I’ve been gaming exclusively on linux for almost as long as proton has been a thing1. Which is to say years. Long enough that windows seems like a distant memory to me now, as gaming was the last remaining reason to have a windows machine in my household. This might color my experience somewhat, as I don’t have a clear picture of what worked well on windows, or what didn’t. What I can say is that now, in 2022, gaming is better on linux than it ever has been. And with hardware like the steam deck putting linux gaming in the hands of long-time windows users, it’s only going to get better.

I made the jump myself largely due to cost/convenience. Windows is known for messing with the boot-loader when dual booting, and I didn’t need windows enough to warrant another system. And there was no way I was giving up developing on linux for a better experience gaming. I can honestly say there have been a few pleasant surprises along the way though. The biggest is probably the community/ecosystem around linux gaming.

Take gamescope for example. A window manager that you can run in any desktop environment, it gives a game a virtual display, which it then renders on your display. This means it can do stuff like:

  • prevent issues tabbing between windows
  • set the resolution of the display the game sees
    • this can be used to fix issues w/ ultra-wide or 4k displays
  • support FSR (up-scaling) for all games

Another tool I use extensively is borg backup, an enterprise level backup software, to save snapshots of all my save files every hour and upload them to an NAS (network attached storage) sitting under my TV. It de-duplicates the backups, meaning if part of a file hasn’t changed it won’t consume more space, and you have granular control about how many backups are kept. It’s like steam cloud save on steroids.

These are only a couple of the tools I leverage every time I go to play games on linux. Don’t get me wrong, there are still issues with games that don’t work, or don’t work as well. Most of which are due to anti-cheat… i.e. developers choosing to ban linux players for fear of cheating (despite the fact it’s just as easy to cheat on old windows systems as it is on linux). Overall it’s been a great experience, and I doubt I’ll ever go back to Windows.

  1. proton is a compatibility tool that allows Windows games to be played on Linux ↩︎