Thomas Castleman, the main developer behind Drauger OS, announced yesterday in a blog post that the Drauger OS team is still going strong, with continued improvements to the distro’s system installer and the planned release date for the upcoming Drauger OS 7.6 (June or July). What’s perhaps the most surprising regarding the post, however, is the announcement that they’re working on a Linux gaming console, dubbed the Vetala.
The Vetala (the name is apparently based from Hindu mythology as someone who has been brought from the dead) will have none other than Drauger OS pre-installed, using a couch-oriented desktop environment called Game Console Desktop Environment (GCDE). It will come in a low-end, mid-range, or a high-end hardware configuration, varying between $600-$1000. It will use off-the-shelf components and have dedicated graphics and Wi-Fi. The case will use ABS plastic.
CAD files for the casing will be publicly available; if the console breaks, you can 3D print another, or print it anyway if the console doesn’t become a success. The Vetala will also be freely available to customize with your own hardware. The blog post also goes on to mention some work may be done on the kernel “to improve performance and ensure users get the most disk space for their games as possible.”
This announcement is very early, as there isn’t any decided case design yet or what hardware it will contain. Thomas mentions:
Ideally, I would like to be able to make this console collaboratively, and open-source as much of it as possible. And I intend to do this if we get enough positive feedback on these ideas, and get something a little more fleshed out as far as hardware and design. For now, we’re mostly testing the waters to see if the the community likes this idea or not.
I’ve got mixed feelings about this. Part of me is excited, but I see a lot of caveats coming their way. For one, hardware is very difficult to come by these days. Second, the Vetala seems like it’s just a PC with a custom-made case, especially since it will be using off-the-shelf parts, so I don’t really see it being that unique. Third, I can see them having a hard time trying to come up with a case that’s slim while still holding a graphics card and keeping the system cool. Fourth, I had a lot of issues with Drauger OS back when I tested it last May, including the inability to install the NVIDIA graphics drivers and a massive headache using the system installer. For all I know, these problems may have been fixed, but I would have to see for myself if that’s actually the case. The Mad Box console from Slightly Mad Studios was scrapped not too long after its announcement; I frankly wouldn’t be surprised if the Vetala will suffer the same outcome.
In other news for Drauger OS, the team is no longer working on an ARM version of the distribution. The post mentions ARM is “growing at a rate slower than what we anticipated” and “we see no need to create an ARM version of Drauger OS just yet.” Slower? If anything I’m pretty certain it’s growing exponentially, as devices like the Pinebook Pro and Apple’s new M1 chipsets for their Mac products are already taking the initiative with this. I guess the benefit from postponing the ARM development is it will give the team the extra resources to work on the console version, if it ever becomes a reality.