Tux, the mascot of Linux
Today i stumpled upon this little news item: http://www.ubuntuvibes.com/2012/10/valve-linux-more-viable-than-windows-8.html, and it got me thinking! I would recommend that you read the small article, don’t worry it’s just a couple of bulletins
Below you can read my thoughts on the subject. I hope you enjoy, and I would appreciate some feedback, in order to ensure better quality articles on the site.
What’s the deal about this Linux and gaming?
The first and best argument for using Linux, is that it is free, that means no more expensive Windows upgrades, something most of us will appreciate! It is secondly a firm goodbye to Microsoft‘s monopoly, which in the end will benefit us, the customers. But lets take at the question at hand, what’s the deal about this Linux?
In the past it has been Microsoft who has been sitting firmly on the gaming market, as the operating system to go to when developing, which has led to an industry that to a great extent uses Microsoft’s solutions for game programming and execution. This has been working great on Windows, but it has also ensured that competitors didn’t stand a chance! This, of course, is very good for Microsoft, in the sense that they have made a whole lot of money, exploiting their monopoly, but also in the sense that everyone who uses a computer will to some degree get exposed to some sort of Microsoft product, whether they want to or not.
What about gaming then?
In the last couple of years something has started happening on the market for cross platform graphics engines, which enables developing of games that will run on Windows, Mac and, surprise, Linux! This is achieved through use of open spurce API’s such as OpenGL for graphics, and OpenAL for audio, these are comparable to Microsoft DirectX, in fact they are competitors. There is some major technical differences between OpenGL and DirectX, primarily in the way they manage resources, where DirectX lets you work with resources on a very low level, and OpenGL has implemented resource management, so that the developer doesn’t need to worry about it, but at the expense of decreased performance. This lone fact is enough to convince me as a developer, to chose OpenGL any day, there is nothing i despise more as a lazy developer than managing resources, so naturally i find ways to make the system do it for me.
How come we don’t see more games on Linux then?
Basicly it is a question of developers being lazy, as mentioned before. When you know that your audience only uses one platform, you of course use an implementation that has strong ties to the underlying platform, why make your application cross platform if the user base consists solely of Windows users, that’s just silly, i think we all, to some extent, can agree upon that.
Well, that’s all just fine and dandy, but in reality there is luckily more to it. If we consider a triple A game title, they are most of the time released onto different platforms, in the form of consoles, which means that they are actually designed and developed as cross platform applications. Now you may wonder how this is achieved without the use of DirectX for instance. This is fairly simple, there is a whole lot of game engines out there, and most game studios use their own engine to some degree, this engine could be developed as an abstraction layer that under the hood choses DirectX if we are compiling for Windows/Xbox360 or OpenGL for any thing else.
There’s probably not any good game engines that uses OpenGL!
So what are the pro’s of using Linux then?
- Stability! We have all tried working on something important in Windows, when all of sudden everything crashes, for some this is happens often. Linux handles system crashes better than Windows, and that’s even though Windows has been improved a lot over the years!
- Did i mention that Linux is free?! And if that wasn’t enough, there is also loads of FREE programs just waiting to be downloaded!
- Package management, the end of stupid installation files, download a package, double click, and boom, you are good to go!
That sounds great! How can i get Linux?
Ubuntu is a easy to use Linux distro
I would personally recommend any one new to Linux, to start out with Ubuntu. It’s a distro designed with ease of use in mind, that means even though you don’t have a degree in computer science, you will be able to use the system, and should you need any help, there is a very big community around Ubuntu, that is willing to help anyone!
If you don’t like the graphical user interface of Ubuntu, being Gnome, there is a couple of different Ubuntu derivatives where the only thing changed is the pretty parts, the biggest ones being Kubuntu and Xubuntu.
Start developing cross platform applications!