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Geek Proud, GeekOut.

Linux Gaming

After a conversation brought up on a fantastic post, I thought I’d talk about gaming on Linux. So before we delve too deep into what games are available, let’s talk about what Linux is, what is the point of Linux, what are the benefits (And the negatives) of using Linux and how you can get started.

My Linux distribution

At the time of writing, I’m not using the optimal distribution for my Linux build. I run a Linux-based Operating System (OS) called Ubuntu and I’m running Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin). Now you might be wondering “What the heck does a Precise Pangolin have to do with this?” – Each major revision of Ubuntu has a codename, this one happens to be Precise Pangolin. Perfect.

I picked this build as it was the Ubuntu Long-Term Support (LTS) which means that if anything goes wrong, your build will be supported officially. The LTS lasts for 2 years before it goes onto the next LTS (So the next one will be version 14.04, set to come out this year). Now, this might be a lot of jargon for people who don’t know what Linux is all about or what it can do for gaming. Carry on below!

Hardware

My hardware is pretty outdated in all fairness. I have a GeForce 9600 GX graphics card with 4GB of RAM. I run an Intel i3 which is overclocked at 4ghz p/core and with a 750w Power Supply Unit (PSU). I use a 7200RPM 126GB HDD, but I’ve got a 500GB one just… Sat here… Doing nothing!

So my hardware isn’t very well optimised by any stretch of the imagination. So how can I do gaming!? Well, on this rig, which wouldn’t be too expensive to buy now-a-days (£200ish, I’d wager!) I was even able to play games such as Skyrim. So don’t think “My computer is too old for gaming” – ever! Unless your computer cannot run a modern operating system. With this being said…

My transition to Linux

Tux, the Linux mascot.

My transition to Linux was met mostly with me being really stubborn, unwilling to move and over glorifying Windows. Let me break this down, though:

I started with praising Windows and Microsoft in general. I was saying how “Windows has made it all easy” to which the response to me would always be “Yes, but you also don’t know enough of what’s going on.” To me, that didn’t matter. Computing was easy with Windows and that is where everyone was, so why should I go to something that might require a few more seconds of set up time and it’s less popular?

I decided though, that I’d give this whole “Linux malarkey” a try, since hey, I call myself a technology lover! So, I boot up a virtual machine and I get a hold of this one called “Ubuntu”, which just so happens to be the most popular (Citation needed) distribution of Linux. I grabbed myself some software to run a virtual machine (VirtualBox) and grabbed an Ubuntu iso.

Please note: This software is free and open source, hence I was able to grab an ISO, which is one of the ways the developers distribute their operating system. Don’t believe me? http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop for more information.

The day Windows collapsed (For me)

Windows 8 had been released and I didn’t like the way it looked, not one bit. I was playing on my computer as per usual, when suddenly and dramatically, it gave me the dreaded Blue Screen of Death! Cue the dramatic music. Yes, it all happened around the time Windows 8 was released – But I’m not blaming Windows 8 for anything, it literally just happened that way.

So, after some examination, I decided: “I need to reinstall Windows.” – It was pretty far gone. Memory issues (not hard drive space, but issues allocating memory properly.) No idea how it managed to get that bad, not my magical Windows… But, I didn’t have my Windows 7 disk. This wasn’t looking good. Head in my hands, I looked at… It. That Ubuntu distribution which I had also put onto a pen drive in the month – Just because it was so easy…

Reformat. Boot from USB… And there it was.

The Ubuntu installation wizard was there in front of me… And it is no harder than installing Windows. In other words, it was very easy.

See? It even tells you what you have and don’t have. -Disclaimer- This was taken from https://help.ubuntu.com/community/GraphicalInstall

Why I have not gone back

Several reasons:

From a really intuitive command line (Typing sudo apt-get install (Package name) will search repositories for any package by that name and will then proceed to install it) to a very customisable operating system, Linux/Ubuntu is a techies heaven. With all the source code editable, you can do whatever you want to do with your computer. This, to me, made it very appealing.

But what about all the games I lost out on? Sure, there have been a number, including the phenominal Saints Row 4 (I am a big fan of the Saints Row series)… But, we know there has been a shift for more Linux gamers recently.

A request

I’m one man. Statistically, that makes me irrelevant. I understand this, but if you’re a developer and you’re reading this, I’m not going to tell you to “Produce games only for Linux”. I’m going to ask you, instead, “Please, consider making your game available on Linux as well as Windows and Mac.”

I won’t pretend to know everything about porting your game, as I barely know anything at all about such things! However, there are lots of resources for porting your game over to Linux now-a-days. With this being said, I won’t keep on at you all if your game isn’t on Linux, it’s not for everyone and the world understands. It doesn’t matter what language you use, for the most part, there are ways to port your game over… And I, a Linux gamer, would be incredibly interested to hear from you if you’re planning a Linux port!

My personal Steam list

When I started on Ubuntu, Valve just announced and released Steam for Ubuntu. This was an incredible turn of events for me and when I started, I only had around 10 of my roughly 100 games for Linux. It was quite a sad time, but hey, I persevered and I am glad I did.

Now, as you can see, I have quite a filling list… A lot of these games: I’ve yet to play!

My steam library - Well, a fair bit of it. 54 of my 121 games are available on Linux.

My steam library – Well, a fair bit of it. 54 of my 121 games are available on Linux.

If you think you see a game on that list you’d like to see reviewed on this site, let me know and I’ll do it for you guys. Just for you guys. Don’t tell anyone else. Okay, tell everyone else.

Let me know what you’d like to see and if you’d like to see more information on Ubuntu, please do visit http://www.ubuntu.com/ . More free open source software is a great thing, but if you do end up downloading Ubuntu and enjoying it, please consider donating to them, as it helps keep them going. It gets them coffee in the mornings to develop nice apps and updates to your computers for free.

One thing to note, a majority of my games are what are considered “Indie” games. Take what you will from that, I’ll review whatever is on the list.

The other games on my list (not many more) are:

  • Rush
  • Secret of the Magic Crystal (I was gifted this. Oh boy.)
  • Snapshot
  • Space Pirates and Zombies (When I first tried, it crashed first time… I’m sure I can get it to work)
  • Strike Suit Zero
  • Super Hexagon
  • Superfrog HD
  • Surgeon Simulator 2013
  • Team Fortress 2
  • Thomas Was Alone
  • Toki Tori
  • Trine 2
  • Worms Reloaded

Thanks to all the readers who make this worthwhile :) You rock.

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5 responses

  1. Firstly, I would like to say that it was a nice post!

    It reminds me of when I started of with Fedora as my first Linux distro a couple of years ago. I cannot tell exactly what it is with the Linux distributions, but it feels (for me) like you are in charge of that computer instead of it being the other way around. Even if it started of as a “for fun” thing back then I feel more comfortable using Linux today.

    Wine and PlayOnLinux does a good job when it comes to emulating Windows but sometimes it does not work as good as supposed to. A tip would be to have a look at the database of programs which Wine has at appdb.winehq.org. There they list which programs work with the emulator and how well the program works together with the emulator.

    Like

    February 25, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    • Well, many thanks for the enthusiastic response!

      Yes, I use PlayOnLinux myself to run GOG.com games. I understand the basics of what POL does, in that it attempts to create a wrapper that Linux can understand.

      I agree with you: I feel more comfortable with my Ubuntu distribution than I have ever felt with Windows. It’s no disrespect to Windows, I think it’s the best OS for someone who’s “New to computers” (I rate it easier to use than Macs personally), however to someone who wants some control over their machines, Linux feels like freedom. It’s exciting, but there is a small learning curve. Ubuntu eliminates the need of “Learning Linux”, but of course, the shell is the shell and is usable on just about any distro.

      Very good point with the database! Perhaps I should do another section to this post dedicated to PlayOnLinux and it’s uses!

      Thanks for the comment :)

      Like

      February 25, 2014 at 8:34 pm

  2. Pingback: GeekOut social expansion | GeekOut South-West

  3. I like the Ubuntu section. If I had a big touch screen, I would apply my Pi to the Calendar project. For now I am buying cheap hardware add-ons just to see how versatile it is–no tangible project in mind yet. I am not really a robot or flashy lights person. Maybe something will come up soon. The Chinese parts keep coming in on the ‘slow boat from China’ each month.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 12, 2016 at 2:14 pm

  4. I also as person above remembered first experience related to Linux OS.
    Thanks for your article.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 15, 2017 at 1:20 pm

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