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:
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.
What 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.
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.
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.
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.
|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.|