Linux Gaming Console Coming in November

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 23, 2008

Envizions Computer Entertainment announced recently that the Linux-based EVO gaming console will be available for sale November 18.

There have been dedicated gaming consoles that are able to run Linux, namely the PS3. In these cases, Linux made the console function more as a home computer than a gaming rig. The EVO system uses Linux to power the games.

It is a system geared for early adopters and developers at this point.

If anything, this release will heat up the "Linux isn't an operating system for gaming" chorus. So while playing "Gears of War" on a Red Hat server that's also running mail services, LAMP, and a intranet portal hasn't been possible (or necessarily a good idea), the introduction of dedicated console hardware, a Linux flavor optimized for gaming, and a company willing to develop (and encourage others to develop) games might change the tune.

It'll likely be a slow process, given that Envizions only plans to release 500 to 1,300 units in the United States and Canada (there's no mention of any worldwide release at this time). The console costs $599, but the company plans to offer a subsidized rebate plan to reduce that price to $249. Depending on the terms of the rebate, it is somewhat competitively priced to other game consoles.

It doesn't feel right to compare this with the traditional game console. It's very much an early adopter platform with an appeal to gamers. Those who are interested purely in the gaming aspect of a console likely wouldn't have much use for EVO now. This console offers some similar features to other game systems, such as networking with other system owners and access to internet multimedia services. It also offers VoIP, cloud computing, and storage services.

The system will ship with a modified version of Fedora 8 pre-installed, with the option to use Envizions' Mirrors Evolution Linux distribution.

Again, since this is marketed to early adopters who are as interested in developing games as playing them, the game selection is going to feel lackluster compared with more mature systems. The Linux game page has a teaser title (Hexen II Hammer of Thyrion) and very little else.

Emphasizing the intention to develop the console into a complete gaming system is ambitious, and intriguing. With specific marketing and some luck, it will (hopefully) catch the eyes and imaginations of creative game designers and developers. The phrase "Linux gaming" could finally move from oxymoron to reality.