Updated date:

Linux OS PC Gaming Guide and Tips for Optimization

Brandon has been writing online and creating YouTube videos for the past 6 years. He specializes in computer hardware and PC gaming.

linux-gaming-guide

Most of my PC builds don’t include the Windows OS in the price. And while most gamers ultimately go with Windows, Linux is a viable option for those who would prefer to not pay for their OS or want an open-source platform.

If you’ve never used Linux before, you’ll have a bit of a learning curve here. However, that’s part of the fun. Lucky for you, it’s more user-friendly than it used to be. Linux also has a very supportive community.

Before we get started with installation, keep in mind that to install on Linux, you need to enter commands. Press Ctrl, Shift, and V to copy.

linux-gaming-guide

1. Configure Your Drivers

Before we get started, gaming on Linux does require some software knowledge. However, with these steps, you should find that process much easier.

You’ll want to use Mint or Ubuntu in order to automatically install some drivers. After that, grab the respective Linux drivers on for your NVIDIA or AMD graphics card. One quick caveat. Performance on Linux differs from that on Windows. NVIDIA drivers typically provide the best performance for most games according to the Linux community. So before you start going out and buying a graphics card, take that into consideration.

As AMD’s graphics drivers don’t work perfectly, we’d suggest taking a look at open source graphics drivers for Linux like AMDGPU if you insist on going with an AMD GPU.

Terminal Commands for:

NVIDIA Drivers:

This should make it a bit easier if you want to get right to it:

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get install nvidia-current

AMD Drivers

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:oibaf/graphics-drivers
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Don’t forget to reboot after installation.

2. Determine How You Want to Game

Linux Games on Steam

Linux Games on Steam

Gaming Option 1: Linux Games on Steam OS

One option that makes it easy is to use SteamOS to find games that are already made to run on Linux. There are quite a few games here and if you’re satisfied with the nearly 10,000 options, then it’s likely you’ll be good to go.

Gaming Option 2: Compatibility Layer—Windows Gaming On Linux

If you don’t see your favorite games on that list, don’t fret. There are still some really good ways to play those games.

If You Choose to Run Windows on Linux OS

Install WINEHQ

First, we need to set up a compatibility layer so that your Window games can communicate with Linux. Probably the best option here is WINEHQ. Download and install the latest WINE

Wine Terminal Commands:

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get install wine1.5
  • sudo apt-get install winetricks

*Allow the system to install other packages as well.

3. Choose a GUI – PlayOnLinux

Then, you’ll want to install a GUI (user interface) for it. Linus from Linus Tech Tips recommends PlayOnLinux.

Keep in mind that not every game runs perfectly this way. However, you can head over to the platinum list to find a list of games that run flawlessly out of the box. There are quite a few AAA titles in the list. Gold and silver games on this list also run very well. Have a specific game you want to run? Check out any potential issues before you buy and install.

Linus then recommends Winetricks for additional packages to install in order to get some programs to run. However, keep in mind that if you do so you might not be able to get as good of support from WineHQ.

Emulation

Want to run an Emulator on Linux? No problem. Linux has options for just about every major available console. Start by checking out options like the Dolphin Emulator for GameCube and Wii, ZSNES for your SNES games, and PCSX and PCSX2 for PS1/PS2.

This should give you a plethora of gaming options.

Summary

Overall, gaming with Linux is a bit of an art. Yes, there’s a learning curve. However, there is something satisfying about not having to pay over $100 for Windows 10. Also, there’s a huge support community over at Reddit that can help you with questions and support for specific games. Problem solving and community is part of the fun here. Additional help can be found on YouTube installation videos. If you’ve never tried Linux before, we recommend you give it a go.

Linux gaming is the perfect option to go with one of our budget PC builds. If you’re thinking about building your own gaming PC along with Linux, we recommend one of those options.

Still, if you're the kind of person that doesn't want to tinker and want things to go smoothly, you may want to opt for the traditional Windows installation.

Linus from Linus Tech Tips offered a lot of good advice for setting up and using Linux as your OS for a gaming PC. If you're looking for additional insight, I recommend you take a look at it as an additional resource.