by Brett Thomas
It seems like every time we turn around on the forums, there is a tremendous backlash against the Windows OS and Microsoft as a whole. Some of it is even well-deserved - the amount of overhead required by the new Vista OS has made many otherwise very usable computers completely obsolete, and that's before you spend the money for Vista itself. And though you don't have to upgrade, wouldn't it be nice to use a current, well-maintained OS?
You can, of course, if you're using Linux. However, many users aren't willing to make the switch, despite the development of some great Linux distros. It no longer takes a PhD in Computer Science to install and run a successful, fully-functional Linux desktop. Finding software to fit your needs isn't always as easy, but there's also a lot of misinformation running around.
Because of this, I've tapped one of our resident Linux gurus to help with a series of articles to raise awareness of some of the things you can do with it. His name is Ken Gypen, but you may know him better as Glider on our forums. Today's article strikes at the heart of one of the biggest Linux myths out there - that it doesn't have gaming support. One of the primary reasons many forumites say that they can't give up the Windows OS is that they don't want to give up their games - is it true?
Well, Ken, why don't you tell us...
Gaming on Linux
Gaming is the one thing that Windows has to offer over Linux. There are plenty of open-source office packages, photo editors, web browsers, mail clients,... but the general impression of gaming on Linux is poor. This is because most big gaming developers only use DirectX in their games; and, as we all know, DirectX is one of Microsoft's greatest gifts to gamers. But that doesn't mean there aren't great games that run natively, or through so-called emulators (though most actually aren't, which we'll cover later). In this article we'll discuss some of those games.
First, we'll start with my all time favourite - Uplink.
Link - £10 / $19.50 / €14.50
While this is an older game, it is still very enjoyable nowadays. It offers something that current games lack in my eyes, a unique concept. It's a one of a kind type of game that places you in the shoes of a hacker in the year 2010, which was far away when the game was originally released on October 1st, 2001.
In the game, you are an employee of the Uplink company, which offers services including destruction of a computer system, framing someone for a crime, altering grades in the international academic database, clearing criminal records, etc. Though you are employed by Uplink, you remain a freelance agent, who can hack around at will and explore the internet. This lays the groundwork for the real plot - an Uplink agent is killed by agents of a company who wants the internet destroyed. In trying to find the killer, you'll end up in a world of espionage and counter espionage, where the line between right and wrong is very unclear.
Just don't get careless! You need to cover your tracks or you will get caught as you try to find the truth. System administrators aren't happy if you go poking around their systems, and will actively and passively try to catch you. If you get caught, you'll be lucky if you get a simple fine for your crimes; but if you are unlucky, your gateway will be seized, you'll be fired by the Uplink company and even be thrown in jail.
But there's so much more to the game then just hacking around. There are all sorts of easter eggs, winks to movies like Robocop & War Games, a stock market, a e-banking system, from which could gain you a lot of money with the right skills. You are a hacker, after all...