Linux Gaming

Gaming for Linux has come a long way in the last 10 years, thanks to the continuing efforts of the open source community. No longer just the realm of hardcore Linux tinkerers, with little, or even no work, most games will be able to run on a Linux PC, as long as it meets the hardware requirements.

Lutris (www.lutris.net) was first released in 2013, and is continually being updated by the community. It is an open-source game manager that uses a Windows compatibility layer called Wine in order to run Windows based games under Linux. While most games will run OK under Wine, using Lutris will allow each Wine session for each game, to be customized for that game. No matter who you purchased the game from, download or physical copy, Lutris will allow you to install and play, providing someone in the community has made a compatible installer. If one is not available, you can try the default configuration, and should still get decent performance.

In 2018, Valve, the creators of the Steam gaming platform, took the code for Wine, and modified it to become new software called Proton. Proton (www.protondb.com) became the Windows interface layer for games running on Linux via the Steam games manager. It offers a much smoother experience than default Wine, or Lutris, however it will only support games that have been purchased through Steam*. As of now, approximately 76% of their top 1000 games are supported through Proton.

In late 2021, Valve will be releasing the SteamDeck, a PC-based handheld games console to compete with the likes of the Nintendo Switch. Running on a custom AMD processor, with SteamOS (Valveā€™s customised Linux for gaming) their plan, is that anything available on the Steam platform, will be playable on the Deck. Should this prove to be half as popular as the Switch, then we can expect to see more and more games developers supporting Linux.

So far, neither GOG, Ubisoft, Epic, or Blizzard offer their game managers for Linux, so using them through Lutris is an unfortunate workaround until they do.

*Note: For those who are familiar with manually modding games, getting non-Steam games working through Steam/Proton rather than Wine/Lutris is about the same level of complexity. Doable, but not for those who are afraid to tinker.