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Voice's Amazing Linux Gaming Topic

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So with the announcement of Valve's upcoming SteamOS theres no doubt that some here are curious about it and how to get in on it. First off its important to know that technically speaking SteamOS is already publicly available as at it's core as it will just be the Steam client running in Big Picture Mode on a specialized version of Linux (most probably modified from the Ubuntu distribution.) The final SteamOS will probably contain even more optimizations towards gaming as Ubuntu is generally geared toward the casual PC user. BTW, some SEGA developers are showing interest in / have released their games on the Linux platform.

 

 

Opening FAQ

 

 

Isn't Linux all command line?!” No. There are a number of desktop environments available: KDE, Unity, GNOME, Cinnamon, MATE, XFCE for example.

 

But some of the instructions mention command line commands!” Yup, and if you follow them you should be ok, that said make sure you absolutely trust the site before performing commands in the command line, sudo apt-get install is usually pretty safe, sudo rm -rf / not so safe. Look at it this way, unlike Windows if you corrupt / mess up your Linux install you can just reinstall the entire OS, no licensing hassles! A typical Linux install takes about 20 minutes anyways on a modern computer with a decent internet connection, compared to the three hours it took me to install Windows 7 last time.

 

Linux users are mean when I ask for help!!!” There is a long standing mentality of RTFM (Read the f'ing manual!) however this is because if you spend five minutes on google you can typically find a solution to your problem. It also helps if you ask the right questions, just saying your sound isn't working doesn't give anyone a good idea of whats up, for all we know you unplugged your headphones. Critical thinking, it helps!

 

Can I keep Windows?” See the installation section below.

 

"Keyboard and mouse only?" Nope, XBOX360 and Playstation 3 as well as other game pads are able to be used on Linux as well and at least I know Euro Turck Simulator 2 supports it right out of the box.

 

 

Installing Linux to install Steam

 

First things first in this section, obtain a installer for a Linux distribution (a distribution is more or less a selection of applications and special configurations around the Linux kernel itself.) Seeing as most of the developers are using Ubuntu as their base platform for development / porting I would go with that until SteamOS is released, you can obtain Ubuntu over at http://www.ubuntu.com/ and I would personally recommend using the USB method of installing the Ubuntu installer to a thumb drive if your computer can boot from USB http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/create-a-usb-stick-on-windows, otherwise do the DVD method. Ubuntu's site has instructions on how to install at http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/install-desktop-latest but as long as you know how to reach your computer's boot menu its simple and straight forward. When in doubt, default.

 

I highly recommend you install Linux to a second hard drive. You can obtain a second hard drive fairly cheap these days, $68.99 for a 320GB drive complete with cabling. The whole process of installing multiple Operating Systems on the same physical computer is called Dual-Booting. If you're feeling frisky you can try installing Ubuntu on the same drive as Windows but I would not recommend this unless you know what the hell you are doing. Windows by itself cannot resize its disk partition to be smaller, for that you'll need a third party app, and even then if you make it too small you'll nuke some of your data and risk corrupting Windows. Linux will install and work on the same drive as Windows, however due to the way Windows installs itself extra care must be taken when installing to the same drive. How do you know a partition is Windows? Look for the key signs: NTFS or FAT32 will be it's partition type. Again, UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO INSTALL LINUX ON THE SAME DRIVE AS WINDOWS.

 

 

A word on video drivers

 

While AMD has a set of drivers readily available it tends to be agreed upon that their Catalyst drivers are fairly bad on Linux, a situation AMD is trying to fix! nVidia all Linux fanboys will know of because of Linus Torvalds giving them the finger during a presentation due to their failure to support Linux, it wasn't until this and Valve getting involved that nVidia started actually stepping up their game (haha I made a punny) and truly started supporting Linux, as of writing this the current version of nVidia's drivers available are at 331.13. Intel is trying, but they still have a long ways to go.

 

I personally only have any real heavy experience on nVidia so I will leave this tidbit for you, once you have Ubuntu installed go ahead and navigate your way to http://www.ubuntuupdates.org/ppa/xorg-edgers for information on how to obtain the latest nVidia drivers. For Optimus users, it sucks but nVidia seems to have no intention of fixing this, which will make your lives all the more complicated and frustrating, go to http://bumblebee-project.org/install.html for more information.

 

If you ever want to know what your driver is or if its loaded, open your terminal and type glxinfo | grep version you should see something like this:

server glx version string: 1.4 
client glx version string: 1.4 
GLX version: 1.4 
OpenGL version string: 3.0 Mesa 9.1.4 
OpenGL shading language version string: 1.30 

This was done on my laptop which runs optimus, if you have bumble bee installed add optirun before glxinfo you'll get this:

server glx version string: 1.4 
client glx version string: 1.4 
GLX version: 1.4 
OpenGL version string: 4.2.0 NVIDIA 304.88 
OpenGL shading language version string: 4.20 NVIDIA via Cg compiler 

Installing Steam

 

http://store.steampowered.com/about/ - Double-click on the .deb it downloads. Next!

 

Helping the community (Help me to help you!)

 

Thats right, theres a community within a community, check it out! http://steamcommunity.com/groups/steamlug We also have a IRC channel available at https://steamlug.org/irc or if you're feeling geeky: irc.freenode.net - #steamlug

 

Feel free to ask any questions you have, most are quite willing to help out or at least listen in.

 

Installed Steam and found a bug with the client or a game, in particular a Valve game? https://github.com/ValveSoftware/ Go ahead and submit a bug report! The developers can't fix a issue if they don't know about it. For other games you'll more than likely need to go to their communities to report issues, I'm sure Sonic Team does not monitor Valve's git hub tongue.png

 

Other Resources

 

http://store.steampowered.com/browse/linux/ - Steam's Linux page, new games coming all the time.

http://steamdb.info/linux/ - Steam DB is a less pretty list of games, more techy, but it also gives you updates on when a game may have been updated, is it supported, is it being worked on, etc.

http://www.desura.com/ - Steam isn't the only kid on the block supporting Linux.

http://www.reddit.com/r/linux_gaming - Even invaded Reddit.

http://unigine.com/products/benchmarks/ - See how well your Linux setup handles OpenGL's advanced features as well as your CPU's physics handling abilities.

 

Picture of Amy on fire, because why the hell not!

amyonfire.jpg

Edited by voice

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I'd like to add to this with Wubi. Wubi is basically an installer that allows you to install Ubuntu inside an existing Windows installation (this does not mean running it inside Windows, however). I wouldn't recommend it for a long-term installation as it apparently has some corruption issues (If this happens, try defragmenting Windows; it fixed it for me before), but if you want to try Ubuntu safely without getting another hard drive, it's a good idea.

If you don't want to get another hard drive and Wubi doesn't appeal to you, then there's an official guide to Dual-Booting. For more info on that, just Google for "Ubuntu dual-boot".

I'd also like to reiterate that Ubuntu is not the only, or the best, Linux distribution. It is relatively well-documented and user-friendly, but personally I don't like it, and here are some reasons why:

  • Ubuntu sends desktop search data to Amazon and other content providers, so that they can provide "suggestions" when you search for files on your computer. I'm not one of those "omg spies" people, but I think this is unnecessary. Source. Go to https://fixubuntu.com/ for instructions on disabling this.
  • If you didn't already know, Ubuntu is an open-source operating system. This means that it is developed transparently and out in the open, and anyone can contribute to it and see what's happening. This transparency is a basic expectation of Ubuntu from its users and community. However, parts of recent versions have been developed in secret to avoid criticism, which understandably caused many raised eyebrows in the community. Source
  • Ubuntu's new-ish user interface design comes dangerously close to being "tabletized", which means attempting to cater to smartphones and tablets at the same time as desktops. I don't believe this was officially confirmed, but it's a reasonable conclusion considering what it looks like, and the fact that Canonical went on about tablets and tried to release an official Ubuntu smartphone. This is a practice that garnered much criticism from the community.
  • Ubuntu is more concerned with sophisticated graphical effects than performance. There is no longer an option to disable graphical effects, as there was in previous versions (source: experience). They want to write a new window system to achieve this. Source
Does this mean that you shouldn't use it? No, not necessarily. But know that you have options, should you choose to use them. Personally I use Linux Mint which is a fork of Ubuntu, so it is based on Ubuntu but doesn't have their new user interface or other controversial features. And because of this, many solutions and documentation that work for Ubuntu will also work for Mint. Mint's pretty user-friendly as well (and it uses a type of interface which everyone will be familiar with). There are others too of course, which you can find if you search for Linux distributions (see DistroWatch). Just know that GNOME 3 (this is a desktop environment, not a distribution) is something that you do not want to use. Ever. Avoid it at all costs.

I believe that Ubuntu is probably a good choice for Linux newcomers, but if you want more out of your OS, then branch out a bit.

Also, thank you voice for creating this topic. Linux awareness = good smile.png

Edited by Frogging101

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Don't get me wrong, theres hundreds of distros out there to choose from, some good, some not so good, go on down to http://distrowatch.com/ and take your pick! The reason I chose Ubuntu, though, is like as I said in my initial post that the developers seem to be using Ubuntu as their base development platform, meaning their games will be built to the libraries and system setups that Ubuntu provides.

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I personally stopped using Ubuntu after they put that Unity interface, my computer was crashing all the time. If you like Ubuntu's easiness then I recommend Mint or Debian.

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I personally stopped using Ubuntu after they put that Unity interface, my computer was crashing all the time. If you like Ubuntu's easiness then I recommend Mint or Debian.

 

Once you have Ubuntu installed its not too hard to change out the desktop environment, you can do the following:

 

MATE Desktop: http://wiki.mate-desktop.org/download#ubuntu_raring_ringtail_1304_repository

Cinnamon Desktop: https://launchpad.net/~gwendal-lebihan-dev/+archive/cinnamon-stable

 - sudo touch /etc/apt/cinnamon.d/cinnamon.list

- sudo echo deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable/ubuntu raring main > /etc/apt/cinnamon.d/cinnamon.list

- sudo echo deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable/ubuntu raring main > /etc/apt/cinnamon.d/cinnamon.list

- sudo apt-get update

- sudo apt-get install cinnamon

GNOME: sudo apt-get install gnome-desktop-environment

KDE: sudo apt-get install kde-plasma-desktop

XFCE: sudo apt-get install xfce4

 

Keep in mind this is all going off of if you're on Ubuntu, and even Linux Mint.

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I have a Ubunto, Windows Vista (eh it's mostly for backup files from when I was using it, I never boot into it anymore) and Windows 7 tri-boot going on. Of course, my bootloader of choice is Grub (Legacy version). My desktop environment is Cinnamon (because fuck Unity), and I've customized it even more to my satisfaction.

 

That's the thing about Linux: Almost independent of the Distro (unless the Distro really sucks beyond belief), Linux is heavily customizable- infinitely more than Windows. Many of the reasons people don't like Ubunto can be "fixed" with tweaking. I won't defend the issues being there to begin with, but I will defend it as one of the most adopted, easy to install and use distros. It's what is developed for mainly by develops, thus I say the pros outweigh the cons. Most if not all of the cons can be fixed, and that's why I've chosen it.

 

One plus in general with Linux, is its file system selections. I'm not going to bash Windows, since I'm not that kinda guy (hey, I like Windows 7), but NTFS is not as good as say, ext4 or ext3 even- but you're stuck with it if you're using Windows. As for these file systems, they're faster and more efficient, especially at searching through your files. ext basically has a file archiving system where it remembers where each file is stored. And Unix/Linux has many other file system options. Also, unlike Windows, Linux does not have, or need, a "System Registry" - one of my biggest beefs with Windows is the completely useless feature that causes more problems than it's worth.

 

So generally, I like choice and freedom, and Linux offers me that. Windows still has a massive head start on the part of computers I care about most: Gaming. And while Linux has made a massive leap compared to what it was before thanks to Steam for Linux and also the improvements to Wine for non-native stuff, I hope eventually, I'll have no more -need- to use Windows. I personally do like Linux better, but until it can effectively replace Windows I'll mostly use Windows.

Edited by Shade Vortex

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We'll certainly have to see what happens in 2014 <Insert generic Year of the Linux Desktop joke here>. As I stated in my opening post, there are developers (including SEGA developers) taking an interest in SteamOS. If SEGA starts telling their studios to begin developing on the platform that will be a big boost seeing as at the moment Valve is the only AAA studio actively developing and releasing on the platform. John Carmack (id Software) has also taken an interest and although I lost quite a bit of respect for him over the RAGE incident it would be awesome to see him and id take on the platform as well. 

 

As for everything else Windows does, I honestly only ever use Windows nowadays for games like GTA IV or Generations (though Generations will work in Wine.) All major web browsers, except for IE, and who really willingly uses IE nowadays, work on Linux. All major sites will work on Linux, and if they don't they're actively working on it via the transition to HTML5. Libreoffice, to me, is an effective replacement for Word. I have a Android phone so I don't have to put up with that iTunes crap, which doesn't matter anyways because there is no Linux version of iTunes :P

 

There are some flaws though, because most guides will tell you to enter commands in the terminal and Linux doesn't hand-hold like Windows does it is fairly easy to corrupt your install, thats why I said only enter commands you trust. There is also some hardware that does not work on Linux at the moment because the company that produces the hardware has not released a Linux driver, this was the case for my Hercules webcam for about three years until someone wrote a driver themselves. 

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<Insert generic Year of the Linux Desktop joke here>

Program YOTLD;

Uses CRT;

Var
  CurrentYear : integer;

Begin
  clrscr;
  write('What is the current year? ');
  readLn(CurrentYear);
  writeLn('The Year of The Linux Desktop is ', CurrentYear + 1);
  readLn;

End. 

Sorry, I couldn't leave it alone. I'm a bad person :/

 

 

I don't have to put up with that iTunes crap, which doesn't matter anyways because there is no Linux version of iTunes

 

This bothered me for a while when I began to use Linux years ago. Since that time iPod support has gotten a lot better. The newest iPhone won't work sure, but I've had good luck with some of the older iPods on Linux.

 

One thing I'd highly recommend is always trying a LiveCD first vs just installing. A LiveCD will let you boot into Linux without installing and can give you an early heads up if something isn't going to work. Most distro's boot to the desktop first and will then allow you to install, but some don't. When you've got a LiveCD up and running just check the wifi, sound and other stuff to make sure.

 

Also, just because something doesn't work right away doesn't mean you can't make it. In most cases you can, but it's nice to know first.

 

I'm a KDE Mint user and I'd highly recommend it, but there are lots of choices. It's worth noting that even a really old computer should run Linux well (thought not for gaming), just chose something lighter like XFCE.

Edited by HorrorLlama.rar

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Once you have Ubuntu installed its not too hard to change out the desktop environment, you can do the following:

 

MATE Desktop: http://wiki.mate-desktop.org/download#ubuntu_raring_ringtail_1304_repository

Cinnamon Desktop: https://launchpad.net/~gwendal-lebihan-dev/+archive/cinnamon-stable

 - sudo touch /etc/apt/cinnamon.d/cinnamon.list

- sudo echo deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable/ubuntu raring main > /etc/apt/cinnamon.d/cinnamon.list

- sudo echo deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/gwendal-lebihan-dev/cinnamon-stable/ubuntu raring main > /etc/apt/cinnamon.d/cinnamon.list

- sudo apt-get update

- sudo apt-get install cinnamon

GNOME: sudo apt-get install gnome-desktop-environment

KDE: sudo apt-get install kde-plasma-desktop

XFCE: sudo apt-get install xfce4

 

Keep in mind this is all going off of if you're on Ubuntu, and even Linux Mint.

I know that, but it still crashed lol. Granted, that was 3-4 years ago, when they switched to Unity (Cinammon didn't even exist actually, my option was gnome). But, I switched distros and never looked back.

 

Actually, right now I'm on Windows, I used Mint only for some university thingies. I may go back to Linux systems for Steam OS, though right now I'm perfectly fine with my Windows 7.

 

Talking about Ubuntu, some of my friends were complaining that you need to download Synaptic separately now. Why did Canonical took this approach? 

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I know that, but it still crashed lol. Granted, that was 3-4 years ago, when they switched to Unity (Cinammon didn't even exist actually, my option was gnome). But, I switched distros and never looked back.

 

Actually, right now I'm on Windows, I used Mint only for some university thingies. I may go back to Linux systems for Steam OS, though right now I'm perfectly fine with my Windows 7.

 

Talking about Ubuntu, some of my friends were complaining that you need to download Synaptic separately now. Why did Canonical took this approach? 

 

I use Linux as my primary, both on my desktop and my laptop (and of course my servers), the only reason I kick over to Windows is for games at the moment. As for Ubuntu nixing Synaptic as included app, Synaptic is a UI front end to the Apt package manager, Ubuntu's Software Center is the same, albeit Software Center has a prettier look. They probably got rid of Synaptic to cut back on redundant applications, not too hard to use Software Center to install Synaptic though tongue.png

 

Remember, one of the perks to using Linux is less disk space used, iirc Windows 7 Ultimate ends up using 20GB after installation to Ubuntu's 8GB.

 

For comparison sake and to back up my previous statement I did do a quick lookup on installation sizes: Windows 7 Ultimate x64 requires 20GB, 16GB for x86. This is required disk space AVAILABLE, not recommended. I did not get a clear answer on the Ubuntu size and I'm too lazy to install a VM to check, so I just did a quick check on my laptop which has been running Mint 15 the past few months: 7.2GB excluding /home which is where user files reside.

Edited by voice

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Guess whos baaaaack! tongue.png
 
Just thought I'd give an update since I can't while at work. There are current developments in progress right now to make gaming on Linux just as capable as it is on Windows:
 
Simple Screen Recorder - Think FRAPS but free and for Linux.

OBS Studio (Redux) - I'm sure most of you are aware of the OBS Project by now. For those who do not, OBS is a free open-source piece of software to allow recording and streaming of desktop/webcam/video game content to service providers like Livestream and Twitch, its the free alternative to XSplit. After quite a bit of development it appears the guy writting the bulk of the code realized that he locked it down to Windows via the APIs. Theres other reasons too, like sloppy code....so hes re-writting it from scratch, this time with multi-platform compatability in mind and well as cleaner code. You can read more details here.

 

By the way folks, if you know of other resources to make Linux gaming more fun / interesting please feel free to post them here.

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Thought I'd pop back in for a small update: As of Wine 1.7 Sonic Generations works 99%, the only flaws are some frame drops here and there but as I recall it was noted that the PC port was poorly optimized to begin with. Oh well.

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