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Dell launches Ubuntu-based Alienware X51 gaming rig

Dell launches Ubuntu-based Alienware X51 gaming rig

Dell's Alienware X51 is now available with Ubuntu, marking the first time the company has recommended a Linux-based operating system to gamers.

Dell has officially announced it is dipping its toes into the waters of Linux gaming, launching an Alienware-branded mini gaming PC running Canonical's Ubuntu Linux.

Available exclusively in the US at present, the Alienware X51 is, to all intents and purposes, an Alienware-branded Steam Box console. Based on the company's existing small form factor X51, which launched with Windows, the new model includes the same hardware as before: that means a choice of Intel Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 or Core i7-3770 processors, 6GB to 8GB of DDR3 memory, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 645 1GB or GeForce GTX 660 1.5GB graphics card, and 1TB of spinning-rust storage.

Where the system differs is in its software: shipping with Canonical's Ubuntu in place of Microsoft's Windows, the new X51s are designed to be 100 per cent Linux compatible - and the company is still pushing the gaming focus of its Alienware brand even under the open-source platform. In fact, Dell is making much of the system's compatibility with Valve's Steam for Linux client: while the device won't ship with Steam pre-installed, it is being listed as fully compatible with Dell pushing gamers towards using its Big Picture mode to get a pre-Steam Box Steam Box-like experience.

Dell is also pushing Ubuntu as being suitable for general-purpose computing, listing a wealth of applications - LibreOffice, Rythmbox, Empathy, F-Spot, Firefox, and the Ubuntu One cloud storage service - that come pre-installed on the system, while also offering access to the Ubuntu Software Centre to quickly download and install open source and proprietary commercial packages.

While the X51 isn't Dell's first Linux-based system - the company has long supported Linux on its server products, while its first consumer-oriented Ubuntu-based devices were announced back in 2007 only to be dropped in 2010 and revived last year - it is the first to be aimed at enthusiasts and gamers. With Valve pushing Ubuntu heavily as the future of gaming, Dell's decision to forge ahead with an unofficial Steam Box of its own may prove a great success - or, if Valve fails to get the third-party support it needs for gaming on Linux, could go the way of Dell's previous Ubuntu efforts.

Either way, Dell's adding of Ubuntu to its Alienware line - even in a limited, US-exclusive release - is a clear indication that gaming on Linux is starting to be taken increasingly seriously.

More details are available on the Alienware website, while a blog detailing a user's first attempts at using Ubuntu on the X51 can be found on the Direct2Dell site.

23 Comments

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Parge 8th April 2013, 11:02 Quote
Not sure who will buy a Linux powered Alienware – those two make truly terrible bedfellows. I’d like to see the sales numbers in a years time. I’d really like to go Linux – I like free stuff, and I like customisation, but until it can run at least 90% of all of the games I play it’s just not going to happen.
will_123 8th April 2013, 11:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parge
Not sure who will buy a Linux powered Alienware – those two make truly terrible bedfellows. I’d like to see the sales numbers in a years time. I’d really like to go Linux – I like free stuff, and I like customisation, but until it can run at least 90% of all of the games I play it’s just not going to happen.

Yes totally it will be a while before anyone can really jump ship without losing something, DOTA and Global offensive for me will be enough to make me jump ship. Don’t think Ubuntu will be my choice of distro tho! But just great to see an alternative to windows, whether people thinks better or not.
forum_user 8th April 2013, 11:42 Quote
Gabe has said that the smallest version of SteamBox that might come out of all this will receive a streamed game directly from our gaming PCs. Therefore these SteamBox systems will eventually be running 100% of our libraries anyway.

As for this Alienware thingy, I'm quite interested, and recently started delving into Linux, but I'll probably wait for the smallest, sexiest, quietest, feature-packed, and high powered SteamBox before I make a decision which to get.
greigaitken 8th April 2013, 12:31 Quote
i can just imagine how pissed some kid(17) gonna be after convincing his mum to get him one to then find out it doesn't play the hip games
Snips 8th April 2013, 13:17 Quote
remind me again why it's great to see an alternative to Windows?
Madness_3d 8th April 2013, 13:37 Quote
Died at:
Quote:
1TB of spinning-rust storage.
fdbh96 8th April 2013, 13:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Madness_3d
Died at:

Same, but its still not financially viable to have a gaming system with 100% SSD, especially with steam as a game has to be downloaded whether or not you have the disk.
dyzophoria 8th April 2013, 14:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
remind me again why it's great to see an alternative to Windows?

not sure either, with all honesty's sake the only reason I see "most" people voting on linux for gaming is because Gabe says so. remove Gabe out of the equation and my guess is most won't even care about gaming in linux, the damn thing is too fragmented. from what Im seeing just call it "gaming for ubuntu" rather than gaming for linux lol
wafflesomd 8th April 2013, 14:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
remind me again why it's great to see an alternative to Windows?


IDK.

I hear a lot of people complain that they can't wait to move to Linux once they can play their games on it. I like windows. It's stable as hell and I can't say I really ever have any issues with it.

Don't get me wrong I like linux a lot too, but even if my games are running on linux, it's going to take a long time until I'm going to see the same stability and performance on linux that I get in windows.

Linux is fine to mess with time to time but I always question why I installed it in the first place after I realize that none of the programs I use are available for linux.
theshadow2001 8th April 2013, 14:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
remind me again why it's great to see an alternative to Windows?

Competition drives companies to improve themselves and their products
will_123 8th April 2013, 15:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dyzophoria
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
remind me again why it's great to see an alternative to Windows?

not sure either, with all honesty's sake the only reason I see "most" people voting on linux for gaming is because Gabe says so. remove Gabe out of the equation and my guess is most won't even care about gaming in linux, the damn thing is too fragmented. from what Im seeing just call it "gaming for ubuntu" rather than gaming for linux lol

Well for me its my primary operating system, bringing all my software onto one machine is a great thing. In my opinion choice drives forward innovation. If one platform is improving the other will need to do the same or face falling behind. More choice is always a good thing for the consumer. Steam of Linux runs on pretty much every distro out their now, why would anyone call it "gaming for ubuntu"...?

Also on another note I don’t really care what Gabe Newell says, he could be rooting for everyone to play games on a gameboy advance for all I care. But bringing all my software/games onto one platform, that’s something to listen and to be pleased about.
steveo_mcg 8th April 2013, 15:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wafflesomd
IDK.

Don't get me wrong I like linux a lot too, but even if my games are running on linux, it's going to take a long time until I'm going to see the same stability and performance on linux that I get in windows.

You mentioned this before but honestly I don't recognise what your saying. Linux has 99 problems but stability is not one of them. I don't think my Debian server has ever crashed and it only gets turned off when I'm out the country. On my desktop occasionally individual applications will crash but I can't remember the last time the actual OS just up and died and required rebooting.
forum_user 8th April 2013, 15:34 Quote
We all have gaming PCs, but in reference to these SteamBox's people are talking like they will have to give up Windows and give up what they already have ... weird.

I am a poster boy for these SteamBox's - nothing I've read has turned me away from it yet. BUT, I cannot imagine dumping my Windows gaming PC, even when I have one or two of these SteamBox's in other rooms ...

The SteamBox, from the way it will fit my needs, will enhance my gaming, not limit me to Linux machines, or force me to dump my Win7 gaming machine ...

Everybody sounds all dramary about it ...
Margo Baggins 8th April 2013, 15:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wafflesomd
IDK.

I hear a lot of people complain that they can't wait to move to Linux once they can play their games on it. I like windows. It's stable as hell and I can't say I really ever have any issues with it.

Don't get me wrong I like linux a lot too, but even if my games are running on linux, it's going to take a long time until I'm going to see the same stability and performance on linux that I get in windows.

Linux is fine to mess with time to time but I always question why I installed it in the first place after I realize that none of the programs I use are available for linux.

I think I would go as far as to say, that linux is easily more stable than any microsoft/windows platform. Don't get my wrong, I use windows alot, but, I have linux servers out there, that haven't been powercycled in a very long time, some of them in maybe over a year. I have linux servers watching over my networks and talking back to my central server, the system has been live for a year, and I have only had to reboot one or two of the servers in that whole time (There is currently about 15 ubuntu servers in my monitoring network). I have some squid accelerators running on debian builds that have been in service about 4 - 5 years, which are seldom power cycled (normally only for updates etc.) but have never crashed.
fdbh96 8th April 2013, 16:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
remind me again why it's great to see an alternative to Windows?

Because there are so many distros of linux, if all games were available on them the competition would be great and we'd end up with a much better gaming platform.

Also, if games are developed using opengl, then they'll be compatible with mac os too.
Yslen 8th April 2013, 16:22 Quote
One of the biggest advantages to PC gaming as I see it is backwards compatibility. Being able to pull Diablo II or Age of Wonders out of a drawer and play them with no issues whatsoever is great.

Moving away from a DirectX based PC would mean that in five years, I wouldn't be able to do the same thing with Bioshock or Dragon Age.

Even if all new games were written in OpenGL from tomorrow onwards, I'd still run them on a Windows PC for that reason.
SAimNE 8th April 2013, 18:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yslen
One of the biggest advantages to PC gaming as I see it is backwards compatibility. Being able to pull Diablo II or Age of Wonders out of a drawer and play them with no issues whatsoever is great.

Moving away from a DirectX based PC would mean that in five years, I wouldn't be able to do the same thing with Bioshock or Dragon Age.

Even if all new games were written in OpenGL from tomorrow onwards, I'd still run them on a Windows PC for that reason.

older games can usually be ran through emulation so it isnt really a problem. pretty sure once interest in gaming is increased you will see many pc emulators that can outperform wine. so the older titles will play fine and completely stable
wafflesomd 8th April 2013, 20:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Quote:
Originally Posted by wafflesomd
IDK.

Don't get me wrong I like linux a lot too, but even if my games are running on linux, it's going to take a long time until I'm going to see the same stability and performance on linux that I get in windows.

You mentioned this before but honestly I don't recognise what your saying. Linux has 99 problems but stability is not one of them. I don't think my Debian server has ever crashed and it only gets turned off when I'm out the country. On my desktop occasionally individual applications will crash but I can't remember the last time the actual OS just up and died and required rebooting.

I've gotten 2 kernal panics today, and zero issues in my windows install. I know which OS im going to stick with...
Yslen 8th April 2013, 20:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAimNE
older games can usually be ran through emulation so it isnt really a problem. pretty sure once interest in gaming is increased you will see many pc emulators that can outperform wine. so the older titles will play fine and completely stable

That's true enough for current old games, but is it going to be true for the games that will be considered classics in 5 years? I don't know enough about engines etc, but it seems unlikely the current crop of games will be so future-proof as old 2D games.

Also, do you need a Windows license to use WINE, or rather, to install the redistributable packages that WINE requires you to download to run many games? I may have remembered that wrong, but in that case you'd need to buy Windows anyway, so may as well use it.

Also to weigh in on the stability debate - I've probably had as many issues with Linux as I have with Windows over the years, except that Windows 7/8 have been more stable than anything else I've used. In the case of Windows 8 on a low-end/old system, it's also a lot quicker than the Linux distros I've tried on the same hardware, especially Ubuntu which is nowhere near as fast.
SAimNE 8th April 2013, 21:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yslen
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAimNE
older games can usually be ran through emulation so it isnt really a problem. pretty sure once interest in gaming is increased you will see many pc emulators that can outperform wine. so the older titles will play fine and completely stable

That's true enough for current old games, but is it going to be true for the games that will be considered classics in 5 years? I don't know enough about engines etc, but it seems unlikely the current crop of games will be so future-proof as old 2D games.

Also, do you need a Windows license to use WINE, or rather, to install the redistributable packages that WINE requires you to download to run many games? I may have remembered that wrong, but in that case you'd need to buy Windows anyway, so may as well use it.

Also to weigh in on the stability debate - I've probably had as many issues with Linux as I have with Windows over the years, except that Windows 7/8 have been more stable than anything else I've used. In the case of Windows 8 on a low-end/old system, it's also a lot quicker than the Linux distros I've tried on the same hardware, especially Ubuntu which is nowhere near as fast.
ubuntu isnt really meant for the extreme low budget systems. that would be lubuntu or linux mint that get's rid of all the fanfare. anyway in 5 years running games like that will be just as easy. there isnt any reason to think otherwise. and i was just saying there would probably be completely free emulators out by that time that will put wine to shame... sorta like ps1 emulators and such... all else fails you could set up dual boot(its not hard) and that wont cost you anything more than you would already pay for a copy of windows.. unless you couldnt handle the 5-10 second startup time that will be there cuz we will have most likely have switched almost exclusively to ssd or hybrid drives by that point in time. having linux is always a positive. nothing at all to lose since you dont pay, and a ton to gain.
steveo_mcg 8th April 2013, 22:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by wafflesomd
I've gotten 2 kernal panics today, and zero issues in my windows install. I know which OS im going to stick with...

I don't know what you do with this machine or what version of Linux so I can't speak to that except to say... thats odd, but what ever works for you.
Snips 9th April 2013, 10:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Quote:
Originally Posted by wafflesomd
I've gotten 2 kernal panics today, and zero issues in my windows install. I know which OS im going to stick with...

I don't know what you do with this machine or what version of Linux so I can't speak to that except to say... thats odd, but what ever works for you.

Why is that odd? He just stated a fact about his own personal experience.
steveo_mcg 9th April 2013, 11:00 Quote
Odd as in unusual as in I've never experienced that level of problem and don't know any one else (when using a stable distro) who has. I some one was having two BSoD a day in Win7 you would describe it as odd no?

No need to get your fanboy claws out...
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