The 1993 classic PC FPS game comes back to life in a project that shows how Linux can be bent to a developer’s will.
id Software’s “Doom” revolutionized the PC game world when it first hit the market in 1993, and one developer has paid nearly thirty years later by releasing a Linux distribution that does nothing but run the classic genre-defining first-person shooter.
DoomLinux: Boot Up and Blast Demons
The distribution was created by Shadly Salahuddin and is dubbed DoomLinux. By running a shell script from Salahuddin’s GitHub page, a user can build a small disk image that can run from a USB drive. It’s intended as a practical demonstration on how Linux distributions are put together.
Salahuddin has also shown DoomLinux in action in a YouTube video:
The script downloads the Linux kernel, BusyBox, a minimal suite of Linux utilities, and FBDoom, a version of the game that runs in the Linux console, and compiles them. It then generates a GRUB file so that it can be loaded by the computer at boot time. DoomLinux, true to its name, will boot right into Doom.
While the game engine is open source, the actual assets are copyrighted and can’t be redistributed, so anyone who wants to run DoomLinux will need to have a copy of Doom on their system.
DoomLinux Shows The Power of Custom Linux Distros
Projects like DoomLinux show how easy it is to create specialized Linux distros. Since no licensing costs are involved, any enterprising developer can take the kernel and necessary supporting utilities and create a custom version of Linux that runs their application. This is why Linux is popular for embedded systems development.
While Microsoft does offer a version of Windows for embedded applications, Linux appears to be more flexible on top of the lack of a need for licensing fees to be paid to Microsoft. The availability of source code also allows developers to tweak the system to their needs more easily than with a proprietary offering. That means that there will likely be many smaller projects like DoomLinux in the future.
So Many Specialized Distros like DoomLinux
The ease of creating custom Linux distros like DoomLinux likely explains why so many of them have proliferated. DoomLinux is just scratching the surface. There are many more obscure Linux distributions out there to try for those who have specialized needs.