September 9, 2007

Linux Gaming with Radeon

It is no secret that I am becoming a fan of Linux. Over the past year I have completed the first half of my Red Hat Academy courses and have begun studying for my Linux+ certification. My interest in Linux extends beyond education and work. I am a gamer, and Linux gaming is a sore spot to an otherwise great operating system.

Digging around on the Internet, I found an article showing off Enemy Territory: Quake Wars running on a Linux box sporting the new 8.41 display drivers for Radeon HD 2900XT video cards. If you need to understand one thing about Linux gaming, it is that the lack of driver support is a main cause for the faltering Linux game market. However, this is changing as the article shows.

This gives me a bit of faith that Linux may become a viable platform in the future for gamers. My ultimate dream would be to have a complete Linux distribution built completely around games. How many gamers would love to have an entire operating system dedicated to their hobby? I know I would.

4 comments:

Scott said...

I'm also a fan of linux, and was (for some reason) even listed on the dev team for PCLinuxOS for a short time. Wasn't really a dev, all I did was package a few things, make several suggestions for improvements, and edit Mandriva's code a bit to improve the interface for PCLinuxOS' Control Center.

But I digress...

In terms of simply 'using' an OS, I'd much rather be in Linux. Back in the day I played WoW and GW just fine using either WINE or Cedega. With the modern games, though, I'm just not willing to jump through all the hoops to get them working, and even rebooting back and forth between 'nix and Windows takes too long when I'm in the mood to game *now.*

The overall impression I got from the 'nix community wasn't so much a driver issue at all. Nvidia and ATI both have had drivers for awhile, though ATI's were notoriously poor in comparison. The impression I got (keeping in mind I've not been a 'nix guy for long, I'm hardly an expert on the matter, nor am I some hardcore Linux advocate, hardcore community promoter, Microsoft Basher, or anything else) is that they have too many people who *whine, gripe, complain, and otherwise bitch* along the lines of "if it isn't FREE software, it isn't going on my system!" They want Nvidia and ATI to open-source their video drivers, for starters. Then comes the actual software -- the games. Games are a business, and very few devs or publishers will allow their code to be open-sourced for any clown with a text editor and compiler to fiddle with. id is one of the few who do release their code under GPL, but even then, not til a few years down the road when no new commercial projects are licensing the engine.

Perhaps the "FREE SOFTWARE OR DIE" crowd is the minority, much like MMO raiders. However, again much like MMO raiders, they are the *vocal* minority, and therefore they are the only ones saying anything. If you were a dev or publisher, and all you saw of the 'nix crowd were harsh statements that if you don't open-source your game, they won't buy it... would you bother coding for that platform? I wouldn't...

heartlessgamer said...

I completely understand your points about certain Linux communities being completely against paying for anything, but for the purpose of this post I am ignoring them.

I am looking forward to the day that games come with "Supports Linux" stickers right next to the "Supports Windows X". Not as a selling point, but as an industry standard.

NOTE: I am not in the "FREE OR DIE" camp. I don't hate Windows or Microsoft. I actually prefer Microsoft productivity apps and am a big fan of XP. Linux, to me, is like getting Apple type products without becoming part of the cult :P

Grimwell said...

I'd love to see games on a Linux distribution that was designed specifically for games. Streamlining the OS so nothing but those essentials are running would be awesome. After all, the more resources we have left for our games, the better.

How do we get there? I think it would take a combination of driver support for a number of hardware items (not just video cards), solid software support (someone has to make that OS), and then game companies willing to pay for dev time when it won't pay off.

That last one is important - until there are teeming hordes of Linux gamers ready to buy the software, many companies can't afford to eat the loss of developing for an OS that is in the minority.

Note that the vocal minority of "Free or Die" folks converting is not enough to take Linux out of the gaming minority.

Scott said...

Blizzard did do the world a favor by coding WoW for Macs (therefore OpenGL) which allows WoW to run on Linux as well with Cedega/WINE.

I have no use for a Mac myself, but I understand that OSX is based to some degree from FreeBSD, also a Unix derivative. Is it really that hard to revamp existing BSD/OSX+OpenGL code to work on Linux also?