This is a Linux distribution, based on Arch Linux, that boots a LiveCD loaded with native Linux games. All configuration is done automatically and your hard drive is never touched. Very cool idea!
The developers of live.linuX-gamers like to call their distribution "boot 'n play", meaning it's a LiveCD that allows you to boot into a base Linux system and immediately begin playing native Linux games. live.linuX-gamers first gained popularity at the 2007 Linuxtag exhibition and development has been ongoing since with many bug fixes and new games added.
The basic premise of the distribution is to provide this "boot 'n play" LiveCD to users to enable them to game from any PC with an optical drive or USB port. The user need not know anything about Linux, or even know they are running Linux!
Lite ISO: 700MB CD image containing games suitable for children or older PCs (Personal Computers).
Lite USB: Includes the same games as the Lite ISO but for USB keys that contain a storage capacity of 1GB or more.
Big ISO: 4.7GB DVD image containing the full games selection for adults and more recent PCs.
Big USB: Includes the same games as the Big ISO but for USB keys that contain a storage capacity of 5GB or more.
To install live.linuX-gamers Lite USB and Big USB to USB key we can use the dd command:
sudo dd bs=8M if=/path/to/your_usb_image.usb of=/dev/your_usb_device
Booting the LiveCD
During the booting of the live.linuX-gamers LiveCD you will be asked which default keymap and video driver to use (NVIDIA, ATI, or Open Driver) and then be brought to the default live.linuX-gamers desktop. The LiveCD is designed to automatically configure all your hardware, video card and network connection included, and I had zero problems with the hardware detection. I really wish there was more to say but it really is that quick and easy to boot this LiveCD.
Selection of Games
I found the selection of games to be adequate considering the restrictions put on the LiveCD, namely the size of the medium (CD,DVD or USB key) and running entirely from your optical drive or USB key. This combined with only including free games native to Linux make it a tricky distribution to develop. Size of the game, performance requirements of the game (speed restrictions of CD/DVD drives and USB keys), and cost of the games (free) all play a major role in the final decision on what can be included in the distribution.
Games included in the latest release of live.linuX-gamers "Lite" LiveCD: armagetronad; astromenace; blobby; chromium-bsu; extremetuxracer; foobillard; frozen-bubble; hedgewars; lbreakout2; pingus; quadra; smc; teeworlds; worldofgoo-demo; xmoto.
Games included in the latest release of live.linuX-gamers "Big" LiveCD: all games included on the "Lite" LiveCD + btanks; fretsonfire; glest; maniadrive; neverball; neverputt; nexuiz; openlierox; sauerbraten; scorched3d; supertuxkart; torcs; tremulous; urbanterror; warsow; warzone; wesnoth; widelands; worldofpadman.
Performance overall was fine considering the restrictions placed on this LiveCD distribution (as mentioned above). My test machine, by no means a powerhouse but adequate, included a Intel Q6600 (2.4GHz) processor, 3GB of RAM and a NVIDIA 9600GT video card. All games were playable with a limited number of slowdowns/pauses. I did encounter fatal errors in a couple games but upon restarting the games I generally had no further problems. All tests were done using the Big ISO on a single sided Memorex DVD.
As a side note, I do run multiple virtual machines so I decided to boot the live.linuX-gamers LiveCD on my iMac using parallels. I do not recommend this as a way to run this LiveCD. There was much more of a performance slowdown than I expected and several of the games were unplayable. That being said it had to be done. How are you suppose to know the results of something until you try it!
live.linuX-gamers LiveCD is a very cool idea and implemented extremely well considering, you guessed it, the restrictions placed upon it. Your probably getting as tired of hearing that as I am saying it! That being said, it really is both the best and most limiting feature of this LiveCD (running entirely from your optical drive or USB key). If you keep these things in mind the live.linuX-gamers development team has done a fantastic job with this LiveCD. In the end, it's free, can be run on any PC with a optical drive or USB port, makes absolutely no changes to your current PC setup, and includes SuperTuxKart. How can you go wrong?
Until next time, keep it Open Source!