How Linux scared Microsoft into improving Windows gaming

Also in today’s open source roundup: DistroWatch reviews MX Linux 16, and Mac market share drops while Linux improves

How Linux scared Microsoft into improving Windows gaming

A former Valve developer recently shared some of the history behind the company’s interest in Linux for gaming. He notes on his blog how Linux attracted the attention of Microsoft developers who visited Valve to talk about the data shared in a post on the company's blog back in 2012.

Rich Geldreich writes on his blog:

Gabe Newell himself wrote a lot of this post in front of me. From what I could tell, he seemed flabbergasted and annoyed that the team didn't immediately blog this info once we were solidly running faster in OpenGL vs. D3D. (Of course we should have blogged it ourselves! One of our missions as a team inside of Valve was to build a supportive community around our efforts.) From his perspective, it was big news that we were running faster on Linux vs. Windows. I personally suspect his social network didn't believe it was possible, and/or there was some deeper strategic business reason for blogging this info ASAP.

I stood behind Gabe and gave him all the data concerning GL vs. D3D performance while he typed the blog post in. I was (and still remain) extremely confident that our results were real. We conducted these tests as scientifically as we could, using two machines with the same hardware, configured in precisely the same way in the BIOS's, etc. NVidia and AMD were able to reproduce our results independently. Also, I could have easily made L4D2 on Linux GL run even faster vs. Windows, but we had other priorities like getting more Source1 games working, and helping Intel with their open source GL driver. From what I understand, Linux has some inherent advantages at the kernel level vs. Windows that impact driver performance.

A few weeks after this post went out, some very senior developers from Microsoft came by for a discreet visit. They loved our post, because it lit a fire underneath Microsoft's executives to get their act together and keep supporting Direct3D development. (Remember, at this point it was years since the last DirectX SDK release. The DirectX team was on life support.) Linux is obviously extremely influential.

It's perhaps hard to believe, but the Steam Linux effort made a significant impact inside of multiple corporations. It was a surprisingly influential project. Valve being deeply involved with Linux also gives the company a "worse case scenario" hedge vs. Microsoft. It's like a club held over MS's heads. They just need to keep spending the resources to keep their in-house Linux expertise in a healthy state.

More at the Tech and Programmer Culture Blog

DistroWatch reviews MX Linux 16

MX Linux is a distribution based on Debian Stable that tries to provide a comfortable, midweight desktop environment. The MX Linux site notes that it is a "cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS communities, using the best tools and talents from each distro".

A writer at DistroWatch did a full review of MX Linux 16 and found it to be suitable for users who already have some experience with Linux.

Jesse Smith reports for DistroWatch:

Taken as a whole, I like MX Linux 16. The distribution is fairly lightweight by modern standards and the project provides both 32-bit and 64-bit support, a characteristic which is increasingly rare. The desktop is light and responsive, but still provides a nice, modern look.

I like that while MX is light on resources, it provides a lot of popular software for us to use. We are treated to good multimedia support, a full featured productivity suite and web browser. The software included in MX is more modern than Debian Stable and we have access to a Backports repository if we want to access up to date applications.

I ran into just a few rough edges, like the theme changer asking me to restart Firefox and the update manager not refreshing its package information before downloading new updates. Earlier I mentioned some frustration with the many overlapping configuration tools, but I acknowledge what I see as clutter could be another person's convenience.

All in all, MX Linux provided me with a good experience. The distribution walks a fine line between providing conveniences (like the welcome window and update notification) and staying out of the way. I think the developers have struck a good balance and I definitely see MX as a good option, especially for people running older computers. I'm not sure I would recommend MX Linux to first time Linux users, MX does expect more technical knowledge than some more mainstream distributions, but I think MX would make a fine second distribution for someone comfortable with Linux concepts, but who also wants performance and convenience.

More at DistroWatch

Mac market share drops while Linux improves

Apple’s Mac computers have seen a drop in market share recently, but Linux has actually improved its share of the PC market.

Gregg Keizer reports for Computerworld:

Apple's Mac share of personal computers worldwide fell to a five-year low in December, mimicking the company's own numbers that have portrayed a four-quarter sales slowdown.

As that slippage took hold, two rivals -- Goliath Windows and David Linux -- both benefited with increases of around a half percentage point during 2016. Linux, the open-source operating system whose users are even more passionate when defending their choice, climbed out of the under-2% cellar last year. Net Applications pegged Linux's user share at 2.2% in December, slightly off the 2.3% peak of November.

Linux first cracked the 2% barrier in June.

More at Computerworld

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