Mandrake Linux Gaming Edition

An often-requested feature of Linux has been the ability to run Windows games natively. Mandrake Linux has teamed up with TransGaming Technologies to make this viable.

Mandrake Linux Gaming Edition combines the popular Mandrake 8.1 Linux distribution with the WineX portability layer from TransGaming Technologies to offer support for many Windows games. WineX implements a native clone of DirectX under Linux, allowing Windows games to run without modification. A complete version of The Sims from Electronic Arts has been included in the box to demonstrate the abilities of this new Linux distribution.

The distribution spans four CDs. The first two make up the Mandrake Linux 8.1 distribution, providing a complete Linux system; the third includes a number of non-free applications such as StarOffice from Sun; and the final CD is a complete copy of The Sims.

Mandrake has chosen to be a bit conservative by including The Sims with the distribution. Although a very popular game, The Sims is now rather old. Other games advertised as supported by the version of WineX included are also fairly old, such as Starcraft, Baldur's Gate and Half-Life: Counterstrike. The age of these games may serve as a warning to users that Mandrake Linux Gaming Edition possibly may not support many of the newer games on the market. To Mandrake and TransGaming's credit, the games advertised worked flawlessly; however, many gamers will not be satisfied until the latest games are supported out of the box.

Included with Mandrake Linux Gaming Edition is a three-month subscription to TransGaming's services, through which users can receive updates and vote for games for which they would like support added in the future. The voting system helps to ease the frustration sure to be encountered by gamers attempting to run newer, unsupported games.

Mandrake Linux Gaming Edition is priced higher than most Linux distributions, although the inclusion of The Sims makes up for most of the price difference. The version of Mandrake Linux included is identical to the free download version available on the Internet. This release marks the first significant step made by a Linux distribution to provide binary compatibility with Windows software and, although not all games will work perfectly, the feat of running any Windows games is an impressive one.

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Alastair Cousins

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