Category Archives: Linux
In the world of Linux distributions, it’s fairly easy to get lost trying to figure out which “flavor” of Linux fits you best. As the user, you have a plethora of desktop interfaces, default apps, package managers, and bundled services to choose from. This can be a major barrier for someone new to Linux, and an endless journey for a veteran user who hasn’t yet found their “perfect” distro. For either type of user, there’s a new distribution in town that can meet their needs: elementary OS.
elementary OS released the first version of their Linux-based OS, version 0.1 “jupiter,” in April 2011 and recently released the beta version of their upcoming version 0.2 “luna,” which is nearly a complete overhaul of the OS. I recently installed elementary OS on an older Asus Eee PC and gave it a spin. Overall, I was very impressed with what elementary had to offer.
Valve co-founder and current managing director Gabe Newell recently made it pretty clear how much he really hates Windows 8. Two weeks ago, Valve officially announced that they would be porting their Steam distribution service to Ubuntu and would be working to natively support Valve games on Linux, starting with Left 4 Dead 2. Their drive behind the project: Newell’s belief that Windows 8 will be a “catastrophe” for PC users.
Granted, Gabe’s got a bit of a habit of dropping bombs on people – five years ago he called the PS3 a “total disaster on so many levels.” Unsurprisingly, he wound up going on to apologize to the makers of the Playstation 3 in 2010 for his remarks. But when Phoronix’s Michael Larabel went to visit Valve’s Linux offices this past April, he was shocked to see Newell speaking like a died-in-the-wool open source supporter – so much, in fact, that Larabel wondered how the man could have ever worked at Microsoft for over 13 years.
Why all the harsh rhetoric for Windows 8? Why the sudden push for open source? Despite Half Life: Episode III now being five years in the making, Newell seems to be pretty excited about Valve’s new project. At a reception at the Casual Connect game conference in Seattle, Newell stated that their “perception is that one of the big problems holding Linux back is the absence of games. I think that a lot of people — in their thinking about platforms — don’t realize how critical games are as a consumer driver of purchases and usage.”
I think any gamer will agree. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I never installed a Linux distribution on my personal laptop. Plus, if anything is going to make a real impact on the way game developers look at Linux, it’s going to be Steam, which is now the largest third-party distributor of digital entertainment. So naturally, open source advocates are pretty excited about what this new development could mean for Ubuntu and the Linux platform as a whole.
But Newell’s recent praise about the virtues of open source seems fishy at best. Besides the obvious compatibility issues with Linux (which I bring up below), there’s the simple fact that even a Windows 8 catastrophe will probably not spell the doom of Microsoft. And let’s not mince words – despite Gabe’s push for open source, Steam will pretty much be anything but. So what effect will Steam have on Linux users in the long run? Quite frankly, probably none at all.