There has been a significant improvement in the “Linux Distros For Gaming” scene in recent years thanks to the increased focus of developers on the Open-source Operating System.
It has become much easier to play games with Linux now because of these efforts.
Proton, a compatibility layer used to translate Direct-X windows-only games to Vulcan on Linux, made this possible.
In this article, we will discuss some of the best Linux gaming distributions that are available right now.
- What are the best Linux distros for gaming?
- 3 things to keep in mind before choosing a Linux distribution for gaming purposes:
- Why Are There Different Linux OSs?
- How to Do Distro Hopping?
- Best Linux Gaming OS/Distros
- 1. GamerOS
- 2. Pop!_OS
- 3. Manjaro Linux
- 4. Ubuntu GamePack
- 5. SparkyLinux – GameOver Edition
- 6. Fedora Games Spin
- 7. Solus
- 8. Lakka Linux
- 9. Manjaro mGAMe
- Best Linux Gaming Distributions?
- Also read:
What are the best Linux distros for gaming?
In spite of this being a hotly contested issue, our pick for the best Linux gaming distribution is Pop! _OS.
This distro has a lot of tweaks and refinements which are helpful for everyday use, in particular for gaming. Moreover, there are separate ISOs for systems based on Nvidia and AMD architectures.
All you need to do is select the ISO that applies to your system. Considering the potential headaches that may arise from dealing with the Nvidia drivers on Linux, I believe the Nvidia-based one works well.
As runner-up, I recommend Manjaro, which runs on Arch and is my preferred distribution.
You can choose between a variety of versions of Manjaro, depending on your preferences. Personally, I prefer KDE. Manjaro’s hardware tool is also excellent for dealing with driver issues since stability has dramatically improved in recent years.
A second option is Garuda, a distro based on Arch that contains all the tools necessary to make gaming on Linux easy. There is also Drauer OS, a gaming-centric distribution based on Ubuntu, and then there is Ubuntu itself.
There is no right or wrong distribution, but some are easier to manage than others.
It is important to note that the Steam OS will be based on Arch rather than Ubuntu. As it is Linux, you will be able to install it on your own machine.
Valve states that the game will launch on the Steam Deck, but it can also be downloaded from the Steam website. In the event you are not satisfied with Steam OS, you will be able to install whatever distro you like on your Steam Deck.
3 things to keep in mind before choosing a Linux distribution for gaming purposes:
It is primarily your system resources that determine how well the game runs. In this case, you may prefer a system that is quick and resource-efficient.
Alternatively, you may prefer Kubuntu (Ubuntu with the KDE desktop environment) over Ubuntu with GNOME. It is possible to choose something else if you dislike the user experience in KDE.
Overall, you should keep note of these things:
- An easy-to-use distribution is essential.
- There should be a number of available and easy-to-install software tools to get you started (check out our Linux gaming guide to learn more).
- Resource-friendly distribution is essential.
- Many individuals will recommend “Ubuntu” as the easy or best choice for gaming on a Linux desktop (which is definitely a good choice). However, depending on the hardware you have, you might need to look into other options.
I have therefore compiled a list of Linux distributions that are appropriate for gaming.
Why Are There Different Linux OSs?
You might be wondering if you’re new to Linux, why I can’t just install Ubuntu and be done?
It is possible. However, there are different Linux distributions available.
If you want to learn more about it, you can read our guide “What is Linux?” to know more about it.
Now let’s see the best Linux distributions suitable for gaming
Here I am again. Most Linux distributions allow you to play games. Listed below are the ones that are my personal favorites and may be easy for new Linux users to use. The software also supports newer graphics cards and games.
How to Do Distro Hopping?
After Valve’s Steam OS launched on their Steam Deck in 2021, you’ll be able to install any type of distro onto your machine on your own, allowing you to choose the best Linux distributions for gaming in 2021.
The Arch-based Distros are a great option for gamers who are experienced with Linux. With added repos and stability applications, you can also easily dive into Manjaro for more features.
As to Pop! _OS the fact that you can use it not only to play games, but more than that is what makes this distro more powerful.
In addition to that, if you want to get the best gaming experience out of your Linux-based system, Drauger OS is your best bet.
Best Linux Gaming OS/Distros
GamerOS was previously discussed in our article on how to choose a Linux distribution for gaming. SteamOS is not the only alternative to GamerOS. Upon installation on your PC, Steam Big Picture will automatically launch.
For starters, there is a new Steam mode designed for use with TVs and game controllers.
When you install GamerOS, your computer is transformed into a mini gaming console. In addition, Steam Buddy is capable of playing games that are not Steam-based.
The most complete Linux gaming distribution on this list, without a doubt.
- Best GamerOS features for Linux Gaming:
- User-friendly interface
- There are a lot of games available
- Several joysticks and gamepads are compatible
- Non-Steam games can be played with Steam Buddy.
Earlier this year, System76, a well-known Linux manufacturer, released their own version of Linux under the name Pop!_OS.
Ubuntu-based distributions are not only ideal for gaming, but also for everyday computing.
This is a good choice for gamers since it was designed with only minimal Ubuntu packages and a GNOME shell that is lightly customized for high performance.
The reason this operating system stands out is the dedicated ISO images for AMD/Intel and NVIDIA hardware. NVIDIA image also includes closed-source NVIDIA drivers. Using this setup, and a few small changes, makes gaming in Linux on Pop!_OS effortless.
Pop!_OS features for Linux gaming:
- Ubuntu’s minimal packages
- GNOME has been lightly tweaked
- AMD and Nvidia GPUs have separate downloads
- Feels and looks refreshing
3. Manjaro Linux
My favorite Linux distribution is Manajro Linux, as I have mentioned multiple times in my articles.
This Arch Linux-based distribution is very easy to install, has a beautiful color scheme, icons, and is flexible in many ways.
It is a perfect solution for new and experienced users who wish to benefit from cutting-edge software while still maintaining stability.
The Steam client comes preinstalled with Manjaro, along with gaming drivers for AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce, so gamers do not need to perform those additional steps.
Just like Pop!_OS, the controller support is also very good, and all major controllers work without issue.
Why Manjaro for gaming:
- There is extensive documentation available for Arch Linux
- The Steam client and drivers are pre-installed
- A polished Linux distro for everyday use and gaming
4. Ubuntu GamePack
The popular open source operating system Ubuntu, in addition to its official variants such as Ubuntu MATE, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, etc., has a wide range of unofficial variations.
The Ubuntu GamePack is one such Ubuntu spin that aims to become a great Linux distribution for gamers. According to Ubuntu GamePack’s creators, the distro offers a guaranteed start for hundreds of games.
With Ubuntu GamePack, you get access to games via Steam and Lutris. Additionally, it comes pre-installed with PlayOnLinux and Wine clients.
Thus, you can enjoy a great gaming experience with your friends by installing Windows games easily. You also won’t face any issues playing online games due to the pre-loaded Java and Flash.
Best features of Ubuntu GamePack distro:
- Unity environment familiar
- Pre-installed Steam, Lutris, Wine, and PlayOnLinux
- Preinstalled are Flash and Java
5. SparkyLinux – GameOver Edition
There are also three special editions of Sparky Linux that were released: GameOver, Rescue, and Multimedia.
With the intention of highlighting the top gaming distributions available on Linux, our main focus will be GameOver. Among the new features of GameOver is its LXDE-based desktop environment.
Moreover, it is also equipped with a wide variety of preinstalled games and useful scripts. Its Sparky APTus Gamer feature allows you to easily install game consoles, emulators, and other tools like these.
For Linux, you can use Steam, Wine, PlayOnLinux, and Itch clients. In addition, it offers everyday tools you would normally find in other general-purpose distributions that are used for computing.
This is a very good Linux gaming distro for those who want a complete operating system that comes preinstalled with everything they need.
SparkyLinux GameOver best features for gaming
- It can be run from a USB drive
- Steam, Wine, PlayOnLinux already installed
- Gamer feature on Sparky APT
- Desktop environment for LXDE
6. Fedora Games Spin
The Fedora Project distributes the Fedora workstation distribution, as well as Fedora spins and editions that are variations on the workstation distribution.
Fedora Games Spin is a new edition to Fedora that could prove to be an excellent gaming operating system for CentOS/Fedora Linux users. There are thousands of Linux games pre-installed on this distro that make it a must-try for gamers.
Please take note that Fedora Games Spin does not come pre-installed with a Steam client on Wine; however, this should not be a problem since they can be installed by using the package manager.
This Linux gaming distribution can also be run live from DVD media as well as USB media by Linux gamers.
Best features of Fedora Games Spin:
- Fedora users will love it
- Preinstalled with tons of games
- Fedora Workstation is lighter than Fedora Workstation
- Live mode is available
Solus is one of the fastest-growing Linux distributions and is popular with both experienced and new users. Solus gets all of the latest updates because it’s a rolling distribution. What does this mean for Linux gamers?
With Solus, you can integrate Steam, which enhances your gaming experience. When Solus is in default mode, Steam is disabled and its own runtime is used to improve performance and integration.
Another important thing to note about Solus is that it is an independent distribution. It is available in three different editions: Budgie, MATE, and GNOME.
Best Solus Features for Linux Gaming
- Budgie, MATE, GNOME are some of the desktop options available
- Suitable for a variety of uses
- A visually appealing distribution
- Updates are constantly being rolled out
8. Lakka Linux
In contrast to your regular Linux distribution, Lakka Linux is based on the OpenELEC Linux distro. Lakka Linux is a great solution for gamers who enjoy arcade and retro games.
Your computer can be turned into a gaming console with this top Linux gaming distribution.
Lakka Linux is compatible with PCs, Raspberry Pis, CuBoxi, HummingBoards, Odroid C1s, UDOOs, Banana Pis, etc. Automatic joystick configuration is supported by this lightweight gaming distribution.
Additionally, the game offers multiplayer, shader, netplay, rewind, savestates, etc.
Lakka Linux features for gaming:
- Easy to use and simple interface
- Experience Linux in a lightweight manner
- There are a lot of retro games to choose from
- Adapted to many emulators
9. Manjaro mGAMe
Manjaro mGAMe was originally known as Manjaro Gaming. Contrary to what was reported, the spin is not an official Manjaro product. However, it does appear to be quite useful if you are looking for a distribution designed for gamers.
It’s a rolling release distribution that provides all the software you need preinstalled, including Steam Lutris, PlayOnLinux, and so on.
Utilizing the Xfce desktop environment, this lightweight gaming operating system includes a living room mode that allows you to manage everything with the use of your keyboard or controller.
Best Manjaro mGAMe features for gaming:
- There are a lot of preinstalled software programs and emulators on the computer
- A lightweight desktop environment based on Xfce
- Distribution which releases updates on a rolling basis
- Those who love Arches and Manjaros will enjoy this book
Best Linux Gaming Distributions?
The gaming experience in Linux has become extremely easy in recent years. Nowadays, the type of distribution you use really does not matter at all, as long as you know how to get and configure all the required software.
Furthermore, there is also a great deal of assistance available online, and every Linux community is always ready to assist other users who need help.
All the seven distributions listed above are among the most popular and widely used Linux distributions that you should consider when it comes to gaming from the large collection of Linux distributions available today.
Which one’s your favorite gaming Linux distro?
Every year, the Linux gaming scene improves. Linux-based gaming machines are
increasingly bringing gamers more gaming titles.
Gaming on Linux has a long way to go, but thanks to firms like Collabora, it will only get better over the coming years.
The following are all the gaming Linux distributions that we mentioned above. But Pop!_OS and Manjaro are the most popular.
The popularity of distros like Garuda Linux D460nized Gaming Edition (still not used to saying that) is also growing.
Which options do you have? Do you prefer a particular Linux gaming operating system? Is there a gaming distribution on this list that you would like us to review? Leave us a comment below.