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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)

Logitech M185 and Other Mice are Vulnerable to Keystroke Injection

According to a recent post on David Sopas' security blog, the very popular, and very cheap, Logitech M185 is vulnerable to a keystroke injection attack. Using a recent version of the "Bettercap" hacking toolkit and a 2.4ghz USB dongle, the security researcher used the mouse to open a script which, in this particular case, simply opened a calculator instance on Windows. While it wasn't on the "affected mouse" list, the M185 is apparently part of a wide variety of mice that are affected by similar exploits. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip, and check out the demonstration below:

Just a simple PoC where I took an Logitech M185 wireless mouse and hijacked it to launch my DuckyScript on the victims machine - in this case just popping up the Windows calculator.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 12:12 PM (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)

Windows Update Fixes Previous Patch's Mouse Issues

Microsoft has released a fix to a previous update that reportedly caused "graphics and mouse performance degradation with desktop gaming when playing certain games, such as Destiny 2." KB4482887 contained the performance enhancing "Retpoline" Spectre mitigation, and in addition to the new mouse and graphics fixes, the newly released KB4489899 update patches some Microsoft Hololens calibration and tracking issues as well.

After installing this update on machines that have multiple audio devices, applications that provide advanced options for internal or external audio output devices may stop working unexpectedly. This issue occurs for users that select an audio output device different from the "Default Audio Device." Examples of applications that may stop working include: Windows Media Player, Realtek HD Audio Manager, Sound Blaster Control Panel

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 13, 2019 10:19 AM (CDT)

Doom: Annihilation Gets a Trailer

Following speculation and confirmation last year, Universal 1440 Entertainment has just published a trailer for the upcoming DOOM movie. As was previously reported, Doom: Annihilation will be a direct-to-video adaptation of the video games, though just how close it will stay to the source remains to be seen. Check out the trailer below:

Described as an "intense action-packed" all-new installment, the movie will be released in Fall 2019. Bloody Disgusting has the exclusive world trailer premiere for Annihilation, which carries shades of James Cameron's Aliens and looks like a damn good time. Will we see the return of the BFG? The sequel follows a group of space marines as they respond to a distress call from a base on a Martian moon, only to discover it's been overrun by demonic creatures who threaten to create Hell on Earth. Doom: Annihilation was written and directed by Tony Giglio (S.W.A.T.: Under Siege), and stars Amy Manson ("Atlantis"), Dominic Mafham (Ophelia), Luke Allen-Gale ("Dominion") and Nina Bergman (The Car: Road to Revenge). Lorenzo Di Bonaventura (Bumblebee) and John Wells ("Animal Kingdom") executive produced, with producers including Jeffery Beach (Jarhead 3: The Siege), Phillip Roth (Death Race: 4 Beyond Anarchy) and Ogden Gavanski (Cult of Chucky).

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 11, 2019 12:22 PM (CDT)

Windows 10 Update Can Degrade Graphics, Mouse Performance in Certain Games

Microsoft has alerted gamers that a recent Windows 10 update (KB4482887) can have adverse effects on some titles: "After installing KB4482887, users may notice graphics and mouse performance degradation with desktop gaming when playing certain games (eg: Destiny 2)." The company is still working on an official fix, but those who need an immediate solution may merely uninstall the update.

On March 1st, Microsoft released a brand-new update for Windows 10 that brought a number of quality improvements. However, and after various reports, Microsoft has confirmed that this latest update can degrade graphics and mouse performance in certain games (like for example Destiny 2). Microsoft has not explained/detailed the reasons behind this performance degradation. Moreover, this issue may not affect everyone therefore we strongly suggest uninstalling this update only if you are experiencing worse performance in your favorite games after applying it.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 4:00 PM (CST)

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)

Frontier Gets a License for a Major Global IP

According to a recent report from the London Stock Exchange, Frontier Developments, the studio that is perhaps best known for Planet Coaster and Elite Dangerous, has signed a "major global IP licence to develop and publish a future game." Frontier mentioned that it expects the game will take about 2 years to complete, and that they will work on downloadable content designed for "both PC and console." Just what IP they managed to grab is anyone's guess, but the wording in the report suggests the recently acquired license is different than their existing Jurassic Park license. Given their recent successes, there's a good chance Frontier will buck the trend of bad TV/Movie IP adaptations, assuming that's where the license comes from.

David Braben, Chief Executive, said: "We are delighted to confirm that one of our future releases will benefit from a major global IP licence. We are excited about our existing franchises and our future portfolio. We will continue to love, support and enhance our existing game franchises as we build new ones."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 06, 2019 12:24 PM (CST)

Phil Spencer Comments on Developer Acquisitions and PC Gaming Plans

Microsoft recently acquired the long-running RPG developers Obsidian and inXile, and, given Microsoft's track record with acquisitions and PC titles in general, many fans were justifiably worried about what that means for either studio. But, in a recent interview with PC Gamer, Microsoft's Phil Spencer not only seemed cognizant of these concerns, but did his best to quell them. He said that it's "up to the studios to decide what platforms to make games for," and that he doesn't expect either developer to shift their focus away from PCs. Overall, it looks like both developers have plenty of leeway to make whatever they want, which mirriors what both studios have been loudly telling the public ever since they were acquired by Microsoft. Additionally, PC Gamer asked if gamers can expect Xbox games to show up on Windows, or if Microsoft Store games will ever show up on Steam. He said "It's a good question and something we've spent a lot of time thinking through. I expect us to share more details on our plans here soon." As they often have in the past, Microsoft repeatedly promised to do right by PC gamers this time around, but only time will tell if they follow up on that promise.

"While we are proud of our PC gaming heritage, we've made some mistakes along our journey. We know we have to move forward, informed by our past, with the unique wants, needs and challenges of the PC player at the center of decisions we make. I know we've talked quite a bit over time about what we want to deliver for the player on PC, but at E3 this year, and throughout 2019, you'll begin to see where we've been investing to deliver across Store, services, in Windows and in great games. It's just the beginning."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas February 27, 2019 9:52 AM (CST)

Man Gets RFID Chip Implant Live at Mobile World Congress

Edgar Pons wanted to get a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip implanted under his skin so that he can use it to unlock his door at home. He decided to get it done live onstage at the Mobile World Congress. "It is super, for me, very useful, because I have an automatic house," he said, adding he was further motivated by the fact he could "withdraw it very easily, simply making a little cut and pressing it". Alex Rodriguez Vitello, a physicist and engineer at Barcelona-based tech company Alpha, said, "The chip is the size of a grain of sand or two and it's covered in a material that is biocompatible so our body doesn't degrade it over time."

During the presentation at the Mobile World Congress, organized by Spanish bank Sabadell, a man named Pau who had already been fitted with a chip, made a payment by placing his smartphone over the skin covering the chip. "(What) we have been seeing now is what the future of payments could be," said Anna Puigoriol, a financial services manager at Sabadell.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru February 25, 2019 2:44 PM (CST)

Valve Is Removing Steam Video Section; Retiring Non-Gaming Content

Valve’s plan for selling hit Hollywood blockbusters on a digital distribution platform meant for games didn’t turn out so well, it seems: the company has announced it is scrapping Steam’s movie catalog so it can focus primarily on gaming. The good news is that gamers won’t lose any of their previously purchased titles.

"In reviewing what Steam users actually watch, it became clear we should focus our effort on offering content that is either directly related to gaming or, is accessory content for games or software sold on Steam," Valve wrote in a blog post. "As part of this refocus, we have retired the Video section of the Steam Store menu with an expectation that video content is discovered via the associated game or software store page, or through search, user tags, recommendations, etc."

Discussion
Posted by Megalith February 24, 2019 1:40 PM (CST)