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Linux is now a viable OS for PC gamers, thanks to Steam's Proton initiative

Ubuntu 19.10
Ubuntu 19.10 (Image credit: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

Windows has always been viewed as the absolute best platform for gaming, allowing you to enjoy games on a budget system or as intended by developers on an enthusiast rig. OS X (or macOS, as Apple now calls its desktop OS) is firmly in second place, but there has always been a relatively minor thorn in Microsoft's side in the form of Linux. Traditionally, the open-source OS has been far behind Windows when it comes to gaming, but is that still the case in 2019?

Having been playing games on Windows for the better part of two decades, I've only really ventured into Linux gaming once or twice in the past, even though a few machines I own run distributions based on the OS. Installing a spare M.2 drive into my main desktop rig, it was time to see just how far Linux has come for those who may not be familiar with the terminal. Just how easy would it be to go from installation to smashing skulls?

Ubuntu is incredibly welcoming to newcomers

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows CentralSteam running natively on Ubuntu 19.10. (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

Linux is intimidating. I recall the first time I was exposed to the OS on a server farm. It required me to grow accustomed to the differences quickly. Still, once you've played around with the OS — and bricked numerous installs — you overcome those initial fears of not knowing what's going on, and it becomes just as (if not more) user-friendly than other desktop-class operating systems.

Ubuntu is a distribution of Linux and remains to this day as the most popular destination for not only Linux veterans, but also newcomers to the platform. If you're looking for a single distribution (or 'distro') to try out for the first time, give Ubuntu a go. It has an incredibly active support community that's more than happy to lend a hand to get you settled in. It's also the OS I'm using to test and type up this piece.

To put Linux to the test in comparison to Windows 10, I'm going to be installing Ubuntu on a speedy Seagate FireCuda M.2 NVMe SSD, which is sat on an X470 ASUS motherboard with a 12-core AMD Ryzen 9 3900X CPU, 32GB of RAM, and a GTX 1070 GPU for good measure. You could build your own gaming PC for less than $800. It's not the most capable machine we could put together, but it's one I feel should lead to some interesting results with more mature driver support from NVIDIA.

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows CentralYou can install top apps like Discord, Slack, Steam, and more on Ubuntu. (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

Installing Ubuntu is a breeze. You can boot and even use the OS from nothing more than a flash drive, allowing you to get a taste of what Linux can offer. This isn't a perfect experience, since you're using a USB drive, but it can provide a hint as to just how smooth (or not so) your Linux computing will be on that hardware configuration. After installing the OS, I booted into a smart-looking desktop with everything aside from the Logitech C920 webcam working.

To make getting apps installed easier for those who don't enjoy using the terminal, GNOME (the UI suite Ubuntu uses) has a handy app store that has some hits including Slack, Steam, Discord, Chrome, Firefox, Thunderbird, GIMP, Spotify, Handbrake, among many more. Software not listed on this app store can still be installed manually — many using a .deb installation file that acts very much like an .exe installer on Windows.

Ubuntu is as easy as Windows at setting up and running top apps from the included app store.

NVIDIA proprietary drivers are already installed by Ubuntu through the OS installation after detecting the GTX 1070. Still, while the drivers themselves are pretty good, the configuration panel for saving G-Sync, resolutions, panel settings, and other options is a little clunky in that your settings may not save for the next system cycle. If this is the case, you'll need to head to the dreaded terminal and fire up the NVIDIA software as root (or admin) by running "sudo nvidia-settings". You'll need to enter your password when attempting to run a command as root (the 'sudo' part).

After messing around with NVIDIA to get G-Sync active with a 150Hz refresh rate on the main panel and a 60Hz refresh rate with no G-Sync on the secondary monitor, I was good to go. All of this so far (including setting up and updating the OS, as well as installing Steam, Discord, and a bunch of other apps) took around an hour. Not bad and pretty much on par with Windows. So as an OS, Ubuntu (and Linux) have certainly made strides in perfecting the UX, but let's talk gaming.

How to install Linux within Windows 10

Gaming with the penguin is more a hit than miss

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

Performance in games was only slightly behind on Linux compared to Windows, but it was actual compatibility and support that genuinely dealt blows to the open-source community. That's all changed with Steam's notable push into Linux with Steam Play. Valve is actively participating in the development of Proton, a new tool that has been integrated into the Steam backend and makes it easier to play Windows-only games on Linux.

Proton and other open-source tools work together to make the whole process of downloading, installing, and playing Windows games on Linux as straightforward as Microsoft's OS. Proton works with WINE and DXVK, among others and everything are handled by the Steam client, no longer requiring you to hunt down and install/manage these tools separately.

Steam Play lets you hit play on Windows games for a near-native experience on Linux.

Proton hasn't been around for long, and Valve continues to work with the community on enhancing support for its vast catalog of games. Still, we already see the benefits of this endeavor. Games can even be sorted within Steam to show Linux-supported titles only. The first game I attempted to install and play was Terraria. I hit play in Steam, the game downloaded alongside some additional software, and I was in. Terraria is supported on Linux natively, but I found using Proton to work better. Performance was crisp and as good as Windows with some minor input lag that was fixed with a simple launch option command.

Terraria is a great game, but it's not the most demanding of titles to try out, so next up was Path of Exile. This was even easier since it required absolutely no input from me to get the game to run. Hitting play, waiting for the lengthy download and update for the latest league, and I was in. Not only was I enjoying yet another playthrough as an exile, but I also teamed up with a few friends who were on Windows using Discord. You'd have to look twice to realize you weren't using Windows too.

The only issue with Path of Exile was installing a loot filter, which because the game using WINE as a compatability layer, you needed to hunt down the correct location on your Linux filesystem. I also experience some severe performance issues when visiting crowded areas, but this was simply down to the game placing me on U.S.-based servers for some reason. After that, yet another green tick for Linux.

Which Steam games work on Linux?


Source: ProtonDB (Image credit: Source: ProtonDB)

Steam is the most popular distribution platform for PC gaming on Windows and beyond. To see what games work well on Linux using Valve's Proton toolset, there's a handy resource called ProtonDB that compiles reports submitted by players who wish to share experiences and tips.

Check what PC games work on Linux

My colleague was playing through Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition for his review — which you should totally check out — and needed to test out the multiplayer performance. I thought it would be humorous if I could get Microsoft's latest game working on Ubuntu... and sure enough, we were competing against extreme AI on different operating systems. What's more, performance (even online matchmaking) was butter-smooth. Again, no tricks or terminal entries required.

It's not all good news for Linux, however, even with Steam's Proton. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) simply refuses to work due to BattleEye anti-cheat software not playing ball. Grand Theft Auto V and other AAA games can sometimes break unofficially established support through updates, while other games simply refuse to launch at all. ProtonDB is a great resource to see just how games perform on Linux, including your favorites.

Still early days, but Microsoft should be concerned

Microsoft Loves Linux

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Linux has always been in the shadow of Microsoft, and that won't change anytime soon. I don't really see Linux making much more of an impact than it has already for some time to come. That said, Steam really is starting to be generated for the hype train, and Valve's continued support for the platform paints a promising future for Linux.

It's no secret that Microsoft still doesn't quite know how to approach PC gaming. After what happened with Windows Live and the still mediocre Microsoft Store, Steam and other distribution platforms are where gamers flock to. If an OS that's available at no additional cost comes around with support as good as Windows for the latest games released on PC, it would be interesting to see just how many make the switch.

Times are changing with the likes of Vulkan on the block, and I see more natively supported games be released or better still, open-source solutions like Proton and WINE filling in the gap. Should performance continue to improve with further backing of more giants within the industry, 2020 and beyond should be a good year for Linux.

It'll be interesting to see how Microsoft approaches support for Linux (hello, Edge) as the company progresses along its cloud and services roadmap. Linux isn't for everyone, but I urge you to give it a try if you're on the fence. Ubuntu is one of the best distros to try if you're new to the platform, and it has everything you need to play top games through Steam. It's not perfect, and there's a long way to go, but there are certainly sparks flying out of this small fire.

Rich Edmonds is a word conjurer at Windows Central, covering everything related to Windows, gaming, and hardware. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a device chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Nope. Microsoft need not be concerned. Name me one "AAA" PC title that has shipped in the last year that runs NATIVELY on Linux.
    Right. There are none.
    You can't run Halo: Reach on it, nor Red Dead Redepmtion, etc. In fact, just about ANYTHING with any kind of DRM won't work on a Linux OS. The BETTER way is to set up your PC with Windows 10 Pro and run Linux under the WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux). That way you get the native Windows features, games, etc. and a full Linux CMD shell when you want it (BASH and all.)
    If you (for some reason) want the full Linux GUI experience, just install it in a Windows Hyper-V VM (only available on W10 Pro, Enterprise, or Education. Not available on W10 Home, in which case you can use VirtualBox or the free VMware Player to host the Linux VM.)
  • Google Stadia supposedly require their games to be native linux games. There are not many of them yet though. You also have Valve games that are native.
  • Quite a few, Shadow Of The Tomb Raider, Total War Three Kingdoms etc.. Halo Reach also works fine, I played through the entire campaign several times already, On Linux. Only the Easy Anti Cheat doesn't work meaning no competitive multiplayer but the rest of the game works fine. Most forms of DRM work fine. It's only the more extreme intrusive DRM which doesn't work. Most implementations of DRM such as Denuvo work fine for example. You are clearly not very knowledgeable about Linux, or your Linux knowledge is from 1 decade ago. Most games run fine. So don't make these incorrect statements. WSL is aimed at developers who need a *nix (Unix, GNU/Linux, OSX) environment to run or test software. It's pretty useless for everything else. The reason most developers need a *nix environment is because almost everything runs a *nix OS except for the desktop PC of the average user. And you will still be stuck with the pretty horrible workflow of Windows when using WSL also, which is another major reason people switch. Instead of running Linux a VM on a Windows host it would be a better to run Linux on bare metal and then use a Type 1 hypervisor like QEMU/KVM for Windows, the pass a GPU through to it and voila, native Windows game performance in a VM.
  • @Dennis ten Hoove: He specifically said in the last year, Shadow Of The Tomb Raider is from over 1 year ago, so it is not from the last year. Btw, definitely agree on WSL not being very useful. WSL is nice to have, but it absolutely does not replace a full desktop installation of Linux. Also, dual-booting is much better than VMs.
  • Shadow Of the Tomb Raider released less then 2 months ago on Linux and MAC. Yes, the game has been on Windows and consoles for longer. Dual booting is nice, but not recommended at all for new users. Stuff loves to break when either one of the OSs updates and then you need to fix it.
  • "Stuff loves to break when either one of the OSs updates"
    That's a funny way of saying "windows will sometimes eat your bootloader for absolutely no good reason"
  • Dennis is right. First of all, if the difference in performance is a couple of frames per second on Windows versus Linux, it doesn't matter if it's not running natively. If you wanna talk about big-name games from just the last year or so that run just great on Linux, there's:
    Star Wars: Jedi - Fallen Order, which I play every day
    Battlefield V, which I play almost every day
    Resident Evil 2 Remake, which I play almost every day
    Metro Exodus
    Borderlands 3
    Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
    Mortal Kombat 11
    Halo Master Chief Collection campaign
    World War Z
    The Witcher 3
    the list goes on... As far as just big-name games in general?
    All 3 Tomb Raider Games run natively
    Counter-Strike: Global Offensive runs natively
    Dota 2 runs natively
    League of Legends works
    Titanfall 2 which is probably my favorite game, works.
    GTA V
    Resident Evil 7
    all the Dark Souls games
    Mortal Kombat X
    Dying Light
    Borderlands 1 and 2 have native versions
    The Witcher 1 and 2 have native versions
    Doom 2016 runs at native performance when using Vulkan, and it runs just fine with OpenGL
    Star Wars Battlefront I and II work. Pretty much every big indie game of the last decade has a native version, the rest work with native performance through wine or Proton.
    Hollow Knight
    Dead Cells
    Super Meat Boy
    Limbo, etc. Dennis is right, your knowledge of Linux is truly garbage. That would be fine, most people's knowledge of Windows is garbage, but it would probably be better to do any sort of actual research before running to a comment section on a Linux gaming article just to spread ignorant nonsense.
  • Well its not like windows is perfect either, I had trouble updating my graphics drivers now since I wanted to play borderlands 3 and it does not work great on linux so I thought I would give windows a shot. Took me ages before I coudl update my graphics drivers. Then when I finally did I found out I could not run more then 30hz at 2k but I could run 60hz at 4k and 1080 so its really wierd, and my computer is to slow for running borderlands 3 at 4k, so I gave up went back to linux where I can atleast run every other game in 2k 60hz flawless.
  • Greetings, Khaaaan. As a programmer, I am afraid I must disagree with some of your assertions. I'm not trying to debate you, it is just simply that you are incorrect. "In fact, just about ANYTHING with any kind of DRM won't work on a Linux OS." Windows DRM (from third parties) may or may not work under Proton (or WINE). It's entirely situational. Valve's Steam DRM certainly DOES work, and flawlessly. "The BETTER way is to set up your PC with Windows 10 Pro and run Linux under the WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux)" This is not correct either. WSL lacks support for a very significant portion of the Linux API. You are at the whims of Microsoft for continued support. They have been known to depreciate programmer features, such as the UNIX Subsystem before. Depending on WSL or WSL2 is not a good solution. As for Hyper-V, it is hit or miss at best on desktop machines. On desktops, it does not have a proper passthrough solution for GPUs. Plus it is quite buggy on Windows 10. VMware Player cannot be used for commercial tasks, and VirtualBox has always had terrible driver support. The two best solutions that I have used are either dual boot or a Linux KVM with Windows (which can dedicate a GPU for full DirectX support).
  • FYI - WSL 2 uses the full Linux kernel. But it would be stupid to run WSL2 to play games as that isn't what it's designed for. So much fud in these arguments. If you like linux gaming, stick with linux
    if you like windows gaming, stick with windows
  • You must be a non Linux user. Quite a few games have been shipped on Linux last year.
  • This notion has been getting regurgitated periodically for the last 10 years. Despite Valve's best efforts, I've never seen Linux even achieve 1% of usage in Steam's Hardware Usage. The 0.8% seem to complain a lot though.
  • Do you realize how big of an innovation Valve's Proton is? It has only been released in 2018. Hence the article's is >>NOW<< a viable alternative.
  • The headline was changed from the stupid one he had originally
  • Who cares what market-share says? Also, the steam hardware surveys aren't even reliable, as a lot of games run best through Wine using the WINDOWS version of Steam, as opposed to the Linux version of steam with Proton, in which case the system gets reported as Windows. Also, their methodology has long been criticized by many as having a ton of flaws. At any rate, it's irrelevant, because market share is an indicator of nothing except for the fact that the major OEM's exclusively pre-install Windows on all their machines they sell, and that's because Windows years ago paid them inordinate amounts of money to do so. Most people aren't even aware that you can install another operating system on your computer, some people don't even know there ARE any other operating systems. There are absolutely benefits to using Linux over Windows and the only benefit to using Windows over Linux, which is more big-name software support (things like Adobe), has nothing to do with the OS, those programs would run as good or better on Linux than on Windows if the companies actually made the software for Linux. There is literally nothing about the NT kernel and Windows as an OS inherently that makes it any good at all, to the contrary, there are multiple things inherent to the Linux Kernel, the ext4 and zfs file systems, and other things about the actual OS that make it superior to Windows. CPU scheduling/performance being one of them.
  • No ****, because most people won't ever try linux or when they do, they get mad it's not windows. Those same people will however cry their eyeballs out when a company siphons data from their PC or michaelsoft forces a broken update on them. Linux is a viable alternative, the only games that don't work are games with third party DRM (aka linux being deliberately kneecapped). It's hard to be a viable alternative when people constantly try to sabotage you.
  • I think you miss the point, Mythos13. Valve has no real interest in competing with Windows with SteamOS, Proton and its other efforts. What it is trying to do is ensure long term viability for itself by diversifying. I've worked as a programmer for over 30 years now. A single proprietary vendor will never dominate the market forever. Linux is opensource, so the software can be supported indefinitely. Microsoft has had its rise and fall. The consumer market no longer matters to them. Windows has been de-prioritized and most certainly will be abandoned eventually. Microsoft fired or reassigned most of their Windows Quality Assurance staff. There isn't even a Windows Division in the company anymore. Microsoft makes most of their income in the Azure cloud, and corporate sales. That is where they have shifted their efforts. They are even pushing their corporate customers to cloud managed desktops, instead of standalone Windows. Microsoft uses Windows 10 desktop users as unpaid beta-testers for Windows 10 Enterprise. In my opinion, you should be grateful for the work of Valve and the Linux community as their efforts constitute a form of insurance, that your games will be available in some way, no matter what Microsoft does.
  • My experience was very different. Many accessories were not working. Lot of lags, almost no support for big titles. Drivers are not updated that often which means no good support for latest games and so on. For gaming and entertainment, I'm actually very satisfied with Windows 10.
  • Certain hardware configurations require some attention to work properly. Older AMD hardware needs to be manually switched to the AMDGPU driver since the run on Radeon by default. Doing this will significantly improve performance and add Vulkan suport. On the Nvidia side you have to manually install the proprietary Nvidia drivers, by default Nvidia hardware will run on the Nouveau MESA driver which is horrible due to the fact that Nvidia doesn't provide any documentation on how their GPUs work unlike Intel and AMD. If you run something like Debian, yes the software will be years out of date. Some distros focus on stability like Debian, others like Arch Linux an Manjaro focus on being bleeding edge at the cost of stability. And then there are distributions like Fedora, Pop!_OS and Ubuntu which are in the middle, the do several major releases per year and selectively update certain packages like MESA and the proprietary Nvidia drivers. The open source AMD and Intel drivers are updates almost daily. You just have to manually compile them from source. Or wait for a new developement release (Bug fix releases will happen for older drivers while a new developement release is being worked on) which happens every couple of months or so. The last couple of years huge leaps have been made with tech such as DXVK, D9VK and WINE/Proton. Most games now performance about the same as they do on Windows. Sometimes they can indeed run a lot worse, but sometimes they run a lot better, this differs per game. From my experience almost everything runs solid now with a few rare exceptions. I am sure that if you learn Linux (Isn't easy, will take a lot of time) you will like a lot better then Windows. Due to the huge amount of freedom you get. Every software update will be like Christmas.
  • Linux drivers get updated FAR more often than Windows. It's actually not even close. Years and years ago, Linux was known for having terrible driver support, but now it's actually the opposite, it's pretty well known that when it comes to things actually being plug-n-play, Linux genuinely beats Windows. I've never had to install a driver, they're all built in to the kernel. And where did you look to see if big titles were supported? Did you read the article? The majority of Windows games work, but they're not listed as being supported anywhere except for some on the Steam whitelist, but none of them will show up in the Steam store as being supported. If you want to play Jedi Fallen Order or Resident Evil 2 Remake, and you go to Steam, it will just show Windows. But they work on Linux. I don't think you did nearly enough research before jumping in, and then you had a bad experience and think it's the OS's fault when you didn't do any due diligence.
  • AMD and Nvidia release quarterly major updates and almost bi-weekly if not weekly updates as well as game launch updates for Windows drivers. By your own logic, the problem you have with Windows is not doing your due diligence.
  • Not happening direct X 12 alone makes a huge difference with the open source equivalent on Linux... And Ubuntu the best distro for veteran? In what world? It's a good way to start but it ain't really a pure Linux in the "philosophical" sens... And running anything on wine makes automatically worst than on win10 since emulation uses resources.... So with the same configuration same setting I'd be surprised if Linux runs the same game as well as it does on win10 with max settings possible on the said config and PC gamers are all about that... It'd be a solution for mainstreamers but Linux is nowhere close to be competing seriously in the mass market... So yeah on paper you might be right... But as zune was better than ipod and windows phone had technically nothing to be ashamed of against the competition what's on paper is not the reality of the market usually
  • Just saying, Vulkan is much better than DX12, any developer that uses DX12 over Vulkan outside of Xbox is a fool.
  • DirectX 12 already works on Linux tho.
    Also Wine isnt an emulator. you should look at it more like an "Adapter"
  • WINE is not an emulator, it's kinda like a process container with a windows API compatibility layer.
    In some games I have achieved better FPS on Linux + WINE than Windows for the same game, I use DXVK with updated amdgpu+mesa drivers.
    My hypothesis is that having a dedicated windows environment just to run a specific application with a dedicated unbloated registry along with very little thread management, in addition to that a well updated amdgpu with very good specs all that gives a bit of a boost.
  • "But as zune was better than ipod" LOL, good one.
  • You're actually wrong. Running things on Wine are not the same as running them in a full Windows environment, and therefore it does not take the same amount of resources. This site is stupid about posting links in comments, but go look for yourself, there have been two articles in Forbes the last few months showing benchmarks where Linux with Wine/Proton actually BEAT Windows performance on the same machine, with max settings, on WINDOWS-ONLY games. Nier: Automata and F1 2018 were two of them, and Strange Brigade Windows-native version actually tied with Windows and Linux both getting 107 fps. A lot of people get this wrong, and I hate that this article portrayed wine as an an emulator, because it's not. Literally the name stands for "Wine Is Not an Emulator," which is a backronym as a joke, but it's actually true. It doesn't emulate a full Windows System. It doesn't run any of the Windows commands. A game or a Windows program will make Windows system-calls, and all Wine does is translate them into calls Linux can understand, and then the Linux system is the one that actually executes them. That is not what an Emulator does. And since Linux generally beats Windows in head-to head performance on the same machine (this isn't universal but it is generally true), then there is absolutely opportunity for Windows games to run better in Linux than on Windows, ESPECIALLY if the game uses something other than DirectX. Doom 2016 with Vulkan is another, it runs exactly the same in Linux as it does on Windows. Linux has better security, better performance, easier method of installing applications (and also a more secure method), infinitely better update method, and more intuitive UX. I used Windows for 25 years, and after a couple weeks on Linux, I was like "oh my god this makes so much more sense, what the hell is wrong with Windows?" And yes, the article was stupid in claiming Ubuntu is the best for veterans. It's great for servers, but on the desktop hardly any veteran I know uses Ubuntu. Manjaro, Arch, and Fedora are generally the big distros for veterans to use. Manjaro is actually far superior to Ubuntu when it comes to gaming as well.
  • Nope, they don't have to be concerned at all, as someone who has been using Ubuntu as secondary os for ~4 years I can say that gaming on Linux is nowhere close to windows. You can run some indie games well, even a couple AAA titles, but Linux lacks decent drivers, those games it can run will most likely be played at way lower fps, players will experience a decent amount of input lag, and windows games running on Proton(steam) will be hit or miss, with a plethora of weird issues, random crashes, annoying stuttering, texture issues, lack of support for some graphical settings, black/missing textures, dont even get me started on anticheat systems. Other part is hardware. if you are on a laptop expect twice as short battery life due to poor drivers and poor power management, also you should expect your CPU and GPU to run at higher temperatures due to same optimization/driver issues. And overhead due to translation layer Proton...
    If your pc is not high end, we are talking about real difference playable at stable 60 frames on windows and unplayable 25 fps on Linux. Linux is more of an experiment than a real gaming platform, I had so many issues that I could not deal with it anymore, went back to windows a while back, using WSL for learning.
  • What hardware do you have that lacks decent drivers? Nvidia cards work great since a long time ago, AMD cards work great as of ~2018. In my experience either games work perfectly or don't work at all, I've only seen a small amount of games that run with stuttering or textures issues etc. When they do work, performance may be as low as 50%, but also as high as 120%, I've seen some games that run faster on Linux but it's definitely uncommon.
  • A lot of these people that claim this probably tried Ubuntu for 10 minutes, didn't do any research to know NOT to use the LTS version, didn't do any research to know that on Ubuntu you need to use PPA's to update your drivers as opposed to a rolling release where you don't have to do that, and then tried to run a game without doing any research to find out whether or not it works. Every single Windows game I've tried works at either better-than-native, native, or near-native performance compared to Windows. And I pretty much only play big-name titles like Jedi Fallen Order, Resident Evil 2, Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1 and V, etc. They all work absolutely fine, and I've never had to install a single driver.
  • If gaming wants to be "better" on Linux, it won't be better by needing PPA's, research, custom drivers and screwing around. I run half a million debian/ubuntu servers and love it there... but it sucks for gaming
  • To my fellow commenters: I don't know why I have to spell it out loud, but by and large, "we" (Linux users) are not shouting "the writing is on the wall and Linux is coming for your computers muahahaha" (although some of us sound like that, I'll say). The way I see it, this article (and others, actually) is shining a light on Windows' absolute dominance of the Gaming ecosystem being eroded thanks to multiple companies (VALVe, CodeWeavers) and independent developers (look on twitter 🐸) working towards the one goal of giving Linux users (developers or not) a bigger playable digital entertainment library without giving up the choices they've made (or had to make, for any reason you/they can't control).
  • Frankly, you're being exactly as clear as the authors of this article on exactly WHAT Windows dominance of has eroded. If it ever becomes true you can play any game on Linux, THAT would be exciting, but once one gets past the title, they simply don't say that anywhere. Is ten seconds up yet? Is it? Is it? Good. I can post. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • That's patently false. The vast majority (read: ALL) of people don't need to play literally every single game, and for some people they cannot STAND the way Windows does things, and it's forced updates have ruined their day (or week) more than once, and they actually care about their security. But they don't know that the only games they play actually work on Linux, even when they play big-name titles. They had no idea, and that's what articles like this are for. And once enough people like that switch, then it is indeed inevitable that Linux will eventually overtake Windows, as it has already done on the server side. Once Wine and Proton get good enough to run about 80-90 percent of Windows games on Linux, which it's not that far off, right now it's at about 60-70 percent, then enough people will switch to get developers to start developing all these games natively. At which point it will only be a matter of time. I happen to believe that it'll take a while for that to happen, probably about 8-10 years, but as Microsoft moves farther and farther away from Windows, which they've made it clear they intend to do, and move more toward the software as a service thing, and as Chrome OS becomes more and more of a straight linux distribution (which it is, slowly but surely), the faster this will happen. Why Windows people get so upset over any article like this is beyond me, I think it's because they actually do realize that inherently, if you actually look at the kernels/actual operating systems themselves, Linux is clearly superior in every INHERENT quality. Windows is superior in one thing, and that's software availability, which is the biggest thing, to be sure, but it's also not at all inherent to any OS. Any OS can run any of that software, it's just a matter of devs publishing it for that OS. Also, another big thing people seem to not realize is that Open Source is absolutely becoming more of a force in the tech world, and that TOTALLY favors Linux, as the vast majority of Open Source people choose Linux.
  • I don't quite get what you're asking here. The whole point, for me and I think for OP, has been that Windows' dominance over the Gaming ecosystem as the "One True OS", which has been historically very true, is eroding. You want every last game including the ones that don't work on Windows anymore? That's cheating. If you feel somewhat more reasonable though, check to actually see that there's over 6500 games on Steam that already work. Or you can continue ignoring Linux and rage that your computer just rebooted for an update in the middle of writing your thesis . Your choice.
  • I don't understand. Do ALL games work on Linux by using Proton with Steam, or only certain Steam games? Last time I checked, it was only certain Steam games - which is WORTHLESS. Now, if it wants to run my favorite privately produced Mahjong game, and my favorite privately produced Klondike game, and my favorite privately produced jigsaw puzzle games (all by companies that don't produce anything else), THAT would be great. And if non-game software runs on it too, like my favorite genealogy software, that would be OFF AND RUNNING. Doesn't much sound like anything is off and running, frankly, or if it is, you really need to be more explicit about WHAT is up and running.
  • That's a good question. Does it auto-detects? Or Valve has to set everything manually?
  • You honestly have no idea what you're talking about do you? Yes, some games are specifically whitelisted to run in proton on linux, but you can run any game you want in proton. This does not guarantee that it will work, due to still being beta software, but as of right now 6500 games work with proton (protondb is an unofficial site for people to report games that work and don't work). You're also more than welcome to add non-steam games and force proton in the games properties.
  • Proton can work with any Windows software. If you want to use it with non-Steam applications the easiest way is with Lutris. It's an application that will handle all the complicated stuff of setting up WINE/Proton. Edit: I should clarify something. UWP applications (installed from the Windows Store) will not run. UWP applications use a runtime that's tied directly to Windows itself. There are also some .Net applications (such as ones using Windows Forms) that will also not run for a variety of technical reasons. However, Microsoft themselves are working towards unifying the old .Net frameworks and the new .Net Core runtimes into a single one with the release of .Net 5 in a year or two and they will be cross-platform compatible (Linux, MacOS, and Windows).
  • @villandra I don't think you understand. Proton is simply a fork of Wine. Wine has been around for years, and it can run non-Steam software. Proton itself can run non-steam software. Lutris is a program for Linux that's kind of like a configuration tool for all of your games, and that's generally what people use for non-steam titles, as well as non-games. I commented earlier mentioning a bunch of Windows games I play on Linux, and you'll notice the majority of them are not Steam games. Actually I play more Windows games on Linux using Origin than I do Steam. Battlefield 1 and V, Titanfall 2, I have the Windows Origin version of Dead Cells, I have the Origin version of Jedi Fallen Order. They all work perfectly on Linux. You didn't mention the actual name of any of the software you use, so it's impossible to tell you if it works or not. Even then, there's a lot of stuff that isn't on any database, but it totally works. Also ProtonDB, the database mentioned in the article, ONLY lists Steam games, because that's what it's for. There are other sites (and google searches) that can tell you if other non-steam games and software can work through wine or proton. I guarantee you that out of the stuff you mentioned, probably all of it works. The general rule is that if it doesn't require a very specific Anti-Cheat suite, like EAC or BattlEye, 90 percent of the time it will work. Even things like CPU-Z and GPU-Z work. And the software you mentioned all seems like stuff that will pretty much guaranteed work with Wine, as none of it sounds like it would use any really low-level system/kernel stuff. Also, a lot of older legacy Windows software from older versions won't even work on Windows 10, and it works in Wine. Which is hilarious, that there are WIndows programs that work on Linux but not on Windows itself. Every games store works on Linux, even though all of them except steam only have Windows versions. The Epic Games Store, The Bethesda store, Battle.Net, GOG, Uplay, they all run through Wine. Again, Proton is just a fork of Wine, "Wine with extra spice," as the devs call it. Generally Proton is used for Steam games, Wine for non-Steam games, but Proton can absolutely be used for non-Steam games as well. What are the actual names of the software you mentioned? I mean it's kind of weird that you literally didn't mention a single actual name, it's kind of like you didn't care if the answer was yes, you just wanted to make a smartass comment, not knowing that oh, yeah the software probably does work. But if you tell me the names, I'll gladly download whichever of them are free to download, and tell you if they work.
  • This could change many things. Personally, I would like to have a linux base gaming PC.
  • "Gaming on Linux has come a long way and Windows should be concerned"
    This is the caption of your article while the Title (I am thinking you changed it) is "Linux is now a viable OS for PC gamers, thanks to Steam's Proton initiative"
    Your Caption or probably original title definitely has to be a joke. It is a joke by doing the most simplistic data review using couple of indicators
    1) You can not run or play games on a desktop gaming PC that you don't have.
    2) Percentile (5) as unit of sample size or population aggregation dictates 1 < 100 ""
    In April 2019, Windows had a desktop market share of 79.24%.
    (Source: StatCounter) OS X reached a 14.64% desktop market share during the period of April 2018 – April 2019.
    (Source: StatCounter) In April 2019, Windows had a desktop market share of 79.24%.
    (Source: StatCounter) The current Linux desktop market share is between 1.74 – 2.18%, according to the usage share of operating systems.
    (Source: W3Cook)
    In April 2019, Linux’s desktop market share was estimated to be 1.63%.
    (Source: StatCounter) So, if we give Linux desktop for gaming ~2.5% global market share and Windows 79%.
    Using the indicator prescribed earlier, You me or anyone else can not run Play games on these 2.5% Linux desktops (you can run Linux in different modes on Windows PC, but that means you are still running a Windows Os and why do that when you don't have to go through all the headaches of doing that as you have mentioned in your article. 2nd indicator.: 79% market share is ginormous comparatively to Linux's 2.5%. So, what in your story should make windows to be concerned and such your article's caption is deemed a joke.
    As for your new title ""Linux is now a viable OS for PC gamers, thanks to Steam's Proton initiative", it should have been "Linux could be a viable OS for PC gamers, thanks to Steam's Proton initiative"
  • Not sure those stats are correct. Windows has a 87% marketshare worldwide. And Linux 2.03% as of November 2019.
  • Over the summer I updated my computer, to run Linux, with up-to-date, moderate hardware. I went with AMD gpu because I read they had better Linux driver support (open) than nVidia. I tried a handful of Steam games marked as Linux-supported, they ran pretty good. The most intense was Portal 2, and it crashed occasionally, like 1x - 2x / week. Then, I got an Oculus Quest. Oculus said they would support running games from PC to Quest with a new Link software, and a cable. But -- only on Windows 10 (this strikes me as funny since Oculus devices run Android or Linux, something not Windows). So I got a new NVMe card drive to install Windows 10 on my machine because I read that if you don't activate Windows, you can run it without having to pay. So far it's good, only drawback is I cannot customize the Desktop -- which is insignificant because I just wanted to use Windows to run some games. Then when I went to Steam, because they have some games that will run on Oculus Quest as a VR game, I saw so many more titles for Windows. So far I have tried 3: Star Trek Online, Age of Empires 2, and Detached (great VR game). Windows 10:
    Age of Empires: game crashes around 30 to 60 minutes of play. BSOD.
    Star Trek: crashes within 30 minutes. Task Manager > GPU shows '3D' drop to 0, close the program, then a spike to 100%.
    Detached: game crashed once or twice within 60 minutes of play, I think all of Windows -- it was hard to see with the headset on. What I really like about the Windows BSOD, it shows a QR code to scan for more info while it reboots. But it reboots in 10 seconds, faster than I can unlock my phone and scan the code. From the comments above, I'll try Steam games with WINE and Proton, maybe they will run better than on Windows 10. I can't figure out how to fix my Windows 10 crashes.
  • Linux has a 2.03% marketshare worldwide as of November 2019. Windows has 87% worldwide marketshare. I really don't think MS has anything whatsoever to worry about. Like nothing at all.
  • Nobody needs that and nobody cares.
  • Now if one could only also develop games well on Linux.... Still dreaming of only using Linux Mint as the full time platform. One day.... One day....
  • Honestly, I prefer to run Manjaro than anything Ubuntu-based for gaming. However, Manjaro is less newbie-friendly than something like Mint or elementary; it likes to break itself every so often (though, let's face it, it can often be user error). Since my role here is centered around PC gaming, I've gone back to Windows, but I still miss running Linux as a daily driver. Dual booting, like others mentioned here, can lead to problems and I haven't had the time to set up a VM solution.