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Key points

Advantage Native Linux version of Steam has been released.
Advantage The number of natively supported Linux games has dramatically increased with the introduction of the Humble Indie Bundle.
Disadvantage Windows-only games can be run using Wine but this can be significantly more challenging than on Windows.

Information Linux store
Information GOG FAQ and troubleshooting thread for Linux


Information Steam Linux store
Information Steam Linux community
Information GitHub bug reporting
Information Ubuntu Wiki - guide to Steam.


Information List of Steam games with Linux native ports


More information Gaming on Linux - a large community.
More information r/linux_gaming - subreddit.
More information Linux game database - resource of games and tools.
More information #steamlug - IRC chat room.
More information Linux Game Cast - pod/videocast.
More information Holarse - German language.


Many different distributions of Linux exist. A great family is based on Debian (Ubuntu is Debian-based). An other family is rpm-based (Fedora, Mageia, PCLinuxOS, Opensuse). There are also some other smaller families as Gentoo (Sabayon is Gentoo-based), Slackware (Salix is Slackware-based) and Arch (Manjaro is Arch-based)


Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution for personal computers and is recommended for users who are making the switch from another OS to Linux. The Ubuntu Software Centre is a distribution center exclusive to this specific family of Linux distributions.

There are many Ubuntu based distributions like Linux Mint also recommended for inexperienced users


Arch Linux is one of the most popular minimalist distribution. It is only recommended for intermediate to advanced Linux users and requires a good understanding of terminal commands and patience. However one of the benefits of its minimal software approach is the user gets what software they want, the latest version of it, and performance unmatched by distros like Ubuntu.

There are also Arch based distributions. Manjaro is based on Arch and is easier to install and use than Arch.

Useful Programs[edit]


Wine is a compatibility layer that allows one to run Windows applications and games on Linux. one of the easiest and most popular way for Linux users to run programs written for Microsoft Windows. It also provides a software library that can help developers port Windows games to Linux.

Information Tools like PlayOnLinux make wine much easier to manage.

The Shell[edit]

The Unix Shell "bash" available on Linux is a very useful tool for doing system tasks. If you use Linux as your main operating system, then it is heavily recommended that you learn how to use it. Google Code University provides a good starting guide.


The Steam client for Linux only officially supports Ubuntu 12.04 LTS or later but is compatible with most distributions. You can download it from the Steam about page.


Laptop graphics[edit]

nVidia Optimus[edit]

The Bumblebee project provides support for discrete/integrated combos of graphic cards. After installing Bumblebee, games can be run on the nVidia card by running primusrun '/YOURGAMEPATH' or by adding 'primusrun %command%' to the command launch parameter in Steam.

NOTE: On some less-than-recent distributions, optirun is used in place of primusrun. The above works just as well with optirun



Fix Enabling threading optimizations

  1. Add __GL_THREADED_OPTIMIZATIONS=1 before the command of the game. For example in Steam, define the command launch paramteres as:


Information For some games, threading optimizations cause a huge improvement to the framerate of the game.

Common Fixes[edit]

Graphics Drivers[edit]

Information On Ubuntu the drivers can be installed using a graphical utility. Ubuntu will automatically notify you if there are proprietary drivers available for your graphics card to install.

As Linux by default only provides open source drivers, proprietary graphics drivers are not provided. These drivers are generally much faster and can be installed via jockey-text:

1) Install jockey-text: sudo apt-get install jockey-text

2) List drivers: jockey-text --list

3) Enable the correct driver (whichever mentions being current) e.g.: jockey-text -e xorg:nvidia_current

Disable Desktop Compositing in Fullscreen[edit]

Fix Compiz

  1. Install CCSM(CompizConfig Settings Manager)
  2. Be careful! This tool can easily break your desktop!
  3. Enable unredirect fullscreen windows under general settings
Information This is unnecessary in Ubuntu 12.10 and later, as this setting is enabled by default


  1. Press Alt+ Shift+F12 (by default) - This will toggle the feature on and off.

Alternatively, you can enable it/disable it by:

  1. Open System Settings
  2. Open the Desktop Effects section
  3. Uncheck the box that says: "Enable Desktop Effects at Startup"

Running Games on a Separate x Server[edit]

Running games on a different X server from ones main desktop can dramatically improve performance and generally reduces the amount of problems within a game especially when using an advanced compositing window manager like Compiz. To launch a separate X server with a game create a new .sh file and paste in the following code:

#! /bin/bash 
xinit $cd '/YOURGAMEPATH' $* -- :1

Save and allow the file to be executable. Running this script in the terminal will make it much easier end the server when you are finished with it. Alternatively you can set the path to a terminal emulator like Xterm /usr/bin/uxterm and launch the game from a terminal in the new server. You could even launch a file browser like nautilus /usr/bin/nautilus Press Ctrl+Alt+F7 to return to the main desktop and Ctrl+Alt+F8 to go back to the newly created one.

Fix X server Permission error Debian/Ubuntu

  1. run
    # dpkg-reconfigure x11-common
  2. Set: Move down and select "Anybody"

Fix X server Permission error Any

  1. open
  2. Set
    allowed_users=root or console

Fix No sound

  1. Open the following file as root in a text editor
  2. Find the following line
  3. Add a comma and your username ex:

Fix Fullscreen problems/cursor won't disappear

Running a very light window manager may fix some problems with fullscreen games not going fullscreen and will make the mouse courser hide when in front of a full screen window. Openbox is a very light manager that is available for many distributions.

  1. Install openbox "sudo apt-get install openbox" or the equivalent for your distribution
  2. change
    $cd 'openbox'