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Are games a key ingredient to GNU/Linux overtaking windows?

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libervisco's picture
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I started writing an article as a response to those who say that despite it continuously growing, GNU/Linux is too slow in displacing Windows on the desktop. I believe it is just getting started, but I'll save the elaboration for the article.

I am opening this thread because I basically stumbled on a section of the article devoted to the issue of games. I don't think multimedia support is so much of a problem as it is often made to be (outside of US, where software patents are valid, it is not a problem). With Dell selling Ubuntu pre-installed, the obstacle of people having to install and configure it themselves is gone too. But games.. that problem remains.

What I mean is the following. Somebody buys a shiny new Dell with Ubuntu on it and wants to play games on it. He will still be exposed to the mainstream games that his windows friends run so he will want to run those on his new PC. However, he wont be able to, unless he goes through the process of installing Cedega (and paying for it) or Wine, which is a first checkpoint at which he might say "gosh I wouldn't have to do this if I bought that XP computer) and he'd be right. Sad

So, we can say that he shouldn't play those proprietary games. He should find free ones to play, natively developed for GNU/Linux, and sure there's more and more of quality ones from that field. However, this would mean that the problem he faced (with mainstream games) must be ignored and turned into a much deeper ideological issue for us to deal with the problem, because without understanding this ideological issue (of freedom) he probably wont know of any reason why he should live without those proprietary mainstream games.

And sure, I'd opt for a shift making deal like that anytime myself, but you can see how that presents an obstacle for my article which wants to persuade people that soon there will be no obstacles at all, that running GNU/Linux will be as easy and easier as Windows, including games, which is apparently not true.

So, is the only way to resolve the gaming issue on GNU/Linux to pretty much displace the current mainstream games with Free Software titles? And besides, are games really the key ingredient to adoption of an OS, as some claim? Can GNU/Linux ever get to the 50% market share, for example, without the gaming issue resolved? (And do note that 50% includes A LOT of people who will find gaming practically essential.)

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Games cross the line between software and culture

Games cross the line between culture and software, a line that had never been very solid anyway.

However we do have some promising developments I think

1) the open graphics card project has a working prototype (2d only so far)

2) AGPL is due out in a month or two, this should help with the sharing of online gameing code between companies.

tbuitenh's picture
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Here's an interesting line

Here's an interesting line of reasoning:

If you get a GNU/Linux PC, it won't get obsolete as quickly as a MS Windows PC. That means you save money, which you can use to buy a wii (or a playstation or xbox, but I don't want to promote those since I'm still boycotting sony, and an xbox... well...).

One problem: the money isn't saved at the time you buy (well, a little of it) but at the time you would normally buy your next PC.

libervisco's picture
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So it looks like we can

So it looks like we can only say that regarding gaming things aren't there yet, but point to all the related advantages that getting GNU/Linux presents and that things are constantly improving.

I think this still does make gaming the weakest point yet of GNU/Linux which is maybe something that could be pointed out more often than it is. If games really are a significant part of what makes one OS attractive for mass adoption we by all means need to get that going full steam.

Whistler's picture
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I don't care very much for

I don't care very much for games, but... well Sad

Also I think there are something more important which currently free software cannot replace, such as Flash, Authorware, Director, AutoCAD, etc.

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Autocad is one of the

Autocad is one of the reasons I got involved with GNU/Linux. I took a class in school on using it, but I could not help but think, why are we paying $1000 plus dollars for a license to use some bits on a cd? I did not think distribution expenses could possibly explain it.
I'm sure a free software replacement of it could be made, it is just that right now, I don't think there are enough free software developers to go around.

libervisco's picture
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You're right that there are

You're right that there are other things which are, to those who need them, more important than games are to those who need games. The difference is that there is a much larger number of people to which games matter than people to which AutoCAD, Authorware, Director etc. matters. And that's what makes it quite an issue.

I've read so many times now people saying that, for example Ubuntu, works great and has everything they need except one thing, gaming support the way they had in Windows. And this single exception then remains a sole reason why they keep windows around in dual boot.

Now imagine if that was somehow fixed? How many people would, instead of dual booting, dump Windows altogether right away or at least much sooner than they would have otherwise.

The ideal solution is developing as many really great quality games which are Free Software and I think that there are already a few examples of that which we can look up to: Battle for Wesnoth, OpenArena, Nexuiz, perhaps BZFlag (and some others) which are really polished and of awesome quality, exactly what people coming to GNU/Linux demand. We need more of that.

In the meantime, the only solutions which we can propose to newcomers who insist on having such games is in one of the two evils: suggest dual booting with windows or suggest running them in wine or even paying for Cedega which I hear has an impressive number of well supported popular games. And I guess that's all I can really say in my article (pretty much with the same words as here, so yes I would mention them as two "evils" simply in order to emphasize that the end *good* goal should be without proprietary anything, including games).

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Joined: 2005-12-20
I believe that yeah, gaming

I believe that yeah, gaming is key to linux taking windows over.

I for one, love gaming, and I love playing games like Quake 4, Wolfenstein Enemy Territory, Doom 3, Most online first person shooters Smiling

Its good that quake 4 and the other games I listed work under linux, and I think it's a reason that I use FreeBSD and solaris as my main OS's because it means I can play them without having to dual boot Smiling

libervisco's picture
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You mean those games which

You mean those games which work on GNU/Linux work on FreeBSD and Solaris as well? Hm, that does make sense.

Okay, I suppose one direction which we can move this topic in is how can we help promote the gaming world on GNU/Linux in a sense of attracting people to Free Software games more than proprietary ones and encouraging them to dump Windows completely (like, let them see how much fun they can have on GNU/Linux *only* that they don't really need Windows anymore).

So there was this Nuxified Gaming Tournament idea that's still valid. How can we make it special and attractive? What else can we do?

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Yeah they do, through the

Yeah they do, through the Linux Compatability layer though Smiling

Well its more that just a layer its a kernel and all the other stuff a normal linux distro has in solaris Smiling

Its good though, because if, by chance, some game devs made ALL the games they developed posix compliant then it would work on most operating systems Smiling

As for making it different maybe a prize of some sort? Or *only* people on FOSS operating systems being allowed to enter?

libervisco's picture
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onlinebacon wrote: As for
onlinebacon wrote:

As for making it different maybe a prize of some sort? Or *only* people on FOSS operating systems being allowed to enter?

Hmm a prize.. not sure. I'm financially tight right now, but it's something to consider. About accepting only people on FOSS OSs, that would require configuring servers to deny access to systems which identify as Windows or Mac etc. I'm not sure, what do others think?

I think games like OpenArena and Nexuiz should have high scores of some kind which can be exported to the web so that we can keep charts of top gamers and stuff like that. I would open a whole new section of the site for this sort of thing at gaming.nuxified.org. The servers would be hosted at libervis.net though.

tbuitenh's picture
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free os
onlinebacon wrote:

Or *only* people on FOSS operating systems being allowed to enter?

This could be very hard to verify. If the game client tells the server what OS the client is running on, that is useless information since anyone could modify the client. If the server tries to figure out in some other way, this could be blocked by a firewall or something.
Anyway, if the game is free software and can run on gnu/linux, then probably most if not all participants will be using free operating systems. And we could rely on the honesty of the players.

Maybe it will be nice to have a very low cost prize, such as a plush penguin. Certainly no windows user is going to play for winning one of those Smiling .