TLWIR 43: You Know That the GNU/LInux Shift is Coming When the Eggheads Start Conspiring

by Rex Djere on August 5, 2012 · 8 comments


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Wikipedia defines a cabal as a type of conspiracy where like-minded officials form an association to further the group’s shared cause. This is exactly what is happening: a group of software and hardware engineers have decided that GNU/Linux may be the road forward as Windows 8’s arrival looms. What is happening is inevitable: NOTHING lasts forever.

Valve Steams Ahead

Is This the Beginning of the End?
The only thing that is certain in life is change. People change. Conditions change. Monopolies change. Over the past two decade or so, people have slowly come to accept alternatives. In late 1995, Dish Networks launched its first satellite, the EchoStar I. In doing so, it ushered in an age where the cable industry would have to deal with some very serious competition. About a year earlier, Sony introduced the original Playstation. This device would revolutionize gaming by adding a CD-ROM drive to a gaming console. This innovation allowed the graphics on gaming consoles to rival that in pc gaming for the first time. Over the next few years, console gaming stole a lot of pc gaming’s thunder. However, pc gaming never truly died. Now, it appears that it may be about to have its most radical transformation: from a Windows-based platform to a GNU/Linux-based one.

Why is this happening? One word: control.

Apple’s Success Has everyone Wanting a Controlled Marketplace
Whether you like their tactics or not, Apple has mastered the art of profiting from a controlled marketplace. PC game developers enjoyed more than two decades of relative autonomy, but Apple’s success seems to be inspiring Microsoft to follow suit. To me, it appears that Microsoft’s goal with Windows 8 is to replicate the same kind of controlled marketplace that Apple enjoys. If game developers want to create games for Windows 8, they will pay a significant share of their profits as a “toll” for access to the market. Is this necessarily bad? Perhaps, perhaps not. Only time will tell. But it seems that the openness of GNU/Linux is becoming very attractive to PC game developers as they see the Windows 8 market coming.

My Predictions
I think that pc gaming may come to be dominated by GNU/Linux over the next few years. A lot of people will still play games on consoles such as the XBox and Playstation. I believe that Windows gaming market share will start to drop as soon as Windows 8 arrives, and it will mirror the drop in Internet Explorer’s market share over the last few years. I don’t think that Windows 8 will be a catastrophe for Microsoft, but I do believe that it may mark the beginning of a slow decline in Windows’ market share.

The EggHead Conspiracy
Valve’s CEO, Gabe Newell, may just have the influence necessary to get OEMs, graphics cards designers, video gamers, and other essential players on the same page. If he can guide this cabal, it will be one of the most impressive transitions in the history of computer technology. GNU/Linux is a perfect fit for the gaming community because most gamers tend to be tinkerers who want to understand how the internals of things work. One thing is for sure: once a conspiracy starts, it is almost impossible to stop its progress.

I don’t know for sure how Windows 8 will be received. I’ve watched Youtube videos where people had a hard time using it, and I’ve seen people who absolutely love it. These things are extremely hard to predict. Will gamers accept gaming on GNU/Linux pcs? If the transition is done correctly, they should not be able to tell any difference.

Thank you for reading The Linux Week in Review 43. I look forward to seeing you in the next edition!


Bob McConnell August 6, 2012 at 5:42 am

TYPO: “game developers as the see the Windows 8 market coming.” should be “as they see”?

One of the biggest lock-in factors for Microsoft has been the issue of retraining cost. There has always been a bigger learning curve to get from MS-Windows to other systems than to move to the next version of MS-Windows. That may not be true for MS-Windows 8. If not, then there will be a much higher percentage of customers moving away rather than updating. If they don’t have to upgrade a lot of hardware in the process, their savings, and incentive to leave Microsoft, will be even greater.

Your instructions for enabling JavaScript are incomplete. You need to add the option to enable when the NoScript plug-in is installed in Firefox. That is always the first one I install when setting up Firefox. And then you need to justify why we should enable a primary Virus infection vector, just to post a comment.

IGnatius T Foobar August 6, 2012 at 10:14 am

It’s called “Linux” — not “GNU/Linux”

Brendan August 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm

The playstation did not introduce the cd-rom drive to gaming consoles, nor did it rival the graphics found on desktops at the time.

There were several consoles that had cd-rom drives before the playstation. The 3DO, for instance, had a cd-rom drive from the start. Sega released the Sega CD add on for the Genesis. The CD-i was kinda a game console and was cd based. There were likely some others as well.

CDs didn’t really allow for better graphics either. It helped in some ways, but wasn’t the reason. After all, the Jaguar and N64 were technically able to do higher graphics with cartridges. Mostly, the problem is space. It was difficult to fit as much onto a cartridge as onto a cd, especially since you could have multiple cds, but not really multiple cartridges for the same game.

Elder-Geek August 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Windows 8 is a catartrophy for the Windows ecosystem.

OEMs like Dell, HP, and Lenovo can make as little as $5 on a PC sales. Microsoft can sell hardware, give themselves Windows for “free” and eat the OEMs lunch and put them ouf of business.

Companies like Valve that act as a “Gateway” to content are also Win 8 competitors. Microsoft would like to go App Store only for sales. If they do that, either Steam wont get into the App Store or Valve will have to cut MS in for a large part of the profits.

Companies that make legacy software have been relagated to second class citizens on the classic desktop. There is no guarentee that there will be a classic desktop in Win 9 in 3 years. They can sell to the bitter clingers that stick with XP and Seven, go out of business, or port their application over to Win 8.

No matter how you look at it. It is an unmitigated disaster for anyone manufacturing hardware, or create software that will not be in the App Store. As said way back in 2000 – 2003. Betrayal of the developers was inevitable – “A Microsoft partner is a victim they haven’t gotten to yet”

Rex Djere August 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Wow, great comments everyone! I learned a lot.

Rex Djere August 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm

@Bob McConnell Thank you for pointing out the typo. It’s fixed!

alanjm August 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm

The official name is indeed GNU/Linux….

asmoore82 August 8, 2012 at 5:14 am

Yes, what kind of a louse would want to strip away credit from GNU? Android is just Linux. RedHad, Debian, Ubuntu, Mint and many more are GNU/Linux. Which one is Valve supporting here? That’s right: GNU/Linux. There is a distinction.

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