July 6, 2007

2008: Year of Linux?

MaximumPC is touting 2008 as the year of Linux as most people are just sick of Windows.
Fortunately for open-source addicts, there are several signs that the coming year could bring a sea-change among end users, making 2008 the year of the Linux desktop.

There's nothing bold about pointing out that modern Linux distros have made leaps and bounds in usability in the past couple of years.
However, there is one catch: Linux sucks for gaming.
For me, the real hitch in the switch is gaming. While Wine and other Windows compatibility utilities do a great job of running productivity apps, they have less success with the hottest new gaming titles. And as long as Windows retains its utter domination of the PC gaming scene, gamers will always need Windows PCs.
Now that I have some Linux experience under my belt, I can admit that being able to get up and running for free is great. Constantly searching for information to accomplish basic tasks is not. Linux is a double-sided sword; stable and secure, but clunky and diversified amongst a thousand distributions with a thousand different ways to make things work.

Linux does have inroads into gaming. Linux is by far the preferred hosting solution for multi-player shooters like Counterstrike. Having helped foot the bill for a few servers in the past, I can attest to that fact. This is Linux's main boon to gaming.

However, having a knowledgeable Linux guru is where the real savings are at. The second a server renter/owner has to sign up for a "support plan", is the second Linux servers begin draining Mr. Piggybank.

Also, World of Warcraft runs easily on Linux. It sets a standard that other developers should follow. Good things happen for games that support Linux.

NOTE: I don't want to be misquoted here. World of Warcraft does not have a native Linux client, but Blizzard's adhearance to standards makes it very easy for their games to be run through Linux applications like WINE or Cedega.