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Linux Gaming Across 9 Distros [Review in Progress]

Jason Evangelho of Forbes has started a Linux series where he reviews various Linux distributions (distros) for ease of use and performance in regards to Linux gaming. Jason's series isn't about just running benchmarks as he asks questions that everyday users would need to find out. Where am I going to get up-to-date graphics drivers for my AMD or NVIDIA graphics card? How is the default state of gaming on the Linux distro? Can I get Steam working right out of the box or am I going to have to tweak my system to accomplish this task? The 9 Linux distros that he is going to test in the series includes: Fedora 29 Workstation, Pop!_OS 18.10, Debian 9, Solus 4, Manjaro 18, Linux Mint 19, elementary OS 5, Deepin 15.9, and Ubuntu 18.10. His test system consists of an AMD Ryzen 5 2600, Radeon Sapphire RX 580, Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1080 and more. So far he has tested Fedora 29 Workstation and Pop!_OS 18.10 with Pop!_OS 18.10 easily winning hands down in usability and performance. With the recent announcement that Google is leveraging Linux, Vulkan, first party games, and open-source AMD drivers for games running on its Google Stadia game streaming service; Linux gaming performance may enter into our PC gaming world very soon!

If you're an NVIDIA user, good news: Pop!_OS has a separate installer image for you which automatically installs the proprietary (and far more performant) graphics driver. Again, there's no need to enable alternative software sources or hit the command line. The moment your OS is installed you're ready to start gaming. You'll be using the latest and greatest stable driver, Nvidia 418.43. Radeon gamers have an advantage across several Linux distributions: the open source driver is part of the kernel (and thus ready to use immediately), well maintained and quite performant. This typically means less steps to get up and running with Steam and Steam Proton. One distinct difference between Pop!_OS and Fedora, however, is that Fedora runs with a much newer MESA driver. Specifically, Fedora 29 uses MESA 18.3.4 while Pop uses MESA 18.2.8. The kernel on Pop is also a bit older, but again I noticed no disadvantage on the gaming side save for one: updating your kernel to 5.0 will add Freesync support which is a feature I can't live without. It is quite literally a game-changer.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 20, 2019 12:23 PM (CDT)

Google GDC 2019 Gaming Announcement

Here is the Google GDC gaming announcement.

Gather around as we unveil Google's vision for the future of gaming at #GDC19.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 19, 2019 12:23 PM (CDT)

MSI Expected to Overtake Samsung in the Curved Monitor Market

A recent report from Digitimes claims that MSI could soon steal the title of "world's largest supplier of curved gaming monitors" from Samsung in 2019. While flat monitors have dominated "gaming monitor" sales in the past, MSI claims that curved monitors accounted for about 60% of all gaming monitor shipments in 2018, and could rise to 66.7% in 2019. The gaming hardware market is still growing, even as the PC market continues to shrink as a whole, so its not surprising to see the big manufacturers increase their focus on their enthusiast and "gaming" lineups.

The company's motherboard business is currently facing issues including CPU shortages and decreasing demand. Despite Intel having already promised to ease the tight supply by the end of the second quarter, MSI still expects overall motherboard shipments to shrink by over 10% in 2019. MSI shipped around six million motherboards in 2018 and is expected to maintain a similar volume in 2019. Meanwhile, MSI is expected to finish digesting its graphics card inventory in the second quarter and begin promoting Nvidia's new cards to help increase its sales. MSI is expected to deliver around four million graphics cards in 2019, about the same level as in the past couple of years.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)

Study Claims 39% of Counter-Strike Servers are Infected With Malware

In spite of the battle royale craze and a more modern sequel, the original Counter-Strike is still a massively popular game. The FPS had nearly 15,000 concurrent players at the time of this writing, and there are still thousands of registered 3rd party servers. However, a recent study from Dr. Web clams that 1,951 CS 1.6 servers, which represents about 39% of the servers they analyzed, are infected with malware. The trojan propagates itself through vulnerabilities within the official Counter Strike client, and is used to promote other CS servers. Unlike previously reported incidents, this exploit requires no conformation on the user's end, and Dr. Web says they "have informed Valve about these and other vulnerabilities of the game, but as of now, there is no data on when the vulnerabilities will be fixed."

Many owners of popular game servers also raise money from players by selling various privileges such as protection against bans, access to weapons, etc. Some server owners advertise themselves independently, while others purchase server promotion services from contractors. Having paid for a service, customers often remain oblivious as to how exactly their servers are advertised. As it turned out, the developer nicknamed, "Belonard", resorted to illegal means of promotion. His server infected the devices of players with a Trojan and used their accounts to promote other game servers. The owner of the malicious server uses the vulnerabilities of the game client and a newly written Trojan as a technical foundation for their business. The Trojan is to infect players' devices and download malware to secure the Trojan in the system and distribute it to devices of other players. For that, they exploit Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerabilities, two of which have been found in the official game client and four in the pirated one. Once set up in the system, Trojan.Belonard replaces the list of available game servers in the game client and creates proxies on the infected computer to spread the Trojan. As a rule, proxy servers show a lower ping, so other players will see them at the top of the list. By selecting one of them, a player gets redirected to a malicious server where their computer become infected with Trojan.Belonard.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 11:36 AM (CDT)

Gaming Display Prices are Dropping

As anyone who recently built or updated a PC probably noticed, memory and GPU prices were conspicuously high throughout most of 2018 and late 2017. But, as we've said before, memory prices are dropping like a rock, while GPU prices are starting to level out thanks to the crypto mining bust. According to a recent report, another important component for any PC is expected to get cheaper throughout 2019. Digitimes claims that competition among "gaming monitor" manufacturers is starting to "heat up" as more Chinese LCD manufacturers enter the market. TV-size panel production is expected to grow as well, and OLED TVs in particular could get significantly cheaper as more OLED factories come online.

However, China's panel makers including BOE Technology, CPC-Panda LCD Technology and China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT) have recently stepped into the gaming panel sector, encouraged by government policy support and high profits generated by such products. The growing competition has sent gaming monitor panel prices falling sharply, with models with refresh rates of 144Hz and below being hit hardest, indicated the sources. Prices of 144Hz and below gaming panels fell 10% on average in 2018 and has dropped another 5% so far in 2019, as most China-based suppliers are focusing on this segment, said the sources, noting that the prices of 144Hz models will continue to fall in the second quarter.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 8:47 AM (CDT)

Netflix Brings Dragon's Dogma and Other Japanese Anime to the Platform

Netflix has announced that it has signed a deal to bring numerous Japanese anime to the platform. These are well known properties from leading Japanese production companies. Some of the announced series include Altered Carbon: Resleeved, Dragon's Dogma, Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, SPRIGGAN, Super Crooks and Vampire in the Garden. I absolutely loved the Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen video game and rate it as one of the best RPG games on the PC. PC Gamer hopes this might encourage Capcom to create a sequel.

"Netflix aims to be the most compelling and attractive home for anime fans, creators and production studios. We are creating an environment where production houses can do their best work, and deliver their shows on a service where we connect anime fans from over 190 countries to content they love" said Netflix Director of Content (Japan), John Derderian.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 12, 2019 11:18 AM (CDT)

Nvidia's Freesync Monitor Support Tested

Nvidia recently released a driver update that adds support for Freesync monitors, but the GPU maker was quick to point out that "non-validated" displays could exhibit serious issues. However, Techspot put that claim to the test last January, and just followed up on it with a handful of new Freesync monitors from LG. Out of the 12 monitors they've tested so far, 11 have worked flawlessly, and the one that didn't only supports Freesync over HDMI, while Nvidia only supports the adaptive sync technology over Displayport.

As we said in the original article, we think it's safe to say if you purchase a new FreeSync model today that it will work fine with Nvidia GPUs. You shouldn't expect to see any graphical issues, whether you buy an LG monitor or a display from a different maker. Only the very early, older FreeSync monitors may have some issues. Thus our recommendation continues to be to select your next monitor on its merits, features and preference. If it's a FreeSync gaming monitor and you can save some money, that's great. GeForce GPU owners no longer you need to bother with G-Sync for getting proper variable refresh rate, unless that's the monitor you want for other factors as mentioned above. These results from a selection of LG monitors just reinforces that FreeSync gaming displays can and will perform perfectly.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 12, 2019 9:03 AM (CDT)

Tesla Crashes into River, Owner Claims It Accelerated on Its Own

In yet another alleged case of demonic Tesla quirkiness, a Chinese couple in Shanghai claims their Model S lost its mind and accelerated into a river near a Supercharger station with them in it. The owner, Xiao Chen, told reporters he was stepping on the brakes but the vehicle, unexpectedly, "rushed out of control" instead. Electrek suggests they may not deserve the benefit of the doubt, as Tesla has "safeguards to prevent an automatic system to enable a sudden acceleration." Similar incidents in the past also mostly involved "user error."

"...the owner Xiao Chen had just been rescued ashore, and the gray Tesla was still lying in the river and was soaked in the water. Xiao Chen is still in shock, he told reporters: I was from the beginning stepping on the brakes, and the car suddenly rushed out of control! It turned out that Xiao Chen and his wife drove the car to school in the morning of the incident. After the delivery, they came to the Tesla Supercharger station to prepare for charging. According to Xiao Chen, he kept driving very slowly, stepping on the brakes, but when he got there, the car was out of control."

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 3:45 PM (CDT)

MSI Gaming Monitor Stops a Stray Bullet (and Still Works)

PC gamer Eric Gan had five gunshots fired into his room Monday, one of which managed to hit the back of his monitor, an MSI Optix G27C2. Even if he were gaming at the time, he’d still be alive thanks to the display, which blocked the bullet from getting any further into the room. Incredibly, the monitor still works, but MSI is sending him a replacement anyway.

Of course, the bullet had already lost a significant amount of kinetic energy from penetrating through the wall before hitting the monitor. Had that not been the case, we expect the monitor would be in much worse shape. Either way, we're glad that Gan and his neighbors were unharmed in the incident.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 10:50 AM (CST)

NVIDIA: RTX GPUs, High-Refresh-Rate Monitors Can Improve Your Kill-Death Ratio

If only to convince gamers to upgrade their GPUs and displays, NVIDIA has published new data supporting the obvious idea that better hardware improves player performance in Battle Royale titles such as Fortnite and Apex Legends. Essentially, players who can manage 144 fps score significantly higher than those limited to 60 fps: the company’s graphs suggest its RTX cards can increase K/D ratio by as much as 53%, while playing on 240 Hz and 144 Hz monitors can improve K/D ratio by 34% and 51%, respectively.

NVIDIA used more than a million sample points collected via anonymous GeForce Experience data, and then analyzed the data (which means no AMD cards). Specifically, NVIDIA is looking at player performance in two popular battle royale games: PUBG and Fortnite. How do you quantify player performance? NVIDIA looked at kill/death ratio and matched that up with number of hours played per week, then finally broke that down into graphics hardware and monitor refresh rate. NVIDIA limited its analysis to 1080p, which provides for the highest refresh rates and also serves to normalize things a bit.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 10:05 AM (CST)

A "Historic Achievement": SpaceX Successfully Docks "Crew Dragon" with the ISS

"Welcome to the new era in spaceflight": an alternate, feasible method for ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station appears to be well within reach, as SpaceX’s "Crew Dragon" capsule, the first commercial spaceship made for NASA astronauts, managed to successfully dock with the ISS this morning, and without a robotic arm, no less, despite requiring "down-to-the-millisecond precision." Assuming the Crew Dragon’s re-entry test is successful, astronauts could be using it as soon as this summer.

Nobody was on board to open Crew Dragon's hatch -- only 400 lbs of cargo and a female crash-test dummy named "Ripley". However, NASA says SpaceX's demonstration or Demo-1 mission was "a critical first step" in restoring US-crewed access to space, since the goal is to prove the new spaceship is safe to fly its astronauts. "A new generation of space flight starts now with the arrival of @SpaceX's Crew Dragon to the @Space_Station," Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, tweeted on Sunday.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 03, 2019 5:10 PM (CST)

Netflix May Be Losing $192M per Month from Piracy, Cord Cutting Study Claims

New research published by Cordcutting.com suggests Netflix could be losing an estimated $192 million every month and $2.3 billion every year due to subscription mooching (i.e., password sharing), with freeloading users saving $207.74 over a 26-month period at (the previous) base price of $7.99 per month. This is substantially more than Amazon and Hulu, which have lost $45 million per month and $40 million per month, respectively. "Millennials, not surprisingly, account for much of the freeloading."

There’s an argument that those who pirate would never be paying customers, so these aren’t true losses. It’s the same sort of thing that was said about Napster mp3 downloads back in the day, or about those pirating movies through The Pirate Bay. But there is some portion of the freeloading population that claims they would pay, if they lost access. According to the study, 59.3 percent said they would pay for Netflix (or around 14 million people), contributing at least $112 million in monthly revenue, if they lost access.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 02, 2019 10:40 AM (CST)