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The Distant Thunder, the Pending Upheaval, and the Technology Revolution


For each of my nearly 15 years at CodeWeavers, my CEO, Jeremy White, has predicted that ‘this year is the YEAR OF LINUX’. Each year; and from what I’ve been told, several years prior to my joining in with the company. Who does that? That level of faith and certainty in something so ridiculous is unprecedented. Imagine making the claim that an obscure operating system will one day take over the world? It’s like claiming electric cars will one day surpass cars running on fossil fuels; or, digital music sales will surpass traditional record sales; or, video games will one day be considered a source of entertainment like movies and concerts. Come to think of it, maybe, THE YEAR OF LINUX isn’t all that farfetched.

For the past two years, I have participated in BOILING STEAM’s, “BOLD PREDICTIONS FOR LINUX GAMING”. It’s a really fun exercise where a handful of people in the industry make wildly irresponsible predictions as to what they believe will happen in Linux gaming for that year. It’s the type of exercise where us fanboys can tout the greatness of Linux while imaging a world where THE YEAR OF LINUX is not at all farfetched; but instead, a certainty before regressing back to a much different reality.

But the last two years in Linux gaming has given me – HOPE. I can hear the distant thunder in the not-so-far off future of a world where Linux is on par with macOS and to maybe a lesser degree, Windows. That thunder is innovation, and it feels like it’s coming to Linux. It’s the ‘juice’ that gets people excited; that attracts crowds; and changes the status quo. The thunder first started when Valve announced the SteamDeck in 2021 launching a Linux based handheld PC platform. Sure, other companies had previously released handheld gaming computer; but, no one else combined the specs of a gaming computer with a handheld form factor based on Linux OS. No one else had made the concerted effort to bring the content, in real actual games, to the Linux platform (via Proton). And no one else had thought to create the type of customer experience that is both satisfying and unique at the same time. Personally, I focus on ‘the experience’. Games come and go, but it’s the experience that takes me back to when my parents bought me an Atari 2600 some 43 years ago. It’s the experience that makes me reminisce in the games I loved. It’s that first experience that made me follow the Atari 2600 with more experiences like a Nintendo NES, then a Nintendo SNES, then an Apple IIc, then a personal computer, and eventually into technology related jobs which lead me to becoming the President of CodeWeavers. It’s passion. It’s that kind of passion that starts an UPHEAVAL.

Have you ever been captivated by something? Something that has held your interest? Something that you could not easily dismiss? Something you found yourself going back to again, and again, and again? All it took was that initial spark to change your mindset. For Linux, I think that ‘spark’ could very well be the SteamDeck. And, I think that spark could be the start of something very disruptive – Linux adaptation. If the SteamDeck moves the market towards Linux, others companies, other innovators, other influencers will follow. And where there is a market and an ecosystem and a base of absurdly loyal customers, you have the makings for change. To that point, other companies are entering this market. One of my favorite new devices is the EliteMini UM 700 PC with Manjaro Linux. With SteamDeck like specs, this mini-PC is poised to play your favorite Steam games via Proton in a compact form factor weighing just over one pound. In full disclosure, the EliteMini UM 700 includes a license of CrossOver Linux so you can use it to also work on the occasional spreadsheet or open Quicken to update your personal budget. And I expect MORE innovative devices, more games, and more content being brought to or created for or made available for Linux devices throughout this YEAR (OF LINUX).

And as everyone knows, every revolution was founded in the upheaval of the status quo. You can look this up. Our history books are filled with example after example after example of long term change resulting from the disruption of the previous normalcy. Governments, including the one in the United States, were formed from the minds of leaders with the intent of disrupting the then current state of affairs. Countless businesses, like Netflix, Amazon, and Skype, were born from the idea of how things can be done better while creating a lasting experience. Linux finally feels like it’s on that track – that it is being used in creative ways that will disrupt the current state of technology for years to come. And in doing so, 2022 is likely going to be remembered as THE YEAR OF LINUX.

Of course, great people, like my CEO, have stated this previously… but, it feels different this time.


About James B. Ramey
J
ames B. Ramey is President of CodeWeavers. His life long love of video gaming started at the tender age of six with an Atari 2600 and evolved over time to include Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Apple Mac IIc, Windows PC, and MacBook Pro. When not fiddling with technology, James enjoys cooking, travel, debating politics in the office, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and their three Shar Pei cross dogs. For the past 20 years, James has worked with clients around the world in best implementing technology to maximize a return on their investment. He is a graduate of Moorhead State University and earned his graduate degree (MBA) online from the University of Phoenix. You can find James on Twitter at @jbramey.

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Well written and you may be correct. I have been using Linux beginning with Red Hat Linux 5.0 mid 90's and weaned myself completely, well almost completely, from Windows early 2000's. My 'spark' begin with an old Access Matrix (Atrix) portable years ago while working in Silicon Valley and carried me through a Comodor64 (basic OS) and finally to DOS/Windows Desktops that I build and currently to LInux. My game thrills are real aircraft and radio control flight simulators and my flight simulators are my only tie to windows which I seldom use anymore.

If only the simulators I currently advocate would just fully work in Linux under CX, my weaning would be complete. Just a pesky issue of getting the game controller, really a just like a real radio control transmitter, to be recognized within the app so I don't have to use the keyboard, I would consider the Age of Linux a reality. Thanks for the blog.

Roger Olson

I too have dreamed of the day where I can completely say goodbye to windoze. Some games play OK thgout Crossover, others I am sadly stuck with that other OS. I mananged to survive most attempts to push me from 7 to 10, hating the latter with a passion. But sadly, a recent Christmas gift meant I had no option at all but to install Windoze 10 somewhere. I opted to dual boot, two seperate drives, but since both continually fight for control of the boot loader it ended up a terrible mess. Interesting isn't it, how any linux flavour will happily work alongside any versions of Windoze, not arguing or foghting for control, just plain co-habitation.

There were some games that did happily run on Linux, some natively, albeit few and far between, others with emulation software bridging the gap between linux ad foreign operating systems. Most, there's not a hope.

Perhaps, this year is the year of linux. Perhaps mainstream game designers will see the benefits of Linux, perhaps pigs will fly, who really knows.

You article got me hoping once again, and hope is often all we have left. We;ve seen other corporate giants fail miserably in recent times, perhaps one more with a little four coloured flag for a logo will either follow suit, or moove in the direction of linux. Already there is Linux for Windoze built into the latest release. You never know, they may even finally follow MacOS and build on the free version of Unix; Linux.

It's a hight bet. In my opinion, it won't, unfortunately, and I hope to be wrong. Microsoft and Sony are buying everything and they don't want to. Can we confront those giants? I could never afford CrossOver, how can I even think about? Thought most of us in third world can't afford such platform change, demands personal time and money investment to make it work. An elite will be enough to create an ecosystem? I doubt. And if you can, you will recall how many innovations have died since Atari 2600 - a lot!

However, some Linux distros as Mint are really amazing and can make some noise in the market!

Wanna some revolution? We must engage the fight against scheduled obsolescence, Internet monopoly, Apple/MS store monopoly, and so on. No technology will make revolution by itself alone.

Here's a thought. What if Linux Mint, Codeweavers, Lutris, Steam and Wine partnered and published a version of Linux that had support for games written for other operating systems (like macOS and Windows) out of the box? The best technology is technology that simply works as expected. I SHOULD be able to install Linux, start my game installer, have it complete successfully, start my game and play it as long as I choose and not know or care what OS I'm using. When this is a reality, I will applaud (and financially support) the team that makes it happen. Until then, it's just Penguin vs Apple vs Microsoft and the users of the world all lose.

I play only two games these days; Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft. FFXIV does not run under Crossover (as near as I can tell) and World of Warcraft "runs" but not well. I run FFXIV under Steam for Linux and I run World of Warcraft under Lutris. Neither of these solutions is easy to set up or use, but I'd rather use them than run Windows. Having said this, even though my approaches to playing these games both work, I am NOT happy with them. The YEAR OF LINUX, for me, would be my description above. And BTW -- any other program I wanted to install and run would work just as well as the games I currently play! Now THAT would be AWESOME.

What do you mean by "The year of Linux" ? Linux is number one for web servers and Android phones. Smartwatches. And many others.
The desktop is a different story. Until I see a company that develops the GUI of the GNU/Linux operating system to the same degree of perfection as the command line, I am not going to talk about "The year of Linux". Proton still has a high skill cap for normal people. Sure it's good for Linux enthusiasts. But it's far from perfect.

Basically, the same needs to happen to the Linux Desktop as what Google did to Android smartphones.
Heavy GUI development, smart automation, and user-friendliness.
For as long as you need to open a terminal for everyday tasks, the year of Linux is always going to be next year.

Thank you for that diplomatic post.
I have finally, after being unhappy for many many years with a certain OS and it's business practice and then the other one with the edible logo joining in, switched completely to Linux. The shocking years 2020 to 2022 and the need for intensive research taught me, that everything is connected, and that the brilliant movie Matrix is just a documentary.
2022 is in many ways a year of necessary change, which WILL take place and needs help from all of us.
You guys are doing a great job in the field of computing. Please continue relentlessly and most importantly, make sure Linux stays a community based system, not captured by individuals without empathy and dark philosophies of power and unlimited control.
Thank you for your great job.
Looking forward to the year and age of Linux.

If you consider anything but Desktops/Laptops Linux already has the bigger market share. We wait for Linux to be dominant on Desktops but that's never gonna happen with so many implementations of different GUIs (X's) that makes regular users confused and with the poor availability of drivers/apps. MacOS and Windows 10/11 makes the user experience ubiquitous. Have a new printer? Just plug and install a new driver with next/next/finish (sometimes you even don't need to). Wanna listen to your Spotify loved songs? Just install the app and plug your Bluetooth earbuds and you're ready to go.
Many devices I have in my home simply doesn't work the same way on Linux. My laptop webcam gets only 240p (and it is Full HD). My printer has problems with color profiles, and the top scanner NEVER work. My bluetooth earbuds also works partially (generally the right side stops to work)... and other minors issues.
I still in love with Linux and use it everyday for programming. But I'm not a regular user.

Not that much of an overstatement to say that the world runs on Linux. So we've had many many years of Linux. On the desktop? There's definitely a critical mass of users that serious developers can and should take seriously, but then again, enough there's alternatives for things like MS Office and Adobe Photoshop that make porting them to Linux a mixed bag. Linux on the desktop isn't going away. But neither is the dominance of Windows, no matter how great or crappy it is for a given version, and MacOS is just in it's own weird universe. But both run *nix, in the form of Linux for Windows, and MacOS is its own UNIX. I'd say that's good enough for Linux on the desktop, or at least as good as it's going to get in the foreseeable future.

In order for me to remove the last vestige of Windows from my environment, Crossover has to be able to detect non-PC device connections via USB that Linux can see as devices but somehow aren't seen by whatever Windows compatible software provided by the device manufacturer is running under Crossover. Symlinks to COM1 or other experimental names don't seem to fix this. My most recent fail example is attempting to download data from a Pulsebit EX (ECG tracker). Looking forward to the eventual resolution of this difficulty.

Nope, won't happen for desktops. I say this as a linux user of 15+ (maybe 20?) years, Ubuntu for the last 14-15 or so. Years ago, I did believe that linux would take the OS world by storm: it is just so much better than MS Windows!
But it hasn't.
Why? Because Operating Systems are "sold", not "bought", and MS and Apple have that pretty well locked up. Big profits drive big marketing, also true with drugs and Big Pharma. There is little/no marketing for "free" software or generic drugs.
One example: MS sells it's Office suite by the millions; I used it at my old "day job", but at home, LibreOffice, which I like better.
I met with the IT guys at the old job once and I asked about linux: they knew it had advantages, many used it at home, but MS is the brand name (and converting would have been a huge job, admittedly).
"Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" was the adage in the 70's, today it could be updated to replace "IBM" with "MS".
Go to any major retailer of desktops or notebooks, Costco or wherever: they are all Apple or Windows machines. Windows is the world leader, with Apple slowly nibbling into their market share; linux and Chrome are way behind. ( https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/desktop/worldwide/#monthly-200901-202201 ). I build my own computers, and load Ubuntu; my friends build their own, too, but most load Windows! Hysteresis makes change difficult sometimes.
I am not a gamer: all business here, and I love Ubuntu. Operations make sense, the GUI works fine, it's stable, and runs almost everything I need (the one exception being Quicken, which my wife/business partner likes for managing our finances, and for which I use Crossover. Crossover is a lifesaver: SO much easier than running a VM like I used to do).
Windows has the most arcane online "Help" imaginable, IMHO, whereas Ubuntu is easy to debug when needed, with lots of online help sources.
Apple stuff used to "just work", which appealed to a lot of people, and justified the higher cost: but is that still true?
From what little I know of gaming, linux would be the perfect OS, so I'd think it will take over that sector, but for business? Don't hold your breath.
-Forrest

I Wish and Hope this is the year. However, this will be difficult when parted knows about the end of sector data issue and throws a quit - fails badly, when the windows based tools ignore it, and GRUB/the Kernel know about the botched spec for ACPI and still throw half a screen of garbage up when the solution is "ignore it". We need to insulate users or recognize that we are a long, long way from even the MAC gui. CX helps a lot but when companies like Intuit don't even load under CX dropping Windows and MAC are not going to happen. I have caved in and run Windows 10 under VM along with a few others that don't work outside of Windows.

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