If you’re reading this, then you have a device that can connect to the internet. As of 2021, there are almost even odds that that device will be a computer or a mobile device. If it’s the former, then it’s almost certain that it runs a version of Microsoft Windows since the operating system dominates the market with a share of more than 75%.
The next most popular operating system is macOS, with around 17%. In a distant third place is Linux, a free open-source group of operating systems that have been developed since the early 1990s.
A small community of Linux enthusiasts keep the project alive, though their ecosystem is slowly gaining on Microsoft and Apple. Since 2013, Linux has more than doubled its market share and with increased ease-of-use, better awareness, and a desire to repurpose old but functional machines.
While average consumers may not have much appetite for learning a new operating system, many enthusiasts would love to make Linux their go-to choice for daily activities. However, in the past, lack of compatibility with hardware and software has held them back. A big step forward in recent years has been to make gaming easier on Linux machines.
The gaming experience on Linux machines isn’t quite on par with that on Windows 10, but it is getting closer and will be enough for many people. Here are the main ways that Linux users can now play on their PCs.
Some of the easiest games to play on a Linux machine are ones that can be loaded from within a web browser like Chrome or Firefox. In the past, these games needed Adobe Flash to run, but the advent of HTML5 has made it obsolete.
The list of browser-based games that you can play from your computer is almost infinite. You’ll find hundreds of online slot games available to load up and play without downloading any special software, including popular titles like Age of Gods and Buffalo Chief. Popular sports games like Football Strike, Basketball Stars, and Golf Battle can also run inside most Linux browsers.
Because the browser does all the work, the game’s code doesn’t (usually) care what operating system you’re running. With the exception of a different-looking cursor, you won’t notice any difference from playing it on a Windows machine.
When switching from Windows to Linux, one of the first things that you notice is that games are installed in a different way on Windows. You won’t be able to just download a .EXE file and open it from a file manager. Instead, most Linux applications are installed through the Terminal, with the user required to write text commands that tell the computer where to find the installation package.
This isn’t particularly user-friendly though and there is a way to find new applications through a GUI. Applications like Discover that come with distributions like Lubuntu work similarly to the Apple App Store, letting you search through categories and install the programs you want.
Discover is packed with many simple and easy-to-play games like sudoku and solitaire, though you won’t find anything cutting edge.
Linux Compatible Games
If you want to play some AAA titles that you can find on Windows or consoles, then you have two options. The first is to find games that have been made to run natively under Linux. In years gone by, this was like searching for a needle in a haystack, but today, there is much more choice.
Realising the demand for Linux games, developers have begun releasing their titles on the operating system. Valve’s Steam is a good source of Linux-compatible games. Any title released on Google’s Stadia should also work on most Linux distros because the Stadia servers that do the number-crunching run on the operating system.
Translation and Emulation
Sometimes, you really want to play a game but the developers haven’t yet made it available on Linux. Thankfully, this isn’t the end of the story.
Community projects like WINE can help make Windows applications (including leading games) run on Linux. Many popular titles, including Skyrim, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and League of Legends can all run under Linux thanks to WINE.
If you plan on playing modern games, your Linux computer will still need to have powerful hardware, so you may want to invest in a new gaming laptop.
Overall, Linux is still not the perfect platform for gaming, but if you can put up with a little niggle here and there, then it’s definitely something that is possible.