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Linux and Gaming: Episode 2

Alright your questions came flooding in after the last Linux and Gaming article. So lets get started.

 

Q: Difference between Linux distributions  and Windows in performance, graphics quality, and stability.

A: The issue with answering this question is it isn’t totally straight forward. I have my PC dual-booted with both Arch and Windows 8 and different factors come in to play that affect performance. For starters it varies on a game to game basis. Some games perform better on Linux than they do on Windows and vise versa, but your drivers also contribute to that performance. If you are on Linux and are using novereau drivers you are going to get worse performance because they lack 3D acceleration, but those drivers often play nicer with newer kernel updates. Valve games usually perform better on Linux, in games like CS:GO and L4D2 I have seen FPS boosts ranging from +4 to +12 FPS, and this usually comes from the fact that Linux requires much less system resources to run. Dying Light however ran like crap right out of the gate on Linux, but the most recent updates have improved that greatly and I can say now the performance is comparable to Windows.

 

Q: The very first thing I would like to know is how long you actually using Linux?

A: For general desktop use I have been using Linux for going on 8 years now, but for gaming its as little as 2 years. My dad always had a strong interest in Linux, so I was always around it growing up. Linux has changed a lot since the 90’s.

 

Q: What are the best distributives for work and gaming? I’m interested in common opinion and your personal too.

A: If you are tech savvy and want to take the extra time to configure it, Arch Linux is hands down the best distro for work in my opinion and that seems to be the general consensus as well among my colleges in the IT world. The beauty of Linux is that because it is so customizable you can make any distro fit your individual needs. Some distros are designed to be feature rich and some a designed to be lite. As far as gaming is concerned Valve officially supports Ubuntu, and I have used Ubuntu a lot and it works great, but I can’t say it works any better than arch does although there are more things you have to do to get steam running on Arch.

 

Q: Have you tried SteamOS? What do you think about it? Can you compare it with some other (and best) distributions?

A: Yes I have used Steam OS, and right now since it is still in Beta it isn’t all that different from Debian Wheezy although I did not have to configure my graphics driver with Steam OS when I first booted. Right now it is too early to really give Steam OS a fair comparison, but it is Debian based so you will have a similar experience on Steam OS as you would with regular Debian or even a stripped Ubuntu.

 

Q: What kind of Windows things you wish were on Linux too? Software, for example.

A: Adobe software. I hate Adobe for a number of reasons, but honestly I haven’t found anything that compares to Photoshop. I mean Gimp is good, but Photoshop is so feature rich and solid that I wish it were available. Oh and Blizzard games, although they all run just fine in WINE.

 

Q: I think linux is hard. installing driver (gpu) is nightmare. I could not nvidia driver ubuntu vs… Have you try stemos? is SteamOS GUI easy? How is driver support?

A: This is one of the biggest turn offs for people coming from Windows to Linux. Linux doesn’t quite have the developer support that Windows does so you have to configure a lot yourself. If you update your graphics driver you may have to update your kernel as well, and if you reboot you may have to configure that graphics driver in the terminal. Linux (as well as OS X) is a Shell interface with a GUI built on top of it. If you install a server version of Ubuntu you will be prompted with a bash terminal as opposed to a regular gui. Windows is a GUI interface with a terminal shell built on top. Using Windows is like owning a car that has its hood locked so that you can’t mess with the engine, you won’t mess anything up, but it is harder to fix as well. Linux (and OS X) give you the ability to work directly with your system. Fortunately the Linux community is actually fairly large and is historically composed of mostly IT professionals who are more than happy to help out noobs.

 

Q: I’m interested in running Windows games under Linux. I’ve heard that there is a program, Wine or something. Can you talk about it?

A: Ahhhh WINE, thanks to you I can play Terraria and Starcraft 2 to my heart’s desire. WINE is essentially a Windows emulator and it works fairly well, although some games take more steps than others to get working. The easiest way to get games running in Wine is to install “Play On Linux” as it can manage multiple versions of Wine for the best compatibility. Also you can install the Windows version of Steam in Wine and most games that I have tried run great that way, although there are exceptions that take more to configure (Terraria).

 

Q: Seems like most games on Steam require Ubuntu Linux for OS. What if I use Fedora or Debian, for instance? And is gaming on linux today pretty much hassle free, with the coming of Steam.

A: I myself have never used Fedora for gaming so I can’t speak directly about it. Ubuntu is a derivative of Debian and takes nearly 90% of its packages from Debian so yes Debian will work fine. The only hassle you’ll have is kernel and driver updates, but once you do it a couple of times it is easy. I imagine that Valve is working with Nvidia and AMD to streamline the process for Steam OS, but nothing has been announced.

That about wraps it up for this time around. Keep those questions flowing in and I will keep answering them. As usual enter your questions in the form here.

Matt Followell

Matt Followell is another contributing author here at DSOGaming. A long time fan of PC Gaming and a huge supporter of the open source and homebrew movement. You’ll see him interacting with the community from time to time going by the user-name of Radapples. Contact: Email