December 16, 2004

Site review: Linux Game Tome

Author: Tina Gasperson

The Linux Game Tome (LGT), a.k.a. The Happy Penguin, is an ever-growing compendium of computer games that are either specifically designed to run on Linux, or have been ported to Linux.LGT was created by Tessa Lau in 1995 and now rests in the hands of current curator Bob Zimbinski, better known around the LGT as "bobz." It's sponsored by Penguin Computing.

The site has a quirky 1950s television ad feel to it that makes you want to look around, even if you're not a big fan of computer games.
Each game's listing shows the author, a screenshot, basic information such as licensing, cost, and type of game, user ratings, and links to the game home page and download page. A comment section at the bottom of each game's page allows users to share opinions and ask questions. Gamers can submit their favorites for inclusion in the database by uploading information, links, and screenshots.

The site's forum section is fairly active, with some topics that get daily posts and others that seem abandoned. Visitors to the site can get help finishing a game level that's too hard to figure out, find out about the latest rumored game development, or look at really stupid posts that bobz has aggregated and stored in a special section on the forum called The Idiot Box. (Note to self: don't get on the wrong side of bobz.)

Zimbinski decided to resurrect the Game Tome in October 1998, when it became apparent that Lau wasn't going to maintain it any longer. Back then there were only about 100 games in the database (which still seems like quite a few Linux games), but now the list has grown to 1,470 games, utilities, and emulators. LGT offers a news feed that Zimbinski says is updated once an hour. He cautions users not to fetch the feed more often than that, because, he says, he'll put their IP addresses in the deny list. (Note to self: bobz sounds like he needs to play a few more games and relax a bit.)

LGT sponsors annual awards where members of the site vote for the best free and non-free games of the year. A "miscellaneous" category also singles out the best sounds, emulators, toys, and the most promising Linux game project. The current top free game is Frozen Bubble, and the favorite commercial game is Quake 3 Arena.

LGT also runs two games servers, one for Cube and the other for Legends. To chat with bobz (just be nice and be smart!) and the other maintainers of the Tome, visit the Linux Game Tome IRC channel, #GameTome at


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