This article will take you through our top 3 picks of the best Linux distributions for gaming in 2020.
Best Linux Gaming Distros
There are so many Linux distributions available for a multitude of purposes, but there are not many Linux distros with gaming at the forefront. However, many distros are great for gaming. Let’s discuss the honorable mentions, each distribution has its purpose and could be a good fit for you.
I might be biased. I’m running on a Darter Pro and enjoying the experience. I’ve reviewed their roadmap and it’s promising. But most of all what I like about Pop!_OS, it’s a minimal install, with a focus on improving drivers and graphics integration. Oh, and making a better user experience.
Pop!_OS has a direction and I’m excited to be along for the process. If I needed to, I can install Lutris. I can download Steam (which of course I did). I can add PlayOnLinux. I can customize Pop!_OS as much as I can any Linux distro. I cannot pay a developer’s salary to build better integration for video games.
I can support Pop!_OS and hope that it will do the same.
TL:DR, Pop!_OS by System76 is a well built and enjoyable experience. Download, install, and you’re ready to go. Support them by buying a boutique laptop.
Ubuntu. That’s where most of Pop!_OS comes from. So it’s unfair to compare Ubuntu GamePack with Pop!_OS. After all, as Pam would say, “They’re the same picture”. I’ll go over why I support Pop!_OS at the bottom, but here are some reasons why Ubuntu GamePack is great too.
First is their primary disclaimer, launch more than 85,842 games. Developed specifically for Linux, and developed for Windows. And console games too. It comes built-in with Steam (~16K games), Lutris (~2K games, not to be confused with 2K Games), Itch.IO (~35K games), and Game Jolt (~2K games, again… not to be confused). It also has PlayOnLinux, CrossOver, and WINE.
Which is phenomenal. I love having it built out of the box, ready to go. If I buy into a product, it should do what it says it can. And Ubuntu GamePack can do it. Yet, these are not features of Ubuntu GamePack, they’re pieces of other programs. Which is why it’s a GamePack. You can do it with Ubuntu, and not much need for the GamePack. UALinux, the developers of the Ubuntu GamePack, don’t have a clear roadmap for the OS. I see this as a hindrance to recommending it. They have many different packs, and all are geared towards specific purposes.
It’s good if you don’t want to go out and download the extra software. But, as an owner of my hardware, you should. I prefer clean installs, with minimal added software. I want to choose what I’m adding, and have a reason for it. So, I do not recommend it, but there’s also nothing negative against it.
Starting with Valve’s own disclaimer, of what it is not:
- It is not a replacement for their desktop operating system.
- It is not for non-technical users.
- It is not ready for all hardware. Read their FAQ to determine if it is a fit for yours.
If I were to define what it is, it’s an excellent couch-gaming operating system. It’s a toolset for converting your hardware into a console gaming experience. Replete with the Steam Big Picture as your opening environment. And it’s excellent for it.
What it is, community buy into Linux as a gaming platform. Which, for our community, is excellent. They bring conversion of Windows games to Steam OS (and thus Linux) with Steam Proton. It’s money, funneled into making a gaming experience for Linux users. And it’s excellent. However, similar points of pain with Ubuntu GamePack. The above screen capture, is from Big Picture mode on Pop!_OS.
I’m working on a software development degree, with the sole intention of giving back. I’ve learned and earned so much from the Linux community. The hope is, someday I can give back.
So, I’m biased, but… I did the research before purchasing my boutique laptop. I considered a few Linux options and settled on Pop!_OS before having experience with the hardware. Tested the OS on various laptops, and found that Pop!_OS simply worked. So I supported them, and I haven’t regretted it.
Okay, slightly regretted. The hinge on my Darter Pro has started to get a little loose, and the case has flexed some. But it’s also been five years, and I’m rough on my equipment.