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Old 06-05-2005, 11:52 AM   #1
Aynjell
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Post Linux Gaming, Getting Started - [Gentoo biased]

<[Linux Gaming 101]>

I'm not going to go over everything. Being a 101 document, I only want to give you a nice idea of what is possible and after reading this, you should have a good idea of where to go next. I will go through everything I think somebody new to the linux OS would need to get up, running, and playing excellent linux titles in no time.

Hardware: The first thing to consider, is of course the hardware you'll be placing the linux operating system on. If you already have a PC with gentoo installed on one of it's discs, disregard this section of the document (as it only applies to those building a new system). Assuming you want to start a project from scratch, (buying all new hardware or picking from used hardware) there are a few things to keep in mind: nVidia is almost always a good choice. As to whether or not the hardware is truly faster or not is not for me to say, but I can tell you that nVidia has better support for thier linux customers (drivers, software, etc). An nVidia based system can greatly increase your linux compatibility and/or speed. I prefer to have have GeForce at the least, and using nVidia chipsets with said graphics card line-up has recently proven to really suck!

Many ATi chipsets are supported, but I would never buy one that was only supported by the closed drivers. As stated above, the cards simply do not perform better, but it has been said that the hardware is generally better (looking at the X1k's offering right from the get-go, that's confirmed). If you really and truly wanted to go ATi, I would reccomend anything that uses the r300 core. These are the fastest cards available for linux that can use open source drivers. There are well documented issues with certain cards from this line-up, so before buying I'd suggest hopping over to r300's site. I love my Radeon 9250 for the same reason you would love an r300: The drivers support all the coolest stuff in X way before the closed nVidia drivers do. A freind has hinted that nVidia is gearing up for EXA support as well as better composite compatibility (ATi's work perfectly with composite and EXA, providing they utilize open drivers).

CPU's are whatever you prefer, but I've heard that P4's perform better in windows, though Hyper Threading might come in handy for multimedia type applications. AMD's of course have a lot of the features for cheaper, like 64 bit extensions, and not to mention sse3 can be had for nothing but 150$. Do what you will, it's a matter of preference... (Side note: Multi-Core is supported with several open source applications and what's more, supported 10 fold more in linux than it is in windows using symetricaly multi-processing as is Hyper Threading). At this point in the game, anything less than a K8 or pentium D is an unintelligent purchase, but that is for another section to debate about.

Sound cards play a large part in setup in a desktop system, and I highly reccomend buying an emu10k1 based model (audigy, sound blaster live, etc). I bought an Audigy 2 ZS Platinum, and I set it up in 5 minutes with the pack drive fully functional aside from the remote. Most modern on-board sound chips do work, but due to lack of driver level mixing, they aren't exactly optimal; requiring painful amounts of configuration. I've spent hours trying to set my on-board sound up and it's never completely worked.

I have had success using it for the same things I would have used it for in windows, like skype (I like how I can listen to music on the speakers and talk to my loved ones on the headset, also makes it more convenient when company is around). Some mainstream distributions (Distros, or variations of linux focusing on different toolkits and/or package management systems) have excellent hardware support and can automatically set up sound stream mixing for you but for those that don't, the setup has proven to be a hit and miss affair with poor performance. As for everything else, it's up to you!

Only one advisory: Always make sure your hardware is supported and/or documented well before buying it for a linux computer. Anything from nVidia will work well as stated above, and most hardware utilizing generic drivers (DVD/CD-ROM/DVD-RW/etc) will work as well. In some cases, some hardware works better in linux, my graphics card (eVGA 6800NU:AGP, when I overclock, it doesn't throttle itself anytime I play a game) for one and my Saitek Eclipse keyboard for another (known issues with windows, as documented here do not effect linux users). For your hardware, there are several well written howto's on the gentoo linux forums (as well as on the wiki) that document proper setup for ATi video cards, nVidia video cards, as well as other tips and tricks for system setup.

Software: Unlike windows, many important productivity utilities come free. Although Nero is available for linux, some prefer free applications like Graveman and K3B (Though there are many more tools, these are the easier to use gui based ones). Both are solid tools and get the job done. Nero is a fine choice as well, but I do not reccomend buying it without testing. It did not work for me with my rather uncommon supermount(removable media kernel driver: automatically mounts devices like windows does, but long since deprecated, thus it's uncommonness) setup. Another example: DVD playback, streaming media, mp3 playback, and many other media related tasks can all be accomplished with a program called Mplayer, the defacto media player for linux.

Furthermore, linux is entirely customizable due to it's open nature. So open in fact, as many of you might know, you have the RIGHT, not the privelege but the RIGHT, to change the source code to better suit your needs (providing you don't prohibit others from doing the same). This of course being the solution for the most extreme situations where re-configuration don't solve the issue. While some prefer stability, I try to go for speed, some of my speed enhancements being reputably unstable (reiser4). Anywho, I don't want to cover software too much, because that isn't the focus of this document. But it is important to know linux offers more than just a few games. It is actually a proffesional workstation quality platform meant for developers, but due to the strict requirements, it has become an ideal system for gaming. The point is, it's not just for games.

Games: Now, I'm not getting into the majour details, but still letting you know what's out there. Games aren't a dime a dozen in linux, but we do have our fair share. For example installed on this computer are the following titles (all native): Doom 3 (cdoom installed, only known full fledged mod still in production and available at the time), Doom 3: Ressurection of Evil, Unreal Tournament GOTY, Unreal Tournament 2004 (all mods work, domain2024 is the exception), Quake 3 (some 10 mods as well; all mods work), Heavy Gear 2, Postal 2: Share the Pain, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Enemy Territory (all mods work), Deadly Rooms of Death, Tux Racer, Super Tux, Neverwinter Nights, America's Army, Glest, Frozen Bubble, Scorched 3D, Briquolo, Crack Attack, Nexuiz, Warzone 2100, No Gravity, Vega Strike, Darwinia (demo), and Mutant Storm. This is not to mention the games I anticipate buying. Games are coming more and more to linux, and with more players, there will be even more games. if you find that you can switch to linux comfortably, I'd advise you do so, and escape vendor lock with Microsoft as soon as possible.

The Operating System: Contrary to popular beleif, free stuff rules. Linux is no exception. Now, since we are trying to become Linux gamers the first step is of course, to have an Operating System, right? It's up to you what GNU/Linux based OS you choose from, but if you want to learn how to use your operating system to the fullest, and understand command line, as well as have a gamer freindly and easily upgraded OS, gentoo is the ticket (I will be writing this document with gentoo in mind, after all, you're all extreme overclockers, the least you can do is install a hardcore OS, right?).

There are canned distrobutions with default settings, but I do not reccomend these. There are very few that are as up to date as gentoo, and many of them lack the customization that gentoo offers. Furthermore, gentoo offers portage, arguably the best source based (everything is compiled from source) package management system around. Granted some packages take longer to install but they are 100% optimized for YOUR hardware. Anyone else with a similar setup (what kind of CPU you have, as well as other things that might affect configuration) If I gave my software to some fella' with a P4, it probably would not work, but for me, it's faster than if i used something i386 optimized, like many distrobutions are or at least used to be. Many are beginning to show slightly more drastic optimizations within the confines of stability.

Gentoo Linux is one of the few distrobutions that assumes you know what you're doing. The community is one of the most supportive around and are able to get even the most horribly n00bish up to par in no time. With the gentoo forums (legendary for how efficient they are), you are bound to get your questions answered. The good thing is, most elitests know thier stuff, and many elitests love gentoo. The installation documentation is informative, and if you follow it to the letter, you can't fail the install. Another plus, is that the documentation teaches you how to do several things, for example building your own custom kernel, repairing/install grub. It's worth the time. Perks of gentoo:
  • Complete control
  • Excellent centralized package management, called portage
  • Freindly and supportive community
  • Lots of well written documentation
  • Almost the best in hardware support (due to the the open nature of the system)
With this also comes with a warning: Do not start a gentoo install unless you intend to finish it. It's intimidating, and not for the weak hearted, but the chief reward of using gentoo is knowing how to use your operating system once it's installed. The well written handbook is so good that if you followed it word for word, it's impossible to fail the install, barring bad hardware and/or compilation failure. Gentoo is rewarding, but requires a serious intent to finish to get there. I can get a gentoo install up and runnning faster than windows, so don't give up, and do your best. IT WILL BE WORTH IT.

As a side note, it is 100% internet dependant for packages, software, etc. There are ways to use package CD's, but often times these CD's require the internet to setup. If internet is limited, do not use gentoo use something along the lines of Ubuntu. Then again, there are other distrobutions out there, and your choice is completely up to you. I reccomend gentoo based, or Debian based. They are both well established, fast, and powerful. The last step in getting setup is picking a DE|WM and installing and configuring your X server. Canned distro's come with a default DE|WM, where as gentoo comes without anything. In gentoo, a simple emerge [KDE;GNOME;XFCE;Fluxbox;etc] would get you set up and clicking your way to your games. I suppose that TWM should be listed, but it comes stock with X, so you'll see it if you don't merge a DE|WM. There is excellent documentation for installing the X server, which is the most common display server used for games.

Getting Started: On with the games! Assuming you own no linux compatible games, the best first step is to emerge the free ones. America's Army, and Enemy Territory are both well funded games and have a nice background. They have good graphics and decent net playability. To install both of them:
Code:
emerge americas-army enemy-territory
This will automatically download, unpack, install and prepare the games. Once it finishes, you will only need to log in as a day to day user and run the appropate commands, armyops and et respectively. Depending on your window manager or desktop environment it will automatically be installed into the menu. Flux users, you may have to write them into your menu manually. These are only the free mainstream games. There are several others! For example, try Mutant Storm and Scorched 3D!
Code:
emerge mutantstorm-demo scorched3d
That game is a hoot, and if you like it, it's some 20 bucks where as scorched3d is free. I haven't beat it yet, but i intend to.

Another game I've found is amazingly addictive is xjump:

Code:
emerge xjump
You can also use this package management system to install several games like Quake 3, the Unreal games, Doom 3, etc. The package repository is community managed and as such, grows rapidly. I prefer to install via portage because any game updates tend to hit portage quickly, making my upgrade process easier than even windows.

So you got a few games installed? Get gaming! There are several free games out there, but the corporate ones tend to be every bit as fun, and I couldn't have made the switch if i couldn't have brought my current favourite Doom 3 with me. Linux gaming isn't a hard process, it really only requires a well setup system (hardware wise, as documented above). As I've said again and again, gentoo is ideal for gamers and tweakers. So, at least give it a try. For getting ahold of new linux games, ID, Epic, and Tux Games are great places to look. I can no longer reccomend Loki games, sadly, because they bankrupted. But finding thier games at stores like tuxgames is an option. If you can get ahold of them, they are excellent games... I mourn thier death. There are several web sites that do a very good job at cataloguing linux games, but the best so far is this website. It catalogues almost every game, and the best part, all of them are native (the maintainers are staunchly against cedega)! It is by all means a great place to find new games to play. And then once you decide on a game, odds are you can merge it in portage.

Windows Games and Emulators: Remember, when going into linux gaming, nothing that requires cedega will work. Period, end of story. If you get it to work, great! But whatever you do, do not count on it. The Transgaming databases are out of date and aren't well setup anyway. Stick with native, you'll enjoy it more, but for the sake of those that will need the software that only runs in windows this section was provided. If you are serious about linux gaming, you'll understand this soon enough, after trying to get game after game to work and finding lag, poor quality, and bad support from the Transgaming team.

Cedega is always a last ditch and should be that way for any linux new comer. I have used it for 1 or 2 games, but they never worked consistently. It works, but is very slow and requires a lot of horsepower to get the modern games working. I strongly reccomend enjoying native games before using Cedega, because it is horribly unstable and lacks a great deal of usability. If you don't enjoy native games, you'll end up ****ed off at cedega and destroying linux. It is an option, but there are better alternatives. Cedega if anything, is hurting linux gaming. I do not endorse it, and advise AGAINST it's use. There are a few games that run almost at native speed using cedega and can be considered playable, one of which is World of Warcraft.

DirectXWine is a project you should really keep your eye on. It's aim is to do the same thing that cedega does, but with a truly open source code base. I imagine that this project will progress slightly faster than cedega will, due to it's open nature. Expect faster run times. Again, this is windows emulation, and potentially bad.

DosBox, is another alternative. It is more suited, as the name suggests, for dos games, as well as even some early windows releases. It has a listing of games it can run. Furthermore, windows emulation is potentially damaging to linux gaming as a whole. I'm not sure how I feel about using wine based emulators, but the threat is there and should not be ignored. It can deter native linux ports from even happening: regardless of how well wine works in the future, this is bad. We can't let this happen, but I'm not sure of all the possible ramifactions.

Make your own decision, just remember what was said here (as my stance is against anything that is more than likely gonna hurt linux gaming), it was fair that I warned you what many beleive. Other options are emulators and ported engines, for example, ePSXe, VBA, Zsnes, and Scumm VM. I use Scumm VM for several of the old lucas arts adventure games, like Full Throttle: a classic in it's own right. ePSXe gives me pretty much the entire playstation library and Zsnes is always nice for some net mario.

Linux lacks a few of the more mainstream games, but when going into it, it's always good to keep that in mind. Linux is not so much lacking (because it by no means is required to have those games), as much as it has different games. If you got the hardware, but no doe for games, open source gaming can be awesome. For example, a really good mmorpg, although classic in nature and visuals, is The Mana World. It looks cartoony, granted, but it's a load of fun. So GET OUT THERE AND GAME, DARNIT!

LINKS:
Hardware Reviews
Gaming Updates
Etc





THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS! If it looks incomplete, pm me and i'll be glad to include some detail.

Last edited by Aynjell; 08-26-2006 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 06-05-2005, 12:26 PM   #2
baldrick
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Very good!

Sticky!!
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Old 06-05-2005, 02:47 PM   #3
Aynjell
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I hope so, this, in my opinion is pretty well written, and in the interest of open source, i didn't invent the wheel, rather used some very good documentation out there. The links often times contain the best information.
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:01 PM   #4
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ya ya stikcy plz

i adore GENTOO
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:07 PM   #5
Aynjell
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Same here. It's level of control is simply amazing. I can't help but enjoy that...
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:15 PM   #6
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Indeed, very nice. Although, it iseems a little too gentoo based. I would think you would want to target people newer to linux, who probobly arn't using gentoo. Never the less, very good.
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:16 PM   #7
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wtf, why is there a gaming thread placed by the mod??? are ya trying to make species angry?
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:21 PM   #8
Aynjell
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No. Not at all. But I didnt' want to be second rate to you.

As for newbies using gentoo linux, that's a good thing. gentoo is a great distro to learn linux. Canned distros teach kde, or gnome. I want users to actually know what they are doing. How is that bad?
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:22 PM   #9
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why do ya think nathan made this thread then ???
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:23 PM   #10
Aynjell
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Then how do I ask him to move my thread?
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:33 PM   #11
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ill read it when i get a chance and decide whether it's good enough.
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:33 PM   #12
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I'd appreciate it. If there's anything I should add, let me know.
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Old 06-09-2005, 04:26 PM   #13
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Great thread. Sticky material for sure.
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Old 07-01-2005, 12:19 PM   #14
Aynjell
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So, is there anything I should consider adding?
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Old 07-04-2005, 01:24 AM   #15
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That's why I asked.
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Old 07-04-2005, 08:36 AM   #16
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I have to disagree with the ATI section. It is as simple as three or four commands.

You compile the kernel without the DRM built into the kernel, emerge the drivers, setup fglrxconfig, and finally update the opengl environment. It's not even difficult for a person new to linux, considering everything is presented clearly on the website. Other than that, the guide is fine.
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Old 07-04-2005, 10:08 AM   #17
Aynjell
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And yeah, like I said, it can be easy to set up, I could do it. But, it's problematic and userbase at large has proven this. There are more "My radeon don't work..." threads than those complaining of nVidia cards. Furthermore, nVidia's perform better. No argument there. Period. So even if it's clearly documented, it's fragile, like cracked glass fragile. I stay away from it simply because of all the my ATI card don't work threads.

However, ATI has one thing going and it can't be ignored (this will also be added to the howto shortly): They have official support for FOSS drivers. They've actually released specs for the open drivers. ATI wins there.

Thanks for the comment CompDude, taken into consideration.

Last edited by Aynjell; 07-04-2005 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 07-28-2005, 02:13 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CompDude
I have to disagree with the ATI section. It is as simple as three or four commands.

You compile the kernel without the DRM built into the kernel, emerge the drivers, setup fglrxconfig, and finally update the opengl environment. It's not even difficult for a person new to linux, considering everything is presented clearly on the website. Other than that, the guide is fine.
I agree, no need to bash ATI on two paragraphs, i bet it'll work better with cedega and HL2

ATI's driver readme is as clear as water, and it's not difficult at all to install and make it run. hell, even the control panel is great and lets you adjust a bunch of stuff (such as fsaa and af)
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Old 07-28-2005, 11:06 PM   #19
Aynjell
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Originally Posted by Copycat
I agree, no need to bash ATI on two paragraphs, i bet it'll work better with cedega and HL2

ATI's driver readme is as clear as water, and it's not difficult at all to install and make it run. hell, even the control panel is great and lets you adjust a bunch of stuff (such as fsaa and af)
No. It won't.

Every single direct 3d call is converted into an equivelent OpenGL call. So, your better direct3d support is meaningless. Linux doesn't use D3D. Doesn't, hasn't, and I pray to god it never does (the last thing we need is API's like D3D in linux).

I suggest reading up on the nature of such software, it's interesting. But no, your ATI would perform worse. Much worse. A 6600 standard would crush an X850XTPE in linux, but then again, my 6800 also fights for ranking with the 7800GTX (driver bugs have made the 7800GTX only a few frames faster than the 6600GT).

Last edited by Aynjell; 10-21-2005 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 07-28-2005, 11:07 PM   #20
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Oh, and yes there is a need to bash a company that should be supporting us. They are as much an underdog as us, and instead of sticking it to the man, they are being chumps and eating out of Microsoft's direct3D usin' butt. The only reason I reccomend an ATI (9200 and below) is for the open source drivers.

Also worth noting, there was no actual bashing involved. Only factual insight. I proved everything I said, nor am I biased other than my beleif that there is only one true linux distro. Ahem...
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