Ubuntu OS now an option on Alienware X51 gaming rig


 Alienware X51 with Ubuntu OS

We’ve heard from potential Alienware customers like acelin in his idea on IdeaStorm that you wanted to buy an Alienware with Ubuntu. Linux gaming just took a big step forward with the release of the Alienware X51 gaming desktop with Ubuntu OS for customers in the United States. This means Alienware X51 customers can choose either Windows or Ubuntu to when buying a new X51. Here’s my personal experience with the Ubuntu operating system on an Alienware and the gaming experience that it provides.

The unique interface provides a clean and stylish approach that is easy to learn. As a first time Ubuntu user, I found it easy to find my way around. After a couple of days, and with the help of the online Ubuntu community, I felt like a seasoned user.

Some of the features that stood out to me were the performance/multitasking and how easy it was to load 3rd party apps like Steam. First off, you have the overall performance of the Alienware, which has the same hardware components and performance that you would expect from the brand. The operating system loads quickly and can handle multiple programs at the same time. The Workspace Switcher is an example of multitasking done well. It gives you the option to split the screen into multiple work areas. It helps keep things in order and is easy to switch between (see image below). The OS also comes with a software center to download free open source apps, which is a great feature, as you will not be able to install your Windows-based software on the OS.

Workspace Switcher - Alienware X51 Ubuntu

Now onto the gaming. This is the area that many Alienware users are eager to hear about. There are two key call outs that will help you make the determination whether this system is right for you.

1) Driver support: The system comes with supported drivers from NVIDIA. You are able to game right out of the box. That said, the drivers are not always updated regularly, so it's a good idea to look periodically for updates.

Update from Lionel: As many gamers know, having updated graphics drivers ensure an cutting-edge gaming experience. The NVIDIA team works hard to keep these Linux drivers optimized. Depending on when you purchase a system from Dell or via retail, you may not have the latest NVIDIA GPU drivers installed… that's why Mark recommended checking periodically for the latest NVIDIA drivers.

2) Steam: You can easily install Steam onto the machine. Though many games are not yet supported, including most of the AAA releases, the list is continuing to grow and now includes classics such as Team Fortress 2 and Serious Sam. You can check out the list of Steam games here. The highlight for the Steam integration is that it supports Big Picture Mode. The versatility and small size of the X51 made it easy to disconnect the system from the monitor in my office and connect it to my TV.

Steam on Ubuntu - Alienware X51

Once I launched Steam, it was easy to click the “Big Picture” button to enjoy gaming in full screen when I connected the X51 to my TV. Steam gaming on my big screen TV via Steam’s Big Picture was a very cool experience.

Overall, it’s a pretty solid experience from my perspective. I would like to see more games supported with Steam, but as I mentioned, they will be adding to the list. It’s important for customers to know that this is a completely different operating system, so it doesn’t have the familiar Windows interface. However, it’s easy to use and this set up would be ideal for individuals who require an Open Source OS and want productivity and great gaming.

For more information see: Alienware.com/Ubuntu. Or click on the Featured Systems tab to see the Alienware X51 Ubuntu configs.

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17 thoughts on “Ubuntu OS now an option on Alienware X51 gaming rig

  1. Shilling for Steam? Can we use this product without Steam at all? Can we use Ubuntu's store front for example?

  2. @clay3: Part of the Alienware team's goal was to make the X51 gaming-ready out of the box even to customers who are new to Ubuntu. In that regard, Steam for Linux was a no-brainer.

    Pretty sure the Ubuntu Store front will work just fine with what we ship… I'll double-check with the team.

  3. @clay3: Just confirmed with the Alienware team… the Ubuntu Software Center works fine on this machine as you would expect.

    Steam is not installed on the system… but it's one example of an app that is easy to install, and because it is an easy way for customers to get gaming without much effort, Mark and others thought it made sense to call out here in this blog post.

  4. ho hum don't really care, Windows or Linux don't matter. The more important thing is when we will have a X51 refresh that comes with a beefed up power supply (at least 450 watts) that is internal and better air ventilation/flow but still remain the compact casing ?

    X51 needs to compete with the Digital Storm Bolt and Falcon Northwest Tiki. X51 still have them beat on pricing but for when it come down value for money, they are clearly the winner cause with those system, us users can use/upgrade to a non-OEM and crippled cards due to their beefy power supply. Meaning us users have option to upgrade to better cards in future which the most important thing.

    The last area where X51 have them beat is that X51 is almost available worldwide while those two are only available to US and Canada, thus making the X51 my only choice for a compact gaming personal computer.

    Yes, yes I can make my own but the available casing for ITX where I am from are not compact as the Bolt, Tiki (clearly all are off the shelf parts just the casing is custom?) and X51 cause they are cube shape and not tower. My casing needs are simple (w x h x d)  4 to 5.8 inch  in width x 10 to 14 inch in height x  14 to 16 inch depth and no 5.25" and 3.5" bracket, just 2.5" brackets.

    Lastly, please please make X51 or and X51S or another X51'sh model configurable with a 2.5" drives only and without an internal optical drive, don't need optical for past 10 years cause I prefer using external when only needed and since all my games are on stream/origin/gog and backed up to my external HD, optical drive is useless. Removing the optical drive and moving onto a 2.5" drive ( especially using SSD ) would make more room for a proper internal power supply (at least 450w) and ways to engineer the case for better air flow.

    Hope at least to hear some news of an X51 refresh but I guess it will be unlikely.

  5. @clay3, Yes you can use Ubuntu's store front. There is nothing that limits you to using Steam only. Steam is just a selling point as Steam has made a significant investment in bringing gaming to Linux.

  6. I think dell did a real [email protected]$ed job on this one. For starters they call it ultimate, but is only mid-range hardware for what alienware offers. No SSD options, only 8gb ram, and dated gfx cards. Sure the Ubuntu page is great, if you know what Ubuntu is already to click on the small link on the Desktops page. Also why would their customize page say in BOLD "Dell recommends Windows", while trying to sell you a M$ tablet, Popular steam games not comptible with Ubuntu/Steam, and windows tax software…I say pure laziness on Dell's part, for re-using the stock alienware ordering system; and not tailoring to their audience. Isn't the first rule of marketing "know your audience"???

    In my Usually not so humble opinion if Dell shelves Ubuntu yet again calling it a failure, it's because they refused to give it top-shelf specs, and tried to sell M$ wares on an Ubuntu(Linux) machine. Remember I reserve the right to be wrong, so please prove me wrong…..

  7. I am dual-booting Linux Mint 14 with Windows 8 on my Alienware M18x. Ubuntu is a great OS.

    Hopefully, Linux game development will improve. There are very few Linux games (Steam or otherwise) that are worth getting excited about. The poor game selection is disappointing, but I think it is totally  awesome to see native support for Linux coming from Alienware.

    I would like to see this availability for all Alienware products, especially in a dual-boot environment. That may not be possible while maintaining Windows 8 certification, but I think most Alienware customers don't really care about having Microsoft's blessing on the configuration.

    Good job, Dell… and thank you.

  8. I'm looking for a pre-built Linux HTPC and have some questions.

    Does this use the default Ubuntu install? Can I just use the .iso from Ubuntu if I need to reinstall? Do I need to add any Dell PPAs or install anything specific after a default Ubuntu install?

    Can I disable the lights?

    Can the alien head be removed?


  9. jase10, if Alienware has provided a Linux version of AlienFX, then the lighting can be manipulated or disabled.

    I think the greater question that will determine the success of this deployment is where Linux game support is headed. As far as I can tell, the assortment of high quality Linux games is miniscule and pathetic at the moment. The X51 is made for gamers. I see the X51 offering Ubuntu as a very positive thing. I am very thankful Alienware is offering this OS, and I sincerely hope that it is a strong indication that many surprises await us in the immediate future with respect to Linux game support.

    Unless we see games of the caliber of Crysis 3, FarCry 3, Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider showing up very soon, Linux will remain a second-class OS. That would be unfortunately, because Linux has the potential to displace Windows as the operating system of choice for gamers and PC enthusiasts.

    Offering Ubuntu on the X51 (hopefully other models will follow) can only help that cause. That should also, hopefully, get the attention of Micro$oft and cause them to re-evaluate the undesirable approach they have taken with Windows 8 and Secure Boot.

  10. @jase10: Sorry for the delayed response. At this time, the Alienware FX software that controls the lights is not available for Linux.

    And the alien head is not designed to be removed.

  11. This Linux should create An. Operating system for leptop Alienware Alien XOS, Not use Ubuntu themed Alien,the Dell should help create this technology.

  12. Exemple sony PlayStation OS,Android OS,Mac Os,base Unix,Alienware Os

    This Dos, Windows 95etc..

  13. this version of Ubuntu works for alienware m14 ? because I have read that Linux brings problems with the video card

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