by Anton Shilov
04/11/2013 | 10:50 PM
Alienware, one of the world’s leading maker of high-end PCs for gaming, has quietly added small form-factor desktops powered by Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux into its lineup, which will be the world’s first Linux-based gaming system from a major manufacturer. While Ubuntu Linux may offer a number of advantages for office PCs, its abilities to address gaming PCs are pretty limited. Still, Alienware pins hopes on Steam gaming distribution system, which is now available for Linux.
The SFF Alienware X51 is powered by dual-core or quad-core Intel Core i3/i5/i7 microprocessor and Nvidia GeForce GT 645 or GTX 660 graphics card with 1GB/1.5GB of memory. The system can be equipped with up to 16GB DDR3 memory, 2TB hard drive, slot-loading DVD or Blu-ray disc optical drive, 7.1-channel audio, 1Gb Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n W-Fi, USB 3.0 ports and so on. The compact Alienware X51 gaming PC weighs only 5.49 and can be equipped with up to 330W external power supply unit (PSU). The cost of the systems with Ubuntu Linux varies from $599 to $1049, whereas the price of Windows 7-based Alienware X51 begins at $699.
Ubuntu Linux open-source operating system allows users to experience Ubuntu in a flexible manner that is unique to their preferences and its flexible interface can be customized to suit the user’s needs. Ubuntu features stylish, intuitive interface and is compatible with all popular file formats. Ubuntu Linux comes with built-in firewall and virus protection as well as automatic security updates. When compared to Windows, Ubuntu boasts a tad faster boot time and offers thousands of free applications.
While there are a number of video games that rely on OpenGL application programming interface, which is a cross-platform API, these days, a lot more games rely on DirectX/Direct3D API, which is available exclusively on Microsoft Windows-based PCs. However, recently Valve Software introduced Steam gaming distribution system for Ubuntu Linux, which currently offers 165 titles and in future will be able to offer even more with a special emulation software. As a result, Linux gaming actually gains potential.
Even though with Steam for Linux available the platform is gaining chances on the PC gaming market, without availability of popular AAA titles for Linux at launch day it will be pretty much impossible to attract core gamers to the platform.
Alienware pins hope on Steam games as well as Steam’s Big Picture mode for HDTVs as to major drivers for the Alienware X51 with Ubuntu. Given that the X51 is small, it can be used in the living room, which makes it essentially a Steam Box that Valve has been talking about for some time now.