SuperGamer Live DVD

A while back I took at a Linux distribution geared solely toward playing games called Live Linux Gaming. Well there’s another remastered distribution for gamers called SuperGamer. SuperGamer is based on VectorLinux and requires a dual layer DVD. It weighs in at roughly 8GB so it’s a bit on the chunky side as a download. But, given the number of games it comes with (more on that below), you can understand why it’s such a large download. SuperGamer is based on the 2.6.27.24 kernel and can run on 32 or 64 bit computers.

Installation
I initially tried, just for the heck of it to install SuperGamer using VMWare and VirtualBox. Please note that I do not recommend that you try to run any gaming distribution via virtualization as virtualization always slows down the games and ruins the experience for the most part. I just wanted to try it to see how well it would or wouldn’t work.

My installs in VMWare and VirtualBox didn’t get anywhere and I realized that I needed to burn it to a DVD and then boot right into it. I wasn’t sure if my iMac could burn a dual layer DVD (never needed to use one before) and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it could. So off I went to Walmart and…$20 later…I came home with a box of dual layer DVDs.

I burned my DVD and then popped it into my iMac and rebooted. I hit the alt key (option on a Mac keyboard but I use a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard so hence the alt key) and then picked the DVD option. I wasn’t sure how well SuperGamer would work with an iMac. Well I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least.

Incidentally, I must be considered a bit odd when it comes to computing as I like to run Linux on iMacs using a Microsoft keyboard and Microsoft trackball. It either makes me a total freak or perhaps just a well rounded and open minded person. I’ll let you decide.

After booting into the SuperGamer Live DVD, all I needed to do was configure my video card and I was good to go. On my 24 inch iMac I was pleased to notice that I could run the SuperGamer Live DVD at 1900 x 1200 and on my Macbook Pro I was able to run it at the usual 1440 x 900 resolution. Configuring the video card is very easy and you can either try the autoconfig or choose your resolution yourself. I opted to pick it myself since I knew what both of them were.

I didn’t do a hard disk install of the SuperGamer Live DVD as I have no desire to run it directly on either of my Macs. I don’t play games much these days and I would not want to use up the hard disk space it would require. Nor do I want to deal with any potential Mac OS X versus SuperGamer headaches.

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Here’s some quick stats on my Macs so you have an idea of the hardware I used to run SuperGamer.

iMac
Intel Core 2 Duo (3.06Ghz)
L2 Cache: 5MB
Memory: 4GB
Bus Speed: 1.07 Ghz
Nvidia GeForce 8800 GS (512 MB VRAM)

MacBook Pro
Intel Core 2 Duo (2.4 Ghz)
L2 Cache 4MB
Memory: 4GB
Bus Speed: 800 Mhz
NVidia GeForce 8600M GT

Games, Games, Games!
Since the entire point of SuperGamer is to provide a great Linux gaming experience, here’s what you can expect to find in terms of games when you boot into SuperGamer. Bear in mind that some of these are playable demos and not full versions of the game.

Quake Wars
Doom 3
Prey
Unreal Tournament 2004
Quake 4
Savage 2
Postal 2
Enemy Territory
Penumbra Black Plague
Sauerbraten
Urban Terror
Soldier of Fortune
Torcs
Tremulous
Alien Arena
True Combat
America’s Army
Nexuiz
Open Arena
PlaneShift
Drop Team
FretsOnFire
Chromium B.S.U
MadBomber
X-Moto
BGFlag
MegaMario
Glaxium
GL-117
NeverBall
NeverPutt
Super Tux
PPRacer

All of the games are available with just a click on the desktop panel at the bottom of the screen.

For the most part I got very good performance on both of my iMacs while running games. Even the MacBook Pro (the older of the two) did pretty well. Your mileage may vary though depending on the hardware you use to run the games and on the requirements of the game itself. If you have a relatively recent computer then you really shouldn’t have a problem in terms of horsepower in running any of the games included on the SuperGamers Live DVD.

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Desktop & Apps
When you first boot into your SuperGamer desktop you will notice immediately that this is a gaming distribution. There’s an awesomely cool dragon surrounded by rocks and molten lava. Frankly, it reminds me of Smaug from the JRR Tolkien book “The Hobbit.” A very nice touch that adds some great atmosphere to SuperGamer.

While the focus of SuperGamer is games you’ll also be able to do most of your usual computing tasks as SuperGamer also comes with a fine selection of Linux desktop applications. Here’s a sample of some of what you’ll find available on your SuperGamer desktop:

Graphics
GIMP
GQView
Gtkam
MtPaint
Shutterbug

Internet
Firefox
Chestnut Dialer
D4X
Azureus
gFTP
LimeWire
Grsynch
XChat
Wifi-Radar

Multimedia
Graveman
K9Copy
MhWaveEdit
MPlayer
RipperX
Xine
XMMS
X264 Encoder

Office
Adie
Calendar
Fox Calculator
Gnumeric Spreadsheet
KOffice
J-Pilot
OpenOffice.org
X Calculator
XPDF

I can’t imagine a lot of Linux gamers spending their time in KOffice when they can be playing Quake Wars but, hey, it’s there if you want it right? After you’ve worn your fingers to the bone playing games you can then work on that report for work for a couple of minutes so you don’t have to feel that you were goofing off to much.

Always nice to mix a tiny bit of productivity in with a huge bunch of game playing. Takes the guilty edge off and lets you claim you were busy working if anybody asks where you’ve been doing for the last 6 hours.

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What I Liked Most About SuperGamer
I really enjoyed having so many games right at my fingertips and with so little configuration problems. It’s nice to not have to take the time to go and find Linux games. Having them all included by default adds a measure of ease and comfort that isn’t necessarily present in other desktop Linux distributions. It’s a real time saver to simply boot into SuperGamer and start playing even if you don’t opt to install it on your system.

On top of that I was very pleased to find the SuperGamer desktop quite usable for other things besides games. There was plenty of non-game software to use so that users do have the option of being productive with SuperGamer as well as just having a good time gaming.

And it was quite a pleasant to surprise to realize that my Macbook Pro and iMac worked pretty well as Linux gaming systems.

Problems & Headaches
The worst problem I had with Super Gamer was sound. I could not get sound at all on my iMac when running Super Gamer as a Live CD. I opened a terminal and changed to root then ran alsaconf but that didn’t do anything. I tried Super Gamer on my Macbook Pro and didn’t get sound by default either. So I did the same thing and ran alsaconf as root. After that I briefly had sound while playing a YouTube video but then lost it and couldn’t get it back.

I’m not sure what the problem was with the sound but it’s a shame since I had no trouble at all with Super Gamer when it came to graphics.

As I noted above, not all of the games included in SuperGamer are the full versions. For example, you won’t get the full version of Unreal Tournament 2004, you’ll just have the demo. That’s fine though as you’ll still get a chance to play the demo and get a taste of the game.

Other than that I didn’t have much to complain about when using the Live CD version of Super Gamer.

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Where To Get Help For SuperGamer
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

And be sure to visit the SuperGamer forum as well. There is also a SuperGamer live chat page you can check out too. Since SuperGamer is based on VectorLinux you may also want to check out the VectorLinux forum too.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
SuperGamer is a great addition to the remastered distro collection of any intermediate or advanced Linux user. It’s well worth a download even given it’s large file size. Linux gamers in particular should probably consider this a must-have given the level of convenience in having all of its games right at their fingertips in a Live CD.

I’m somewhat less bullish on recommending it for total beginners to Linux as it may require a bit more configuration with certain hardware than some of the non-gaming desktop distributions. Still, if you are a beginner and you want to give it a shot then go for it. Since it’s a Live DVD you don’t have to make changes to your hard disk in order to run the games on the disc.

Don’t forget that you need a dual layer DVD to burn SuperGamer to a disc. Make sure that your computer can handle dual layer DVDs before you bother to download SuperGamer.

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Summary Table:

Product: SuperGamer
Web Site: http://supergamer.org/
Price: Free (Donations Are Welcome)
Pros: Great selection of games combined with a usable desktop environment.
Cons: Installation might be daunting for newbies depending on their hardware and experience. Sound configuration could be better.
Suitable For: Intermediate and advanced users. Adventuresome beginners may want to give it a shot anyway since it can be run as a Live CD and won’t require changes to their hard disk in order to run games.
Summary: Another good option for Linux gamers that provides a great selection of games and a genuinely usable desktop distribution based on VectorLinux.
Rating: 3.5/5


Live Linux Gaming 0.9.5 (live.linuX-gamers.net)

Lately I’ve been looking at different distributions but there’s another angle of desktop Linux that bears looking at from time to time too: gaming. Yes, there actually are Linux gamers out there and, despite some shortcomings, it is quite possible to play some games on your Linux system. Usually people would do it by installing games and running them via their preferred desktop distribution. But there’s another way:

live.linuX-games.net

What the heck is live.linuX-games.net?

In a nutshell it is a project based on Arch Linux that lets you simply pop a DVD or CD into your x86 computer and start running games. That’s it. No configuration. No installation of games. No desktop distribution problems to wrestle with. You simply insert the DVD, boot up your computer and start playing. No fuss, no muss.

Picture 12What Games Does It Come With?
There are about 34 games that come with the DVD and about 15 with the CD. Here’s a list from the live.linux-gamers.net site:

“Games that are bold are only contained on the “big” release.

  • armagetronad
  • astromenace
  • blobby
  • chromium-bsu
  • extremetuxracer
  • foobillard
  • frozen-bubble
  • hedgewars
  • lbreakout2
  • pingus
  • quadra
  • smc
  • teeworlds
  • worldofgoo-demo
  • xmoto
  • btanks
  • fretsonfire
  • glest
  • maniadrive
  • neverball
  • neverputt
  • nexuiz
  • openlierox
  • sauerbraten
  • scorched3d
  • supertuxkart
  • torcs
  • tremulous
  • urbanterror
  • warsow
  • warzone
  • wesnoth
  • widelands
  • worldofpadman”

System Requirements & Bootup
There are two versions of LLGN, a CD and a DVD. The CD has games that are geared for older computers and can be considered a “lite” version. The DVD has all the CD games in addition to some other games that might require more computing horsepower.

In order to run the live.linux-gamers.net CD or DVD your system must meet these requirements:

  • i686-capable architecture
  • 512 MB ram
  • videocard with 3d acceleration

 

When you first load up the live.linux-gamers.net CD or DVD you must choose your language and your preferred driver (ATI, NVidia or Open). After that the customized version of Arch Linux will load and you will see the live.linux-gamers.net desktop. Before booting into Arch Linux, I played the cheesy Space Invaders clone listed on the boot up menu.

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The Desktop & Running Games
After the live.linux-gamers.net DVD loaded, I noticed a couple of things. First, the customized Arch Linux desktop environment and also that a browser window popped up and loaded up a page. So there was no problem with network connections even though I was using VMWare.

And I was able to browse the web right from the desktop interface. A very helpful thing for those who might want to read about live.linux-gamers.net after loading up the CD or DVD on their systems.

After looking around I decided to try a few games.

I was pleased to notice that the games loaded very quickly and that I had sound. There was no need for me to configure anything on my end.

One thing I didn’t like was that some of the game icons on the panel were pushed way off to the edges of my screen. I was not able to resize or otherwise fix it but I was still able to access the games.

Most of the games I tried loaded and ran fine (but not fast in 3D as I note below in more detail) though the one called “Secret Maryo Chronicles” did not run at all. I assume it was some sort of Super Mario Brothers clone for Linux as it had a Mario-type mushroom for an icon.

One thing to remember that even if you wanted to, you can’t install these games. They are all set up to run from the DVD or CD when you boot into the live.linux-gamers.net customized version of Arch Linux.

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Virtual Machines: Problems and Headaches…Oh My!
Since I usually test my Linux distros in virtual machines, I thought I’d try it with the live.linux-gamers.net DVD. My experience was mostly negative and here’s why:

When I tested it in VirtualBox, I couldn’t get it to load no matter what driver I used (open driver, ATI or Nvidia). It just wouldn’t load no matter what I did for configuration and yes, 3D acceloration was enabled (though Space Invaders ran as it didn’t need me to actually load up the Arch Linux desktop). I experienced a similar result in Parallels as it simply wouldn’t load and dropped me back into the text-only screen no matter what I did.

VMWare was a different matter. It actually loaded just fine. I had no problems and I was able to try some games. Unfortunately 3D performance was god-awful so it really wasn’t practical to run it. However, non-3D games ran pretty well.

I was shocked that VMWare, out of all three virtualization products I use, worked the best. I had expected VirtualBox or Parallels to be better, particularly VirtualBox since the version I tested it on is the new 3.0 and that is supposed to have improved 3D support.

Despite the problems I had with my virtual machines, I’m not taking any points off whatsoever in terms of scoring live.linuX-games.net. Anybody worth their salt when it comes to gaming knows that virtualization usually saps the performance of games significantly and, in general, it should be avoided by gamers.

So I’m not counting any of the virtualization problems I saw against live.linuX-games.net and I don’t recommend that anybody actually try using VMWare, Parallels or VirtualBox to run 3D games using the live.linux-gamers.net CD or DVD.

Burn it to a real CD or DVD and try using that instead.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
First of all, I’d like a new name for this project. live.linuX-gamers.net is really awkward to keep typing or pasting into this review over and over again. Please somebody give this neat project a new name like Linux Live Games or Linux Super Games or Kick Ass Linux Games or something obvious.

Far be it from me to actually suggest involving the marketing droids as they usually annoy me but perhaps involving one of them to come up with a brand identity for this project might be a good idea? I know that the name is the same as the URL but there must be a better URL that can be used for it too.

That said, I like this project a lot. No, it’s not going compete with Windows based gaming but it provides some fun games that run on Linux with virtually no configuration headaches or problems for users. The goal of live.linuX-games.net is quite noble and we should all try to be supportive of it as an alternative to having to install games into a particular distribution to run them.

Despite my virtual machine experiences with it, I give it a big thumbs up.

If you’re a Linux user and want to try some games, download it and give it a shot. You might have a fun time checking it out. If you run into any problems don’t forget that there is a discussion forum on the site where you can get help.

Picture 9Summary Table:

Product: live.linuX-games.net 0.9.5
Web Site: http://live.linuX-games.net
Price: Free
Pros: Provides a nice range of free Linux games and doesn’t require installation or configuration to run on x86 computers.
Cons: Needs a new name and some games might be considered out of date. Can’t really compete with the selection of games available for Windows.
Summary: live.linuX-games.net provides a good -albeit not cutting edge – selection of games that run on pretty much any x86 computer and doesn’t require installation or configuration.
Rating: 3.5/5