Linux is not a "second string" operating system

While Linux might not enjoy a huge desktop market at present, there are some of you who think that's about to change. Especially the gamerz among you.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

It all started with my post, "Is Windows 8 a catastrophe or a success?," when I commented on Gabe Newell's remarks about Windows 8 being a "catastrophe for everyone in the PC space." And, not to repeat myself here but, I've played a lot of video games over the years on consoles, at arcades, on PCs and online.  I've played DOS games, Windows games, MAME and proprietary system games of almost every kind--recreationally--never seriously. I don't consider myself a gamer by any stretch but I'm somewhat familiar with gaming systems and have owned one or two in my day. I'm not really addressing the gaming issue in this post or the Windows 8 catastrophe one. What I am doing is speaking to the choice of operating system (OS) for gaming and Linux should not be a second string OS to any of the ones currently available.

It's funny that Gabe (and crew) didn't put Linux first as a gaming OS before he decided that he doesn't like Windows 8. I'd like to know why Half Life and other Valve hits aren't available on Linux, if he's such a proponent of it. And, while he's at it, maybe he can tell us where the heck Half Life 3 is? I know some people who'd like to know.

In fact, GNU founder Richard Stallman says Valve's Steam move to Linux is "unethical." You have to love statements like that. They're as good as statements like, "Windows 8 is a catastrophe...". I'd say Gabe has met his match on this topic. It would be more fun to see them in a total smackdown forum on the issue. Sorry, I digress.

I don't know about the ethics of moving Steam to Linux but I do question the motive. For years, we Linux desktop users and fans have begged, yes begged, for high end games and real business applications. But, the begging fell on mostly deaf ears. At one time, I had an Elite Force (Star Trek Voyager) Linux host setup until a certain cable Internet company banned it <insert special frowny face here>.

It's a funny thing, though, if I may digress again for a moment, that other gamerz used to make fun of me for playing PC games. They considered my PC gaming to be lame gaming. I didn't care but it did make me wonder why my very expensive Alienware computer was, as they deemed it, a POS. I thought it was cool and it played the heck out of Delta Force, Delta Force 2, Delta Force Extreme, Duke Nuke'em (OK, don't judge me for that) and a gaggle of old MAME retro games from my mispent youth and thousands of my mispent quarters.

Now, apparently, PC gaming is cool. Who can keep up with what's cool anymore?

I had a friend who collected vintage game consoles--his favorites were from Japan. Not sure why I told you that--I guess I thought I'd throw it in for free. (Josh, if you're reading this, save me.)

Anyway, my point here is that Linux shouldn't be a gaming OS afterthought. If you're going to program game software, you should consider Linux as one of the Big Three OSs: Mac, Windows, Linux. But, that's my humble opinion on the matter. Linux isn't some second rate OS that can be tossed aside by software companies because it isn't "mainstream." Heck, a lot of gaming companies continued to make DOS games long after Windows was born. I played Space Quest and its many iterations for years--even on MAME and I loved it--8 bits and all. I still have a few buckazoids to prove my stripes with that game.

If a gaming company, like say--Valve, would program games for Linux--even exclusively, guess where gamerz would go? Linux. For gamerz, there are no limitations--no boundaries of reason. It's all about the game. No lag. No drag. We...OK, they (gamerz), want the game to play in real time without disruption from antivirus software, without interference from the OS (No matter how lame it is) and without excuses from the game developers.

To gaming companies, Valve included: If you build games for Linux, we'll buy them. Better yet, we'll host them for our gamer homies and we'll frag those self-spawning enemies and we'll swill Red Bull until we collapse into zombie killing comas.

But, don't ever, EVER, consider Linux as a second string OS for your games. Ever.

What do you think? If gaming companies build games for Linux, will you switch to Linux as your preferrred gaming platform? Talk back and let me know. Oh yeah, is it still uncool to play PC games or can I now unashamedly admit to gamerz that I play with a mouse and keyboard?


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