Do Linux gamers have too many options now?

In today's open source roundup: Linux gamers may have too many options these days. Plus: Local menus return to Unity, and VirtualBox 4.3.8 has been released

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Linux, open source

Muktware has a good comparison of options for Linux gamers that could be helpful to newer Linux users. But it begs the question: Do Linux gamers have too many options now?

Linux gaming used to be a wasteland. The only options were simple open source games and the handful of commercial ports that could still be obtained. By comparison, the present day seems like a jungle some times, with more and more options emerging, and it can feel like a full time job keeping up on developments.

Today, we’ll take a brief look at the various options available to you, and what benefits and drawbacks you can run into. This isn’t meant to be completely exhaustive, but rather a good introduction, if you are new to Linux or to the concept of Linux gaming in general. As such, we’ll be covering four primary sources.

More at Muktware

Linux Gamer Option Comparison
Image credit: Muktware

My feeling is that the answer is clearly no, and frankly it's very refreshing for Linux gamers to have different options at all. I remember the days when it was very hard to find games for Linux and I'd never want to go back to that. Ever. It was a miserable time if you used Linux and wanted to play games.

However, I can also understand how a new Linux user might get a little bit confused about where to find games. Oh sure, there are usually a few desktop games included with most distros and plenty more in most repositories. But beyond that a new user might not know how to find other games that are a bit more advanced, commercial or in-depth.

Steam obviously is the big kahuna when it comes to Linux gaming these days, so I'm hopeful that even newer Linux users would be able to discover Steam and all of the games it offers. You never know though, if someone doesn't know anything about Steam then they might miss out on a lot of great games.

Desura and the Humble Bundles are a different kettle of fish altogether. I suspect that very few Linux newbies have ever heard of them. So it's quite possible that they would miss them entirely unless they ran into an article like the one I've included here. Hopefully at least a few people will gain enough awareness to take advantage of Desura and the Humble Bundles.

We are finally living in a time where it is great to be a Linux gamer, after wandering around in the wilderness for years. And it's only going to get better as SteamOS revs up and is finally released by Valve. So I think we should count our blessings that we have as many gaming options in Linux as we do these days.

I think we are slowly beginning to enter a golden age for Linux gamers that few of us could have imagined ten years ago.

Local menus coming back to Ubuntu's Unity
ZDNet notes that Canonical is going back to local menus in Ubuntu's Unity.

One of its bigger design changes was to force all in-focus applications to use a single global menu. Things are different now. Marco Trevisan, one of Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company, senior Unity developers announced that, with today's HiDPI Retina-style displays, it is time to return to local application menus.

Trevisan claimed that "having the applications menus in the top pane really worked very well in small screens but now, especially with HiDPI monitors getting more and more popular, the top panel could be really too far from the actual window location… The solution, that the UX designer John Lea has defined are the Locally Integrated Menus (LIM)."

More at ZDNet

Local Menus Return to Unity in Ubuntu
Image credit: ZDNet

I think this is a smart move on Canonical's part. I've never been a big fan of global menus. I suppose they work well for some people, but if you are on a very a large monitor you end up having to move the cursor around a lot more than you should.

Perhaps the best way to do it is to let each user pick his or her preference in the system controls. This change is bound to irritate some people who preferred the global menus. As always with desktop environments, there's no way to please everybody. Each time you change something it's bound to make somebody unhappy.

VirtualBox 4.3.8 released
Softpedia reports that VirtualBox 4.3.8 has been released, and it includes support for X.Org Server 1.15.

For Linux, the new build introduces support for X.Org Server 1.15, fixes CPU hot-remove issues that occurred on newer versions of the Linux kernel, and supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 kernels.

Additionally, the physical package ID is now taken into consideration when determining the number of physical CPU cores of a Linux host, and it will no longer write warning messages in the kernel log if memory allocation fails on both Linux guests and hosts.

The disk geometry of SCSI drives is now handled much better, IPv6 reassembly issues have been repaired, ping proxy support has been implemented, various MSR registers can now be emulated better, and initial support for SSE 4.1/4.2 passthrough has been implemented in the Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) component.

More at Softpedia

I'm a big fan of VirtualBox since it makes distrohopping so easy and fast. It also gives folks running Windows or OS X a great way to get a taste of Linux while using their current operating systems. Plus it's free and open source, so be sure to download it and give it a try.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

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