The Dilemma

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2004-07-28 Print this article Print

As an operating system, Linux has many things to recommend it over Windows. Gaming, alas, is not one of them. Compared to Windows, Linux just doesnt have anywhere near the same level of good games. Yes, there are a few here and there, but overall, Windows continues to dominate as the PC gaming platform of choice, with the widest array of content and the most up-to-date graphics and audio drivers. Conventional wisdom dictates that its always better to run games and applications natively. In the past, several game publishers would try to port their titles to Linux, but the return on investment was just too small. At one point, Loki tried to make a business out of porting titles from Windows to Linux, in much the way that MacPlay ported Windows games to the Apple platform. But Loki imploded in 2002, and no one else has tried such an ambitious approach.
The WineX project was started to enable Windows gaming on the Linux platform. Taking the WineX code and adding support and subscription options, TransGaming is trying to create a somewhat different business model. Instead of porting Windows titles to Linux, Windows games simply run under Linux.
TransGaming recently gave WineX a new name, Cedega, and announced support for a number of DirectX 9 titles. Thanks to the Cedega application, users have at least a chance at running some of their favorite Windows games on Linux -- the key word being chance. It all depends on a number of factors, one of which is, how much futzing are you prepared to do to make a Windows game run on Linux? If youre a seasoned Linux user, an afternoon spent twiddling .conf file can be fine entertainment. If you just want a "click-and-go" gaming experience, however, Cedega may not be for you. We tried Cedega out on three different distributions (and with a bunch of games). The results were decidedly mixed.

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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