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Would a PC-like game console with a single hardware configuration for every unit running wine on top of Ubuntu be easier for developers to "port" (more like configure in this case) games to than existing solutions used to port to Linux or valve's upcoming DX to openGL system?

EDIT: just wanted to add a few details to avoid confusion

  1. I did say ubuntu but it could be any distro really, debian-based is still the most popular so it would be better to used that for compatibility reasons.
  2. Consider this to be a stop-gap measure to try to lure developers to Linux, like some apps that were released by coming pre-configured to run on top of wine from the get-go, and now thanks to sales are being ported to run natively on Linux.
  3. The steambox got delayed all the way to next year, and I wouldn't be surprised if many developers are putting any ports on stand-by. Getting a game to run on Wine is much simpler than porting it, and with a one-configuration software+hardware anyone can contribute to improve a game on Wine and it will run the same in any other user's system.
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1 Answer 1

Probably not.

Wine is not specific to Ubuntu; it will run on most Unix-like OSes and virtually all GNU/Linux systems. Wine can run on SteamOS. (SteamOS is actually not that dissimilar to Ubuntu--both are derived from Debian. But Wine came before Ubuntu and runs fine on systems that are quite unlike Ubuntu, too.)

Therefore, if a game needed Wine, it could simply use Wine on SteamOS or any other GNU/Linux OS. Having access to an alternative implementation of DirectX wouldn't prevent Wine from being used; if a game worked better with Wine, it could simply use that instead. Each game could ship with Wine (whatever version worked best for it), or Wine could be included in the platform.

You might be thinking that using DirectX DLLs taken from a Windows system, using Wine would be more effective than using an alternative DirectX implementation (such as the OpenGL-based port that you mention Valve is developing). After all, Microsoft DirectX can be installed in Wine, and many gamers (including many Ubuntu users) do this on their regular PCs.

However, distributing Microsoft's DirectX implementation(s) in this way--as part of the underlying platform or together with a game--would likely violate Microsoft's license. Note that I am not a lawyer, I could be wrong, and this is not legal advice even if I am not wrong. Furthermore, DirectX doesn't work perfectly on Wine currently and future versions (even minor updates) can't be relied on to continue working as well as existing versions do.

A related but different possible solution comes to mind: Traditionally, gaming consoles don't have to keep track of much state between games, and are able to start up and shut down very quickly. For a console intended to run only Windows games, it seems likely that Windows Embedded would be a technically appropriate choice of platform (though it is not free open source software, the platform vendor would have to pay license fees to Microsoft, and I'm not sure whether or not current licensing schemes for Windows Embedded would facilitate this sort of deployment). For a console intended to run games that are available for GNU/Linux or can be ported to GNU/Linux with reasonable effort, a GNU/Linux system would likely be most appropriate. The natural synthesis of these needs would be a dual-boot console, which simply boots into whatever OS is needed by a game. If the platform were to support concurrently running non-game applications, they'd probably be more portable and could have a version for both OSes, and otherwise, they'd probably not be graphically or otherwise resource intensive, so virtualization could be used.

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Thanks Eliah, however consider that a wine console would benefit like other consoles from closed HW meaning that one wine config fits all sizes and there's no component configuration needed. However the DX licensing is a problem I didn't consider and could be its achilles heel. As for windows embedded I doubt microsoft would license it for a console considering it would compete against the xbox. –  Ghost Mar 31 at 1:17
    
@Ghost "meaning that one wine config fits all sizes" Most manual Wine configuration, for gamers, is game-specific rather than hardware-specific. –  Eliah Kagan May 2 at 18:24
    
Actually it can vary a lot depending on which components you have, but the game config side can be handled by devs. Much easier than actually porting the game. –  Ghost May 2 at 22:59
    
@Ghost Couldn't the game config side be handled by devs outside the console scenario, too? (That is, for running Windows games on a regular Mac or PC with a GNU/Linux or other Wine-supporting Unix-like system installed.) –  Eliah Kagan May 3 at 2:44
    
Is the chicken and egg problem, devs are not gonna bother supporting it directly until the userbase is big enough, so at first you would have to take each game and make it run properly on this "console". BTW now that the steambox got delayed yet again it might not be a bad idea to build something like this. –  Ghost May 28 at 23:56

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