Despite a solid following, you don’t hear much about development for Linux operating systems. Jonathan Blow, best known for top indie titles Braid and The Witness, explains what it would take for him to develop for Linux.
The discussion emerged after Ben Golus talked about the release of Planetary Annihilation on Linux. In terms of sales, Linux represented less than 0.1 percent. But at the same time, 20 percent of auto reported crashes and support tickets came from that tiny number of Linux users.
We shipped Planetary Annihilation on Win, Mac, and Linux. Linux uses we’re a big vocal part of the Kickstarter and forums.
In the end they accounted for <0.1% of sales but >20% of auto reported crashes and support tickets (most gfx driver related).
Would totally skip Linux. https://t.co/3m9ZZgElzB
— Ben Golus (@bgolus) January 1, 2019
In a Twitter thread, Blow goes into depth into what he thinks is the problem with Linux, saying that while the kernel itself is stable, the userspace is the main problem. His solution would be to develop an executable that doesn’t use the C standard library, which he says is hard, but may be needed.
“If you are making a new programming language, the least you can do is keep these things in mind and not build your structure on the currently-existing userspace shantytown” he wrote.
He went on to say that if he were to create an OS of his own, he would likely use the Linux kernel, but delete the userspace. He also dismissed ideas on why Linux hasn’t “taken over” the PC market, saying that it wasn’t Windows trying to sabotage them, it’s Linux failing to address bug issues that have been plaguing the system for years.
“For people who think ‘Linux just had an especially buggy couple of years, it just needs more time in its now-stable state and it will take over on the desktop and everyone will love it,'” he continued. “Look, that is what people have been saying since 1992; for a long time the reason Linux didn’t take over was supposedly because evil Microsoft was pulling dirty tricks to prevent it.”
Blow went on to say that Microsoft’s own desktop OS is unusable, much like Linux’s OS is now, so the excuse isn’t there.
“What you see today is the end-state of what shipping software looks like on an ecosystem built the way Linux userspace is built” he added.
Over 1,000 titles on Steam are playable on Linux. According to the store, the best-selling titles for the OS include Rocket League, Dungeons 3, RimWorld and Stardew Valley.