used Ubuntu Linux exclusively on notebooks since 8.04, if I remember correctly. Gaming and the need for Microsoft Office for work have kept me on Windows on the desktop, which admittedly is not a terrible thing – Windows 7 is pretty good (Windows 8 is just screwy) But I much prefer the interface and my workflow on Ubuntu by this point, so more game support coming to Linux makes the transition that much easier.

  13. Geebs says:

    Fun fact: GoG’s quality control is so thorough that the executable for the official version of Planescape Torment is called “Planscape Torment a” and doesn’t work. I’ve had the windows version running perfectly under Wineskin for ages.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      What do you mean?

      I just had a look in my Torment install and the executable is called torment.exe. Is that the one you’re talking about? Or the Linux side of things?

      • Janichsan says:

        Since he’s mentioning WineSkin, I assume he’s talking about GOG’s Wine-wrapped Mac version of PST.

        • Premium User Badge

          Stellar Duck says:

          Oh!

          I didn’t know that was a Macintosh program. Thought it was some fork of Wine or something.

          • Geebs says:

            Sorry, I was keeping it oblique because there was a tediously predictable Mac pogrom going on upthread. I was basically saying that Wineskin itself has always been an option for most of GoG’s library, and is easy enough to use that anybody can do a better job than GoG, with minimal work required.

            IIRC wineskin is a Linux project which has been ported to Mac.

  14. Solidstate89 says:

    What do you expect me to do with a Hyperlink inside of an annotation? Come on Alice! You’re better than that.

  15. rabbit says:

    finally took the plunge to linux (mint 17) recently and am loving it. don’t currently have a dual boot – am considering setting one up on an external hard drive for the odd bit of AAA gaming but basically haven’t missed out on anything much since doing it, would very much recommend it.

  16. DrRoxo says:

    “The virtuous virtual vendor of vintage (and virgin) video games”

    Hurry, someone make a T-shirt design with that line and sell it to GOG! \o/

  17. electron105 says:

    My laptop is also Minty fresh! I’ve had very few problems gaming on it so far, though I do tend to stick to less demanding/2D games as it isn’t super powerful and the touchpad is crap. Still though, I have recently been enjoying (in no particular order): EDGE, Hexcells, Thomas Was Alone, The Chaos Engine, Stealth Bastard Deluxe, Jets and Guns, and Tales of Maj’Eyal. For some reason though, FTL refuses to work and I’m still new to this whole linux thing so I haven’t figured out why yet :(

    Anyway, nice to see GoG jumping on the penguin train too, I’m gonna go give Duke 3D a blast!

  18. mvar says:

    Aside from gaming linux doesnt lack anything compared to windows. Even MS office can be compared to openoffice/libreoffice – for home use, for work/corporate its another matter entirely. Gaming with wine has its ups and downs, one moment you install and play Dishonored like you’re in Win7, the next you fail miserably trying to launch Dark Souls. If you have no problem avoding the “big guns” (CoD, BF) or F2P stuff like planetside, then give linux a try. Personally i’m more or less satisfied although sometimes its a bit of a bummer not being able to “plug-and-play” a game without doing all the checking-searching-tweaking with Wine.

  19. DrMcCoy says:

    Well, I’ve been running GNU/Linux since 2000, and kicked Windows off my HDD around 2003. Although I’m not a “hardcore gamer”, I do of course game on Linux.

    Currently, I run Debian Sid on my desktop and Arch on my laptop. But I already plan to install Gentoo on my desktop soonish.

  20. Wang Tang says:

    Windows for gaming, linux for work. The only system of the main three I cannot get a grip on is OS X, but also maybe because I haven’t really used it. The good thing about being mostly platform agnostic is you can just laugh about the platform flame wars and just use the OS you currently want to use :D
    They all kinda work, tbh.

  21. dogsolitude_uk says:

    “Say, do you play games on Linux? How does that work out for you? Do you use SteamOS or one of the more desktoppy distributions?”

    Yep, I dual boot all my machines with Windows 7 and Linux Mint. My g/f has Xubuntu on a netbook.*

    I’ve noticed something though. I play AAA titles, make music using Ableton and Komplete, and Photoshop things on Windows, but when I’m on Linux I’m more than happy playing Old Skool RPGs and Indie games, making music using LMMS, EnergyXT and Puredata, and graphicking in GIMP.

    So I guess I ‘game differently’ on Linux. I have Portal and Euro Truck Simulator 2 on Linux, but haven’t played them on there much. In fact, I really appreciate just having a bunch of Indie games (Eschalon FTW!) and simpler stuff on Linux. It’s like going on holiday and taking a break from the usual routine.

    *Linux has been so useful for old XP netbooks: I use Mint with MATE on mine :)

  22. captain nemo says:

    yep – I’m part of the minty fresh movement too (running Linux Mint v16 off an 1TB Western Digital Passport external usb hard disk). So in the ultimate case where I mess it up, I can reformat it and start again :)

    Up to now, I’ve mostly been using VirtualBox and Wine for my old games. Freelancer works a treat.

    Today I bought these off GOG:
    …. => Darwinia
    …. => Sid Meir’s Colonisation
    …. => Dont Starve
    …. => Sir You Are Being Hunted

    All working fine, with the exception of Sir, probably because I’m running Mint v16 instead of Mint v17. A trip to the forums is in order …

  23. Shadowcat says:

    Awesome news. So very glad to see GOG making this move, and I’m sure their DOS catalogue (especially) will grow rapidly, given DOSBox.

    Every little bit of support from developers and retail stores alike helps to make Linux a more viable gaming platform for the masses. I know so many people (myself included) who wouldn’t even have a Windows installation were it not for games, so the recent momentum for Linux gaming is exciting.