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Why Are We Still Dual Booting?

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The Linux community is one full of passion. From the outside it may seem strange why a small percentage of people around the world care so much about an operating system, after all it's merely a tool or set of tools used to complete certain tasks.

For many of us it isn’t that simple however, and we have a multitude and wide variety of reasons which drive us to support Linux in the way we do. Be it contributing code, running websites like this one or simply advocating the OS and showing its greatness to others.

Some have different views to others, some may insist on calling it GNU/Linux and may insist on only using free software, while others may be less ideologically inclined and simply use Linux because it's the best operating system out there. What unites all these people is the operating system and the desire for it to succeed, seeing it widely adopted or improving in many areas.

In fact, this desire for success and to show the world that we exist has led many of us to take regrettable actions, ranging from abusiveness in forums to insulting the CEO of a major game development company or even going as far as threatening developers who aren’t supporting the platform.

In the gaming world, what often makes many of us flip out most (or the more level headed among us, respond in a constructive manner) is when two simple facts are stated:

1 - Linux only accounts for a small percentage of the desktop market.

2 - Many Linux gamers dual boot or have access to a Windows machine.

While there is not a huge amount we can do about the first of these two points, the second is one which always perplexes me considering it's so simple to amend. If there are so many of us who care so greatly about Linux succeeding (often to the point where we act immaturely) then why do so many of us commit the “cardinal sin” of the Linux world and use Windows?

When I set out to do the GOL survey, one of the things I expected was the number of dual booters to slowly decline as more games come out. In June of last year there were 500 Linux games on Steam. Since then, that number has risen to 1000 and we’ve had huge games like CS:GO, Dying Light, Borderlands 2, Dead Island, Civilization: BE and many AAA games right round the corner.

Despite this, and despite the passions which surround Linux, our survey has shown no significant change in the amount of people dual booting or who have a Windows partition, unlike the amount of people using Wine which seems to be showing signs of declining. In many ways, it seems as if while Linux gaming is making leaps and bounds, Linux gamers are standing still.


The controversial phrase “Sie wissen das nicht, aber sie tun es” (they do not know it, but still they do it) from Das Kapital comes to mind, though condescending and completely incorrect in this case. Dual booting is far more cynical, a case of “they know very well what they are doing, but still they do it”.

We are all fully aware that the thought of Linux users dual booting and using Wine as a motive not to port a game to Linux has crossed the minds of many developers and even though we may badly want that game on our OS of choice, we still choose to be part of that percentage which makes that argument a valid one.

So why this doublethink? With the recent case of the WoW petition, it is a certainty that all those signing the petition who play WoW do so either on Windows or through Wine. It is easy to see how Blizzard CEO said what he said:

Michael MorhaimeLinux usage represents less than 2% of installed desktop operating systems browsing the web, and I would assume most of those people also have access to a Windows or Mac device capable of playing Blizzard games.

From his perspective, why should he spend money on porting a game to a platform when nearly all the people who would benefit from it are customers already? The irony of the petition is that its very existence also negates its purpose (unless, of course, Linux users were to abandon Blizzard altogether).

As much as I personally loathe the idea, the unavoidable fact is that we do live in a global free market which defines culture as an industry and decides who gets access to that culture based primarily on the profit motive. Culture, in this case, is video games and to many companies giving Linux users access to that culture does not fall within the worldview of putting profit above all else.

It is somewhat presumptuous to state to people whose lives are dictated by this fundamental premise that they are wrong in their conclusions. Simply put, yes 2% (or thereabouts) may be worth it to many developers financially, but when taking into account that with a game like WoW many (if not most) of their potential 2% like the game enough to sacrifice their principles in order to play it, then the rigid logic of the free market implies that WoW (and games like it) will never come to Linux so long as those individuals continue to choose the game over the operating system.

In essence, that 2% in many cases is non-existent and rather than being its own separate "market segment", developers like Blizzard will continue to see it as a percentage of the Windows market which also happens to use Linux on the side, that is, until people stop dual booting. Simply put, there is a significantly higher chance of games getting ported if users use Linux and Linux alone.

Thoughts and suggestions

The intention of this article isn’t to tell people what to do or to shout people down for not thinking in the same way as I do (in fact, if I see discussion heading in that direction, I may well see to it that comments are deleted). The intention is to create a debate surrounding a few simple questions to which there are no right and wrong answers:

- Why do you dual boot?

- Do you see yourself first as a gamer, then as a Linux user?

- Are the 1000+ games on Steam and hundreds more on other sites still not enough for you to be a 100% Linux gamer?

- If you feel so passionately about Linux that you’ll take questionable actions to defend it, then why not do the most simple thing and stop gaming on Windows?

- As someone with a tendency towards a specific genre, do you feel the current Linux suggestion doesn't cater to your gaming needs?

Ideally, I would like to see the number of dual booters decline after reaching some sort of consensus that it would be in all our best interests. I see myself as a Linux user first and a gamer second, and haven’t had Windows on a single computer since ~2008. However, I bear no animosity towards those who think differently. If all that comes of this article is an enlightening debate surrounding these issues and perhaps leads others to oppose the statements made in this article through other articles or through comments, then I’ll still be more than happy.

Even though I may have my own views as to how things should progress which may differ from those of others, I think we can all agree that being respectful, helpful and constructive goes a long way - be it to each other or to the developers which are (or aren't) porting our games. Though dual booting might not be something will (or maybe even should) disappear overnight, aggression and abuse certainly should. Likewise, the same goes for buying Linux games before porting - something which has been repeated and discussed time and time again. Article taken from
Tags: Editorial
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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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feketenap 12 Mar, 2015
I have a pretty pathetic reason, but still... GTA V for PC. I am a diehard fan of the series.
flesk 12 Mar, 2015
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Great article, and I agree 100%. There are many Windows games I would love to play, but I simply don't think it's worth the hassle anymore.
tuxisagamer 12 Mar, 2015
I haven't dualbooted since 1998 though I do keep Windows on a Virtual Machine for the 1-2 times a year I have to do something that absolutely requires Windows.

I use Windows at work and Linux at home.
Kithop 12 Mar, 2015
I dual boot to play all the old games I bought before moving to Linux pretty much full time. And that pretty much means Skyrim, SimCity 4 (now moot with Cities: Skylines), and, uh, Star Citizen (that should be getting a Linux port later). Hmm.

To tell the truth, I spend more time patching Windows than using it for games now, so I guess I'm weaning myself off of it? But a lot of old games probably will never be ported, so it's nice to be able to still boot them and fire them up. The really *really* old games work in DOSBox, at least (yay GoG!).

Two other random things I've found I need Windows for, still? Ripping Blu-Rays with MakeMKV and re-encoding them with Handbrake because they only support the Intel QuickSync hardware H.264 encoder on Windows so my dad can watch his legally-purchased movies and TV shows on his iPad for flights. If you guys know of a way of getting both of those working with a 100% Linux workflow, then I really would touch Windows outside of patching maybe once every 3 months. ;)
PublicNuisance 12 Mar, 2015
I dual boot because I have over 400 games on my backlog that aren't Linux compatible so I'd rather dual boot than use Wine.
aL 12 Mar, 2015
Maybe different people do different things but you still draw conclusions out of it?

When I used to be a windozer nobody would had ever convinced me to switch... and yet here i am. I had to see the light by myself...

Can we stop the propaganda please? its pretty annoying overall. Im not sure you needed this wall of an article for that

If you want to lure people in, just make shinny things
AGamer07 12 Mar, 2015
Personally, I am a Gamer first and a Linux user second. I discovered Linux last year and I really enjoy it. Sadly, my beloved Bethesda games (Fallout/ Elder Scrolls) are not on Linux :'( and there are some good looking FPS games on Windows that I really want to play (looking at you Battlefield :P ). Other than those listed all the games that I am really interested in are either playable natively or via WINE/Play on Linux. ^_^
ky0 12 Mar, 2015
It was 2 months ago I made the leap again to start using Linux. Always been a major fan but I have always been a major gamer too. So it was hard for me to stick with Linux.

So 2 months I made the change again - deleting the Windows installation on my SSD and that was it. I did install Windows on another SSD but that one is not connected to the PC and is only used in case of real need (haven't found any so far).

I've been happily using Ubuntu Mate now for 2 months, learning, enjoying, gaming.

I booted to my Windows SSD this morning to test the performance of Cities Skyline (just to make sure it was not my PC), now my Ubuntu drive is connected again.

With the announcement of all the big games coming to Linux, and all the available titles - why would I need to go to Windows again?

Nice article and I agree that we don't need dual boot anymore unless you want to play some specific titles. Wine and Playonlinux have made it so that you can enjoy most of the games anyways.
Guest 12 Mar, 2015
Quotebecause it's the best operating system out there

Even as a fairly strongly opinionated person on this, I would suggest that change to "...because, in their opinion, it's the best...".

QuoteWhy do you dual boot?

I guess I'm in the majority in that I don't duel boot, I don't generally use wine either. Both have had their time for me, and I do occasionally try a few recent games I brought in the hopes of running them in Wine (like Tomb Raider), but bad experiences have just put me off now.

QuoteDo you see yourself first as a gamer, then as a Linux user?

I would consider myself a Linux enthusiast over a gamer; I've distanced myself more from the gaming community on the whole as I find there's too much of a zealot mentality in most of it -- people are more interested in arguing over what is better, than trying to improve the experience.

QuoteAre the 1000+ games on Steam and hundreds more on other sites still not enough for you to be a 100% Linux gamer?

Let's be fair, a good portion of those 1000+ games are crap. Mobile ports, broken ports, outdated versions only, no DLC etc. We need more quality developers and publishers, who are committed to keeping up to date, patching and most importantly talking *and* listening openly to the community.

QuoteIf you feel so passionately about Linux that you’ll take questionable actions to defend it, then why not do the most simple thing and stop gaming on Windows?

I think part of the problem is those that seem themselves as gamers over Linux users. Not that I'm blaming them (I was one), but why would you care if your first priority is quality games?

I agree with the sentiment though.

QuoteAs someone with a tendency towards a specific genre, do you feel the current Linux suggestion doesn't cater to your gaming needs?

I like a lot of different genres, but I think other than FPS's most genres need a few good big publisher names and more quality indie titles. The big names bring people in, the indies keep them.

amonobeax 12 Mar, 2015
Well done Segata sama!
You did a great job addressing this issue.

IMO I guess the mechanics behind this phenomena is very simple:

gaming > Linux (more important)
You don't have the games you want
You still use windows/wine.

The games you want already are on Linux
You can abandon Windows/wine.

In addition I think we can't discard the possibility of ppl who never thought about this implications, although I guess those would be a really small portion of the Dual booters/ "winers"
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