World of Warcraft on Linux petition

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Uncategorized

Q: Why are you doing this?
A: We are doing this because we have chosen Linux as our operating system for day to day use. For us, gaming is part of our day to day use. We would like to be able to continue to use Linux, and be able to game as well, without the overhead of a second operating system. “Dual booting”, running two operating systems, is an inelegant solution, as it takes up hard drive space, requires us to take the time to reboot (a rare occurrence in a stable environment), and to use an operating system we may not want to use (see Why don’t you just play on Windows/Mac? below). Finally, we would like Blizzard to recognize, as other developers have, that gaming on Linux is popular, and a worthy investment. Despite all these reasons, Blizzard has not announced a Linux port, so this is our effort to ask for one; to show Blizzard that Linux is a platform as viable as both Microsoft Windows and Macintosh OS X.

Q: Who started this?
A: This effort was originally started by Medievaldragon, owner/operator of the Blizzard fansite BlizzPlanet. http://www.blizzplanet.com

Q: Where can I sign?
A: The petition is located at: http://www.blizzpub.net/petition/ . It is kept at BlizzPub instead of BlizzPlanet because the script was written by Crast of BlizzPub.

Q: Why do you need and what are you going to do with my information? Is it safe? Do you have a privacy policy?
A: We need your information so that we can identify you as a unique petitioner. Your information will only be given to Blizzard when we submit the petition, in order for them to verify your identity. We ask for your phone number so that you will be able to be contacted by a Blizzard representative if required. Your information will NOT be shared with ANY third party under ANY circumstances. A copy of our privacy policy can be viewed Here

Q: Is there a community for this around?
A: Yes. There are the forums at BlizzPlanet Here. There is also an IRC channel at irc.wc3campaigns.com on the channel #blizzplanet.

Q: Where can I find out about running games in Linux?
A: The Linux gaming FAQ http://www.icculus.org/lgfaq/ is a good place to start. Other sites are listed below.

Q: What are some other sites about Linux gaming?
A:
Linux Games www.linuxgames.com
Linux Game Publishing www.linuxgamepublishing.com
icculus www.icculus.org
The Linux Game Tome www.happypenguin.org
linuX-gamers www.linux-gamers.net
Tux Games www.tuxgames.com

Q: What other games have been released/ported for Linux?
A:

All games: http://www.icculus.org/lgfaq/gamelist.php?
Commercial games: http://www.icculus.org/lgfaq/gamelist.php?license=commercial

Debunking Arguments

Q: Why don’t you just play on Windows/Mac?
A:
Because we use Linux! The problem with Microsoft Windows and Macintosh OS X is that they are both commercial operating systems. This means that you are required to pay a significant amount of money in order to run a system with them. In the case of OS X, you can only run it on Macintosh hardware. Some people can’t afford to pay these amounts, especially given that World of Warcraft will already have a monthly fee associated with it, as well as the upfront retail cost. Other people don’t believe in supporting these companies because of their business practices and decisions. And some people just like Linux the best.

Q: Isn’t this going to take a lot of effort and time?
A: We don’t think so. Blizzard is already doing a port to Macintosh OS X. For those who don’t know, OS X is based on UNIX. And Linux began as a clone of UNIX. They are very similar, especially in the area of graphics, as they both use OpenGL. Another significant point is that there was once a company called Loki, that made games for Windows and Linux. A former employee of Loki is now employed by Blizzard, and he has extensive experience in porting games. We believe that his experience, combined with the rest of the team at Blizzard, could make the transition with reasonable time and effort.

Q: If Blizzard wanted to do a Linux port, wouldn’t they have done so already?
A: A lot of gaming companies do not create ports for Linux, because they do not believe it is a viable platform. They do not believe that is is worth their time, effort, and money to create a version for a system that they believe is not going to produce a decent cost to benefit ratio. We are attempting to counter that myth with this petition.

Q: Isn’t this going to require a lot of extra support during beta and after the
game is released?

A: This one is tricky. It really depends on how Blizzard implements the port. If it is very similar to the Macintosh OS X port, and we believe it will be, then most of the technical issues will be worked out, and the bugs will be within the quests, world, etc. and will affect users of all operating systems. If Blizzard has to do some magic to make it work, it could require more support.

Q: I heard there is going to be a WINE(X) port version. Why don’t you just use
that?

A: There are some problems with this. First is that performance when running on WINE or WineX is nowhere near that of a native port. Another reason is that WineX, the version of WINE that is best suited to gaming, is a non-free commercial application that requires a subscription fee in order to access the full version. As stated above, with users already paying for the World of Warcraft monthly fee, this could become much more expensive quite quickly. This is especially true since most Linux users are used to using software that is free.

Q: Won’t this pull development time away from the game content by moving it to
creating the Linux port?

A: Again, it depends on how Blizzard implements the port. If it can be done efficiently, then it will not be an issue. Even if it does take some time, there is already an extremely large amount of content in World of Warcraft, given that it is in the first phase of its beta. Also, part of the monthly fee that players will pay goes towards providing new content as the game progresses after release. Finally, we do not believe that the same group of people is in charge of low-level development/porting as the group in charge of in game quest content. However, this is our own speculation, and should be taken as such.

Q: Isn’t a Linux port going to be much more work than a Mac port because Linux
isn’t standardized?

A: Linux is standardized. Many people think Linux is fragmented, forked, etc. because there is no central release from a single supplier such as Macintosh or Microsoft. There are serious efforts to standarize Linux, including the Linux Standard Base (LSB) http://www.
linuxbase.org
, the Filesystem Heirarchy Standard (FHS) http://www.pathnam
e.com/fhs/
, and others from the Free Standards Group http://www.freestandards.org. Most of the popular distributions of Linux conform to these standards, to the point that other developers have been able to port their games to Linux.

Q: Linux is just for servers/developers/uber geeks. Why should Blizzard release
WoW for it?

A: Linux is quickly becoming a popular platform for traditional, day to day use.While it is true that its stability allows it to perform well as a server and development platform, certain distributions, such as Mandrake Linux www.linux-mandrake.com, are aiming towards a user accessible, easy to use Linux desktop platform. Also, major players in the information technology industry are behind Linux, including IBM www.ibm.com/linux/ and HP www.hp.com/linux . In fact, Novell recently purchased SuSe Linux
http://www.novell.com/news/press/archive/2003/11/pr03069.html
one of the more popular distributions, especially in Europe. Unfortunately, we cannot provide a solid number of Linux users, or Macintosh OS or Windows users for that matter, but it is definitely in the millions, and we are sure that a decently sized group of those want to play World of Warcraft.

About Linux

Q: What is Linux?
A: Linux is an open source operating system, originally designed by a Finnish computer science student named Linus Torvalds. It is created to resemble UNIX, and is a stable, free alternative that runs on a variety of computer hardware. It really is the subject of an FAQ all of its own, so for more information check out the wikipedia entry wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux

Q: What is a distribution?
A: A distribution is a collection of programs, such as the graphical environment, office software, games, etc. that are built on top of the Linux kernel by a developer, such as SuSe, Mandrake, or Debian. A maker of a distribution is the closest thing in the Linux world that you will find to a traditional operating system developer, like Microsoft or Apple. For more information, see the wikipedia entry. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_distribution

Q: Why can’t Windows games or applications run directly on Linux?
A: This is the nature of code. When people write applications, they often include pieces from other people’s work, generally popular libraries. This is because there is no point in reinventing the wheel. If someone has figured out how to put a bunch of characters on the screen, then why not use their function, especially if they have made it available. Where it gets difficult is that often, these libraries depend on other libraries, which depend on other libraries, etc. This is what is called “library dependencies”. Another problem is that on different operating systems, the libraries do not even exist. For example, you will not find the DirectX libraries, on any other platform that Microsoft’s. What it boils down to, is either including all of the libraries within the executable (called static linking for those who want to know), which results in massively sized executables, or recompiling the code against a different set of libraries, OpenGL for instance.

The problem with ports is that not all libraries are created equal. Sometimes there are version conflicts, or the functions don’t match up exactly. This is where the work of porting begins. Some languages attempt to get around this, such as Java. Java is compiled not to an executable, but an intermediate form, that is then interpreted by a “virtual machine”. Only the virtual machine need be compiled for each system, while the developer’s code is only compiled once.

Q: How is Linux free?
A: Linux is free in two senses, the running joke being that it is free as in speech, not free as in beer.

Linux is free as in speech in that the code is open. It is free as the first part of freedom. You are able to look at the code, modify it if you wish, and submit your modifications to the world. The catch though, is that you must submit your modifications to the world. The developer can then see what you did, incorporate your code, and make the original better. It is through this process of peer review and revision that open source software is so effective.

Linux is only partially free as in beer. Linux, referring to the core kernel, is free, and always has been. Where this line becomes blurred is the distributions. Some of them are commercial companies providing advanced Linux solutions and support. We support the endeavors of these companies. No where in the General Public License (GPL) does it say that you cannot make money using Linux. However, some distributions, like Debian, have the intention of being a totally free distribution, in both senses. They contain no commercial software, and are free to download. Even with most of the commercial versions, there is a free download edition which is fully functional. The benefits you get when you purchase a distribution are in the availability of commercial packages, and in support from the developer of the distribution.

Q: Where can I sign?
A:
The petition is located at: http://www.blizzpub.net/petition/ .  BlizzPub is supporting us in this matter by writing and hosting the petition script.

Q: Why don’‘t you just play on Windows/Mac?
A:
Because we use Linux!  The problem with Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh OS X is that they are both commercial operating systems.  This means that you are required to pay a significant amount of money in order to run a system with them.  In the case of OS X, you can only run it on Apple hardware.  Some people can’‘t afford to pay these amounts, especially given that World of Warcraft will already have a monthly fee associated with it, as well as the upfront retail cost.  Other people don’‘t believe in supporting these companies because of their business practices and decisions.  Or Monopoly and propietary practices.  And some people just like Linux the best for its freedom and flexibility.

Q: Isn’t this going to take a lot of effort and time to develop?  Will I have to wait for the game release many months thanks to this Linux Petition?
A:
We don’‘t think so.  Blizzard is already doing a port to Macintosh OS X.  For those who don’‘t know, OS X is based on UNIX.  And Linux began as a clone of UNIX.  They are very similar, especially in the area of graphics, as they both use OpenGL.  Another significant point is that there was once a company called Loki, that made games for Windows and Linux.  A former employee of Loki, Sam Lantinga, is now employed by Blizzard, and he has extensive experience in porting games.  In fact, he is the author of the Simple Directmedia Layer (SDL) software.  http://www.libsdl.org/index.php  We believe that his experience, combined with the rest of the team at Blizzard, could make the transition with reasonable time and effort.

Q: Linux is just for servers/developers/uber geeks.  Why should Blizzard release WoW for it?
A:
Linux is quickly becoming a popular platform for traditional, day to day use.&
nbsp; While it is true that its stability allows it to perform well as a server and
development platform, certain distributions, such as Mandrake Linux www.linux-mandrake.com, are aiming towards a user accessible, easy to use Linux desktop platform.  Also, major players in the information technology industry are behind Linux, including IBM www.ibm.com/linux/ and Hewllett Packard www.hp.com/linux .  In fact, Novell recently purchased SuSe Linux http://www.novell.com/news/press/archive/2003/11/pr03069.html, one of the more popular distributions, especially in Europe.  They also purchased Ximian http://www.ximian.com/, makers of the Evolution information management software, and the Ximian Desktop.  Unfortunately, we cannot provide a solid number of Linux users, or Macintosh OS or Windows users for that matter, but it is definitely in the millions, and we are sure that a decently sized group of those want to play World of Warcraft.

Q: Why can’t Windows games or applications run directly on Linux?
A:
This is the nature of code.  When people write applications, they often include pieces from other people’‘s work, generally popular libraries.  This is because there is no point in reinventing the wheel.  If someone has figured out how to put a bunch of characters on the screen, then why not use their function, especially if they have made it available.  Where it gets difficult is that often, these libraries depend on other libraries, which depend on other libraries, etc.  This is what is called “library dependencies”.

Another problem is that on different operating systems, the libraries do not even exist.  For example, you will not find the DirectX libraries, on any other platform that Microsoft’‘s.  What it boils down to, is either including all of the libraries within the executable (called static linking for those who want to know), which results in massively sized executables, or recompiling the code against a different set of libraries, OpenGL for instance.

The problem with ports is that not all libraries are created equal.  Sometimes there are version conflicts, or the functions don’t match up exactly.  This is where the work of porting begins.  However, we believe that since the libraries are so similar between OS X and Linux, that this will be relatively painless.

Be Sociable, Share!