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Linux Port For id's Tech 5 Graphics Engine Unlikely 461

DesiVideoGamer writes "John Carmack, the lead developer for id's Tech 5 graphics engine, does not plan on making a Linux port for the new engine. From his e-mail: 'It isn't out of the question, but I don't think we will be able to justify the work. If there are hundreds of thousands of Linux users playing Quake Live when we are done with Rage, that would certainly influence our decision.' One of the reasons for not making a Linux port was due to the fact that the new engine 'pushes a lot of paths that are not usually optimized' and that the Linux port would have to use the binary blob graphics driver in order to work."
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Linux Port For id's Tech 5 Graphics Engine Unlikely

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  • by jkorz ( 1088471 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:04PM (#29168735)
    Linux users: play quake live I incidentally just tried it out on my ubuntu box last night. Pretty impressive for being browser based.
  • You heard the man (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spit ( 23158 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:11PM (#29168795)

    Play Quake live and get some meaningful stats back to a major developer.

  • Re:Too bad (Score:1, Interesting)

    by SilverHatHacker ( 1381259 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:18PM (#29168855)
    Ah, the dichotomy of freedom. In a perfect world of software, everything would be as free as RMS wants it to be. There would be no restriction on anything, and the user would be free to choose whatever he wanted for his system.
    We do not live in a perfect world. Do we choose the freedom to select 'non-free' options in order to achieve higher performance? Or do we limit ourselves to only 'free' software with no restrictions? RMS's vision is like religion: if everyone subscribed to it, the world would be fine, but as long as there is a viewpoint in opposition to it, it will never reach its full potential, and seem to be as limiting as what it stands against.

    If that doesn't make sense, I'm dog tired, and may as well be drunk for all I care.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:18PM (#29168859)

    I agree. If you're willing to use the proprietary drivers, just log back into win-does. If you're not willing to use the proprietary driver, then you probably aren't willing to use windows anyways, so ID isn't exactly losing your purchase.

  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:23PM (#29168903) Homepage Journal

    Carmack stated at Quakecon that Betheseda has to sign off on the GPL'ing of any future code. The chances of that happening are slim to none. IdTech5 is a pretty impressive piece of technology; from what I can tell it's Fallout 3 graphics maxed out with about 50% less overhead.

  • by Tubal-Cain ( 1289912 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:52PM (#29169065) Journal
    A while back Slashdot pointed us to this blog [], in which the blogger pointed out how having Linux and Mac ports attracted a lot of attention and even boosted the sales of their Windows versions.
  • by digitalunity ( 19107 ) <digitalunity&yahoo,com> on Monday August 24, 2009 @12:18AM (#29169243) Homepage

    I appreciate Carmack's pragmatic reasoning instead of legal bullshit or calling us all pirates.

    I have Windows and Linux available at home, so I don't really care. Yeah, it would be nice to not have to dual boot, but I see that as a necessary evil for the time being anyway, regardless of what games become available on Linux.

  • Re:Big news... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Reservoir Penguin ( 611789 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @12:52AM (#29169443)
    If you read it more carefully, he later adds "If there are hundreds of thousands of linux users playing Quake Live when we are done with Rage". I believe that while the blob has technical and performance issues, the real meat is still , especially after id losing it's independance to Zenimax, is poor ROI on Linux ports. 100000s Linux users playing QL? He KNEW it wasn't remotely realistic by a factor of 10 when he said it.
  • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Monday August 24, 2009 @01:01AM (#29169483)

    Ah, fanboys. nVidia's didn't "rewrite a large chunk of Xwindow [sic]". The driver just bypasses the OpenGL direct rendering stack. OpenGL requests still go to from userland to the kernel just as they would under DRM, but under the control of the nVidia driver and not the generic rendering pipeline. nVidia's reason for doing that has nothing to do with performance, but rather with using a common codebase for their Windows and Linux drivers.

    Furthermore, "overcloking" [sic] is not "necessary" in any way for playing games. Unless you're 14, that is: thanks, but Linux is for adults (unless you're running Gentoo and compiling everything with -O1.7e34 -fOMGLOLHACKS, which would be the moral equivalent of this overclocking nonsense.)

    You're right about it being difficult to use Linux for gaming (though my copy of Alpha Centauri still runs fine), but the difficulty has nothing to do with technical merits and everything to do with the small intersection between the Linux desktop user base and the set of people likely to purchase games. That's the sad reality. For other tasks of equal complexity, like software development, audio editing, and document creation, the free software world is at or near par. There's just not a whole lot of interest in gaming.

  • Re:Big news... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @01:18AM (#29169579) Homepage

    So you're claiming all those phones, TiVo's, GPS's and other embedded machines ARE capable of running a cutting edge FPS?

    The question is; how many of those Linux systems are desktop PC's with powerful enough hardware to run the very latest in gaming technology?

  • Re:Big news... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @01:18AM (#29169589)

    Nope. I didn't buy all those iD games the day the Linux port came out. Never happened.

    The problem is that this never happens often enough.

  • by rmdyer ( 267137 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @01:50AM (#29169733)

    From what I've seen, they have basically worked the game so down to the nuts and bolts as to make it fit into a three year old console. For starters, how about dynamic weather? None? Shame. Carmack is loosing sight of what made games great to buy and own on a PC, that you could enable advanced new graphics techniques on the PC with the latest graphics cards that were not available to the main stream. Even FarCry2, now a year old, has dynamic weather, and good weather too! I've played Crysis and FarCry2, and I think both games are well ahead of idTech5 in some areas, behind in others. FarCry2 is absolutely amazing when played at 1900x1200 with everything turned on. The mornings and evenings are soo real, with the evironmental audio effects as well. Shadows and foilage are quite fantastic. (The night doesn't seem so accurate however, with the night lighting is just too bright.) We've got quad processors now with 4 Gig PC memory standard, and 1 Gig graphics cards. What was the point of me even spending money on a high end machine? When I buy a game, I expect to see some graphics capabilities in the game that are experimental in nature, like volumetric clouds, wind, rain, dust storms, fog, frigid cold/heat haze effects, etc. I expect HDR lighting. I'm not just buying a game to have fun, I'm buying the game to become immersed in a world, and to explore. I want to feel as though I'm there, and have the freedom to just stand around and gawk at the world for hours, just like a lazy Sunday afternoon.

    I've owned every id game made in the last 16 years. If all Rage turns out to be is an overblown desert mad max racing game, with pretty good graphics, optimized for a console, I will be thoroughly dissappointed. Thoroughly dissappointed. I may never buy another high-end PC and graphics combo again. What would be the point? When all I really need to browse the web, check email, and watch online videos is a $500 box. So I end up buying a $500 business PC, and a $500 game console, and come out the lesser on both ends?

  • Re:Big news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moon3 ( 1530265 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @02:00AM (#29169781)
    It is not about piracy, trust me, it is all about Linux not being viable as a platform. That is what TFA is about, they would do it, BUT Linux "pushes a lot of paths that are not usually optimized' and that the Linux port would have to use the binary blob graphics driver in order to work".

    Basically what they are saying here is that after over a ten years of Linux development they are unable to effortlessly and painlessly port the game to the platform, or without taking some hard measures that could backfire, being nasty or buggy.

    There is little criticism in the Linux community in general, so you would never really hear the X-windows system is probably the worst piece of software ever written or that Linux drivers do not really exist as the frequent kernel changes makes vendor software drivers invalid, lots of people got alienated over the years and even enthusiast now say something like that they've stopped worrying about Linux and love Windows. A sad story.
  • Re:Big news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lotana ( 842533 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @02:05AM (#29169811)

    Very little piracy for Linux games?

    That is absolutely false. The piracy even worse because the market is small enough as it is, a small percentage will push the product from barely profitable to absolute loss.

    The problem has got so bad that Linux Game Publishing (Major porter of games to Linux and a successor of Loki) were forced to implement DRM for their releases: []

    And they didn't like doing it one bit. Here is a quote from the above linked article by LGP's CEO Michael Simms:

    When this game copy protection system became known with LGP's closed testing community, it had enraged some users. In response, the CEO of Linux Game Publishing, Michael Simms, had a few things to say. "Trust me, I don't like it, I'm not happy about it, but we HAVE to do this. I've fought for 6 years against the need for any kind of protection system and all that's happened is that for every legitimate copy of an LGP game out there, there are probably 3-4 pirated copies. That's the difference between success and failure."

    Now I know everyone here buys their Linux games, but it is a drop in the ocean compared to the number of pirates out there that care not for it.

  • by i.of.the.storm ( 907783 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @02:40AM (#29169979) Homepage
    Uh, no it's not. You can build a far better machine yourself for say $400-500 than HP or Dell will give you. Sure, they might give you more hard drive space or something, but they'll use a shitty no-name PSU that will blow up after a few years or a crap motherboard with a locked down BIOS, and the RAM is almost always much slower than the maximum speed your motherboard will take, despite the fact that the faster RAM is only a few dollars more expensive. It's just not worth it. Especially if you aren't going to buy an OS and are just going to run Linux. And in my experience, prebuilt computers are hell to upgrade.
  • Re:Big news... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Monday August 24, 2009 @03:01AM (#29170069) Homepage Journal

    "-#3-From what I have been told (not a game developer, so I don't know how accurate it is) OpenGL is simply no where near parity with DirectX."

    I'll help clarify this. See, OpenGL can't compare with DirectX, because DirectX is just more than a graphics package - it's input, sound, video, networking, etc. You need to compare OpenGL to Direct3D, and in doing so, OpenGL wins, because it's an extensible graphics language where you can add in commands not originally built into the spec. Direct3D makes up a spec then always gives you an incremental update to keep up with features game designers are implementing through OpenGL to use on more powerful cards.

    But the state of 3D on Linux is a tad bit lackluster, from my personal experience, so most of my gaming is done under windows.

  • Re:Too bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @03:38AM (#29170235)

    Then they implemented my kernel as a blob, and there was nobody left to speak up for me because their systems were causing kernel panics because of all the blobs that nobody could debug.

    I don't mean to worry you, but people have been debugging without source code for years. Of course they do it because people pay them, not as volunteers.

  • Re:Big news... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @03:51AM (#29170279)
    Read Carmack's thoughts on OpenGL and why he's switched to DirectX. What you think is a strength is actually a huge weakness for developers.

    Say you've a feature that isn't part of the OpenGL spec and has been introduced into nVidia and ATI's latest cards. Both the companies will want an implementation of this feature optimised for their cards so as a coder, if you want to put this feature in your game, you're going to have to code it in twice and it's probably going to produce slightly different visuals for each manufacturer. It's a lot of extra coding and testing work.

    Then, when it comes up to drawing a new spec for the latest version, you'll have two of your most important contributors arguing over which implementation to use and the spec gets delayed.

    With D3D they talk to all the manufacturers and say "this is how the feature will work, design your card to use it". If they want their card to be DX18 or whatever, they've got to implement it that way. It can mean you have to wait between revisions for new features but it prevents the kind of divergence than a graphics API is supposed to prevent in the first place.
  • Re:Big news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crossmr ( 957846 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @04:41AM (#29170503) Journal

    a few years ago I had to use project 2003 for a class. I was attempting to run only linux on my laptop at the time. It didn't support it.. I put down my pledge. 1.5 years later I get an email saying "This now works on crossover office, pay up!" I no longer needed it, but went over to check out its status. Their definition of "it works" was several users claiming "garbage won't even start" and one user claiming "I got it to run..but you can't open anything, save anything.. or pretty much do anything" and they considered that delivering on their end of the bargain.

    They want to make linux appealing, they need to work just a tad bit harder than that.

  • Dear Carmack, (Score:2, Interesting)

    by V!NCENT ( 1105021 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @04:44AM (#29170515)
    I know you read this. I have bought all your games since wolf3d. I use Linux. If you don't port Rage then I won't buy it, along with about the entire Linux market. Piracy is very small and the offerings are about zero. So every Linux user out there that wants to game would buy it. Any idea how large that number is in sales? Almost everybody, like me, just buys the Windows version and then downloads the bin about a month later. All Linux users that game use the nVidia and ATI blobs anyway...
  • by emanem ( 1356033 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @05:19AM (#29170709) Homepage
    Honestly I'm not very surprised.

    For sure the new deal with Zenimax has influenced the independence of id.
    I mean, the fact they are developing a Linux version for QL is good and reflects that Linux market does exist.
    What scares me are the motivation added by JC.

    I really find hard to understand about the codepath optimization when:

    - 2~3 years ago the Linux version of Doom 3/Quake 4 was faster on Linux than Windows, with worse drivers (you have to admit Linux drivers have been better in these years)
    - ET:QW runs smoother on Linux than on my Win XP partition

    Again, how comes that drivers have been only getting worse in these last 3 years? I really don't understand this.
    Plus, as someone else has already pointed out, if they do a Mac port (it's a unix system as well), how difficult can be to make a Linux port (the most evoluted and used unix system on this planet)?

    I've read poor logic in these emails.

    Considering Carmack is a very smart and logic person, I'm very surprised by these answers.
    Or Zenimax has bought id's freedom, or the emails are fake.

  • Re:Big news... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Virak ( 897071 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @05:21AM (#29170725) Homepage

    Basically what they are saying here is that after over a ten years of Linux development they are unable to effortlessly and painlessly port the game to the platform

    Gee, I wonder why? It's not like Linux is a different OS and id Tech 5 is a gigantic codebase or anything like that? Oh wait.

    Besides, he never said "OMG LUNIX IS THE WORST THING EVER GUYS I CAN'T PORT IT TO THIS PIECE OF SHIT LOL", he said "It isn't out of the question, but I don't think we will be able to justify the work." That's hardly the scathing criticism of Linux you so desperately try to make it out to be. Hell, it isn't even a criticism of Linux at all.

    or without taking some hard measures that could backfire, being nasty or buggy.

    He said nothing of the sort, you're just making shit up here. RTFA. What he said was that it'd probably only work on closed source drivers. Not that he can't get it running on Linux without accidentally opening a gateway far into the depths of hell.

    There is little criticism in the Linux community in general,

    No, not really.

    so you would never really hear the X-windows system is probably the worst piece of software ever written

    No, not even close. It's got a lot of cruft, but it's still managed to keep up with the times quite well. Furthermore, most of the complaints people make about are absurd, outdated, or just plain wrong. Like the ever classic "X uses a server and has network transparency so it uses the network for everything even locally so it's SLOW LOL". Which would be a fine complaint if it weren't for the fact that it is wrong. Locally it'd use Unix sockets, a very different thing from network sockets. Actually, it wouldn't even use that, it'd use shared memory, directly communicating with the server, and avoiding any overhead. So yes, you wouldn't hear that sort of complaint much except from idiots.

    or that Linux drivers do not really exist as the frequent kernel changes makes vendor software drivers invalid,

    It sure makes things easier when you completely redefine words to your liking, doesn't it? The lack of a stable driver API doesn't mean "drivers don't exist". People can either update their drivers themselves to keep up with the latest kernels, or get them in the kernel itself and not have to worry about such a thing anymore. However just because the driver might break on newer versions doesn't make it stop working on older versions and doesn't make it "not exist". In fact, quite a few of them exist; probably more than any other OS comes with out of the box, even Windows. (Certainly more than any OS that's not Windows comes with)

    lots of people got alienated over the years and even enthusiast now say something like that they've stopped worrying about Linux and love Windows.

    Oh hey that's funny because lots of people I know got alienated by Windows over the years and now say something like they've stopped worrying about Windows and love Linux! Clearly the year of the Linux desktop is finally at hand! (If you don't get what I'm going for here, "the plural of anecdote is not data", especially not anecdotes personally gathered from acquaintances, a, too put it lightly, rather biased group.)

    A sad story.

    The only thing sad is how your post consists entirely of bullshit, nonsense, and outright lies.

  • Re:Big news... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by muckracer ( 1204794 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @06:00AM (#29170927)

    > The plural of "anecdote" is not "proof".

    Perhaps you accept as some sort of 'proof' a game developer's Frictionalgames (Penumbra Series), who even wrote a big thank you note on their page after the Linux version deal got mentioned on Slashdot and people subsequently bought the games (I was one of them and I only ever buy games for Linux). In fact, from the note it appeared, that they teetered on the edge of development with a new version of Penumbra, but due to the sudden influx of cash they'll now happily go forward full steam.

  • by am 2k ( 217885 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:24AM (#29171633) Homepage

    No, I'm talking about something like this []. Note how in the walls in the Manhattan Apartment demo take on the color of the colored carpet when the light is shining on it.

  • Re:Big news... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:28AM (#29171677) Journal

    I'm not sure about Loki specifically, but I wouldn't be surprised if they hadn't been killed by WINE. I can't speak for the Linux market specifically, but I recently bought a copy of Homeworld 2, and in spite of not using Windows, I got the Windows version rather than the Mac port. The Windows version runs nicely under Darwine (although it needed a little hoop-jumping to get it installed) and I know that it will run at least as well on my next x86 computer, as long as it runs one of the platforms that WINE has been ported to (Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, OS X). If I buy a Linux game now, I typically can't play it anywhere other than Linux, maybe FreeBSD or Solaris. If I buy a Windows game now, if I can't play it on OS X or *NIX now, I will be able to eventually when WINE catches up with whatever feature it's missing. Depending on how well Darwine does with integrating QEMU, I may even be able to play the Windows version on non-x86 platforms at some point.

    Note that this doesn't apply to Id, who generally release their game code under a relatively permissive license and charge for the other content. I bought the DOS version of Quake, and have run it on Windows, PowerPC and Intel OS X, FreeBSD on x86, Solaris on SPARC, and possibly a couple of platforms I've forgotten, just downloading a new binary for each version.

  • Re:Big news... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:16AM (#29172169)

    Yeah, but they cheated by writing a good game that people actually wanted to play, and making it inexpensive to buy.

  • Re:Big news... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:00AM (#29172621) Homepage

    It's an ID game. It's a foregone conclusion that you are targeting people
    that have the better hardware. Nothing changes really. This same "constraint"
    is already in place anyways. People who buy his games aren't doing it so they
    can run his code on "sucky video cards".

    This "problem" isn't exactly something new.

    It sounds like a lot of BS to cover up the fact that someone else is calling the shots.

  • Re:Big news... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Monday August 24, 2009 @12:49PM (#29174651) Homepage
    I prefer Linux to Windows for most everything. I've got a quad core X4 955 and a couple of Radeon's in Crossfire. I just wish that they worked properly under Linux. The open source ATI drivers are moving quickly, but they're not there yet. That leaves me to booting in to Windows 7 for my gaming.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban