Linux and Gaming
Linux is a widely used and popular open source operating system that was first released back in 1991. It differs from operating systems like Windows and macOS in that it is open source and it is highly customizable through its use of “distributions”. Distributions or “distros” are basically different versions of Linux that can be installed along with the Linux core software so that users can customize their system to fit their specific need. Some of the more popular Linux distributions are Ubuntu, Debian and Fedora.
For many years Linux had the reputation of being a terrible gaming platform and it was believed that users wouldn’t be able to engage in this popular form of entertainment. The main reason for this is that commercially successful games just weren’t being developed for Linux. A few well known video game titles like Doom, Quake and SimCity made it to Linux but for the most part they were overlooked through the 1990’s. However, things have changed a lot since then and there is an every expanding library of popular video games you can play on Linux.
Where to Find Video Games for Linux
Gamers now have quite a few options when it comes to finding video games that run on Linux. You should probably start with native Linux games. These are actually games that were designed to run on Linux. Some of the places to find native Linux games include:
- Steam: Steam offer plenty of native Linux games ranging from lesser known Indie games to popular commercial games. A few games are even free. Steam has a native desktop client for Linux users that often comes preinstalled with distros.
- com: GOG.com is similar to Steam in that they offer a great selection of native Linux video games. However, all GOG.com games are DRM free and they don’t offer a desktop client. Once you purchase a game it is always available for you in your account and can be downloaded at any time.
- io: Itch.io is a good place to look for indie native Linux games. You can buy games and there is also a good selection of free games.
- Linux distribution software repositories: Check the software repositories of the Linux distribution you are using. There will generally be some games included. Some distributions like Ubuntu have a section dedicated to games.
Although there are a growing number of native Linux games, there are still a lot of popular games for Windows that aren’t available for Linux. Fortunately, there are a number of tools that make it possible to run Windows games on Linux.
- Steam Play: Many Windows games can be played using a tool from Valve called Proton. When you are using Linux look through your Steam library. You will notice that some games have a blue “Install” button even though they aren’t listed as Linux compatible in the Steam store. These are games that can be run on Linux using Proton. Some games not yet cleared by Steam will run as well. Rather than try every game yourself you can visit ProtonDB which maintains a list of games that work with Proton along with any tweaks that need to be made for the best performance.
- Wine is a compatibility layer that allows you to run Windows applications in other systems like Linux. Wine is available in most Linux distribution’s repository. Wine also has a database of games and other applications they support you can look through.
- Lutris: Lutris is a game management program that runs games under WINE and some other compatibility layers or emulators. It supports a variety of sources including Epic Games Launcher, Origin and several others. They maintain a list of games that they support.
There are plenty of Windows games you can run on Linux and no reason why you can’t play as well as you do when using Windows. If you are having trouble leveling up or winning the best loot, consider trying AskBoosters for help with your game.
Aside from native Linux games and Windows games there are a huge amount of browser based games that work on any system including Linux.
Linux Distributions for Gaming
There are many different distributions for Linux and games can be played on any of them. That being said, some are better suited for playing video games than others. Here are some the best Linux distributions for gamers:
- SteamOS is based on Debian and was designed for gaming. It comes pre-installed with Steam and was designed and built by Valve. The SteamOS only has Steam installed by default but by activating the “desktop mode” a desktop OS with all the features is available and you will be able to run other applications besides Steam and games. It comes already set up so no installation is necessary and you won’t have to configure anything, making it the ideal distribution for beginners. It includes ready to play games and there is support for many graphic cards and gaming related hardware
- Ubuntu GamePack: This distro is based on Ubuntu and is optimized for gaming. Unlike SteamOS there are no preinstalled games in Ubuntu GamePack, but the Steam client, Wine, PlayOnLinux and Lutris all come preinstalled. There are over 6 thousand Linux and Windows games that are guaranteed to launch in Ubuntu GamePack.
- Lakka: Lakka doesn’t have any desktop environment and its sole purpose is to turn a computer into a retro gaming console. It is very lightweight and comes with many emulators preinstalled. There are a variety of retro games you can play using this Linux distribution.
- Manjaro Gaming Edition: Manjaro Gaming Edition is a rolling-releases distro based on Manjaro. It comes with almost everything you need pre-installed including PlayOnLinux, Lutris and Minecraft. However, Steam will have to be manually installed. It also includes a number of editing tools, chatting software streaming apps and more. A nice feature is that some popular graphics card drivers also come preinstalled and are updated regularly.
There are plenty of other Linux distributions that are good for video games so you are sure to find one that fits your specific needs.