I have recently run across an interesting and innovative trend in gaming, the live Linux games DVD. This is especially interesting to me because I am only a very casual gamer. I just want to spend thirty minutes gaming as a release after a hard day. I'll play one game for a while, get bored, then drop it for another. I don't want to spend a lot of time, energy, and money building up a game persona or leveling up a RPG character like you would developing a career. This is where the live Linux game DVD comes in.
Linux is an O.S. where you don't have to install it on your hard drive. There are many what are called live DVD distributions of Linux. You just boot off of the DVD and you are running Linux. You will, most probably, have to make a BIOS change in order to boot off of the DVD player. There are plenty of live DVD Linux distributions out there. My favorites of this category are Knoppix and Ubuntu. The live DVD version of Ubuntu is a little hard to find. I recommend using a bit torrent client to download it. Here is where you can find the relevant tracker.
The open source roots of Linux make it to be very customizable and Linux installers are also very customizable. There are different Linux distros (short for distribution) for just about any need under the sun. Casual gaming has been recognized as one of those needs. A couple of years back, I ran across a variant of Knoppix devoted to gaming. It did have some cool games on it but most of the games were not very good. It felt like the makers of this distro didn't have enough commitment to make this bootable DVD really exciting.
Recently, I ran across a great bootable Linux DVD for games called Live Linux Gamers. This is the one to watch. There are games for every genre lover. Warsow and Tremulous are both great networked, team based first person shooters. Sauerbraten is also a first person shooter but with a great collection of maps built in for some fun single player action. Neverball is a nice 3D platform game. Glest and warzone 2100 are real time strategy games. The former is set in a medieval (i.e. warcraft) setting while the later is more futuristic (i.e. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri).
Wesnoth is a nice turn based strategy game. Torc is a cool 3D car racing game and gl-117 is an action flight simulator that is worthy of playing. There are other games on this DVD so you won't be in danger of getting bored anytime soon. I only mentioned my favorites.
Although the creative is not as talented as their proprietary counterparts, I prefer these over the high-end, expensive games for reasons that are really compelling for the casual gamer. There is nothing to install on your hard drive so you don't take any risks with messing up your system. These games are made by game lovers so the game play itself is excellent. There is a wide and disparate selection so if you get bored with one, just go to the next. Best of all, they're free.