GNU/Linux and Gaming (and other software), July 2019

In 2009, Running mainstream programs and gaming on GNU/Linux was nearly impossible or incredibly difficult. Fast forward a decade and now it is incredibly feasible to use most mainstream GNU/Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Manjaro and even RedHat Enterprise Linux as a daily driver desktop or workstation. There are now many games and programs available native for GNU/Linux. This is mostly thanks to Flatpaks, Snaps, and Docker. These programs allow developers to package their program with exactly what it needs to run without having to worry about the GNU/Linux distribution or conflicting dependencies. The biggest issue with Linux’s popularity with Gamers and Creators users is the lack of mainstream software such as Adobe Creative Suite, Magix software such as SoundForge and Vegas Pro. While GNU/Linux has great alternatives such as Audacity, Ardour, and Kdenlive, these creators need to be able to be able to use the programs that they always use. There has been a way though, It may not be the most stable, reliable, or easist but that way is using virtual machines and compatibility layers. Need to use a Windows program? you can run it very well in a slow VM or you can use a much faster more integrated piece of software called a compatibility layer. These software stacks such as Wine or CrossOver allow you to *almost* seamlessly run many Windows Programs. Wine can run as a system wide application or it can containerize programs in Bottles. This makes it possible to pack windows programs in AppImages, FlatPaks, or Snaps which makes them extremely portable across GNU/Linux distributions (and possibly OSX and *BSD). While doing it manually is a pain there are many good programs like Winetricks to give you a nice GUI to make things easier. In August 2018 Valve annouced a program called Proton and the Proton DB which is windows game compatibility layer and Database for Steam games and software. This has made the Linux gaming seen boom and it hasn’t even been a year yet. There is also Lutris.net which is a software that can download the game, needed libraries, and set up a wine bottle for your program or game. Using a mainline distribution like Debain, Fedora, Arch, and Ubuntu and its variants such as PopOS and Manjaro will make gaming a lot easier since these distros are the most popular and have a large community to support you and fix problems. If you want to try GNU/Linux and gaming this is the time to do it! I hope going into the future Linux can have more than 2% of the desktop market share! Give it a chance if you have a spare flash drive or hard drive. or set up a dual boot if you’re not sure if you want to completely switch.

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