Can Linux ever beat Windows at PC gaming?

Also in today's open source roundup: DistroWatch reviews FreeBSD 10.3's new features, and Linus Torvalds releases Linux 4.6

pc gaming
Credit: Messe Berlin

Can Linux ever beat Windows at PC gaming?

Windows has long been the undisputed king of computer operating systems when it comes to gaming. But is Linux getting to the point where it can take on Windows in PC gaming?

A writer at TechRadar remains quite skeptical about the possibility of Linux someday becoming the top gaming operating system for PCs.

Game Carey reports for TechRadar:

Evidently, Windows isn’t going anywhere, with a Steam market share of nearly 96% as of March 2016. In fact, Epic Games even recently called Microsoft out on trying to “monopolize” PC gaming with its Universal Windows Platform initiatives.

Although Microsoft has lost sight of what PC gamers want in recent years (see: Games for Windows Live), there’s no doubt that the current Xbox head Phil Spencer wants to bring the company back to its roots, namely by integrating features (and games) from the Xbox One into Windows 10.

In contrast, Valve’s attempts at making Linux not only the best place to play games from your Steam library, but actually the heart of your living room are tough to jive with. Despite making an effort with SteamOS, it doesn’t help that a number of companies still haven’t released their November 2015-bound Steam Machines after neglecting to comply with the operating system’s handicaps.

There’s a clear winner here, and unless Linux rectifies its performance disparity, lack of natively supported control options and impoverished game library, the OS to beat for PC gaming will remain Windows 10.

More at TechRadar

DistroWatch reviews FreeBSD 10.3’s new features

Jesse Smith at DistroWatch did a full review of FreeBSD 10.0 a while back, and now he has some thoughts to share about the new features that have been added to the recently released FreeBSD 10.3.

Jesse Smith reports for DistroWatch:

FreeBSD is a venerable operating system, often deployed on servers due to the project’s focus on performance and stability. At the beginning of April the FreeBSD project released version 10.3 of their operating system. The release announcement for FreeBSD 10.3 mentioned several features and improvements which caught my attention. Specifically the availability of ZFS boot environments, 64-bit Linux compatibility and jail improvements were of interest to me. I was especially eager to try out FreeBSD’s new jails technology using the iocage front-end. The iocage software has been presented as an improvement on (and replacement for) Warden, a friendly front-end for handling jail environments.

One of the first things I wanted to do was experiment with boot environments. For those who have not used them before, a boot environment is basically a snapshot of our operating system. Before performing any major configuration change or software upgrade we can take a snapshot of the operating system. This gives us a point in time when we knew the operating system was working. We then perform any changes or upgrades we want. When we boot the system we can choose, from the boot menu, which snapshot we want to use. This allows us to effectively move backward in time and boot older copies of the system. This makes the operating system virtually bullet proof as almost any change (short of hardware failure) can be fixed by simply rebooting and selecting to boot an older copy of the operating system. The PC-BSD and openSUSE projects have used boot environments successfully for some time now, but the technology has not widely caught on elsewhere.

The next item on my list of things to try was 64-bit Linux compatibility. FreeBSD has a compatibility layer which allows the operating system to run Linux executables. There are some restrictions though. For example, up until now the Linux executable had to be compiled for 32-bit systems and any dependencies had to be copied into place manually. There is a package in the FreeBSD repository which installs the CentOS core userland software. In essence, this gives us a bare bones installation of CentOS 6 in a directory on our FreeBSD computer. This is handy if we need to run Linux software alongside FreeBSD software or if we want to run Linux software without the resource overhead of a full featured virtual machine.

The final feature I wanted to look at was FreeBSD jails, specifically the way the iocage software works and how it compares to the older Warden jail management software. Jails on FreeBSD are basically very lightweight virtual machines. Part of the file system is roped off and processes can run in this area (jail) without knowing about or being able to affect the rest of the system. What primarily separates jails from virtual machines is jails all share the host’s kernel, meaning jailed processes must be able to run on our version of FreeBSD. In recent years Docker has provided similar functionality on Linux.

More at DistroWatch

Linus Torvalds releases Linux kernel 4.6

Linus has been very busy working on the next release of the Linux kernel, and now Linux 4.6 has been released into the wild.

Simon Sharwood reports on what's new in Linux kernel 4.6 for The Register:

New this time around is support for a bunch more ARM systems-on-a-chip, including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820. IBM’s POWER9 finds its first support, although perhaps prematurely given the silicon won’t arrive until late 2016.

Whatever CPU you use to run Linux, it can now have a more complex conversation about when to vary its frequency,

OrangeFS, XFS, Btrfs and EXT 4 users can all look for tweaks that enhance performance of their preferred file systems, while F2FS is now said to be rather better at running on flash storage.

Dell’s laptops will play nicer with Linux thanks to driver changes that permit hotkeys to be pressed into service. Raspberry Pi users may appreciate new drivers that are said to do lovely things for 3D graphics performance.

More at The Register

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