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How to Choose a Linux Distro for Gaming?

The Gaming scene on Linux has drastically improved over the past few years. The sole reason for this is the heavy time invested by Game developers and hardware manufacturers to support the operating system. Configuring your Linux desktop to experience AAA titles was an arduous task until Ubuntu 20.04, which was followed by distros like Pop!_OS and Linux Mint based on the same came out this year.

In fact, some might argue that playing games on Linux today is much easier than playing on Windows. But, no matter how many features an operating system ships with, there’s always the elephant in the room, which, in this case, is: you can play tons of games on Linux and this number is greater than the number of games that don’t run on Linux.

protondb linux

This was mainly possible due to the Proton compatibility layer that helps translate Direct-X windows-only games to Vulcan on Linux. Thanks to this, more than 73% of the top thousand games in the Steam library can be played on Linux, and most that don’t work is due to various anti-cheat mechanisms found in them.

denuvo anticheat Github - Linux Distros for Gaming

The good news is that Denuvo Anti-cheat used in DOOM: Eternal will support Linux in the future. This means chances of other anti-cheats supporting Linux in the future are much higher.

So, coming to the main point of this article, how do you go ahead, find out, and install a Linux distro for gaming?

Well, the answer’s simple. Download any Distro based on Ubuntu 20.04, Install Steam, download games, and you’re good to go!. If you’re on AMD, enable ACO in Steam launch options for supported titles. That’s pretty much it. Nvidia users? Don’t stress out too much.

Thanks to the open-source nature of AMD drivers, they constantly keep improving. Whereas the closed source Nvidia GPU drivers are not very well optimized, you might face some issues.

Best Linux Distros for Gaming

Pop!_OS

Maintained by System76, based on Ubuntu 20.04, Pop!_OS is one of the best Linux distros for gaming. That’s mainly due to two different images users can download – one for AMD/Intel GPU and the other for Nvidia drivers.

Pop!_OS Desktop - Linux Distros for Gaming

Apart from that, Pop!_OS is very light, looks amazingly modern, and is highly customizable thanks to GNOME.

GamerOS

The name says it all. GamerOS is an arch-based alternative to SteamOS. After installing it on your PC, it will directly boot into Steam Big Picture. For starters, Steam Big Picture is a new mode of Steam designed to be used with TVs and Game controllers.

SteamOS - Linux Distros for Gaming

So, basically, installing GamerOs will turn your computer into a gaming console. Additionally, you can also play non-steam games using Steam Buddy. The OS also supports a wide range of console controllers. More about the OS here.

Manjaro

Now, there’s a lot to Linux gaming than what meets the eye. Gaming on Arch-based distros like Manjaro is also possible, but there’s a myth that needs to be busted. People consider Arch-based distros hard to use, which is completely false. Learning a new distro requires effort, just like learning anything else.

Manjaro Linux 20.0 'Lysia' Released A Beginner-Friendly Arch Experience

One amazing thing about Manjaro is its stability. It comes pre-installed with AMD and Nvidia gaming drivers just like Pop!_OS; hence, minimal effort is needed from the users’ end, making it the best Linux distro for gaming.

Garuda Linux Gaming Edition

Garuda Linux is a new kid on the block. It is an arch-based distribution that chooses a user-friendly approach to install and use Arch. Similar to Manjaro, it comes with a lot of desktop environments to choose from.

Like Manjaro, Garuda comes with Pamac, which is integrated with AUR, Flatpak, and Snap, allowing users to download a wide range of software. It also performs better thanks to the Zen Kernel, which is proved to increase the overall desktop responsiveness. Overall, it is one of the best Gaming distros out there.

The distros mentioned above are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Many other distros can run games, but the stability you get in the above three will be unmatched.

With gaming on Linux improving each year, the exposure of Linux to gamers is growing each day. And that day is not far when Adobe will launch its suite for Linux as that’s the only reason why most content creators refrain from making a switch.