eRacks logoGamers are not exactly the first group that comes to mind when one thinks of Linux users.  Yet eRacks, a PC vendor specialized in open source systems, recently launched a new line of high end desktops, called AresPro, aimed at gamers and other customers with specific needs for powerful computers.  Here's the scoop, and its meaning for the open source channel.

Admittedly, gamers are not the only group to whom eRacks -- which The VAR Guy himself has identified as a top up and coming open source company -- hopes to cater with its new systems.  According to its press release, it has engineers, graphic designers and video editors in mind as well.  And the systems can be purchased with either Microsoft Windows or a variety of open source operating systems (or both, in a dual boot setup) preinstalled, meaning that many of the gamers who purchase these PCs may simply be traditional Windows users.

But it's notable nonetheless that an OEM specialized in hardware designed for open source platforms has turned its attention to the gaming crowd.  Maybe eRacks has noticed that an increasing number of Linux games run quite well using the Wine emulator, which makes Linux a more viable platform for gamers.  (Sidenote: technically "Wine is not an emulator," but it's close enough.)  Meanwhile other first rate games with native Linux support, like 0 A.D., are in development and may well mean that Windows will cease to be the near exclusive domain of the gaming crowd that it has traditionally been.

AresPro Features

In any case, whether their chief concern is gaming, engineering, design or something else, Linux users searching for high end PCs stand to be well pleased by eRacks's new offering.  The AresPro machines boast 16 core CPUs and up to 768 gigabytes of memory (which, I'll add, is a mind-boggling figure -- back when I built my first PC in 2001, I thought I was a huge deal rocking half a gigabyte of RAM), along with the high end video cards, SSD storage, liquid cooling and other fancy features that one expects on PCs of that caliber.

[caption id="attachment_38784" align="alignnone" width="136" caption="AresPro PC"]AresPro PC[/caption]

eRacks promises that the machines will support Windows 7, as well as a range of popular Linux distributions and some of the BSDs.  A company representative with whom I spoke, however, reported that most AresPro orders so far have been for Windows, a trend that the company anticipates to continue.  But he added that "our sales team will definitely offer dual boot options to anyone who wants it at no extra charge."

High End PCs and Open Source

It shouldn't surprise anyone, of course, if most of the AresPro machines end up running only Windows.  But the simple fact that eRacks is offering state of the art PCs to the open source crowd is notable, since typically the only high performance machines available with Linux or one of the BSDs preloaded are intended to be used as servers, not desktops.  A few other OEMs, like ZaReason and System76, offer high-spec'd desktop machines with Linux preinstalled, but the selection nonetheless remains limited.

The AresPro announcement is thus good news for those open source users who want high end PCs without paying the Windows tax.  It's also a plus for the open source channel as a whole, which needs all the love from hardware vendors that it can get.