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Being A Linux Gamer Is The Best

March 22, 2021

Sitting here this morning sipping my coffee, I decided to have a look at ProtonDB, the best source for game compatibility information for Linux users. It's really great to see how many games just work now, thanks to the collective effort of WINE developers, DXVK's developers, Valve, and Proton's developers.

Long story short: on Steam, you've got a 70% chance of any game being playable on Linux, with the great likelyhood that being that it will just work.

A fair number of hardcore Linux users want games to be native, and I understand that and agree with it; we do need good native ports. However, many game developers don't know Linux well, so given a choice between

  • A native but poorly done port, or
  • A Windows game running on code Linux devs can maintain

I'm going with #2. To me, the Windows API is just another runtime, no different from Java, glibc, or Python, and as long as we have a well-maintained, working runtime for it, what's the difference? I'll happily give up a couple of FPS for the massively better privacy and security playing on Linux gives me.

In Proton, each Windows game gets its own, completely containerized Windows virtual system without any access to any personal information stored by the other games, so there is little chance that the launchers and phone-home scripts are stealing your information. You can also easily switch between Windows versions, unlike an actual Windows system, and even control which graphics API individual games use.

Of course, some games will require some tweaking to run. This is no different than on Windows, it's just a different set of tweaks. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools and scripts available to make tweaking these games as simple as possible. My favorite is Protontricks, a Steam-aware front-end for the wonderful Winetricks tool that makes setting up libraries and work-arounds a matter of a few clicks.

Categorized as: Games | Linux | Steam

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