October 22, 2001

TransGaming, Mandrake team up to bring PC games directly to Linux

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

Today, TransGaming Technologies and MandrakeSoft announce an alliance that the companies promise will start a "new era" of Linux gaming. First comes a TransGaming subscription service that will ultimately allow games created for Windows to run on Linux machines, says Vikas Gupta, TransGaming president and COO; and in November, the Mandrake Linux Gaming Edition will arrive, a version of the Mandrake Linux distribution packaged with the popular game, The Sims.

Transgaming's new approach, with its cornerstone TransGaming's WineX implementation of the Microsoft DirectX multimedia APIs for Linux, will allow games made for Windows to run on Linux and will "render obsolete" the approach of porting Windows games to Linux, Gupta says.

WineX will be packaged with the Mandrake Linux Gaming Edition, a version of Mandrake 8.1 scheduled for release Nov. 9. But don't expect to shove any old game into your Linux CD drive and have it work. Says the TransGaming Web site: "Our goal is to achieve 100% compatibility and full performance for off-the-shelf games. We are well on our way to that goal, but our work is still in progress. Due to the nature of the process,
some games will begin to work before others."

To help accomplish that goal, TransGaming will enlist the help of Linux users through a subscription service. For $5 a month, subscribers get access to TransGaming products and services, including "portions of the WineX source code, downloads of the
most current WineX portability layer that allows users to run additional
Windows games on their Linux platforms, the ability to vote on which games
TransGaming should work on next, and the right to participate in discussion
forums," Gupta says.

That brings up a question: Is WineX Open Source? The answer: Not right now. TransGaming, founded by members of the Wine project, explains its Open Source philosophy: "At TransGaming, we believe that in order for Linux to succeed with consumers in the long run, we need innovation not only in software development, but also in the social sphere. We need to encourage more user participation in the development process, and give users more responsibility, both financially and otherwise, for the ultimate result. We view our work on two levels: at the software level, we're creating a way for Windows games to run on Linux. At the social level, we're running an experiment in how to create a sustainable economic model for the development of free software that also gives users the incentive to participate more actively in the creative process. "

In short, TransGaming is licensing some of its 3D code under the Aladdin Free Public License but won't release code under a "less restrictive" license such as the Wine license until the subscriber base is large enough. Says Gupta : "Once TransGaming reaches a subscriber base of 20,000 users, we will release the source code for the WineX work we have done."

Gupta sounds confident in the TransGaming model and TransGaming/MandrakeSoft partnership. He says TransGaming approached MandrakeSoft, as a "leader in the Linux desktop computing space" and suggested the gaming edition. He notes that the pairing of The Sims with Mandrake will be the first time a "high-end" game is packaged with a Linux distribution.

Asked about the Linux gaming competition, Gupta answered: " TransGaming's work with Wine and, specifically, the development of our core portability layer, WineX, is years ahead of the traditionally time-consuming and expensive overhaul of code. What other companies can accomplish in two years, TransGaming can achieve in two months. This obviously gives us a huge competitive advantage since our approach
renders the traditional approach obsolete."

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