My thoughts on Tech

Alienware X51 with Ubuntu makes no sense

This morning in my half-woken state, as I was checking Hacker News, I spotted this piece about Alienware launching the X51 with Ubuntu. I initially thought I was dreaming, and woke up immediately and read the piece, and I was left dumbfounded when I read it again to be sure.

Kind of dumbfounded at Dell launching an Alienware X51 with Ubuntu http://alienware.com/ubuntu/ Not sure what’s Dell thinking – there aren’t any great native AAA games available, can’t imagine this would make studios to make Linux ports either

Me, on app.net

Mikhail echoed his thoughts on this as well

As much as some people want it, I don’t see AAA gaming shifting out of windows anytime soon. Even if Valve manages to do something it might kill stuff on win8 but tons of people use 7 so they are fine?

Even on GOG, most games are windows only. Unless the next windows has something worse than win 8 for other apps and games , i dont see it happening.

I honestly don’t get what Dell is aiming for here. I wonder if some dude at Dell heard that gaming on Ubuntu is on the rise, and thought this would be a good way to ride the wave and get some PR. Incidentally, the same thought is currently the top most comment on Hacker News.

This seems like the sort of thing where they don’t really care whether they sell any or not. Gaming on Ubuntu is a hot blog topic right now, so they took an existing product and put Ubuntu on it. Probably cost a couple thousand to do all the paperwork surrounding a new SKU, and they’ll probably sell enough of these to make cover that. Boom, Free marketing and some cred with the indie gaming & Linux community. And if Steam on Linux does take off, they’ve already got their foot in the door.

Call me a cynic, but this is exactly what it sounds like. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a (niche) market for pre-built, certified for Linux, desktops/laptops(and System76, for example)… Dell’s Project Sputnik makes sense. Latitude/Precision series of Linux laptops makes sense. Heck even the Chromebooks make sense, but right now, the X51 with Ubuntu is just stupid.

Why? I’ll go back to a rant I had stored when Steam for Linux was announced

The success of Linux Gaming doesn’t depend on Steam, it depends on the game devs. Steam for Mac was here like like when? 3 years ago? There are hardly 500 games, most of them indie. The only recent high-profile game that I know is there for the Mac is Diablo III.

Indie games are great, God bless devs for struggling and slogging their asses, but ultimately AAA games is what drives the industry.

I’ll repeat what I said when Steam for Linux and Steam for Mac was announced: Steam is a platform. Build a new bus stand on a deserted place with no buses, you won’t get hundreds of people at the bus stand.

Is it great that Steam has arrived? Sure. Does it mean that “age of Linux gaming” is coming? No. All we have right now is one functioning SteamWorks game. Even if we consider all of Valve’s games, that’s not more than 10.

And Mac’s market share is roughly what, 10x the Linux desktop base? Hell, even on the X51’s highlights page you have this

With over 25 gaming titles available and more being added, users can access Steam For Linux to play online games, including your favorite titles like Team Fortress 2 and Serious Sam 3.

I mean really, really? Hell I’m bloody sure even the NextBox/PS4 will have more launch titles than this(not exclusives, mind you – but that’s a different story altogether). Even if there aren’t any launch titles, you can be guaran-damn-teed (excuse the WWE slang) that devs will come out with games for the the X360/PS3/PS4/NextBox.

I don’t see any such thing happening on the Linux desktop gaming side. By now, I’m pretty sure whoever’s reading this, are yelling SteamBox, SteamBox. Considering that it still officially doesn’t exist, and a prototype that was shown at CES was announced as lolucrazy-that-aint-steambox by Valve, that pretty much tosses that out of the factor. Even if introduced, I won’t be surprised if it’s a custom-closed-system, much like today’s console.

 

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