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In this regularly but rarely updated article, which is without doubt the most comprehensive list of Linux distributions' problems on the entire Internet, we only discuss their main problems and shortcomings (which may be the reason why some people say Linux distros are not ready for the desktop) while everyone should keep in mind that there are areas where Linux has excelled other OSes: excellent package management within one distro, multiple platforms and architectures support out of the box, usually excellent stability, no widely circulating viruses or malware, complete system reinstallation is almost never required, besides, Linux is extremely customizable, easily scripted and it's free as in beer.
Again, let me reiterate it, this article is primarily about Linux distributions, however many issues listed below affect the Linux kernel (the core of Linux distros and Android) as well.
This is not a Windows vs. Linux comparison, however sometimes you'll find comparisons with Windows or Mac OS as a point of reference (after all, their market penetration is in an order of magnitude higher). Most issues listed below are technical by nature, however some of them are "political" (it's not my word - it's what other people say) - for instance when companies refuse to release data sheets or they release incomplete data sheets for hardware, thus Linux users don't get all the features or respective drivers have bugs almost no one in the Linux community can resolve.
I want to make one thing crystal clear - Windows, in some regards, is even worse than Linux and it has its own share of critical problems. Off the top of my head I want to name the following quite devastating issues with Windows: • Windows rot, • no enforced file system and registry hierarchy (I have yet to find a single serious application which can uninstall itself cleanly and fully), • no true safe mode, • the user as a system administrator (thus viruses/malware - most users don't and won't understand UAC warnings), • no good packaging mechanism (MSI is a fragile abomination), • no system-wide update mechanism (which includes third party software), • Windows is extremely difficult to debug, • Windows boot problems are often fatal and unsolvable unless you reinstall from scratch, • Windows is hardware dependent (especially when running from UEFI), • heavy file system fragmentation on SSD disks, • Windows updates are terribly unreliable and they also waste disk space, etc.
Probably you've heard many times that Android thus Linux is conquering the entire world since it's running on the majority of smart phones (which are indeed little specialized computers but not desktops). However there are two important things to keep in mind - firstly, Android isnotLinux (besides, have you seen anyone running Android on their desktop or laptop?). Android contains the only Linux component - the kernel (moreover, it's a fixed old version (3.0.x, 3.4.x or 3.10.x as for 2016) which is maintained and supported solely by Google). Secondly, Android is not a desktop OS, it's an OS for mobile phones, tablets and other touch screen devices. So, this article is not about Android, it's about a horde of Linux distributions and Open Source Software included by these distributions (called "distro" below).
Feel free to express your discord in the comments section.
Greenish items on the list are either partially resolved, not crucial, questionable, or they have workarounds.
This list desperately needs to be reorganized because some of the problems mentioned here are crucial and some are not. There's a great chance that you, as a user, won't ever encounter any of them (if you have the right hardware, never mess with your system and use quite a limited set of software from your distro exclusively).
Here are a few important considerations before you start reading this article:
- If you believe Linux is perfect and it has no problems, please close this page.
- If you think any Linux criticism is only meant to groundlessly revile Linux, please close this page.
- If you think the purpose of this article is to show that "nothing ever works in Linux or Linux is barely usable", you are wrong, please close this page.
- If you believe Linux and Linux users will work/live fine without commercial software and games, please close this page.
- If you think I'm here to promote Windows or Mac OS, please close this page.
- If you think I'm here to spread lies or FUD about Linux, please close this page immediately and never ever come back. What are you doing here anyway? Please go back to flame wars and defamations.
Keep in mind that this list serves the purpose of showing what needs to be fixed in Linux rather than finding faults in it.
Desktop Linux Problems and Major Shortcomings
(For those who hate reading long texts, there's a TL;DR version below). So Linux sucks because ...
- Hardware support:
- Video accelerators/acceleration (also see the X system section).
- ! NVIDIA Optimus technology which is used in most laptops often doesn't work well in Linux. People struggle with screen tearing, new kernel releases, etc. It's not Linux's fault per se but it's an issue for Linux users nonetheless.
- ! Open source drivers have certain, sometimes very serious problems (Intel-! and AMD):
- ! The open source NVIDIA driver is much slower (up to twenty times) than its proprietary counterpart due to incomplete power management (it's solely NVIDIA's fault which refuses to provide the Nouveau project with the required firmware).
- ! The open source NVIDIA driver, nouveau, does not properly and fully support power management features and fan speed management (again, that's NVIDIA's fault).
- !! According to an anonymous NVIDIA engineer, "Nearly Every Game Ships Broken ... In some cases, we're talking about blatant violations of API rules ... There are lots of optional patches already in the driver that are simply toggled on or off as per-game settings, and then hacks that are more specific to games ... Ever wondered why nearly every major game release is accompanied by a matching driver release from AMD and/or NVIDIA?". The open source community simply doesn't have the resources to implement similar hacks to fix broken games, which means that at least for complex AAA games, proprietary drivers will remain the only option.
- ! Linux drivers are usually much worse (they require a lot of tinkering, i.e. manual configuration) than Windows/Mac OS drivers in regard to support of non-standard display resolutions, very high (a.k.a. HiDPI) display resolutions or custom refresh rates (including refresh rate overclocking).
- ! Under Linux, setting multi-monitor configurations especially using multiple GPUs running binary NVIDIA drivers can be a major PITA.
- (Not an issue for most users but still) GPU voltage tuning will most likely never be supported for NVIDIA GPUs which means there's no proper overclocking, or underclocking to save power.
- A poor state and usability of the tools for monitoring and controlling GPU parameters like frequency, voltage and fan curves (akin to MSI Afterburner or GPU-Z in Windows), performance overlay (Fraps, RivaTuner Statistics Server), recording game sessions and streaming.
- Monitors/display suppport (also check the X system section below):
- !! 30bit displays are unusable under Linux. Firefox is veryslow, Google Chrome is broken, KDE doesn't work, Steam crashes, etc. etc. etc.
- !! High-refresh rate monitors are not properly supported as Firefox and Chrome sometimes default to 60Hz. At least Firefox has a workaround: you can set the desired refresh rate in about:config using layout.frame_rate.
- !! HDR is notsupported.
- Audio subsystem (the section needs to be updated for PipeWire but it's not yet deployed by most distros, so it'll come later):
- Both PipeWire and PulseAudio are not configured out of the box to support multi-user mode (e.g. multiple users sharing the same device simultaneously) and configuring them to enable this feature is impossible for the average user (no gui whatsoever, you need to edit text files).
- Echo cancellation is a PITA (and most likely impossible for most users) to enable both in PipeWire (no instructions as of now even though the feature, the echo-cancel module, has recently been added) and PulseAudio.
- Hardly a dealbreaker but then audio professionals also want to use Linux: high definition audio support (>=96KHz, >=24bit) is usually impossible to set up without using console.
- Various audio effects like volume normalization are not included or enabled by default by most distros.
- !! Advanced audio configuration is available only by editing text files in console.
- You cannot have per device default sampling rate frequency.
- Printers, scanners and other more or less peripheral devices:
- There are still many printers which are not supported at all or only barely supported - some people argue that the user should research Linux compatibility before buying their hardware. What if the user decides to switch from Windows to Linux when he/she already has some hardware? When people purchase a Windows PC do they research anything? No, they rightly assume everything will work out of the box right from the get-go.
- Many printer's features are only implemented in Windows drivers.
- Some models of scanners and (web-)cameras are still inadequately supported (again many features from Windows drivers are missing) or not supported at all.
- Incomplete or unstable drivers for some hardware. Problems setting up some hardware (like touchpads in newest laptops, web cameras or Wi-Fi cards, for instance, 802.11ac and USB Wi-Fi adapters are barely supported under Linux and in many cases they are just unusable). Broadcom network adapters are often usable out of the box for a lot of Linux distors (to be honest the company seemingly hates Open Source).
- Multiple Wi-Fi adapters based on Realtek chips and USB Wi-Fi adapters are not supported out of the box or not supported at all.
- In general bluetooth devices are inadequately supported and sometimes require a lot of tinkering.
- Laptops, tablets, 2 in 1 devices, etc.:
- Incomplete or missing support for certain power-saving features modern laptops employ (like e.g. PCIe ASPM, proper video decoding acceleration, deep power-saving states, etc.) thus under Linux you won't get the same battery life as under Windows or MacOS and your laptop will run a lot hotter. (discontinued unfortunately), see Advanced Power Management for Linux. Edit July 19, 2018: If you're running supported hardware with Fedora 28 and Linux 4.17 and later, power management must be excellent under Linux aside from watching videos (both online and offline: video decoding acceleration in Linux is still a very sad story).
- !! Oftentimes you just cannot use new portable devices in Linux because proper support for certain features gets impletemented too late and distros pick up this support even later.
- Laptops/notebooks often have special buttons and features that don't work (e.g. Fn + F1-F12 combination or special power-saving modes).
- ! Often regressions are introduced in the Linux kernel, when some hardware stops working inexplicably in new kernel versions. I have personally reported two serious audio playback regressions, which have been consequently resolved, however most users don't know how to file bugs, how to bisect regressions, how to identify faulty components.
- Resume after suspend in Linux could be unstable and doesn't work for some configurations.
- Video accelerators/acceleration (also see the X system section).
- Software support:
- X system (current primary video output server in Linux):
- X.org is largelyoutdated, unsuitableandevenverymuchinsecure for modern PCs and applications.
- ! Keyboard shortcut handling for people using local keyboard layouts is broken (this bug is now 15 years old).
- ! X.org doesn't automatically switch between desktop resolutions if you have a full screen application with a custom resolution running.
- ! X.org doesn't restore gamma (which can be perceived as increased brightness) settings on application exit. If you play Valve/Wine games and experience this problem run `xgamma -1` in a terminal.
- ! Scrolling in various applications causes artifacts.
- ! X.org allows applications to exclusively grab keyboard and mouse input. If such applications misbehave you are left with a system you cannot manage, you cannot even switch to text terminals.
- ! Keyboard handling in X.org is broken by design - when you have a pop up or an open menu, global keyboard shortcuts/keybindings don't (GTK) work (QT).
- ! For VM applications keyboard handling is incomplete and passing keypresses to guest OS'es is outright broken.
- ! X.org architecture is inherently insecure - even if you run a desktop GUI application under a different user in your desktop session, e.g. using sudo and xhost, then that "foreign" application can grab any input events and also make screenshots of the entire screen.
- ! X.org server currently has no means of permanently storing and restoring its runtime user settings (displays configuration, gamma, brightness, etc.).
- !! X.org has no means of providing a tear-free experience, it's only available if you're running a compositing window manager in the OpenGL mode with vsync-to-blank enabled.
- !! X.org is not multithreaded. Certain applications running intensive graphical operations can easily freeze your desktop (a simple easily reproducible example: run Adobe Photoshop 7.0 under Wine, open a big enough image and apply a sophisticated filter - see your graphical session die completely until Photoshop finishes its operation).
- ! There's currently no way to configuremouse scroll speed/acceleration under X.org. Some mice models scroll erratically under X.org.
- There's no way to replace/upgrade/downgrade X.org graphics drivers on the fly (simply put - to restart X server while retaining a user session and running applications).
- No true safe mode for the X.org server (likewise for KMS - read below). Misconfiguration and broken drivers can leave you with a non-functional system, where sometimes you cannot access text virtual consoles to rectify the situation (in 2013 it became almost a non-issue since quite often nowadays X.org no longer drives your GPU - the kernel does that via KMS).
- Adding custom monitor modelines in Linux is a major PITA.
- X.org does not support different scaling modes for different monitors.
- X.org totally sucks (IOW doesn't work at all in regard to old applications) when it comes to supporting tiled displays, for instance 4K displays (Dell UP3214Q, Dell UP2414Q, ASUS PQ321QE, Seiko TVs and others). This is yet another architectural limitation. Update from 2021: such monitors are vanishingly rare, so let's greenify this item.
- HiDPI support is often a huge issue (many older applications don't scale at all).
- ! Fast user-switching (and also concurrent users' sessions) under X.org works very badly and is implemented as a dirty hack: for every user a new X.org server is started. It's possible to login twice under the same account while not being able to run many applications due to errors caused by concurrent access to the same files. Fast user switching is best implemented in KDE followed by Gnome.
1) Concurrently logged in users cannot access the same USB flash drive(s).
2) There are reports that problems exists with configuring audio mixer volume levels.
- Wayland and its compositors:
- !! Wayland doesn't provide multiple APIs for various crucial desktop features (global keyboard shortcuts, system tray, screenshotting, screencasting, and others) which must be implemented by the window manager/compositor, which means multiple applications using the said features can only support their own compositor implementations.
- !! Wayland doesn't provide a universal basic window compositor thus each desktop environment has to reinvent the wheel and some environments simply don't have enough manpower to write a compositor, e.g. XFCE, LXQT or IceWM. This also leads to a huge amount of duplication of work (and bugs as well) because various desktop environments need to reimplemen the same features and APIs over and over again.
- !! Wayland compositors have very high requirements in terms of support from both hardware and kernel drivers which prevents it from working on far too many configurations. X.org and Windows on the other hand can work on an actual rock using e.g. VESA.
- !! Wayland applications cannot run without a Wayland compositor and in case it crashes, all the running apps die. There's currently work under way to fix this at least for KDE. Hopefully this will become a feature of all Wayland Window Compositors. Under X.org/Microsoft Windows there's no such issue.
- !! Wayland works through rasterization of pixels which brings about two very bad critical problems which will never be solved:
Firstly, forget about performance/bandwidth efficient RDP protocol (it's already implemented but it works by sending the updates of large chunks of the screen, i.e. a lot like old highly inefficient VNC), forget about OpenGL pass-through, forget about raw compressed video pass-through. In case you're interested all these features work in Microsoft's RDP.
Secondly, forget about proper output rotation/scaling/ratio change.
- !! Wayland compositors don't have a universal method of storing and configuring screen/session/keyboard/mouse settings.
- Currently there's no standard way to remapkeysunder Wayland compositors.
- An assortment of various other general and KDE specific issues.
- General graphics APIs issues:
- No high level, stable, sane (truly forward and backward compatible) and standardized API for developing GUI applications (like core Win32 API - most Windows 95 applications still run fine in Windows 10 - that's 24 years of binary compatibility). Both GTK and Qt (incompatible GTK versions 1, 2, 3, 4 and incompatible Qt versions 4, 5, 6 just for the last decade) don't strive to be backwards compatible. The Qt company also changed the licensing model for their toolkit which makes using the library under Linux problematic to say the least.
- !! There's no shared common universal API for complete rendering fonts under Linux which means fonts may look quite different depending on the application or library they use. At the moment fonts in your distro could look differently in web browsers or applications using either GTK, Qt or EFL.
- !! There's no common API shared between different toolkits and window managers to offer a way to extend and modify window title bars and File Open/Save dialogs.
- !! There's no common API underneath GTK, Qt, EFL, SDL, etc. which provides hardware 2D rendering acceleration which means a zoo of implementations, bugs and issues.
- There's no universal unified graphical toolkit/API (and e.g. Wayland developers will not implement it) akin to Win32 which means applications using different toolkits (e.g. Qt, GTK, EFL) may look and behave differently and there's no way to configure all of them once and for all.
- There's no universal IME implementation which works under X.org/Wayland and all graphical toolkits, e.g. GTK/Qt/EFL.
- There's no such thing as a system wide fonts and theme configuration. You'll have to configure everything for your specific desktop environment (KDE, Gnome, XFCE, Enlightenment, etc.), Window Manager/Compositor or applications which don't follow anything (e.g. web browsers or Steam).
- Font rendering (which is implemented via high level GUI libraries) issues:
- ! ClearType fonts are not properly supported out of the box. Even though the ClearType font rendering technology is now supported, you have no means of properly tuning it thus ClearType fonts from Windows look ugly.
- Quite often default fonts look ugly, due to missing good (catered to the LCD screen - subpixel RGB full hinting) default fontconfig settings.
- Font antialiasing settings cannot be applied on-the-fly under many DEs. This issue is impossible to solve unless there's a common GUI library/API which is shared between all tooklits and desktop environments.
- The Linux kernel:
- ! The kernel cannot recover from video, sound and network drivers' crashes (I'm very sorry for drawing a comparison with Windows Vista/7/8/10 where this feature has been implemented for ages and works beautifully in a lot of cases).
- KMS exclusively grabs video output and disallows VESA graphics modes (thus it's impossible to switch different versions of graphics drivers on the fly).
- For most intents and purposes KMS video drivers cannot be unloaded or reloaded as this involves killing all running graphics applications and using console.
- !! KMS has no safe mode: sometimes KMS cannot properly initialize your display and you have a dead system you cannot access at all (a kernel option "nomodeset" can save you, but it prevents KMS drivers from working at all - so either you have 80x25 text console or you have a perfectly dead display).
- Traditional Linux/Unix (ext4/reiser/xfs/jfs/btrfs/etc.) filesystems can be problematic when being used on mass media storage.
- When a specific KMS driver cannot load for some reasons, the Linux kernel leaves you with a black screen.
- File descriptors and network sockets cannot be forcibly closed - it's indeed unsafe to remove USB sticks without unmounting them first as it leads to stale mount points, and in certain cases to oopses and crashes. For the same reason you cannot modify your partitions table and resize/move the root partition on the fly.
- In most cases kernel crashes (= panics) are invisible if you are running an X11/X.org or Wayland session. Moreover KMS prevents the kernel from switching to plain 640x480 or 80x25 (text) VGA modes to print error messages. As of 2021 there's work underway to implement kernel error logging under KMS.
- !! Very incomplete hardware sensors support, for instance, HWiNFO64 detects and shows ten hardware sensor sources on my average desktop PC and over fifty sensors, whilst lm-sensors detect and present just four sources and twenty sensors. This situation is even worse on laptops - sometimes the only readings you get from lm-sensors are cpu cores' temperatures.
- ! A number (sometimes up to dozens) of regressions in every kernel release due to the inability of kernel developers to test their changes on all possible software and hardware configurations. Even "stable" x.y.Z kernel updates sometimes have serious regressions.
- ! The Linux kernel is extremely difficult and cumbersome to debug even for the people who develop it.
- Under some circumstances the system or X.org's GUI may become very slow and unresponsive due to various problems with video acceleration or lack of it and also due to notorious bug 12309 - it's ostensibly fixed but some people still experience it). This bug can be easily reproduced under Android (which employs the Linux kernel) even in 2021: run any disk intensive application (e.g. under any Android terminal 'cat /dev/zero > /sdcard/testfile') and enjoy total UI unresponsiveness.
- !! Critical bug reports filed against the Linux kernel often get zero attention and may linger for years before being noticed and resolved. Posts to LKML oftentimes get lost if the respective developer is not attentive or is busy with his own life.
- The Linux kernel contains a whole lot of very low quality code and when coupled with unstable APIs it makes development for Linux a very difficult error prone process.
- The Linux kernel forbids to write to CPU MSRs in secure UEFI mode which makes it impossible to fine-tune your CPU power profile. This is perfectly possible under Windows 10.
- Memory management under Linux leaves a lot to be desired: under low memory conditions your system may become completely unresponsive. This can be alleviated by certain user-space daemons like earlyoom. The issue is in 2021 many major distros, e.g. Debian, don't enable earlyoom or similar daemons by default.
- !! ACPI's Collaborative Processor Performance Control (CPPC) is not supported for Intel and AMD CPUs which means power management for the only x86 desktop CPUs under Linux is in a bad shape. AMD submitted patches in 2019 and they are yet to be mainlined. Microsoft Windows has supported this ACPI feature for half a decade already.
- Problems stemming from the vast number of Linux distributions:
- ! No unified configuration system for various system daemons, computer settings and devices. The issue has been more or less solved in regard to network settings (after distors standardized on NetworkManager) and system services (due to systemd which has become a standard).
- ! No unified installer/package manager/universal packaging format/dependency tracking across all distros (The GNU Guix project, which is meant to solve this problem, is now under development - but we are yet to see whether it will be incorporated by major distros). Consider RPM (which has several incompatible versions, yeah), deb, portage, tar.gz, sources, etc. It adds to the cost of software development.
- ! Distros' repositories do not contain all available open source software (libraries' conflicts don't even allow that luxury). The user should never be bothered with using ./configure && make && make install (besides, it's insecure, can break things in a major way, and it sometimes simply doesn't work because the user cannot install/configure dependencies properly). It should be possible to install any software by downloading a package and double clicking it (yes, like in Windows, but probably prompting for a user/administrator password).
- ! Applications development is a major PITA. Different distros can use a) different library versions, b) different compiler flags, c) different compilers. This leads to a number of problems raised to the third power. Packaging all dependent libraries is not a solution, because in this case your application may depend on older versions of libraries which contain serious remotely exploitable vulnerabilities.
- ! Two most popular open source desktops, KDE and Gnome, can configure only a few settings by themselves thus each distro creates its own bicycle (applications/utilities) for configuring a boot loader/firewall/users and groups, services, etc.
- Linux is a hell for ISP/ISV support personnel. Within the organization you can force a single distro on anyone, but it cannot be accomplished when your clients have the freedom to choose.
- Linux as a gaming platform issues (it's great we now have Proton/Wine/DXVK but):
- ! No plug-and-play support for a lot of input devices like joysticks and steering wheels. Many require editing of cryptic configuration files.
- No universal simple to use GUI application which implements an on-screen HUD with CPU, GPU, RAM use, FPS and frame timing. A number of half-solutions exist, including using environment variables but they are not user-friendly. Luckily there's MangoHud which is lacking GUI for configuration. At least it works and exists.
- ! No universal vendor-neutral alternative to MSI Afterburner - an app for monitoring, over-/underclocking, over-/undervolting your GPU.
- ! Many anti-cheat protections fail to work under Linux. Besides in Linux it's near impossible to guarantee that game assets haven't been tinkered with (think of transparent walls for first-person competitive shooters like Counter Strike Global Offensive, Valorant or Apex Legends).
- ! No advanced Windows drivers features, like NVIDIA FreeStyle, low-latency input, FPS limiting, half VSync refresh rate and many many others.
- ! Proton/Wine/DXVK: performance/smoothness/stuttering issues due to the translation overhead between Win32 APIs/Direct3D and Linux APIs/Vulkan.
- ! It should be possible to configure pretty much everything via GUI (in the end Windows and Mac OS allow this) which is still not a case for some situations and operations.
- No polish and universally followed conventions. Different applications may have totally different shortcuts for the same actions, UI elements may be placed and look differently.
- X system (current primary video output server in Linux):
- Problems stemming from low Linux popularity and open source nature:
- ! Few software titles, inability to run familiar Windows software (some applications which don't work in Wine - look at the lines which contain the word "regression" - have zero Linux equivalents).
- ! No equivalent of some hardcore Windows software like ArchiCAD, 3ds Max, Adobe products like Premier and Photoshop, Corel Draw, Quicken, video authoring applications/etc. Home and enterprise users just won't bother installing Linux until they can get their work done.
- ! A small number of native games and few native AAA games for the past six years. The number of available Linux games overall is less than 10% of games for Windows. Steam shows a better picture: 25% of games over there have Linux ports (in February 2020: Windows 69601 titles vs. Linux 13666 titles) but over 98% out of them are Indies; i.e. AAA titles, especially the recent ones, are a rarity in Linux. Luckily nowadays it's possible to run a large number of Windows games in Wine/DXVK and Steam/Proton.
- Questionable patents and legality status. USALinuxusers in 2021 cannot play many popular audio and video formats until they purchase appropriate codecs or enable third-party repos.
- General Linux problems:
- !! Linux lacks an alternative to Windows Task Manager which shows not only CPU/RAM load, but also Network/IO/GPU load and temperature for the latter. There's no way to ascertain the CPU/RAM/IO load of processes' groups, e.g. web browsers like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.
- !! There's no concept of drivers in Linux aside from proprietary drivers for NVIDIA/AMD GPUs which are separate packages: almost all drivers are already either in the kernel or various complementary packages (like foomatic/sane/etc). It's impossible for the user to understand whether their hardware is indeed supported by the running Linux distro and whether all the required drivers are indeed installed and working properly (e.g. all the firmware files are available and loaded or necessary printer filters are installed).
- !! There's no guarantee whatsoever that your system will (re)boot successfully after GRUB (bootloader) or kernel updates - sometimes even minor kernel updates break the boot process (except for Windows 10 - but that's a new paradigm for Microsoft). For instance Microsoft and Apple regularly update ntoskrnl.exe and mach_kernel respectively for security fixes, but it's unheard of that these updates ever compromised the boot process. GRUB updates have broken the boot process on the PCs around me at least ten times. (Also see compatibility issues below).
- !! LTS distros are unusable on the desktop because they poorly support or don't support new hardware, specifically GPUs (as well as Wi-Fi adapters, NICs, sound cards, hardware sensors, etc.). Oftentimes you cannot use new software in LTS distros (normally without miscellaneous hacks like backports, PPAs, chroots, etc.), due to outdated libraries. A not so recent example is Google Chrome on RHEL 6/CentOS 6.
- !! Linux developers have a tendency to a) suppressnews of security holes b) not notify the public when the said holes have been fixed c) miscategorize arbitrary code execution bugs as "possible denial of service" (thanks to Gullible Jones for reminding me of this practice - I wanted to mention it aeons ago, but I kept forgetting about that).
Here's a full quote by Torvalds himself: "So I personally consider security bugs to be just "normal bugs". I don't cover them up, but I also don't have any reason what-so-ever to think it's a good idea to track them and announce them as something special."
Year 2014 was the most damning in regard to Linux security: critical remotely-exploitable vulnerabilities were found in many basic Open Source projects, like bash (shellshock), OpenSSL (heartbleed), kernel and others. So much for "everyone can read the code thus it's invulnerable". In the beginning of 2015 a new critical remotely exploitable vulnerability was found, called GHOST.
Year 2015 welcomed us with 134 vulnerabilities in one package alone: WebKitGTK+ WSA-2015-0002. I'm not implying that Linux is worse than Windows/MacOS proprietary/closed software - I'm just saying that the mantra that open source is more secure by definition because everyone can read the code is apparently totally wrong.
Year 2016 pleased us with several local root Linux kernel vulnerabilities as well as countless other critical vulnerabilities. In 2016 Linux turned out to be significantly more insecure than often-ridiculed and laughed-at Microsoft Windows.
The Linux kernel consistently remains one of the most vulnerable pieces of software in the entire world. In 2017 it had 453 vulnerabilities vs. 268 in the entire Windows 10 OS. No wonder Google intends to replace Linux with its own kernel.
Many Linux developersareconcerned with the state of security in Linux because it is simply lacking.
- Linux servers might be a lot less secure than ... Windows servers, "The vast majority of webmasters and system administrators have to update their software manually and test that their infrastructure works correctly".
Seems like there are lots of uniquely gifted people out there thinking I'm an idiot to write about this. Let me clarify this issue: whereas in Windows security updates are mandatory and they are usually installed automatically, Linux is usually administered via SSH and there's no indication of any updates at all. In Windows most server applications can be updated seamlessly without breaking services configuration. In Linux in a lot of cases new software releases require manual reconfiguration (here are a few examples: ngnix, apache, exim, postfix). The above two causes lead to a situation when hundreds of thousands of Linux installations never receive any updates, because their respective administrators don't bother to update anything since they're afraid that something will break.
August 2016 report from Kaspersky corroborates my thesis: in the first seven months of 2016 the number of infected Linux servers increased by 70%.
Ubuntu, starting with version 16.04 LTS, applies security updates automatically except for the Linux kernel updates which require reboot (it can be eliminated as well but it's tricky). Hopefully other distros will follow.
- ! Fixed applications versions during a distro life-cycle (except Firefox/Thundebird/Chromium). Say, you use DistroX v18.10 which comes with certain software. Before DistroX 20.10 gets released some applications get updated, get new exciting features but you cannot officially install, nor use them.
- ! Let's expand on the previous point. Most Linux distros are made such a way you cannot upgrade their individual core components (like kernel, glibc, Xorg, Xorg video drivers, Mesa drivers, etc.) without upgrading your whole system. Also if you have brand new hardware oftentimes you cannot install current Linux distros because almost all of them (aside from rare exceptions) don't incorporate the newest kernel release, so either you have to use alpha/development versions of your distro or you have to employ various hacks in order to install the said kernel.
- Some people argue that one of the problems that severely hampers the progress and expansion of Linux is that Linux doesn't have a clear separation between the core system and user-space applications. In other words (mentioned throughout the article) third-party developers cannot rely on a fixed set of libraries and programming interfaces (API/ABI) - in most other OSes you can expect your application to work for years without recompilation and extra fixes - it's often not possible in Linux.
- No native or/and simple solutions for really simple encrypted file sharing in the local network with password authentication (Samba is not native, it's a reverse engineered SMB implementation, it's very difficult for the average Joe to manage and set up. Samba 4 reimplements so many Linux network services/daemons - it looks like a Swiss knife solution from outer space).
- Neil Skrypuch posted an excellent explanation of this issue here.
- !Just (Gnome) not enough (KDE) manpower (X.org) - three major Open Source projects are seriously understaffed.
- ! It's a major problem in the tech industry at large but I'll mention it anyways because it's serious: Linux/open source developers are often not interested in fixing bugs if they cannot easily reproduce them (for instance when your environment substantially differs from the developer's environment). This problem plagues virtually all Open Source projects and it's more serious in regard to Linux because Linux has fewer users and fewer developers. Open Source developers often don't get paid to solve bugs so there's little incentive for them to try to replicate and squash difficult to reproduce bugs.
- ! A galore of software bugs across all applications. Just look into KDE or Gnome bugzilla's - some bugs are now over ten years old with over several dozens of duplicates and no one is working on them. KDE/Gnome/etc. developers are busy adding new features and breaking old APIs. Fixing bugs is of course a tedious and difficult chore.
- ! Steep learning curve (even today you oftentimes need to use a CLI to complete some trivial or non-trivial tasks, e.g. when installing third party software).
- !Incomplete or sometimes missingregression testing in the Linux kernel (and, alas, in other Open Source software too) leading to a situation when new kernels may become totally unusable for some hardware configurations (software suspend doesn't work, crashes, unable to boot, networking problems, video tearing, etc.)
- GUI network manager in Linux has serious problems.
- Poor interoperability between the kernel and user-space applications. E.g. many kernel features get a decent user-space implementation years after introduction.
- ! Linux security/permissions management is a bloody mess: PAM, SeLinux, Udev, HAL (replaced with udisk/upower/libudev), PolicyKit, ConsoleKit and usual Unix permissions (/etc/passwd, /etc/group) all have their separate incompatible permissions management systems spread all over the file system. Quite often people cannot use their digital devices unless they switch to a super user.
- No sandbox with easy to use GUI (like Sandboxie in Windows).
- ! CLI (command line interface) errors for user applications. All GUI applications should have a visible error representation.
- ! Certain Linux components have very poor documentation and lack good manuals.
- ! No unified widely used system for packages signing and verification (thus it becomes increasingly problematic to verify packages which are not included by your distro). No central body to issue certificates and to sign packages.
- There are no native antivirus solutions or similar software for Linux (the existing ones are made for finding Windows viruses and analyzing Windows executives - i.e. they are more or less useless for Linux). Say, you want to install new software which is not included by your distro - currently there's no way to check if it's malicious or not.
- !! Most Linux distributions do not audit included packages which means a rogue evil application or a rogue evil patch can easily make it into most distros, thus endangering the end user (it has happened several times already).
- !Very bad backwards and forwardcompatibility.
- ! Due to unstable and constantly changing kernel APIs/ABIs Linux is a hell for companies which cannot push their drivers upstream into the kernel for various reasons like their closeness (NVIDIA, ATI, Broadcom, etc.), or inability to control development or co-develop (VirtualBox/Oracle, VMWare/Workstation, etc.), or licensing issues (4Front Technologies/OSS).
- Old Linux applications often don't work in new Linux distros (glibc incompatibilities (double-free errors, memory corruption, etc.), missing libraries, wrong/new libraries versions). Abandoned Linux GUI software generally doesn't work in newer Linux distros. Most well written GUI applications for Windows 95 will work in Windows 10 (26 years of binary level compatibility).
- New applications linked only against lib C will refuse to work in old distros (even though they are 100% source compatible with old distros).
- New library versions bugs, regressions and incompatibilities.
- Distro upgrade can render your system unusable (kernel might not boot, some features may stop working).
- There's a myth that backwards compatibility is a non-issue in Linux because all the software has sources. However a lot of software just cannot be compiled on newer Linux distros due to 1) outdated, conflicting, no longer available libraries and dependencies 2) every GCC release becoming much stricter about C/C++ syntax 3) Users just won't bother compiling old software because they don't know how to 'compile' - nor they should they need to know how to do that.
- DE developers (KDE/Gnome) routinely cardinally change UI elements, configuration, behaviour, etc.
- Open Source developers usually don't care about application behaviour beyond their own usage scenarios. I.e. coreutils developers for no good reasons have broken head/tail functionality which is used by the Loki installer.
- Quite often you cannot run new applications in LTS distros. Recent examples: GTK3 based software (there's no official way to use it in RHEL6), and Google Chrome (Google decided to abandon LTS distros).
- Linux has a 255 bytes limitation for file names (this translates to just 63 four-byte characters in UTF-8) - not a great deal but copying or using files or directories with long names from your Windows PC can become a serious challenge.
- Certain applications that exist both for Windows and Linux start up faster in Windows than in Linux, sometimes several times faster. It's worth noting though that SSD disk users are mostly unaffected.
- All native Linux filesystems (except ext4) are case sensitive about filenames which utterly confuses most users. This wonderful peculiarity doesn't have any sensible rationale. Less than 0.01% of users in the Linux world depend on this feature.
- (Not a big issue anymore since users are slowly migrating to SSD drives) Most Linux filesystem cannot be fully defragmented unless you compact and expand your partition which is very dangerous. Ext4fs supports defragmentation but only for individual files. You cannot combine data and turn free space into one continuous area. XFS supports full defragmentation though, but by default most distros offer Ext4 and there's no official safe way to convert ext4 to XFS.
- Linux preserves file creation time only for certain filesystems (ext4, NTFS, fat). Another issue is that user space utilities currently cannot view or modify this time (ext4 `debugfs` works only under root).
- A lot of UNIX problems (PDF, 3MB) apply to Linux/GNU as well.
- There's a lot of hostility in the open source community.
- This is so freaking "amazing", you absolutely have to read it - the developer behind XScreenSaver fought with Debian developers.
- Random ramblings or why you may hate Linux (some are severely outdated/irrelevant/fixed but they are left for posterity to see the innards of the open source movement and community):
1) KDE: troubleshooting kded4 bugs.
2) A big discussion on Slashdot as to why people still prefer Windows over Linux.
3) Another big discussion on Slashdot as to why Linux still lacks.
4) - seems to be fixed in KDE5.
5) Why Desktop Linux Hasn't Taken Off - Slashdot.
6) Torvalds Slams NVIDIA's Linux Support - Slashdot.
7) Are Open-Source Desktops Losing Competitiveness? - Slashdot (A general consensus - No).
8) Broadcom Wi-Fi adapters under Linux are a PITA.
9) A Gnome developer laments the state of Gnome 3 development.
10) Fuck LTS distros: Google Says Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Is Obsolete (WTF?! Really?!).
11) A rant about Gnome 3 APIs.
12) OMFG: Ubuntu has announced Mir, an alternative to X.org/Wayland.
13) KDE's mail client cannot properly handle IMAP mail accounts.
14) Desktop Linux security is a mess (zipped MS Powerpoint presentation, 1.3MB) + 13 HID vulnerabilities.
15) Yet another Gnome developer concurs that Gnome 3 was a big mistake.
16) Gnome developers keep fuckinghard their users.
17) Fixed now:
18) Linux "security" is a mess. For the past six months two local root exploits have been discovered in the Linux kernel. Six critical issues have been discovered in OpenSSL (which allow remote exploitation, information disclosure and MITM).
19) Skype developers dropped support for ALSA. Wow, great, fuck compatibility, fuck old distros, fuck the people for whom PulseAudio is not an option.
20) Well, fuck compatibility, there are now three versions of OpenSSL in the wild: OpenSSL itself, BoringSSL by Google, LibReSSL by OpenBSD. All with incompatible APIs/ABIs (OpenSSL itself breaks API/ABIs quite often).
21) The feature has finally been reintroduced in Plasma 5.5.5 after two years (!!) of users' remonstrance.
22) KDE developers/maintainers silently delete unpleasant user comments on dot.kde.org. KDE developers ignore bugs posted at bugs.kde.org.
23) Welcome: PulseAudio emulation for Skype. Audio is not fucked up in Linux you said?
24) UDP connections monitoring is a hell on earth.
25) Linux has become way too complex even for ... Linux developers.
26) Linux developers gave up on maintaining API/ABI compatibility even among modern distros and decided to bundle a full Linux stack with every app to virtualize it. This is so f*cked up, I've got no words. Oh, Wayland is required for that, so this thing is not going to take off any time soon.
27) Out of 20 most played/popular games in Steam only three are available for Linux. I'm not saying it's bad, it's just what it is.
28) This article is getting unwieldy but fuck it, even Linus admits that API/ABI compatibility in Linux is beyond fucked up: "making binaries for Linux desktop applications is a major fucking pain in the ass. You don’t make binaries for Linux, you make binaries for Fedora 19, Fedora 20, maybe even RHEL5 from 10 years ago. You make binaries for Debian Stable…well actually no, you don't make binaries for Debian Stable because Debian Stable has libraries that are so old that anything built in the last century doesn’t work."
29) KDE is spiralling out of control (besides, its code quality is beyond horrible - several crucial parts of the KDE SC, like KMail/akonadi, are barely functional): people refuse to maintain literally hundreds of KDE packages.
30) Google Chrome stopped supporting 32bit distros starting March 2016. They don't care that 64bit distros and applications in some cases require up to 40% more RAM.
31) Let's have some fun! ... or hatred maybe? Native Linux games do ... notwork under Linux. Fuck compatibility. Fuck it! This "OS" is a fucking joke.
32) QA/QC in Linux you say? Oh, really? Like you're not joking?
33) In April 2017 Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) axed the development of their own desktop environment Unity and their own display manager Mir. A lot of people questioned their decision to migrate to Gnome 3 which is not perceived as a PC-friendly desktop environment by the Linux community.
34) This is so brilliant it will leave you speechless. This is how open source projects should interact more often (it's a sad joke). KWin + Wayland vs. Qt 5.8/5.9, fight!
35) In 2018 Gnome developers decided that applications must replace title bars with header bars.
36) This is quite damning: Linux.com admits that there are no stable Linux kernels, "The most we can do is to unhelpfully state that they are "differently stable"".
37) Ubuntu in its feat of idiotic brilliance decided to deprecate 32bit support in Ubuntu. After Valve decided to pull Ubuntu support in Steam, Ubuntu reneged on its decision but the damage has been done. Ubuntu/Mark Shuttleworth don't care that there are literally thousands of 32bit exceptionally useful applications including games which will never be ported to 64bit.
- Software development under and for Linux
- !Stable APInonsense: you cannot develop kernel drivers out of the kernel tree, because they will soon becomeincompatible with mainline. That's the sole reason why RHEL and other LTS distros are so popular in enterprise. This is why Google is currently developing an alternative to the Linux kernel - even they don't have enough resources and willpower to maintain their own Linux fork.
- Games development: no complete multimedia framework.
- ! Hostility towards third-party developers: many open source projects are extremely self-contained, i.e. if you try to develop your open source project using open source library X or if you try to bring your suggestions to some open source project, you'll be met with extreme hostility.
- A lot of points mentioned above apply to this category, they won't be reiterated.
- Enterprise level Linux problems:
- Most distros don't allow you to easily set up a server with e.g. such a configuration: Samba, SMTP/POP3, Apache HTTP Auth and FTP where all users are virtual. LDAP is a PITA. Authentication against MySQL/any other DB is also a PITA.
- ! No software (group) policies.
- ! No standard way of software deployment (pushing software via SSH is indeed an option, but it's in no way standard, easy to use or obvious - you can use a sledgehammer to crack nuts the same way).
- ! No CIFS/AD level replacement/equivalent (SAMBA doesn't count for many reasons): 1) Centralized and easily manageable user directory. 2) Simple file sharing. 3) Simple (LAN) computer discovery and browsing.
- No native production-ready filesystem with de-duplication, data and metadata checksumming and file compression (please supportbcachefs - it has it all). No filesystems at all to support per-file encryption (ext4fs implements encryption for directories starting from Linux 4.1 but it will take months before desktop environments start supporting this feature).
- !! No proper RDP/Terminal Services alternative (built-in, standardized across distros, high level of compression, low latency, needs zero effort to be set up, integrated with Linux PAM, totally encrypted: authentication + traffic, digital signature like SSH).
- No stability, bugs, regressions, regressionsandregressions: There's a large number of regressions (both in the kernel and in user space applications) when things which used to work break inexplicably; some of the regressions can even lead to dataloss. Basically there is no quality control (QA/QC) nor regression testing in most Open Source projects (including the kernel) - Microsoft, for instance, reports that Windows 8 received 1,240,000,000 hours of testing whereas new kernel releases get, I guess, under 10,000 hours of testing - and every Linux kernel release is comparable to a new Windows version. Serious bugs which impede normal workflow can take years to be resolved. A lot of crucial hardware (e.g. GPUs, Wi-Fi cards) isn't properly supported. Often regressions are introduced in "stable" x.y.Z kernel releases even though Linux developers insist such releases must be upgraded to immidiately.
- Hardware issues: Under Linux many devices and device features are still poorly supported or not supported at all. Some hardware (e.g. Broadcom Wi-Fi adapters) cannot be used unless you already have a working Internet connection. New hardware often becomes supported months after introduction. Specialized software to manage devices like printers, scanners, cameras, webcams, audio players, smartphones, etc. almost always just doesn't exist - so you won't be able to fully control your new gadgets and update firmware. Linux graphics support is a big bloody mess because kernel/X.org APIs/ABIs constantly change and NVIDIA/Broadcom/etc. companies don't want to allocate extra resources and waste their money just to keep up with an insane rate of changes in the Open Source software.
- The lack of standardization, fragmentation, unwarranted & excessive variety, as well as no common direction or vision among different distros:Too many Linux distributions with incompatible and dissimilar configurations, packaging systems and incompatible libraries. Different distros employ totally different desktop environments, different graphical and console applications for configuring your computer settings. E.g. Debian-based distros oblige you to use the strictly text based `dpkg-reconfigure` utility for certain system-related maintenance tasks.
- The lack of cooperation between open source developers, and internalwars: There's no central body to organize the development of different parts of the open source stack which often leads to a situation where one project introduces changes which break other projects (this problem is also reflected in "Unstable APIs/ABIs" below). Even though the Open Source movement lacks manpower, different Linux distros find enough resources to fork projects (Gentoo developers are going to develop a udev alternative; a discord in ffmpeg which led to the emergence of libav; a situation around OpenOffice/LibreOffice; a new X.org/Wayland alternative - Mir) and to use their own solutions.
- A lot of rapidchanges: Most Linux distros have very short upgrade/release cycles (as short as six months in some cases, or e.g. Arch which is a rolling distro, or Fedora which gets updated every six months), thus you are constantly bombarded with changes you don't expect or don't want. LTS (long term support) distros are in most cases unsuitable for the desktop user due to the policy of preserving application versions (and usually there's no officially approved way to install bleeding edge applications - please, don't remind me of PPAs and backports - these hacks are not officially supported, nor guaranteed to work). Another show-stopping problem for LTS distros is that LTS kernels often do not support new hardware.
- UnstableAPIs/ABIs & the lack of realcompatibility: It's very difficult to use old open and closed source software in new distros (in many cases it becomes impossible due to changes in core Linux components like kernel, GCC or glibc). Almost non-existent backwards compatibility makes it incredibly difficult and costly to create closed source applications for Linux distros. Open Source software which doesn't have active developers or maintainers gets simply dropped if its dependencies cannot be satisfied because older libraries have become obsolete and they are no longer available. For this reason for instance a lot of KDE3/Qt3 applications are not available in modern Linux distros even though alternatives do not exist. Developing drivers out of the main Linux kernel tree is an excruciating and expensive chore. There's no WinSxS equivalent for Linux - thus there's no simple way to install conflicting libraries. In 2015 Debian dropped support for Linux Standard Base (LSB). Viva, incompatibility!
- Software issues: Not that many native games (mostly Indies) and few native AAA games (Valve's efforts and collaboration with games developers have resulted in many recent games being released for Linux, however every year thousands of titles are still released for Windows exclusively*. More than 98% of existing and upcoming AAA titles are still unavailable in Linux). No familiar Windows software, no Microsoft Office (LibreOffice still has major troubles correctly opening Microsoft Office produced documents), no native CIFS (simple to configure and use, as well as password protected and encrypted network file sharing) equivalent, no Active Directory or its featurewise equivalent.
- Money, enthusiasm, motivation and responsibility: I predicted years ago that FOSS developers would start drifting away from the platform as FOSS is no longer a playground, it requires substantial effort and time, i.e. the fun is over, developers want real money to get the really hard work done. FOSS development, which lacks financial backing, shows its fatigue and disillusionment. The FOSS platform after all requires financially motivated developers as underfunded projectsstartto wane and critical bugs stay open for years. One could say "Good riddance", but the problem is that oftentimes those dying projects have no alternatives or similarly-featured successors.
- No polish, no consistency and no HIG adherence (even KDE developers admit it).
- Various Linux components are loosely connected vs. other desktop operating systems like Windows and Mac OS X which means the same tasks running on Linux will consume quite a lot more energy (power) and as a result laptop users running Linux have a worse battery life. Here are some examples from a normal daily life: editing documents, listening to music, watching YouTube videos, or even playing games. Another example will be a simple task of desktop rendering: whereas Windows uses GPU acceleration and scheduling for many tasks related to rendering the image on the screen, Linux usually uses none.
This article is bollocks! Linux works for me/for my grandpa/for my aunt/etc.
Hey, I love when people are saying this, however here's a list of Linux problems which affect pretty much every Linux user.
- Neither Mozilla Firefox nor Google Chrome use video decoding and output acceleration in Linux (which is a hell to set up in many cases), thus youtube clips will drain your laptop battery a lot faster than e.g. in Windows.
- NVIDIA Optimus technology is a pain to use under most Linux distors and it does not work under secure UEFI mode at all for absolute most people out there.
- Keyboard shortcut handling for people using local keyboard layouts is broken (this bug is now 16 years old). Not everyone lives in English-speaking countries. This doesn't affect Wayland but Wayland has its own share of critical issues.
- Keyboard handling in X.org is broken by design - when you have a pop-up or an open menu, global keyboard shortcuts/keybindings don't (GTK) work (QT). This doesn't affect Wayland but Wayland has its own share of critical issues.
- There's no easy way to use software which is not offered by your distro repositories, especially the software which is available only as sources. For the average Joe, who's not an IT specialist, there's no way at all.
- You don't play games, do you? Linux still has very few native AAA games: for the past three years less than a dozen of AAA titles have been made available. Most Linux games on Steam are Indies. To be fair you can now run thousands of Windows games through DirectX to Vulkan/OpenGL translation (Wine, Proton, Steam for Linux) but this incurs translation costs and decreases performance sometimes significantly. Also games may crash and behave differently than in Windows. Also, anti-cheat protection usually doesn't work in Linux.
- Microsoft Office is not available for Linux. LibreOffice often has major troubles properly opening, rendering or saving documents created in Microsoft Office (alas, it's a standard in the business world). Besides, LibreOffice has a drastically different user interface and many features work differently. Also native Windows fonts are not available in Linux which often leads to formatting issues.
- Several crucial Windows applications are not available under Linux: Quicken, Adobe authoring products (Photoshop, Audition, etc.), Corel authoring products (CorelDraw and others), Autodesk software (3ds Max, Autocad, etc.), serious BluRay/DVD authoring products, professional audio applications (CuBase, SoundForge, etc.).
- In 2021 there's still no alternative to Windows Network File Sharing (network file sharing that is easily configurable, discoverable, encrypted and password protected). NFS and SSHFS are two lousy totally user-unfriendly alternatives.
- Linux doesn't have a reliably working hassle-free fast native (directly mountable via the kernel; FUSE doesn't cut it) MTP implementation. In order to work with your MTP devices, like ... Linux based Android phones you'd better use ... Windows or MacOS X. Update: a Russian programmer was so irked by libMTP he wrote his own complete Qt based application which talks to the Linux kernel directly using libusb. Meet Android-File-Transfer-Linux.
- Too many things in Linux require manual configuration using text files: NVIDIA Optimus switchable graphics, custom display refresh rates, multiseat setups, USB 3G/LTE/4G modems, various daemons' configuration, and advanced audio setups to name a few.
- Linux is secure UEFI boot mode unfriendly if you're going to use any out of mainline tree drivers, e.g. NVIDIA, VirtualBox, VMWare, proprietary RAID, new Wi-Fi adapters, etc. etc. etc. This is a really bad situation which no Linux distro wants to address.
- A personal nitpick which might be very relevant nowadays: under XFCE/Gnome/KDE there's no way to monitor your BlueTooth devices battery level on screen at all times (e.g. using a systray applet). There are scripts like this but they are inaccessible for most people out there as they require console kung-fu and they may stop working at any time. A blueman feature request was filed in December 2018 - meanwhile the feature has been available under Windows and Android for quite some time already.
Yeah, let's consider Linux an OS ready for the desktop :-).
Commentary From the Author
A lot of people who are new to Linux or those who use a very tiny subset of applications are quick to disregard the entire list saying things like, "Audio in Linux works just fine for me." or "I've never had any troubles with video in Linux." Guess what, there are thousands of users who have immense problems because they have a different set of hardware or software. Do yourself a favour - come and visit Ubuntu or Linux.com forums and count the number of threads which contain "I have erased PulseAudio and only now audio works for me" or "I have finally discovered I can use nouveau instead of NVIDIA binary drivers (or vice versa) and my problems are gone."
There's another important thing that critics fail to understand. If something doesn't work in Linux, people will not care whose fault it is, they will automatically and rightly assume it's Linux's fault. For the average Joe, Linux is just another operating system. He or she doesn't care if a particular company ABC chose not to support Linux or not to release fully-functional drivers for Linux - their hard earned hardware just doesn't work, i.e. Linux doesn't work. People won't care if Skype crashes every five minutes under some circumstances - even though in reality Skype is an awful piece of software which has tonnes of glitches and sometimes crashes even under Windows and MacOS.
I want to refute a common misconception, that support for older hardware in Linux is a lot better than in Windows. It's partly true but it's also false. For instance neither nouveau nor proprietary NVIDIA drivers have good support for older NVIDIA GPUs. Nouveau's OpenGL acceleration speed is lacking, NVIDIA's blob doesn't support many crucial features found in Xrandr or features required for proper acceleration of modern Linux GUIs (like Gnome 3 or KDE4). In case your old hardware is magically still supported, Linux drivers almost always offer only a small subset of features found in Windows drivers, so saying that Linux hardware support is better, just because you don't have to spend 20 minutes installing drivers, is unfair at best.
Some comments just astonish me: "This was terrible. I mean, it's full of half-truths and opinions. NVIDIA Optimus (Then don't use it, go with Intel or something else)." No shit, sir! I've bought my laptop to enjoy games in Wine/dualboot and you dare tell me I shouldn't have bought in the first place? I kindly suggest that you not impose your opinion on other people who can actually get pleasure from playing high quality games. Saying that SSHFS is a replacement for Windows File Sharing is the most ridiculous thing that I've heard in my entire life.
It's worth noting that the most vocal participants of the Open Source community are extremely bitchy and overly idealistic people peremptorily requiring everything to be open source and free or it has no right to exist at all in Linux.With an attitude like this, it's no surprise that a lot of companies completely disregard and shun the Linux desktop. Linus Torvalds once talked about this: There are "extremists" in the free software world, but that's one major reason why I don't call what I do "free software" any more. I don't want to be associated with the people for whom it's about exclusion and hatred.
Most importantly this list is not an opinion. Almost every listed point has links to appropriate articles, threads and discussions centered on it, proving that I haven't pulled it out of my < expletive >. And please always check your "facts".
I'm not really sorry for citing slashdot comments as a proof of what I'm writing about here, since I have one very strong justification for doing that - the /. crowd is very large, it mostly consists of smart people, IT specialists, scientists, etc. - and if a comment over there gets promoted to +5 insightful it usually* means that many people share the same opinion or have the same experience. This article was discussed on Slashdot, Reddit, Hacker News and Lobste.rs in 2017.
* I previously said "certainly" instead of "usually" but after this text was called "hysterical nonsense" (a rebuttal is here) I decided not to use this word any more.
On a positive note
If you get an impression that Linux sucks - you are largely wrong. For a limited or/and non-professional use Linux indeed shines as a desktop OS - when you run it you can be sure that you are malware free. You can safely install and uninstall software without fearing that your system will break up. At the same time innate Windows problems (listed at the beginning of the article) are almost impossible to fix unless Microsoft starts from scratch - Linux problems are indeed approachable. What's more, Linux, unlike Windows 10, doesn't collect data on you and doesn't send it anywhere.
Also there are several projects underway which are intended to simplify, modernize and unify the Linux desktop. They are NetworkManager, systemd, Wayland, file system unification first proposed and implemented by Fedora, and others. Unfortunately no one is working towards stabilizing Linux, so the only alternative to Windows in the Linux world is Red Hat Enterprise Linux and its derivative (CentOS).
Many top tier 3D game engines now support Linux natively (with reservations): CryEngine, Unreal Engine 4, Unity Engine, Source Engine 2.0 and others.
Valve Software released Steam for Linux (alas, it only works well under SteamOS and it has compatibility issues with modern Linux distros) and ported the Source engine for Linux and also they developed a Steam gaming machine which is based on Linux. Valve's efforts have resulted in a number of AAA game titles having been made available natively for Linux, e.g. Metro Last Light. Valve since then have ported a lot of their games to Linux.
NVIDIA made their drivers more compatible with bumblebee, however NVIDIA themselves don't want to support Optimus under Linux - maybe because X.org/kernel architectures are not very suitable for that. Also NVIDIA started to provide certain very limited documentation for their GPUs.
Linus Torvalds believes Linux APIs have recently become much more stable - however I don't share his optimism ;).
Ubuntu developers listened to me and created a new unified packaging format. More on it here and here. Fedora developers decided to follow Ubuntu's lead and they're contemplating making the installation of third-party non-free software easy and trouble free.
The Linux Foundation formed a new initiative to support critical Open Source Projects.
An application level firewall named Douane has been graciously donated to the Linux community. Thanks a lot to its author!
Starting March 2017 you can watch Netflix in Linux.
In 2018 thanks to the DXVK project Linux gamers are now able to run DirectX 11 Windows games on Linux - Wine's own implementation is severly lacking and will probably be replaced with DXVK.
In August 2018 Valve released Proton for Steam: this compatibility layer based on Wine, allows you to run native Windows games from the Steam catalogue in Linux without using any tricks with almost native speed. Its only drawback is that it requires a modern enough GPU which supports Vulkan.
More and more games are now coded using the Vulkan API and they work just fine under Linux.
Sometimes I have reasons to say that indeed Linux f*cking sucks shit and I do hate it. "I'm a developer - I know better how users want to use their software and systems", says the average Linux developer. The end result is that most innovations draw universal anger and loathing - Gnome and KDE are the perfect examples of this tendency of screwing Linux users.
Linux has a tendency to mess with your data. Over the past several years there have been found at least three critical errors which led to data loss. I'm sorry to say that but that's utterly unacceptable. Also ext4fs sees a scary number of changes in every kernel release.
There are two different camps in regard to the intrinsic security of open and closed source applications. My stance is quite clear: Linux security leaves a lot to be desired. There are no code analyzers/antiviruses so you have no way to check if a certain application, which is published as a source code or binaries, is safe to use. Also time and again we've seen that open source projects are hardly reviewed/scrutinized at all which also means that an attacker can send a patch to Linus Torvalds and add a backdoor to the Linux kernel.
Critical bugs which make it impossible to use your hardware/software in Linux stay open for years! I reported the fact that my webcam is broken (completely black output under certain video modes) in 2013(!!). This webcam is one of the most popular - no one bats an eye. For my new Skylake laptop I filed eight bug reports and seven of them remain open. Six of them have received no response at all. Nil. No one gives a damn.
True inter-distro compatibility? "WTF are you talking about?", ask Linux distro developers. Debian dropped LSB support in 2015. Recently Ubuntu developers decided to make it possible to run new software in old distros by using the SNAPPY packaging format which is basically an application emulation layer. Wow. Effing great. I mean it's great such a thing has been finally implemented but it's the wrong way, guys!
Font problems: in case you've reached this page and you still want good/best/top/free fonts for Linux, download them from here. It seems like many people come to this website looking for the best desktop linux distro in 2021.
A lot of people wonder if Linux can be "solved", i.e. if there's anything that might be done to make Linux a real alternative to Windows and Mac OS X on the desktop. I have to admit that this will be a tall order and at least two well-known companies have already failed: the most recent example is a company from Africa, Ubuntu, and you might be surprised to know that Corel also tried at the beginning of the 21'st century (google for Corel Linux).
Without further ado let's describe the process:
At first, you have to have very deep pockets: we are talking about at least a billion USD in cash for the first five years. When you have that kind of money you create a Linux company.
Then you hire at least 90% of open source developers. You'll have to poach quite a lot of them from RedHat/Intel/Ubuntu/etc., including Linus Torvalds.
Then you start developing a Linux platform while sticking to these principles (also outlined here and here):
- Implement a stringent QA/QC process.
- Closely work with IHVs/ISVs while listening to what they want.
- Create an extensible base platform (IDE/libraries/kernel/etc.) with a strict set of APIs/ABIs which are adhered to for at least five to ten years.
- Create a universal packaging format for bundling software which supports signatures, weak dependencies, isolation (aka sandboxing/virtualization), clean uninstallation and standard APIs to make it possible to integrate an application with your DE.
- Create an open application store where applications and libraries could be published and sold. This store must be integrated with GitHub or any other development platform to make it possible to fetch application sources, file bug reports and request new features.
- Certain Linux subsystems must be abandoned/reworked/created from the ground up:
• Audio (ALSA/PulseAudio);
• Security model;
• The X.org server (IMO, Wayland is not the right solution);
• Linux kernel must gain microkernel abilities (safe drivers reloading in case of their crash);
• Font rendering;
• Hardware accelerated video encoding/decoding;
• Window manager (?);
• Common extensible controls for file open/save as dialogs, window title bars, system tray, etc.;
• A full set of rich APIs for creating games;
• Simple encrypted local file sharing (akin to CIFS) and many others.
- Other distros may actually exist but must contain all the defaults this Linux One distro sets by default: libraries (APIs), sound system, graphical server, desktop environment, etc.
Here's a nice rant by Linus Torvalds which mirrors what I've been lamenting since forever:
Linus hoped Valve would solve the packaging / libraries / distros zoo, only Valve never did. Steam on Linux basically comes with all the libraries it needs, which means it doesn't use your distro libraries at all, so games written for Steam are not compiled for a gazillion of libraries / distros and their variations, they are built against Steam libraries instead. In short when you're running Steam, you have one extra distro installed, Steam Linux.
Some people argue that flatpak, snap, appimage are exactly what Linus has been looking for. Only, why do we have ... the three of them? Why each of them looks, feels and behaves like a virtual machine which means Linux distros solved the compatibility issue ... by making you install an extra Linux distro? A lot of disk space is, of course, lost, these apps take a lot longer to launch and have a quite higher RAM consumption. Ultimately the long-standing issue hasn't been resolved to any capacity, instead it has been hidden, pushed aside and virtualized. Only you can have a Linux distro installed in Windows 10 as part of WSL. Linux on the desktop itself remains a huge incompatibility mess.
If you watched the entire video you'd notice some guy mentioning he could perfectly run Linux applications from 1995 in his 2014 Debian system. That's a good point. Notice, however that all the applications he mentioned were console applications with most likely a bare minimum of dependencies, e.g. they didn't use anything outside Glibc. I dare him run a KDE1.0 application in his Debian 2021 system. It will fail spectacularly. Meanwhile most properly written Win32 applications (using only the official APIs and not using drivers) written for Windows 95 work just fine in Windows 10 26 years later. At least for X11 we had its own GUI APIs, including Xlib (LibX11) and XCB. Wayland on the other hand offers absolutely nothing aside from pushing bitmaps onto the screen, so native Wayland applications will have an even shorter life span.
Windows 10 vs. Linux
If you or your company are seriously thinking about the ramifications of installing Windows 10 and you're pretty scared of the prospects of running the OS which invades your privacy and deprives you of the control of its crucial features (for instance you cannot officially disable telemetry, windows updates, cortana or windows defender) then I guess you're asking yourself a question: what should we do?
First of all, if you're running Windows 8.1 you're safe at least until year 2023. I would not recommend leaving these OS'es because I'm quite sure they work just fine for you and you have almost zero issues with them, specially if you're a large company and your workstations are locked down so there's no point in migrating to something new and untested just yet.
At the same time if you're buying and deploying new workstations you might consider installing Linux. By doing so you'll be helping the open source community by increasing the userbase and possibly finding, reporting and even eliminating bugs in case you have software developers in your organization. Of course, you might want to run applications which have no equivalents under Linux. In this case you have two options: you may either run Windows as a virtual machine or you may try using Wine. Wine is very powerful software which allows you to run Windows applications under Linux at near native speed (sometimes even faster).
© 2009-2021Artem S. Tashkinov. Last revised: . The most current version can be found here.
Additions to and well-grounded critiques of this list are welcomed. Mind that irrational comments lacking substance or factual information might be removed. Anonymous comments are disabled. I'm tired of anonymous haters who have nothing to say. Besides, Disqus sports authentification via Google/Twitter/Facebook and if you don't have any of these accounts then I'm sorry for your seclusion. You might as well not exist at all.
This isn't a work in progress any longer (however I update this list from time to time). There is nothing serious left that I can think of.
Please, excuse me for grammatical and spelling errors. I'm not a native English speaker. ;-) It'd be amazing if someone proof read this article and sent me the result.
In case there are dead links in this article, you can find their live versions via WayBack Machine, archive.is or by Googling respective page titles.
About the author: Artem S. Tashkinov is an avid supporter of the Open Source movement and Open Source projects. He has helped resolve numerous bugs across many open source projects such as the Linux kernel, KDE, Wine, GCC, Midnight Commander, X.org and many others. He's been using Linux distros exclusively since 1999.
I'm searching for a permanent job (with relocation) as a systems administrator in Down Under; you can download my stripped (for security reasons) CV here.
© 2009-2021 Artem S. Tashkinov - all rights reserved. You can reproduce any part of this text verbatim, but you must retain the authorship and provide a link to this document. The archive of this page can be found here.
You can subscribe to this page via an RSS feed (test).
Ways to support the author, thank you!
- Maybe you'll find ads on this page useful :)
- Linode: an excellent inexpensive hosting provider from the US;
- Mega.nz: cheap, fast, reliable cloud storage which uses strong encryption to store your data which only you can access;
- R-Studio Undelete: perhaps the best data recovery and file undelete solution including RAID support
- Linux-friendly laptops:
- Lenovo Flex 5 14" 2-in-1 Laptop, 14.0" FHD Touch, Ryzen 5 4500U, Radeon Graphics, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD;
- Acer Swift 3 Laptop, 14" FHD IPS, Ryzen 7 4700U, Radeon Graphics, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD;
- Acer Swift 3 Intel Evo Thin & Light Laptop, 14" FHD, Core i7-1165G7, Iris Xe Graphics, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
You can read the previous old archived version here.
Return to the main page.
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A review of immersive virtual reality serious games to enhance learning and training
The merger of game-based approaches and Virtual Reality (VR) environments that can enhance learning and training methodologies have a very promising future, reinforced by the widespread market-availability of affordable software and hardware tools for VR-environments. Rather than passive observers, users engage in those learning environments as active participants, permitting the development of exploration-based learning paradigms. There are separate reviews of VR technologies and serious games for educational and training purposes with a focus on only one knowledge area. However, this review covers 135 proposals for serious games in immersive VR-environments that are combinations of both VR and serious games and that offer end-user validation. First, an analysis of the forum, nationality, and date of publication of the articles is conducted. Then, the application domains, the target audience, the design of the game and its technological implementation, the performance evaluation procedure, and the results are analyzed. The aim here is to identify the factual standards of the proposed solutions and the differences between training and learning applications. Finally, the study lays the basis for future research lines that will develop serious games in immersive VR-environments, providing recommendations for the improvement of these tools and their successful application for the enhancement of both learning and training tasks.
Sutherland described “The Ultimate Display”  as “a room within which the computer can control the existence of matter”, clearly underlining the immense potential of technological innovation to enhance the learning rates of almost any professional skills training. Teaching has therefore to adapt itself to this new technology, quite unlike traditional oral-based education that is mainly focused on abstract rather than practical learning skills, resulting in a weaker and less robust understanding of the topic . However, Virtual Reality (VR) environments have been excluded from educational settings, due to the high cost of VR equipment. Their usage over the past 50 years has been restricted to military applications and research institutes . Throughout that time, research objectives have been focused on technological issues: the development of VR-environments and both hardware and software [13, 162]. In parallel, educational researchers have described any educational experience that introduces the user to visual and auditory experiences as a “virtual world”. The reviews on these topics have underlined both learning [72, 120] methods that employ conventional computer graphics on a monitor or other 2D displays. This concept of virtual worlds is nowadays categorized as low-immersive VR.
Some 15 years ago, high-immersive VR emerged with the development of devices that surround the user in large 3D viewing areas, such as the Head-Mounted Display (HMD) and the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) . The development of those devices was accompanied by the first VR-environments applied to educational tasks in specific knowledge areas: mathematics, language, business, health, computer science, and project management [9, 37, 62]. The main reviews of these initial educational VR experiences outlined their two guiding principles: 1) the fascination among young people with new technologies, including the clear example of VR, suggests greater interest in learning in those environments ; and, 2) VR could facilitate a visual understanding of complex concepts  for students and reduce misconceptions .
This first generation of immersive VR devices was also applied to training. The high cost of VR equipment was no obstacle to the military that exploited the effectiveness of simulation exercises. VR-based simulations offered a secure space to conduct exercises that would otherwise be risky and costly in real life. [79, 109]. These devices were also tested in training for sports [69, 99] and especially in industry, where new employees receive ‘risk-free’ training in a virtual manufacturing scenario . Finally, medicine and especially surgery are also considered promising fields for VR training .
At this stage in the incorporation of the VR learning environment into traditional learning methods, a debate emerged over which procedures could best achieve the perception of a user presence in the VR-environment. This feeling of immersion and presence is identified as a key factor for the enhancement of learning rates . Presence might be defined as the immediate perception of the user of “being there” and a feeling of existing inside the virtual environment . Presence is therefore a very subjective experience. Immersion can be defined as the technological fidelity of VR that the hardware and software can evoke  and it can be objectively evaluated. Immersion is therefore considered in this review as a better key objective for VR experiences than presence.
However, immersion and presence have only been key objectives of VR experiences nowadays, because of the improvements, over the last five years, in the quality of HMDs and their significant reduction in cost (e.g. the launch in 2013 of Oculus Rift™ dk1). Moreover, the second bottleneck for the large-scale development of VR-environments, the software tools, was eased with the launch of the free versions of two powerful motor engines: Unreal Engine™ and Unity™. These new software programs have permitted the rapid development of user interactions with the VR-environment, opening the way towards the design of serious games in VR immersive environments.
However, although the VR-environment will produce the effect of immersion, a second element is required to achieve high learning rates: user interactivity with the VR-environment. The use of games is the natural way to achieve high levels of interactivity. Serious Games (SGs) are activities designed to entertain users in an environment from which they can also learn and be educated and trained in well-defined areas and tasks. Unlike traditional teaching environments, where the teacher controls the learning (e.g., teacher-centered), SGs present a learner-centered approach to education. The trainee feels in control of an interactive learning process in an SG, thereby facilitating active and critical learning . Different reviews have described the use of SGs in education and training. Malegiannaki  analyzed the use of spatial games in formal education related to Cultural Heritage issues, concluding that there were still many challenges relating to effective storytelling and the evaluation of the effect on student learning performance. Ibrahim  reviewed serious games in programming education, seeking to summarize findings on initial user perceptions towards the use of games in terms of motivation and learning. In the case of training, some researchers  have pointed to the most-effective final use of these experiences, which relates to the recreation of situations that could not otherwise be done in real life, including ethical dilemmas, and dangerous and even impossible situations, in terms of time and space. But all those reviews analyzed serious games which do not use immersive VR-environments, mainly because they have only very recently been launched.
While Virtual Reality Serious Games (VR-SGs) should improve user experiences and, therefore, knowledge acquisition, it is also clear that immersive VR-environments pose new questions on the best way to design efficient serious games for such environments. The main questions that present and future research will have to answer can be directly linked with the different stages of the definition of immersive VR-SGs shown in Fig. 1.
In the first stage, two key items should be clearly defined before creating immersive VR-SGs: the target audience and the application domain. There are four key objectives for a VR-SG: interaction, immersion, user involvement and, to a lesser extent, photorealism . Each objective will play a different role depending on the target public and the application domain.
In the second stage of VR-SG design, the materials necessary for the immersive VR-SGs are created and included in the VR-environment. Different questions can be addressed: which are the best technologies to be used for the construction of the VR-environment? Which is the best game design for a certain application? If a game experience is to be a meaningful experience for players, it needs to have certain basic elements. Interactivity should therefore be designed with clarity: the required inputs and outputs, the short- and long-term goals that shape the player’s experience, a well-designed ramp for beginners to learn the ropes; and a game structure that offers genuine play, rather than quiz-style questions and answers.
Finally, the third stage consists of the evaluation of the VR-SG performance. The evaluation should take four different elements into account: 1) the key factors to be evaluated; 2) the way they are evaluated; 3) the number of individuals testing the serious game; and, 4) the existence or otherwise of a reference group. There is no clear consensus on how to evaluate serious games for educational and training tasks. For example in the case of computing education , this fact has been clearly remarked: “As a result, we can confirm that most evaluations use a simple research design in which, typically, the game is used and afterwards subjective feedback is collected via questionnaires from the learners”. The findings of Egenfeldt-Nielsen also showed that most educational games are evaluated in an ad-hoc manner. An evaluation mode that involves the administration of the game to very small validation groups of end users and then data collection, typically through the administration of a questionnaire .
Two final remarks should be added before finishing this Introduction. First, this review refers to Virtual Reality immersive serious games. Therefore, immersion should be a key factor in the research under analysis. Following this approach, many of the articles identified in a first stage of the survey were excluded from subsequent analysis, because they referred to 2D virtual reality, far removed from the concept of immersiveness that is relevant to the development of 3D HMDs.
Second, this review considers two different approaches to the learning process: the acquisition of new knowledge and the development of new skills. While the first has traditionally been seen as a combination of theory and problem-solving capability, the second has been directly related to practical skills and decision-making ability. However, there is no clear difference in the nature of the final process: learning. Therefore, this review considers both educative and training approaches to the learning process, even though they are analyzed separately, because the VR-SGs listed in the bibliography are carefully thought out, designed and evaluated from different perspectives.
The methodology followed in the literature review was composed of four stages, as shown in Fig. 2 (educational results in bold and training results in italics). First, a search in the databases was performed with the keywords (“virtual reality” OR “head-mounted display”) AND (education OR learning) for educational papers, and (“virtual reality” OR “head-mounted display”) AND (training) for training papers. Two interdisciplinary research databases were used, to ensure an exhaustive search: SCOPUS and Web of Science, both identified as suitable databases for serious games searches . The search was conducted in July 2019. Secondly, some additional references cited in the selected literature were considered, in an example of a snowball effect, as their titles clearly reflected their suitability for inclusion in the survey. Finally, the survey was extended to industrial magazines, VR/AR associations and technical congresses closer to the industry (e.g. the IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality), to identify industrial efforts to recreate VR simulators for training tasks. But most of the research from those sources contained no quantitative evaluations and was not, therefore, considered in this survey. So only 3 papers, from among the total of 52 articles identified from these sources, could be added to the final survey.
Having filtered out all duplicated papers, 6751 and 4432 articles were considered for the educational and training categories, respectively. Then, their abstracts were read, and irrelevant papers were removed considering the objective of this review. Most of the articles were excluded from the survey, because the core of their work referred to 2D virtual reality, far apart from the concept of 3D immersivity in relation the development of 3D HMDs. In any case, the search was not restricted to new 3D HMDs, so some articles on CAVEs and first-generation 3D HMDs were considered. Then, those articles that focused on VR solutions designed to enhance the recovery of patients from different illnesses and post-operative complications were filtered out, because their evaluation was focused on health indicators, rather than on learning and skills improvement. A total of 171 and 235 relevant articles were left, following that filtering process, under the two categories of education and the training, respectively.
In the fourth and final stage, the full text of each remaining article was analyzed and the articles with no final-user performance evaluation of the virtual environment were filtered out. In all, 68 [1, 3,4,5,6,7,8, 10, 11, 18, 26, 28,29,30, 33,34,35,36, 40, 45, 46, 49, 51, 60, 63,64,65,66,67,68, 76, 80, 81, 83, 86,86,87,89, 94, 97, 101, 102, 104,104,106, 110,110,111,113, 117, 118, 121,120,123, 127,126,129, 132,131,134, 138, 142, 144, 149, 150, 153, 156, 160, 164] and 67 [2, 10, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21,22,23, 25, 27, 31, 38, 39, 41,42,43, 47, 50, 52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59, 61, 70,71,72,74, 77, 78, 82, 85, 91,91,93, 95, 96, 100, 103, 107, 108, 114, 116, 119, 125, 126, 131, 135,134,137, 139, 141, 145, 147, 148, 151, 152, 154, 155, 157,156,159, 161, 163] articles were considered for both surveys, representing a good balance between education and training. This balance was unexpected, because training is only one sector of education as a whole and no immediate explanation was found. Interestingly, other authors have also found similar balances between training and learning, for instance in application to project management software . Although there was an important overlap between the articles of both categories in previous stages of the survey process, no manuscript can be considered in both categories at this final stage. The complete list of these manuscripts with their different classifications is provided in the supplementary material. The sample size in this review is comparable to reviews on similar topics, such as the 102-paper review of serious games for software project management  and the 129-paper review of empirical evidence on computer games . It is also larger than other studies that analyzed virtual educational environments (53 papers)  and the effect of spatial games for cultural heritage (34 papers) .
Some general ideas on VR-SGs can be directly extracted from the data on year of publication and the main congresses and journals in which the work was published.
Figure 3 shows the temporal evolution of the selected references. As expected, the launches of both VR hardware and software have, since 2015, boosted the number of publications on these topics, while a progressive short-term increase in such publications is still to be expected, although 2018 was an exception in this trend. The low number of articles in 2019 is directly related to the date of survey: before the annual conferences on these topics and after the publication in 2018 of only the first issues of the relevant journals. Although the growing trend is more stable in the training field, this result could change in the short term and further analysis of its evolution over coming years will contribute to a coherent conclusion.
Finally, Fig. 4 shows the distribution of the articles between journals and scientific conferences. The information leads to the direct conclusion that there is a preference for publishing training applications in journals, while educational applications are mainly presented at conferences. If a deeper analysis is done to identify the preferred journals and conferences, the result shows the absence of any established publication forums for VR-SGs. The main congresses detected in the survey for educational applications were: AHFE -Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics- (3 articles), CHI PLAY -Play, Games and Human-Computer Interaction- (2 articles), AVR -Conference on Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Computer Graphics- (2 articles) and EDUCON -IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference Engineering Education Through Student Engagement- (2 articles). The main congresses for training applications were: VAMR -International Conference on Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality- (3 articles) and MELECON -Mediterranean Electrotechnical Conference- (2 articles). Likewise, the preferred journals for educational applications in the survey were: Behavior & Information Technology (3 articles) and Virtual Reality (2 articles). The preferred journals for training applications were: IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (3 articles) and Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (2 articles). The major conferences and journals on these topics therefore included only 29% and 26% of the articles in the survey, respectively. The main reason for this result is the novelty of the topics, which fall outside the scope of established journals with high-impact scores in the Journal of Citation Reports, added to which the conferences on these topics are very recent.
Analysis of the article
The results of both surveys are arranged in this section under application domains and target public, technological implementation, game design, performance evaluation procedures and results. The aim of this analysis is the identification of factual standards or differences between the proposed solutions in both fields.
Application domain and target public
The target audience of the studies was classified into three classes: general public, students and professionals. Figure 5 presents the respective percentages of the articles in the survey that belong to those three classes. For a deeper analysis, the professionals were classified into four subclasses in the training case: teachers, health services, industry, and sports professionals.
Three conclusions may at first sight be extracted from this figure. Firstly, around one fourth of the studies (22% for educational games and 25% for training applications) belong to the class “general public”. Most papers related to VR-SGs for museums and other types of exhibitions belong to that class, where the final user is unrestricted; the papers that study the technological issues of VR and SGs also belong to this class. Secondly, more than two thirds of the educational applications are focused on students at different levels, as there is a natural correlation between students and education. There are studies for all the learning stages, from kindergarten to university, with a higher proportion of studies focused on undergraduate students. A clearly lower proportion of students is found in the training survey; most of them refer to medical applications and focus on training students in different hospital operations, see Fig. 6. Thirdly, almost half of the SG-VRs for training are specifically designed for professionals, mainly in industry and medicine, and less so in educational institutions and sports. It is interesting to note the small niche for VR-SGs to train teachers (e.g. related to the development of skills to detect bullying and to improve presentation skills).
Surprisingly, only medicine presents a significant quantity of articles in both categories (training and education). Medicine therefore appears to be a more mature domain for VR-SGs, because a broader range of final applications has been studied in that area. Unlike medicine, sports and industry only present training applications. As regards education, consideration is mainly given to either students or the general public, with undergraduate students playing a central role. Much remains to be done to find the best orientation of VR-SGs in the various final applications, as the immediate solutions of the pairs ‘education-learning’ and ‘skills-training’ have only recently been extensively applied.
Technological implementation and game design
Different technical solutions can be selected for the same application, all the more so given the diversity of VR-SGs applications and with such different target publics, as observed in previous subsections. Usually the technical solutions should be based on three choices: the visualization display, the game engine, and game typology. Figures 6, 7 and 8 show the selected HMDs, the game engine and the serious game typology presented in the survey for training and educational applications, respectively.
Figure 6 shows the selected HMDs for training and educational applications. The two branded HMDs presented in the survey -Oculus Rift (in its three versions) and HTC Vive- are the most widely used, as well as cardboards connected to smartphones. The least recent articles of the survey used Sony HMZ-T1, Nvis nvisir sx111, and Emagin z800 HMDs; these HMDs are clustered in the graph, in Fig. 6, under the class “First generation of HMDs”.
Figure 6 shows that Oculus Rift is the most common HMD (>40% of the cases), while HTC Vive is used in around 25% of the applications. The other 35% of applications in use are: 1) low-immersion solutions such as cardboards or Gear VR; 2) very expensive solutions (i.e. CAVEs); and, 3) self-designed or not stated in the article.
Figure 7 shows the selected game engine for both training and educational applications. The game engines presented in the survey were the most widely used in the gaming industry at the time of this research: Unity 3D and Unreal Engine over the last 3 years. XVRtechnology, Worldviz and Ogre3D were mainly used in older works and are clustered in the class “Old game engines”. Figure 7 shows that Unity 3D is the preferred solution, while no other motor engine exceeds 15% of mentions in the references. The most likely reasons for the widespread use of Unity 3D are its low cost and its ease of implementation with HMDs. Besides, a quarter of all the studies (25%) contain no statement of which game engines were used. They usually omit any reference to the development of the VR-SG, limiting themselves to its applications. These VR-SGs were developed by an external provider, so it may be assumed that the researchers were only interested in the application of the VR-SG to certain well-defined tasks and its effects. Finally, although the difference between educational and training solutions was not significant, the educational applications presented a higher use of Unity 3D than the training applications. The articles that describe the use of Unreal Engine were presented over the past three years, a period that coincides with its conversion to free software, which may point to stronger growth in the future for this software that stands out for its photorealistic capabilities, a key factor for training purposes for certain SGs .
Figure 8 shows the game typologies, both for the training and the educational applications, divided into four classes: explorative interaction, explorative, interactive experience and passive experience. Explorative interactions are those games that allow the user to explore and to interact freely with the virtual environment. A more restricted solution is the explorative experience, which allows free exploration of the virtual environment, although no direct interaction. The interactive experiences permit user interaction with the environment, but no free movement through it. Finally, the most restricted solution is the passive experience, in which user interactivity and movement are very limited.
The most common solution, especially for training, is the interactive experience, as shown in Fig. 8. This solution is more affordable than explorative experiences that require the complete development of the VR-environment. In the case of interactive experiences, the VR-environment will only have to be developed in high resolution in the areas where the user is permitted, while any secondary area can be roughly modelled, saving costly human and computational resources . Along the same lines, the number of explorative experiences is very limited, due to their high cost. Besides, no clear use of explorative experiences for both learning and training is evident, because the user has no clear objective in the VR-environment. They are therefore mainly used as complements rather than core educational resources in the educational process. There are very few passive experiences and they are clearly connected to the use of cardboards (see Fig. 9), in view of the useful interactive and explorative experiences provided by those devices, despite their technical limitations. Although, these solutions are not very common, they are presented here because of their very low economic cost for both creation and implementation in the classroom.
The analysis of Fig. 8 leads to the conclusion that the interactive experience is the preferred VR-SG for training and education, due to its balance between costs, technological development, immersive feeling, and potential to stimulate learning and skills improvement. Explorative experiences might be more suitable for research tasks and, although still too expensive for mass use, show a promising potential for future growth.
Figure 9 presents a detailed analysis of the correlation between the different HMDs and the VR-SGs typologies. It compares the use of each kind of 3D Display in the different typologies of VR experiences. This figure shows that explorative and explorative-interaction VR-experiences are only developed for CAVEs and high-quality HMDs such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, because of the higher computational capabilities of the workstations that control these devices. In contrast, passive experiences, as mentioned, are clearly connected to the useful interactive and explorative experiences achieved with cardboards, despite their technological limitations.
As previously outlined in the Introduction, one of the most conflicting issues in the use of serious games and VR-environments for education and training is the evaluation of the learning experience. Four different elements should be considered for this evaluation: 1) the key factors that should be evaluated; 2) the way they are evaluated; 3) the number of subjects that test the serious game; 4) and, the existence or otherwise of a reference group.
Regarding the first point, five different key factors were identified from the surveys: user satisfaction, learning rate, skills improvement, immersion and usability. Figure 10 shows the proportion of studies that evaluate these key factors. User satisfaction is not included in this figure, because all the selected articles in the survey evaluated it besides other key factors. As with the target audience, a significant difference between training and educational applications was noted: the educational applications were mainly focused on knowledge acquisition, while the training applications were designed for skills improvement. Despite this clear trend, some educational applications were also focused on skills improvement and some training applications were for knowledge acquisition. In any case, the evaluation of both skills improvement and knowledge acquisition is balanced in the survey, leading to a new question: are VR-SGs equally good for both tasks or is it just a consequence of a balanced survey between training and educational applications? Finally, studies focused on immersion and usability were very rare, although both factors could play a main role in the learning rate, as previous studies have stated . It may therefore be concluded that the researchers considered two key factors -user satisfaction and a key factor directly related to the objective of the experience (whether learning rate or skills improvement)-. However, other key factors such as immersion and usability, which have a direct correlation with a successful experience, were not considered.
In addition, the type of evaluation can generate different results, if it is not performed in a standard way. Figure 11 shows the different methods used to measure the key factors: questionnaires, interviews with users, data recordings, and direct user observation. Figure 11 shows that the questionnaire is the most common solution to evaluate knowledge acquisition in educational applications. The training applications showed a balance between the use of questionnaires and metrics on user experiences directly extracted from the recorded data. The use of the other two types of evaluation -interview with users and direct observation of the user- was very rare, as was the simultaneous use of more than one type of evaluation. In the case of the recorded data, the most common indicators were: 1) physiological data directly correlated with the proposed task, mainly in relation to medical applications; and, 2) the game score in educational applications. This group of metrics appears to be a more objective source of information than questionnaires.
Finally, the number of subjects that test the serious game will add weight to the statistical significance of the conclusions of each study. Figure 12 shows the size of the target group that tested the VR-SGs. There is a trend in the educational studies to use larger target groups than in the training studies, perhaps because the number of students available during the evaluation stage of the study was higher than the number of professionals (e.g. a degree module can have more than a hundred students in a small-medium university, while a medium-sized hospital may have fewer than 20 cardiovascular surgeons). In any case, the size of the target group was very limited compared with other educational applications, as in the case of SGs for teaching computing , where the mean average size was around 50 students. One reason might be due to the high average cost of hardware for VR-environments compared with more traditional learning methodologies.
Results of the performance evaluation
There is one common conclusion presented in all the articles under analysis: user satisfaction is higher with the VR-SG experience than with other learning methodologies. This conclusion justifies the guiding principle that higher learning rates and skills improvement can be expected from VR-SGs (implying greater engagement, interest and motivation), in comparison with traditional learning and training methods. However, this line of reasoning may only be true in some cases and all possible scenarios should be scientifically validated.
Following this first general conclusion, in each article the pros and cons of the selected technology and methodology are discussed for the corresponding final application. From this discussion, the real value of each article can be understood. Table 1 shows the main conclusions in relation to each of the articles (after removing the conclusion on the increased overall satisfaction with the VR experience). The first three rows refer to positive results: VR-SGs increased the learning rate or improved certain skills compared with other learning or practice techniques. The studies with positive results were classified at three different levels. Item number 1: studies that provided well justified conclusions. Item number 2: studies that showed preliminary results. Finally, item number 3: studies that showed potential results without sufficient justification. Consideration was given to the size of the target audience in this three-point classification and to the existence of a reference group that is taught or trained with a different methodology. These three rows (items number 1 to 3) account for 75% and 86% of the studies on education and training, respectively. Therefore, most of the studies arrived at the following conclusion: VR-SGs are a suitable tool for both educational and training objectives regardless of the technical solution.
Support for the use of VR-SGs in education and training was not forthcoming in all cases: no clear advantage for VR-SGs was observed in 6% and 5% of the studies compared with traditional methodologies. Item numbers 4 to 6 of Table 1 show the percentage of studies that achieved the same performance level for both the reference and VR-SGs group (item number 4), those that achieved worse results with the VR-SGs group (item number 5) and those that arrived at no conclusion (item number 6), mainly because of weaknesses in the experimental design. The proposed tasks for these VR-SGs should be analyzed in detail to understand those negative conclusions. In the educational field, two kinds of VR-SGs showed lower learning rates: those that shared supplementary medical knowledge with undergraduate students and those designed to impart abstract scientific concepts on the curricula of Bachelor degrees. Even though the studies demonstrated lower learning rates than traditional teaching methodologies, they also identified higher levels of motivation, engagement and interest among the students. Lower skills improvements were noted with VR-SGs rather than 2D-screen simulators, in the case of simulators for training, driving, navigation, and pedestrian behavior. Those lower levels of improvement might be due to the low levels of experience with HMD setups among users. Therefore, the use of VR-SGs still has to be optimized in relation to very abstract concepts and skills that require extensive movements within a 3D environment. Finally, around 10% of the studies (shown in Table 1 and Fig. 11) were focused on the evaluation of usability and immersion with no measurement of learning or training goals.
Advancing with this analysis, some conclusions on VR-SG experiences and their impact on training and education can be outlined. Nevertheless, the marked differences between the target audiences and the fields of application of the papers that were surveyed complicate any statistical conclusions on those issues. Regarding their educational impact, most research works pointed (in order of importance) to: 1) the main advantage of these solutions for communicating visually acquired knowledge; 2) greater student motivation when working in a VR-environment rather than in a traditional one; and, 3) the synergies with traditional teaching methodologies, focusing each methodology on different learning topics (e.g. traditional teaching can be used to empower the relationship between different concepts presented in VR-environments with extensive discussions between students moderated by the teacher).
Regarding the impact on training, most studies have (in order of importance) pointed out that: 1) VR-SG solutions have a very interesting cost-effective relation (highly accurate learning, low learning times, high visualization and understanding…); 2) the immediate transfer of behavioral skills in VR-environments to the real world; and, 3) the potential to heighten learning skills in a risk-free environment. Finally, research from both fields has outlined that the impact on training is often measured among final users whose experience of VR-environments and interfaces is very limited. They expect that the impact of VR-SGs will be much higher in the short-term, as those devices permeate daily life and the final users will become familiar with them before any learning/training experiences. The same argument (low user familiarity with VR devices and interfaces) was also mentioned in the studies with negative results for VR-SG solutions as a possible explanation for their poor performance.
Future research lines
Different future research lines have been proposed in the articles included in the two surveys: some directly in the present Section and some identified in the discussion of the “Results” Section. Besides, the analysis of the surveys, presented in Sections 3 and 4, raises some open questions.
One of the most demanding improvements proposed in the survey is the use of robust evaluation methods that will increase confidence in the results. This comment has already appeared in the first reviews on Virtual Reality applied to teaching ten years ago . In many cases, the studies used no reference group at all, because they drew no comparison between the performance of their VR-SGs and other learning methodologies. However, most of the study cases with a reference group tested the VR-SGs in target and reference groups of very limited size. Therefore, the enlargement of the size of both groups would be advisable in the future to achieve conclusions with a degree of statistical significance. This lack of comparison or the limited size of testing groups is also mentioned in similar reviews on the analysis of the educational use of video games , SGs for learning software project management , and spatial games for Cultural Heritage topics . Besides, most studies used only one of the following evaluation procedures: questionnaires, user interviews, data recording, and direct user observation. A combination of two of these procedures, especially questionnaires and indicators extracted from data recording, would also increase confidence in the results, especially if standardized questionnaires were created. This strategy would increase the validity and reliability of the conclusions, as others authors have pointed out . The definition of new indicators that are directly connected to learning rates is necessary, in relation to the indicators taken from recorded data. Up until the present, the proposed indicators have only shown a solid relation with the proposed performance of the task in medical applications, while the SG score is the only indicator considered in the educational applications.
Besides, although four different key factors (learning rate, skill improvement, immersion and usability) were identified in this review, only one key factor was measured in the studies under analysis. The development of study cases that evaluate up to three of them would be of great interest, combining learning improvements, immersion and usability. In this way, it will be possible to reach new conclusions on the correlation between the design parameters of the VR-SGs and the learning goals, as other authors have outlined for similar tasks, such as spatial games for cultural heritage  and ball-based sports improvement . Besides, design strategies of VR-SGs may be identified in this way. For instance, VR-SGs have some way to go, before they reach an optimal level of use for teaching very abstract concepts and training skills that require complex movements in a 3D environment. Along those lines, comparative studies of VR-SG efficiency are needed between final users with extensive experience of video-gaming and users whose interests are unrelated to such games.
The two surveys raised some open questions on the best design strategies of the VR-SGs for different learning objectives and final applications. First, are VR-SGs equally efficient at presenting learning tasks and at skills improvement? In those reviews, the VR-SG applications are balanced between skills improvement and knowledge acquisition, although there was no clear evidence that VR-SGs were equally effective at both tasks; a conclusion that arises from the balanced structure of both surveys. Second, has the best design of VR-SGs already been identified for each type of final application? Very few VR-SGs have been designed for skills improvement in education and for knowledge acquisition in industrial tasks (like industry, sports or medicine). In other words, there are very few applications in some fields where VR-SGs might be very effective, but where these applications are not so immediate or expected. Therefore, an effort of imagination and open-thinking will be required to find the best design of VR-SGs in many final applications. Third, should the VR-SGs be embedded in a much lengthier learning process? Nowadays VR-SGs are presented as isolated learning experiences, where previously acquired knowledge can be applied to new problems, exercised in new contexts, thereby motivating students to seek further information. However, no correlation with other learning methodologies exists, nor is there a broader learning process and the main roles to play in this scenario.
There are also strong budget limitations on the VR-SGs analyzed in this study. Up until now, user satisfaction with these experiences has been high, certainly due in part to their novelty. In the near future, the development of a broad offer of VR-commercial games will mean more demanding end-users towards final VR-SG quality. Therefore, the development of low-cost high-visual quality methodologies for the design of VR-environments will be a clear requirement. Along the same lines, VR-SGs based on explorative interaction experiences have, up until the present, been very rare, due to their higher costs. Nevertheless, those experiences might provide higher learning rates than other VR-SG typologies and their use has a strong growth potential that should be studied.
Budget limitations have other consequence for the development of VR-SGs: VR-experiences tend to be very short and short exposure times to knowledge clearly limits the learning rate . Short viewing times were expected in the past, due in part to the immaturity of HMD technology that caused VR sickness syndrome . But those problems now appear to have been resolved with the new generation of HMDs and new strategies for user interaction with the VR-environment . Besides, if longer VR-experiences are developed, the learning time can be considered a key factor and effective time ranges for different learning tasks can be done. However, lengthier VR-SG experiences will depend on two new requirements: 1) a multidisciplinary team with specific skill sets, unlike most of the academic research groups working on these issues; and, 2) the development of rich storytelling VR-SGs with a clear orientation towards the final objective of the learning experience. The absence of oriented storytelling is especially clear in the 10% of studies that concluded that VR provided no improvements, although no clear learning objective was identified in those VR-SGs. The same weakness was also mentioned in the context of spatial games for the teaching of Cultural Heritage .
Finally, Fig. 13 presents a visual summary of the main characteristics of immersive VR-SGs and their application collected in the survey for both education and training tasks. Each of the largest circles is split into four quarters, one for each characteristic of the VR-SGs: target audience, type of game, type of evaluation, and key factors to consider. The surface of each smaller circle is proportional to the number of papers included in each category. The color coding is as follows: red refers to the most common solution nowadays, grey to secondary solutions, and yellow is used for the solutions that appear to be the most promising in the near future.
In the field of education, the majority of the target audience are students, especially university students, perhaps because VR-SGs are easily accessible through university research groups. Interactive experiences evaluated by means of questionnaires, through which knowledge acquisition can be ranked, are perhaps the most balanced means of assessment. However, the development of immersive VR-SGs in the near future will be very different, once they enter into mass production and become affordable products; significant growth is expected for primary school applications and general applications for the public. VR-SGs will be explorative-interactive experiences, due to their greater effectiveness in relation to different audiences and the evaluation will include additional key factors, especially immersion, using various evaluation procedures: from questionnaires to recorded data on personal performance throughout the experience.
With regard to training courses, most target audiences are industrial workers, perhaps due to the high budgets in this sector for training new employees and the imperative need for risk prevention in the workplace. In this field, the interactive experience evaluated by means of recorded data, where skills improvement can be measured, appears to be the most balanced solution. But, significant growth of applications for both students and teachers is likely in the near future; VR-SG will become an explorative-interactive experience and the evaluation will include more key factors, especially complex skills performance and immersion, using different evaluation procedures: from questionnaires to recorded data.
Immersive Virtual Reality Serious Games, if they are not already, will soon be capable of changing the way we perform many learning and training tasks. The technology and therefore the potential of both presence and immersion to boost VR learning processes is advancing at a rapid pace. Nevertheless, a lot of research work remains to be done, before these changes may be introduced at all stages of a learning procedure: from design strategies to the evaluation of key factors. In this review, 86 articles on VR-SGs for education or training have been analyzed. Thousands of papers that might appear to be related to immersive VR-SGs are stored on the main scientific databases. However, the limited size of the sample is because most papers, neither refer to non-immersive solutions, such as 2D virtual reality worlds, nor include a performance evaluation of the VR-environment with final users. Evaluation therefore remains a critical issue to assure reasonable conclusions related to learning rates. The survey analysis has resulted in the following conclusions:
The launch of new high-quality affordable hardware and software media for VR has, since 2015, boosted the number of publications on these topics. A progressive short-term increase in such publications can still be expected. Although there is a lack of well-established publication forums for VR-SGs, there is a preference for training applications to be published in journals, while educational applications are mainly presented in conferences.
VR-SG applications that involve learning and knowledge dissemination have, up until now, been considered for educational purposes, while the applications for industry and sports are still restricted to skills training. Some niches for VR-SGs to be used for training at educational institutions have been identified, such as sensitivity to bullying and motivating presentations for teachers. Medicine seems to be a very mature sector and both kinds of applications (skills improvement and knowledge acquisition) have been developed for hospital staff. Finally, important work remains to be done in the sports and industry sectors to prepare educational VR-SGs of interest that will assist professionals in acquiring the knowledge that they will require.
Oculus Rift was preferred as an HMD rather than HTC Vive, especially in education, perhaps because of its lower price and easier configuration. On the other hand, HTC Vive was slightly preferred for training, certainly because of its better capabilities in video games of the explorative interaction type.
Unity 3D was the preferred game engine, perhaps due to its reliable documentation and easy implementation with HMDs. Use of Unreal Engine in training applications, although in a minority, was of slightly greater significance. One reason might be that Unreal Engine renders more realistic virtual environments than Unity 3D, a key factor for certain VR-SGs that are applied to training.
The interactive experience is the preferred VR-SG for training and education, due to its balance between costs, nowadays-technological development, immersion feeling and the possibilities that users have of learning and improving their skills. Explorative experiences might be more suitable for research tasks. Finally, passive experiences, although very economic, are very limited and rarely achieve significant learning and skill improvements.
Two key factors were usually considered: user satisfaction and an indicator related to the objective of the experience (whether learning rate or skills improvement). Only rarely were other key factors such as immersion and usability considered. Key factors directly related to the user experience should be considered, to assure the success of the VR-experience, and their correlation with the learning rates should be measured.
Explorative and explorative interaction VR-experiences were only developed for CAVEs and high-quality HMDs, because of the higher computational capabilities of the workstations that control these devices. In contrast, passive experiences were clearly connected to the use of cardboards, because of their technological limitations.
Four different types of evaluation systems were found in the survey, although only two played a main role: questionnaires and recorded data. Questionnaires were the most common solution to evaluate knowledge acquisition in educational applications. In training applications, the use of questionnaires was balanced by metrics from the recorded data that were directly related to the user experience. Only very rarely were two types of evaluation procedures used in the same evaluation process.
The target audience was usually of a very limited size, due to the high cost of the hardware compared with the more-conventional teaching solutions. The reference group, if one existed at all, had the same limitation; a fact that limited the emergence of rigorous conclusions from those studies.
A common conclusion in all the articles that were surveyed was the higher user satisfaction with the VR-SG experience than with other learning methodologies. This conclusion was used to justify higher learning rates or skills improvement with VR-SGs rather than with traditional learning and training methodologies.
Only 30% of the studies really demonstrated that VR-SGs enhanced learning and training in their respective domains, while no clear advantage was observed in 10% of the studies with regard to the use of VR-SGs compared with conventional methodologies. This result shows that VR-SGs are still a very open research topic for learning and training.
Nowadays, most of the final users enjoy the experience, but are not sufficiently familiar with the interfaces to benefit from the full potential for learning and training. The design of VR-SGs should therefore include an extensive pre-training stage, in which students gain sufficient skills through their interaction with the VR-environment.
The proposed lines of future research lead us to suggest that immersive VR-SGs will measure many key factors of a different nature within large user groups compared with a significant reference group. These experiences will belong to the explorative interaction experiences category and will be systematically integrated in standard learning programs. Finally, some of the most promising VR-SGs will belong to certain fields of application where potential effectiveness is high, even though they are not frequently employed nowadays.
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American video game developer
This article is about the video game developer. For the geodata software editor, see iD (software).
id Software LLC () is an American video game developer based in Richardson, Texas. It was founded on February 1, 1991, by four members of the computer company Softdisk: programmersJohn Carmack and John Romero, game designerTom Hall, and artist Adrian Carmack.
id Software made important technological developments in video game technologies for the PC (running MS-DOS and Windows), including work done for the Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake franchises. id's work was particularly important in 3D computer graphics technology and in game engines that are used throughout the video game industry. The company was involved in the creation of the first-person shooter (FPS) genre: Wolfenstein 3D is often considered to be the first true FPS; Doom is a game that popularized the genre and PC gaming in general; and Quake was id's first true 3D FPS.
On June 24, 2009, ZeniMax Media acquired the company. In 2015, they opened a second studio in Frankfurt, Germany.
The founders of id Software – John Carmack, John Romero, and Tom Hall – met in the offices of Softdisk developing multiple games for Softdisk's monthly publishing, including Dangerous Dave. Along with another Softdisk employee, Lane Roathe, they had formed a small group they called Ideas from the Deep (IFD), a name that Romero and Roathe had come up with. In September 1990, Carmack developed an efficient way to rapidly side-scroll graphics on the PC. Upon making this breakthrough, Carmack and Hall stayed up late into the night making a replica of the first level of the popular 1988 NES game Super Mario Bros. 3, inserting stock graphics of Romero's Dangerous Dave character in lieu of Mario. When Romero saw the demo, entitled Dangerous Dave in Copyright Infringement, he realized that Carmack's breakthrough could have potential. The IFD team moonlighted over a week and over two weekends to create a larger demo of their PC version of Super Mario Bros. 3. They sent their work to Nintendo. According to Romero, Nintendo had told them that the demo was impressive, but "they didn't want their intellectual property on anything but their own hardware, so they told us Good Job and You Can't Do This". While the pair had not readily shared the demo though acknowledged its existence in the years since, a working copy of the demo was discovered in July 2021 and preserved at the Museum of Play.
Around the same time in 1990, Scott Miller of Apogee Software learned of the group and their exceptional talent, having played one of Romero's Softdisk games, Dangerous Dave, and contacted Romero under the guise of multiple fan letters that Romero came to realize all originated from the same address. When he confronted Miller, Miller explained that the deception was necessary since Softdisk screened letters it received. Although disappointed by not actually having received mail from multiple fans, Romero and other Softdisk developers began proposing ideas to Miller. One of these was Commander Keen, a side-scrolling game that incorporated the previous work they had done on the Super Mario Bros. 3 demonstration. The first Commander Keen game, Commander Keen in Invasion of the Vorticons, was released through Apogee in December 1990, which became a very successful shareware game. After their first royalty check, Romero, Carmack, and Adrian Carmack (no relation) decided to start their own company. After hiring Hall, the group finished the Commander Keen series, then hired Jay Wilbur and Kevin Cloud and began working on Wolfenstein 3D. id Software was officially founded by Romero, John and Adrian Carmack and Hall on February 1, 1991. The name "id" came out of their previous IFD; Roathe had left the group, and they opted to drop the "F" to leave "id". They initially used "id" as an initialism for "In Demand", but by the time of the fourth Commander Keen game, they opted to let "id" stand out "as a cool word", according to Romero.
The shareware distribution method was initially employed by id Software through Apogee Software to sell their products, such as the Commander Keen, Wolfenstein and Doom games. They would release the first part of their trilogy as shareware, then sell the other two installments by mail order. Only later (about the time of the release of Doom II) did id Software release their games via more traditional shrink-wrapped boxes in stores (through other game publishers).
After Wolfenstein 3D's great success, id began working on Doom. After Hall left the company, Sandy Petersen and Dave Taylor were hired before the release of Doom in December 1993.
The end of the classic lineup
Quake was released on June 22, 1996 and was considered a difficult game to develop due to creative differences. Animosity grew within the company and it caused a conflict between Carmack and Romero, which led the latter to leave id after the game's release. Soon after, other staff left the company as well such as Abrash, Shawn Green, Jay Wilbur, Petersen and Mike Wilson. Petersen claimed in July 2021 that the lack of a team leader was the cause of it all. In fact, he volunteered to take lead as he had five years of experience as project manager in MicroProse but he was turned down by Carmack.
ZeniMax Media and Microsoft
On June 24, 2009, it was announced that id Software had been acquired by ZeniMax Media (owner of Bethesda Softworks). The deal would eventually affect publishing deals id Software had before the acquisition, namely Rage, which was being published through Electronic Arts. ZeniMax received in July a $105 million investment from StrongMail Systems for the id acquisition, it's unknown if that was the exact price of the deal. id Software moved from the "cube-shaped" Mesquite office to a location in Richardson, Texas during the spring of 2011.
On June 26, 2013, id Software president Todd Hollenshead quit after 17 years of service.
On November 22, 2013, it was announced id Software co-founder and Technical Director John Carmack had fully resigned from the company to work full-time at Oculus VR which he joined as CTO in August 2013. He was the last of the original founders to leave the company.
Tim Willits left the company in 2019. ZeniMax Media was acquired by Microsoft for US$7.5 billion in March 2021 and became part of Xbox Game Studios.
The company writes its name with a lowercase id, which is pronounced as in "did" or "kid", and, according to the book Masters of Doom, the group identified itself as "Ideas from the Deep" in the early days of Softdisk but that, in the end, the name 'id' came from the phrase "in demand". Disliking "in demand" as "lame", someone suggested a connection with Sigmund Freud's psychological concept of id, which the others accepted. Evidence of the reference can be found as early as Wolfenstein 3D with the statement "that's id, as in the id, ego, and superego in the psyche" appearing in the game's documentation. Prior to an update to the website, id's History page made a direct reference to Freud.
Former key employees
Arranged in chronological order:
- Tom Hall — Co-founder, game designer, level designer, writer, creative director (1991–1993). After a dispute with John Carmack over the designs of Doom, Hall was forced to resign from id Software in August 1993. He joined 3D Realms soon afterwards.
- Bobby Prince — Music composer (1991–1994). A freelance musician who went on to pursue other projects after Doom II.
- Dave Taylor — Programmer (1993–1996). Taylor left id Software and co-founded Crack dot Com.
- John Romero — Co-founder, game designer, programmer (1991–1996). Romero resigned on August 6, 1996. He established Ion Storm along with Hall on November 15, 1996.
- Michael Abrash — Programmer (1995–1996). Returned to Microsoft after the release of Quake.
- Shawn Green — Software support (1991–1996). Left id Software to join Romero at Ion Storm.
- Jay Wilbur — Business manager (1991–1997). Left id Software after Romero's departure and joined Epic Games in 1997.
- Sandy Petersen — Level designer (1993–1997). Left id Software for Ensemble Studios in 1997.
- Mike Wilson — PR and marketing (1994–1997). Left id Software to become CEO of Ion Storm with Romero. Left a year later to found Gathering of Developers and later Devolver Digital.
- American McGee — Level designer (1993–1998). McGee was fired after the release of Quake II. He joined Electronic Arts and created American McGee's Alice.
- Adrian Carmack — Co-founder, artist (1991–2005). Carmack was forced out of id Software after the release of Doom 3 because he would not sell his stock at a low price to the other owners. Adrian sued id Software and the lawsuit was settled during the Zenimax acquisition in 2009.
- Todd Hollenshead — President (1996–2013) Left id Software on good terms to work at Nerve Software.
- John Carmack — Co-founder, technical director (1991–2013). He joined Oculus VR on August 7, 2013, as a side project, but unable to handle two companies at the same time, Carmack resigned from id Software on November 22, 2013, to pursue Oculus full-time, making him the last founding member to leave the company.
- Tim Willits — Level designer (1995– 2001), creative director (2002–2011), studio director (2012–2019) He is now the chief creative officer at Saber Interactive.
Starting with their first shareware game series, Commander Keen, id Software has licensed the core source code for the game, or what is more commonly known as the engine. Brainstormed by John Romero, id Software held a weekend session titled "The id Summer Seminar" in the summer of 1991 with prospective buyers including Scott Miller, George Broussard, Ken Rogoway, Jim Norwood and Todd Replogle. One of the nights, id Software put together an impromptu game known as "Wac-Man" to demonstrate not only the technical prowess of the Keen engine, but also how it worked internally.
id Software has developed their own game engine for each of their titles when moving to the next technological milestone, including Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, ShadowCaster,Doom, Quake, Quake II, and Quake III, as well as the technology used in making Doom 3. After being used first for id Software's in-house game, the engines are licensed out to other developers. According to Eurogamer.net, "id Software has been synonymous with PC game engines since the concept of a detached game engine was first popularized". During the mid to late 1990s, "the launch of each successive round of technology it's been expected to occupy a headlining position", with the Quake III engine being most widely adopted of their engines. However id Tech 4 had far fewer licensees than the Unreal Engine from Epic Games, due to the long development time that went into Doom 3 which id Software had to release before licensing out that engine to others.
Despite his enthusiasm for open source code, Carmack revealed in 2011 that he had no interest in licensing the technology to the mass market. Beginning with Wolfenstein 3D, he felt bothered when third-party companies started "pestering" him to license the id tech engine, adding that he wanted to focus on new technology instead of providing support to existing ones. He felt very strongly that this was not why he signed up to be a game programmer for; to be "holding the hands" of other game developers. Carmack commended Epic Games for pursuing the licensing to the market beginning with Unreal Engine 3. Even though the said company has gained more success with its game engine than id Software over the years, Carmack had no regrets by his decision and continued to focus on open source until his departure from the company in 2013.
In conjunction with his self-professed affinity for sharing source code, John Carmack has open-sourced most of the major id Software engines under the GNU General Public License. Historically, the source code for each engine has been released once the code base is 5 years old. Consequently, many home grown projects have sprung up porting the code to different platforms, cleaning up the source code, or providing major modifications to the core engine. Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake engine ports are ubiquitous to nearly all platforms capable of running games, such as hand-held PCs, iPods, the PSP, the Nintendo DS and more. Impressive core modifications include DarkPlaces which adds stencil shadow volumes into the original Quake engine along with a more efficient network protocol. Another such project is ioquake3, which maintains a goal of cleaning up the source code, adding features and fixing bugs. Even earlier id Software code, namely for Hovertank 3D and Catacomb 3D, was released in June 2014 by Flat Rock Software.
The GPL release of the Quake III engine's source code was moved from the end of 2004 to August 2005 as the engine was still being licensed to commercial customers who would otherwise be concerned over the sudden loss in value of their recent investment.
On August 4, 2011, John Carmack revealed during his QuakeCon 2011 keynote that they will be releasing the source code of the Doom 3 engine (id Tech 4) during the year.
id Software publicly stated they would not support the Wii console (possibly due to technical limitations), although they have since indicated that they may release titles on that platform (although it would be limited to their games released during the 1990s). They did the same thing with the Wii U but for Nintendo Switch, they collaborated with Panic Button starting with 2016's Doom and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.
Since id Software revealed their engine id Tech 5, they call their engines "id Tech", followed by a version number. Older engines have retroactively been renamed to fit this scheme, with the Doom engine as id Tech 1.
id Software was an early pioneer in the Linux gaming market, and id Software's Linux games have been some of the most popular of the platform. Many id Software games won the Readers' and Editors' Choice awards of Linux Journal. Some id Software titles ported to Linux are Doom (the first id Software game to be ported), Quake, Quake II, Quake III Arena, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Doom 3, Quake 4, and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. Since id Software and some of its licensees released the source code for some of their previous games, several games which were not ported (such as Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of Destiny, Heretic, Hexen, Hexen II, and Strife) can run on Linux and other operating systems natively through the use of source ports. Quake Live also launched with Linux support, although this, alongside OS X support, was later removed when changed to a standalone title.
The tradition of porting to Linux was first started by Dave D. Taylor, with David Kirsch doing some later porting. Since Quake III Arena, Linux porting had been handled by Timothee Besset. The majority of all id Tech 4 games, including those made by other developers, have a Linux client available, the only current exceptions being Wolfenstein and Brink. Similarly, almost all of the games utilizing the Quake II engine have Linux ports, the only exceptions being those created by Ion Storm (Daikatana later received a community port). Despite fears by the Linux gaming community that id Tech 5 would not be ported to that platform, Timothee Besset in his blog stated "I'll be damned if we don't find the time to get Linux builds done". Besset explained that id Software's primary justification for releasing Linux builds was better code quality, along with a technical interest in the platform. However, on January 26, 2012, Besset announced that he had left id.
John Carmack has expressed his stance with regard to Linux builds in the past. In December 2000 Todd Hollenshead expressed support for Linux: "All said, we will continue to be a leading supporter of the Linux platform because we believe it is a technically sound OS and is the OS of choice for many server ops." However, on April 25, 2012, Carmack revealed that "there are no plans for a native Linux client" of id's most recent game, Rage. In February 2013, Carmack argued for improving emulation as the "proper technical direction for gaming on Linux", though this was also due to ZeniMax's refusal to support "unofficial binaries", given all prior ports (except for Quake III Arena, via Loki Software, and earlier versions of Quake Live) having only ever been unofficial. Carmack didn't mention official games Quake: The Offering and Quake II: Colossus ported by id Software to Linux and published by Macmillan Computer Publishing USA.
Despite no longer releasing native binaries, id has been an early adopter of Stadia, a cloud gaming service powered by Debian Linux servers, and the cross-platform Vulkan API.
Main article: List of id Software games
Main article: Commander Keen
Commander Keen in Invasion of the Vorticons, a platform game in the style of those for the Nintendo Entertainment System, was one of the first MS-DOS games with smooth horizontal-scrolling. Published by Apogee Software, the title and follow-ups brought id Software success as a shareware developer. It is the series of id Software that designer Tom Hall is most affiliated with. The first Commander Keen trilogy was released on December 14, 1990.
Main article: Wolfenstein (series)
The company's breakout product was released on May 5, 1992: Wolfenstein 3D, a first-person shooter (FPS) with smooth 3D graphics that were unprecedented in computer games, and with violent gameplay that many gamers found engaging. After essentially founding an entire genre with this game, id Software created Doom, Doom II: Hell on Earth, Quake, Quake II, Quake III Arena, Quake 4, and Doom 3. Each of these first-person shooters featured progressively higher levels of graphical technology. Wolfenstein 3D spawned a prequel and a sequel: the prequel called Spear of Destiny, and the second, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, using the id Tech 3engine. A third Wolfenstein sequel, simply titled Wolfenstein, was released by Raven Software, using the id Tech 4engine. Another sequel, named Wolfenstein: The New Order; was developed by MachineGames using the id Tech 5 engine and released in 2014, with it getting a prequel by the name of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood a year later; followed by a direct sequel titled Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus in 2017.
Main article: Doom (franchise)
Eighteen months after their release of Wolfenstein 3D, on December 10, 1993, id Software released Doom which would again set new standards for graphic quality and graphic violence in computer gaming. Doom featured a sci-fi/horror setting with graphic quality that had never been seen on personal computers or even video game consoles. Doom became a cultural phenomenon and its violent theme would eventually launch a new wave of criticism decrying the dangers of violence in video games. Doom was ported to numerous platforms, inspired many knock-offs, and was eventually followed by the technically similar Doom II: Hell on Earth. id Software made its mark in video game history with the shareware release of Doom, and eventually revisited the theme of this game in 2004 with their release of Doom 3. John Carmack said in an interview at QuakeCon 2007 that there would be a Doom 4. It began development on May 7, 2008.Doom 2016, the fourth installation of the Doom series, was released on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on May 13, 2016, and was later released on Nintendo Switch on November 10, 2017. In June 2018, the sequel to the 2016 Doom, Doom Eternal was officially announced at E3 2018 with a teaser trailer, followed by a gameplay reveal at QuakeCon in August 2018.
Main article: Quake (series)
On June 22, 1996, the release of Quake marked the third milestone in id Software history. Quake combined a cutting edge fully 3D engine, the Quake engine, with a distinctive art style to create critically acclaimed graphics for its time. Audio was not neglected either, having recruited Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor to facilitate unique sound effects and ambient music for the game. (A small homage was paid to Nine Inch Nails in the form of the band's logo appearing on the ammunition boxes for the nailgun weapon.) It also included the work of Michael Abrash. Furthermore, Quake's main innovation, the capability to play a deathmatch (competitive gameplay between living opponents instead of against computer-controlled characters) over the Internet (especially through the add-on QuakeWorld), seared the title into the minds of gamers as another smash hit.
In 2008, id Software was honored at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for the pioneering work Quake represented in user modifiable games. id Software is the only game development company ever honored twice by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, having been given an Emmy Award in 2007 for creation of the 3D technology that underlies modern shooter video games.
The Quake series continued with Quake II in 1997. Activision purchased a 49% stake in id Software, making it a second party which took publishing duties until 2009. However, the game is not a storyline sequel, and instead focuses on an assault on an alien planet, Stroggos, in retaliation for Strogg attacks on Earth. Most of the subsequent entries in the Quake franchise follow this storyline. Quake III Arena (1999), the next title in the series, has minimal plot, but centers around the "Arena Eternal", a gladiatorial setting created by an alien race known as the Vadrigar and populated by combatants plucked from various points in time and space. Among these combatants are some characters either drawn from or based on those in Doom ("Doomguy"), Quake (Ranger, Wrack), and Quake II (Bitterman, Tank Jr., Grunt, Stripe). Quake IV (2005) picks up where Quake II left off – finishing the war between the humans and Strogg. The spin-off Enemy Territory: Quake Wars acts as a prequel to Quake II, when the Strogg first invade Earth. Quake IV and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars were made by outside developers and not id.
There have also been other spin-offs such as Quake Mobile in 2005 and Quake Live, an internet browser based modification of Quake III. A game called Quake Arena DS was planned and canceled for the Nintendo DS. John Carmack stated, at QuakeCon 2007, that the id Tech 5 engine would be used for a new Quake game.
Main article: Rage (video game)
Todd Hollenshead announced in May 2007 that id Software had begun working on an all new series that would be using a new engine. Hollenshead also mentioned that the title would be completely developed in-house, marking the first game since 2004's Doom 3 to be done so. At 2007's WWDC, John Carmack showed the new engine called id Tech 5. Later that year, at QuakeCon 2007, the title of the new game was revealed as Rage.
On July 14, 2008, id Software announced at the 2008 E3 event that they would be publishing Rage through Electronic Arts, and not id's longtime publisher Activision. However, since then ZeniMax has also announced that they are publishing Rage through Bethesda Softworks.
On August 12, 2010, during Quakecon 2010, id Software announced Rage US ship date of September 13, 2011, and a European ship date of September 15, 2011. During the keynote, id Software also demonstrated a Rage spin-off title running on the iPhone. This technology demo later became Rage HD.
On May 14, 2018, Bethesda Softworks announced Rage 2, a co-development between id Software and Avalanche Studios.
During its early days, id Software produced much more varied games; these include the early 3D first-person shooter experiments that led to Wolfenstein 3D and Doom – Hovertank 3D and Catacomb 3D. There was also the Rescue Rover series, which had two games – Rescue Rover and Rescue Rover 2. Also there was John Romero's Dangerous Dave series, which included such notables as the tech demo (In Copyright Infringement) which led to the Commander Keen engine, and the decently popular Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion. In the Haunted Mansion was powered by the same engine as the earlier id Software game Shadow Knights, which was one of the several games written by id Software to fulfill their contractual obligation to produce games for Softdisk, where the id Software founders had been employed. id Software has also overseen several games using its technology that were not made in one of their IPs such as ShadowCaster, (early-id Tech 1), Heretic, Hexen: Beyond Heretic (id Tech 1), Hexen II (Quake engine), and Orcs and Elves (Doom RPG engine).
id Software has also published novels based on the Doom series Doom novels. After a brief hiatus from publishing, id resumed and re-launched the novel series in 2008 with Matthew J. Costello's (a story consultant for Doom 3 and now Rage) new Doom 3 novels: Worlds on Fire and Maelstrom.
id Software became involved in film development when they oversaw the film adaption of their Doom franchise in 2005. In August 2007, Todd Hollenshead stated at QuakeCon 2007 that a Return to Castle Wolfenstein movie is in development which re-teams the Silent Hill writer/producer team, Roger Avary as writer and director and Samuel Hadida as producer. A new Doom film, titled Doom: Annihilation, was released in 2019, although id itself stressed its lack of involvement.
id Software was the target of controversy over two of their most popular games, Doom and the earlier Wolfenstein 3D:
Doom was notorious for its high levels of gore and occultism along with satanic imagery, which generated controversy from a broad range of groups. Yahoo! Games listed it as one of the top ten most controversial games of all time.
The game again sparked controversy throughout a period of school shootings in the United States when it was found that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who committed the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, were avid players of the game. While planning for the massacre, Harris said that the killing would be "like playing Doom", and "it'll be like the LA riots, the Oklahoma bombing, World War II, Vietnam, Duke Nukem and Doom all mixed together", and that his shotgun was "straight out of the game". A rumor spread afterwards that Harris had designed a Doom level that looked like the high school, populated with representations of Harris's classmates and teachers, and that Harris practiced for his role in the shootings by playing the level over and over. Although Harris did design Doom levels, none of them were based on Columbine High School.
While Doom and other violent video games have been blamed for nationally covered school shootings, 2008 research featured by Greater Good Science Center shows that the two are not closely related. Harvard Medical School researchers Cheryl Olson and Lawrence Kutner found that violent video games did not correlate to school shootings. The United States Secret Service and United States Department of Education analyzed 37 incidents of school violence and sought to develop a profile of school shooters; they discovered that the most common traits among shooters were that they were male and had histories of depression and attempted suicide. While many of the killers—like the vast majority of young teenage boys—did play video games, this study did not find a relationship between gameplay and school shootings. In fact, only one-eighth of the shooters showed any special interest in violent video games, far less than the number of shooters who seemed attracted to books and movies with violent content.
As for Wolfenstein 3D, due to its use of Nazi symbols such as the swastika and the anthem of the Nazi Party, Horst-Wessel-Lied, as theme music, the PC version of the game was withdrawn from circulation in Germany in 1994, following a verdict by the Amtsgericht München on January 25, 1994. Despite the fact that Nazis are portrayed as the enemy in Wolfenstein, the use of those symbols is a federal offense in Germany unless certain circumstances apply. Similarly, the Atari Jaguar version was confiscated following a verdict by the Amtsgericht Berlin Tiergarten on December 7, 1994.
Due to concerns from Nintendo of America, the Super NES version was modified to not include any swastikas or Nazi references; furthermore, blood was replaced with sweat to make the game seem less violent, and the attack dogs in the game were replaced by giant mutant rats. Employees of id Software are quoted in The Official DOOM Player Guide about the reaction to Wolfenstein, claiming it to be ironic that it was morally acceptable to shoot people and rats, but not dogs. Two new weapons were added as well. The Super NES version was not as successful as the PC version.
In 2003, the book Masters of Doom chronicled the development of id Software, concentrating on the personalities and interaction of John Carmack and John Romero. Below are the key people involved with id's success.
Main article: John Carmack
Carmack's skill at 3Dprogramming is widely recognized in the software industry and from its inception, he was id's lead programmer. On August 7, 2013, he joined Oculus VR, a company developing virtual reality headsets, and left id Software on November 22, 2013.
Main article: John Romero
John Romero saw the horizontal scrolling demo Dangerous Dave in Copyright Infringement and immediately had the idea to form id Software on September 20, 1990. Romero pioneered the game engine licensing business with his "id Summer Seminar" in 1991 where the Keen4 engine was licensed to Apogee for Biomenace. John also worked closely with the DOOM community and was the face of id to its fans. One success of this engagement was the fan-made game Final DOOM, published in 1996. John also created the control scheme for the FPS, and the abstract level design style of DOOM that influenced many 3D games that came after it. John added par times to Wolfenstein 3D, and then DOOM, which started the phenomenon of Speedrunning. Romero wrote almost all the tools that enabled id Software and many others to develop games with id Software's technology. Romero was forced to resign in 1996 after the release of Quake, then later formed the company Ion Storm. There, he became infamous through the development of Daikatana, which was received negatively from reviewers and gamers alike upon release. Afterward, Romero co-founded The Guildhall in Dallas, Texas, served as chairman of the CPL eSports league, created an MMORPG publisher and developer named Gazillion Entertainment, created a hit Facebook game named Ravenwood Fair that garnered 25 million monthly players in 2011, and started Romero Games in Galway, Ireland in 2015.
Both Tom Hall and John Romero have reputations as designers and idea men who have helped shape some of the key PC gaming titles of the 1990s.
Main article: Tom Hall
Tom Hall was forced to resign by id Software during the early days of Doom development, but not before he had some impact; for example, he was responsible for the inclusion of teleporters in the game. He was let go before the shareware release of Doom and then went to work for Apogee, developing Rise of the Triad with the "Developers of Incredible Power". When he finished work on that game, he found he was not compatible with the Prey development team at Apogee, and therefore left to join his ex-id Software compatriot John Romero at Ion Storm. Hall has frequently commented that if he could obtain the rights to Commander Keen, he would immediately develop another Keen title.
Main article: Sandy Petersen
Sandy Petersen was a level designer for 19 of the 27 levels in the original Doom title as well as 17 of the 32 levels of Doom II. As a fan of H.P. Lovecraft, his influence is apparent in the Lovecraftian feel of the monsters for Quake, and he created Inferno, the third "episode" of the first Doom. He was forced to resign from id Software during the production of Quake II and most of his work was scrapped before the title was released.
Main article: American McGee
American McGee was a level designer for Doom II, The Ultimate Doom, Quake, and Quake II. He was asked to resign after the release of Quake II, and he then moved to Electronic Arts where he gained industry notoriety with the development of his own game American McGee's Alice. After leaving Electronic Arts, he became an independent entrepreneur and game developer. McGee headed the independent game development studio Spicy Horse in Shanghai, China from 2007 to 2016.
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