A Continuing Work in Progress: The State of Linux 2006

Gaming Poses Powerful Obstacles For Linux World Domination

Figure 6: The Nvidia SLI icon also applies to Linux

One major landmark in the history of Linux has arrived in the form of gaming applications. The Scalable Link Interface (SLI), considered the current state of the art in graphics rendering, seeks to parallelize video processing tasks among a pair (or two pairs) of graphics cards. Nvidia has demonstrated a history of fair treatment toward Linux driver development, and made an unprecedented move when it incorporated its patented SLI capability in revision 1.0-8174 Rel80. Much to the delight of formerly disenfranchised Linux gamers, the alternative platform finally earned a place in a world dominated by Windows-specific applications, many of which already took advantage of Nvidia ForceWare SLI technology.

Figure 7: Surprise! Here's what Nvidia X Server Settings look like...

Nevertheless, the gaming peripherals market leaves much to be desired when it comes to Linux support for key devices such as joysticks and gamepad controls. Also, the number of Windows-compatible games far outstrips the count of titles that run on the Linux platform.

Part of this problem is complicated by DirectX-based games that rely on a Windows-centric framework, because they doesn't always translate easily or well to equal usability on Linux. A workaround, in the form of a subscription fee-based commercial product called Cedega, permits the playback of select A-list game titles for Linux gamers, but even this solution fails to fully satisfy the issue. Until Linux proves itself to be a cash cow to the gaming software industry, it will continue to lag behind Windows - both in the number of titles written natively for Linux, and those for which alternative Linux versions or compilations are offered.

Ed Tittel is a long-time IT writer, researcher and consultant, and occasional contributor to Tom’s Hardware. A Windows Insider MVP since 2018, he likes to cover OS-related driver, troubleshooting, and security topics.