Now that the Atari VCS is out in the wild for plenty of IndieGoGo backers, we've seen plenty of reports of how it works and one GamingOnLinux reader gave us plenty of info.
Currently, it seems like the whole thing is still in something of a Beta stage. The software seems a little on the buggy side, and there's still not much in the way of games available for it. However, it actually does sound like a reasonable good little device - which I am sure will surprise plenty of naysayers.
User slaapliedje in our Forum has been going through details including how, yes, you really can load a plain Linux distribution up with Debian Buster tested working (once you do a couple small tweaks). All very interesting but even more so is how their own Atari World OS is clearly a normal Linux distribution with a fancy console interface on top.
Pictured: Atari 5200, 7800 and the Jaguar+CD with the Atari VCS - credit to slaapliedje
Very interesting to know just how close the VCS really is to a traditional Linux box. I thought they would have customized it more, but they appear to have stuck to what they originally said about keeping it reasonably open to the point of not even protecting the games you get on it. In an email to us, user slaapliedje mentioned how they've been able to move games on their Atari VCS over to an external drive, and then launch those games on their normal Linux desktop.
You can connect another drive to it (I am currently using a Samsung USB 3 SSD drive) and hit ESC on a keyboard, boot to USB. I installed Debian on it, which you have to use a distro that has signed keys for secure boot (so my attempt with GamerOS failed). But with the drive connected, you can copy the games from within AtariOS to other storage.
Keeping in mind this is the backer release, not the retail release, they still have time to fix up lingering issues.