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New Linux Gaming Survey For September

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It's that time of the month again Linux gamers! The new GOL survey for September is now available, so please make sure to fill it in if you have the time.

The results of the previous (August) survey will be published in the next few days. Thanks to those who filled that one out! There were a few changes, so it will be interesting to see the results.

You can find the link for the new survey here, and please share with other Linux gamers if you can. Article taken from
Tags: Community, Survey
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About the author -
After many years of floating through space on the back of a missile, following a successful career in beating people up for not playing Sega Saturn, the missile returned to earth. Upon returning, I discovered to my dismay that the once great console had been discontinued and Sega had abandoned the fight to dominate the world through 32-bit graphical capabilities.

After spending some years breaking breeze blocks with my head for money and being mocked by strangers, I have found a new purpose: to beat up people for not playing on Linux.
See more from me
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ProfessorKaos64 2 Sep, 2015
Done! Thanks Liam
Segata Sanshiro 2 Sep, 2015
Quoting: ShmerlI'd suggest another point for barriers for adoption (though it's nowhere new). Windows bundling / lack of Linux sold preinstalled.

That would be vendor lock-in :)
LinuxGamesTV 3 Sep, 2015
Done. The main problem is, thats Windows is pre-installed.

Last edited by LinuxGamesTV on 3 September 2015 at 8:32 am UTC
Shaolu 3 Sep, 2015
The last question is pretty interesting one. I chose "Drivers, hardware support," "Vendor lock-in," "Misconceptions about the platform," and "More games." Really, all of that could fall into a single category that could say this much and more: Marketing.

This isn't the same as "Advertising," as that's not really an issue. I think plenty of people have heard of "Linux"--certainly a lot more than use it. So it's not really a problem of simply "advertising" that this thing exists. The real problem is in perception, support, and positioning within the PC OS market.

When the average person thinks of "Linux" they often still have this perception from the 90's of "Linux" (which they conflate with an entire GNU/Linux kind of system, rather than the kernel, but that's its own issue). That is to say that they still think it's a system for tinkerers and hobbyists, that you have to be an uber-geek just to install and configure it, and that it requires intensive knowledge of entering arcane commands into a scary black text interface. Curiously enough, the people that could benefit the most from contemporary GNU/Linux distros are often the ones that are thought to be the least appropriate audience: everyone's cliche grandma and other techno-illiterate casual PC users.

While there still remains some hardware support issues*, for the most part this is less and less of an issue on contemporary desktop systems than it was 15 years ago. For the grandma who spends her time on the PC playing solitaire, forwarding e-mails with groan-inducing puns, and catching up with her children on Facebook, using a security-conscious desktop OS with practically 0 viruses and a walled garden for software... this is precisely the kind of system you want her to use. She might be a little confused about why she can't get Coupon Clipper to work or whatever, but on the whole the cost of support is going to be much lower when grandma can do everything she typically does with her PC but without all the malware. (And for senior citizens on a budget, the licensing cost is a boon as well.)

So why is the thought still around that grandma would benefit more from an overpriced Mac than a cheap commodity PC with a Free (and free) OS? Perception.

Of course, even if you converted every retirement home into a sea of Linux-based laptops, you would still face the challenges of the rest of the market. That's partly perception as well, but vendor lock-in, driver support, and available software all become more legitimate concerns. This is itself an aspect of marketing.

GNU/Linux was a different world before Canonical. For better or worse, that single company has made a tremendous impact on the state of the "Linux" desktop today. At one point in 2010, it was estimated that Ubuntu was the distro of choice for over 50% of all installations ( According to DistroWatch, it is presently still in the #2 spot currently only outshined by Mint--itself a very direct derivation of Ubuntu (it's completely package compatible with Ubuntu and uses Ubuntu software repositories by default).

There's a number of things Canonical did right and the biggest is probably monetary investment. The second is marketing. Ubuntu right from the start does something different than before when it comes to branding. The main branch is Ubuntu. Want a version of Ubuntu with KDE? Sure, that's Kubuntu. How about XFCE? That's Xubuntu. And none of these mention "Linux."

This all might seem a little silly, but branding is very important when it comes to influencing perception. How most people think about an OS (if they vaguely have any notion of such a thing at all), they think in terms of something iconic and visual that you can immediately recognize. Is that PC over there running MS Windows? Yep, there's the "Start" button. What version of Windows is it? Well, the button is green and it literally says "start" on it, so it must be XP. This one looks like Vista, but it actually runs halfway decently so it must be 7. This one looks like a giant tablet for some reason so it must be 8, etc.

So, by branding different branches of the distribution based on what might seem like a trivial change to diehard nerds--namely what DE/WM you happen to use--means for the average EU a completely different system. This one has a big "K" in the corner, but this one has some stuff on the side instead. They look completely different, they must be different systems! So, Canonical shrugs its shoulders and says "Sure" and packages each one separately. The name is a play on "Ubuntu" itself to hint at the fact that these are all just slight repackaging, but they are nonetheless different terms as though which DE you're using means your system is some kind of alternate derivation. (Of course Mint itself is not much different than this itself; should we maybe instead call it Cinbuntu?)

Also, again, there's this distinct lack of any mention of "Linux." This avoids any negative connotations that is immediately conjured in the mind of a potential convert when they hear the scary L word. Instead, they just have a quirky word that's kind of fun to say and strangely easy to remember. In the past you had "Red Hat Linux" and "SuSE Linux" and "Mandrake Linux," etc. Now, it's not important to have the "Linux" brand recognition--in fact we want to intentionally avoid it.

This is a trend that we see carried forward today with ChromeOS, SteamOS, and Android. All of them use the Linux kernel, but none of them include "Linux" in the name. This is a trend that seems to be impacting long extant distros as well, as it's common to see simply "Debian" and "Fedora" in prominent places, including the official sites of these systems. ("Linux Mint" is a bit of an anomaly, but even there you see Linux preceding the name, rather than following it, and I have taken to calling it simply "Mint" as others have done all over the web as well.)

It's not just branding either, although that's a very prominent aspect of this shift in dynamics, and it demonstrates something about the guiding philosophy behind Ubuntu. In the past, any attempts to make a GNU/Linux desktop OS have been half-hearted. Red Hat used to sell copies of the OS in retail stores, but the installation always offered a lot of options for setting up servers, and eventually they gave up on the whole project leaving it to what we know as Fedora today, while they focused on RHEL which was very explicitly marketed towards use on large enterprise servers. Likewise SuSE, while making great strides in ease of use, nevertheless was bought up by Novell and similarly marketed more to server systems. The desktop for most distros was a bit of red-headed step child. Sure, you try to show it some love and toss it a bone once in a while (actually this is starting to sound more like a puppy), but when you go to bed at night it's the server that you cuddle up next to and the reason you got into this whole marriage in the first place.

Ubuntu changed things by actually having a vision for the desktop and between branding and the establishment of key partnerships with vendors, Canonical was instrumental in getting GNU/Linux taken more seriously as a desktop alternative to the Winopoly--even if the name itself was a tad silly.

The challenges GNU/Linux faces in desktop adoption consist of misperception, vendor lock-in, and hardware support in general all in varying degrees, but all of these are essentially marketing challenges. From a technical perspective, the system is already ridiculously easy to use and OpenGL is already more than capable of being a serious competitor to Direct3D (which is why I chose neither of those options). All that really needs to change is in getting vendors to give better support to the system and the system itself to be consistently marketed in a roughly centralized way. Canonical and Valve alike help in that endeavor by standardizing on Debian (the LSB should really use DEB rather than RPM as the standard at this point), and working with hardware and software vendors to create a very workable platform with more support.

There's one thing I've neglected to really mention thus far in detail: More games! It used to be that professionals used MS Windows at work, and so when they wanted to take their work home with them, they would get a PC with MS Windows. Then, since they had this PC at home, it might be nice to play games on it as well. So, because MS Windows was the standard in the office and subsequently the standard in the home accordingly, it became the standard for games.

I'm sure that's a gross oversimplification, but I think that's a fairly decent picture of the historic migration path for how PC gaming emerged as we know it today. What's interesting to me is that the landscape in the office has changed a lot since the 90's. You now have an office environment full of smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices--most of them already running Linux via Android. You have dumb terminals starting to make a come back as network infrastructure has expanded and bandwidth becoming cheaper. You have "cloud" services becoming the norm with IT departments investigating the possibility of moving away from the standard desktop MS Office to other internet-based solutions.

Could this process work in reverse? Perhaps if GNU/Linux becomes the standard for desktop games (Dalvik/Linux has already become the standard for mobile games)--or at least a serious contender meeting or exceeding OS X--and the office environment becomes increasingly cross-platform in its entirety, we could have more people using SteamOS on their game console, and discovering its merits as a desktop system where they might want to check their e-mail and review some work while in their living room on a nice big screen. From there they clamour for more cross-platform solutions and open standards that they can use on their smart phone as well as their Steam Machine and whatever else, and the company discovers that actually they can save more money by standardizing on more open platforms anyhow. More companies like this adopt Linux-based dumb terminals connected to Linux-based servers and desktop systems here and there to match. And perhaps in the end it's the fluidity of mobile computing that ultimately causes GNU/Linux to finally establish a strong foothold in the desktop arena, and perhaps eventually even conquer it as Linux-based systems have conquered everything else. Just an idea.

Really, I don't see gaming--or any other kind of desktop computing--to become "mainstream" in the next year or so, but maybe 5 or 10 years down the line, who knows? I think the future is bright on the whole for FOSS, and strangely enough I think corporate sponsorship and marketing is going to have a lot to do with its success.
Shaolu 3 Sep, 2015
Holy cow that was a lot longer than I originally intended. I get too verbose when I'm tired. Okay, going to bed now @_@
Liam Dawe 3 Sep, 2015
JudasIscariot 3 Sep, 2015
Done, thanks for the survey :)
KijBeta 3 Sep, 2015
Quoting: ShaoluHoly cow that was a lot longer than I originally intended. I get too verbose when I'm tired. Okay, going to bed now @_@

That should have just been an opinion piece, it was interesting to read your view on the situation.
Zanval 3 Sep, 2015
I missed G2A in the list of vendors :)

And omg, there's a full article in this comments section :)
Samsai 3 Sep, 2015
Quoting: ZanvalI missed G2A in the list of vendors :)

And omg, there's a full article in this comments section :)
Oh, don't get me started on G2A. Rant in a nutshell: they have stolen keys and those keys are most likely for Windows versions which means you won't be supporting porting houses like Feral and Aspyr if you buy from there. If it's cheap, there's a catch.
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