Linux Blog

Expert tips to play games on your Linux machine

Filed under: General Linux,Linux Software — at 12:52 am on Friday, March 20, 2015

This is the guest post by Fredrick Cameron and Dirt Bike Games 365!

Linux is the leading operating system on servers around the world, yet it is used on only 1% of desktop PC’s. Linux is free and open source collaboration – meaning it is available to anyone and can be modified, distributed or just used. Due to its rarity on desktop PC’s it has not been well catered for the massive games market. However, it is now possible to play games on Linux. In fact, the system is now so good that you may question whether you need a Windows PC to play games.

Linux is a top-choice for high-performance computing these days. The operating system has come a long way, and because it is “open-source”, users can easily change its code and make it suit their gaming needs. Also, you don’t need a licence to use Linux. It also prides with a smooth infrastructure, and it can run on every form of relevant piece of hardware. Linux is becoming more and more user friendly and the following tips will allow you to play any modern PC game on your Linux system:

It is firstly useful to know the following terms, particularly if you are new to Linux:

WINE – initially developed for gaming, this compatibility layer has been around for over fifteen years.  It allows Windows programs to run on Linux and is used for Microsoft Office products with no issues.

A PPA – this refers to a web address which contains a prebuilt application.  Using this to install third party software bypasses most of the compatibility issues and provides patches as necessary.

sudo – a command that needs to be typed in front of other commands.  It provides administrative rights to change part of the system, as needed.

The starting point

You will need to install the correct driver, the right one is dependent on which video card you have. If you don’t have a video card then a year old mid tier GeForce card is best.

The GeForce Driver

Nvidia, the maker of the GeForce card, has developed its own driver for Linux and it is usually very good at the job. It is worth getting the official one. Simply locate the required driver on their website and install.


The newer cards have been given a closed source driver which can be accessed from the AMD website.  You may need to search for a driver for the older graphics card.

Installing WINE

You may be intending to play only games that have been ported to Linux. Even if this is the case, it is worth installing WINE. It will improve your experience of gaming without Windows. A few simple commands will enable this installation; you will need to say yes to installing other applications. With this completed you will be able to utilize the ubuntu key shortcuts. Clicking the windows or ‘Super’ key will open the Wine interface. This is a very useful program which will let you install the Windows libraries you need without having to track them down or find the right version. It will be of invaluable assistance to download the following components: anything beginning with ‘d3dx’, quartz, vcrun2005, 2008 and 2010, wininet, xact – including xact_Jun2010 and xinput.

The difficult part is now done; your system should be ready to play games. The following information may be of assistance:

The best places to get games

The Humble store and the Ubuntu software store.

A fairly recent development is the Humble Bundle – a package of indie games in a bundle, under the theory of Pay for what you want. It is likely to be the best source for games that run natively on Linux, which should mean they work. Bundles are made up regularly, if you miss one you can purchase the games from the Ubuntu store at full price.


This is a very easy to use option. Simply go to their website and download the Steam client, then just buy and install / run the games you want. Amazingly, 99% of the time they work flawlessly.


This enables you to play games from pretty much every games console on your Linux PC. You will need to work out which emulator fits which games console before you download them. For example, the Dolphin emulator is good for Gamecube and Wii games.

Older Native Linux Ports

Unless you have affection for PC games made between 1998 and 2006 this is probably not worth looking at. If, however you do want some of these games you will need to locate the relevant patch. Install the patch and your windows game should work out of the box.

Now settle in and enjoy the game!