7 Best Linux Gaming Distributions In 2017

That time has long gone when gaming on Linux was next to impossible. In fact, gaming on Linux has grown quite stable in recent years.

Although there are hundreds of Linux distros, all with different mantras and for various purposes, distros made for the sole purpose of Gaming are not so common. But, of course, there are some really great options available. We are going to list the best Linux gaming distributions today.

These distros are equipped with various drivers, software, emulators and things for convenient gaming experience so you can just install it and get the gaming going.

Distros listed here is not in any specific order. It is totally up to you which distro best suits you needs.

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Best Linux Gaming OS

Just for clarification, this list of best gaming Linux OS is no particular order.

1. Steam OS

Steam OS is one of the most popular gaming distros, developed by Valve Corp. – the creator of Steam. Steam OS is developed for running games from the Steam Store.

Steam OS
Steam OS

Base: Debian 8 (codenamed Debian Jessie)
Desktop Environment: GNOME, optimized for easy access with Keyboard and Joystick.
Package Format: DEB

Steam OS supports various Graphics Cards and Joysticks/Gamepads. If by chance, driver for your hardware is not included out-of-box you can always manually set that up.

Hardware Requirements

  • Processor: Intel or AMD 64-bit capable processor
  • Memory: 4GB or more RAM
  • Hard Drive: 200GB or larger disk
  • Video Card: NVIDIA graphics card / AMD graphics card (RADEON 8500 and later) / Intel graphics
  • Additional: USB port for installation, UEFI Firmware (recommended)

Pros

  • Soothing User Interface
  • Supports various Graphics Cards
  • Compatible with various Joysticks/Gamepads
  • Huge collection of Games from built-in Steam Game Store

Cons

  • High-end Hardware requirements
  • Only Steam games available out-of-box

If you are a hardcore Steam fan and own a machine that meets the requirements Steam OS is without doubt for you.

2. Sparky Linux – Gameover Edition

Sparky Linux Gameover Edition is another great distro for Gaming.

Sparky Linux - Gameover Edition
Sparky Linux – Gameover Edition

Base: Debian
Desktop Environment: LXDE
Package Format: DEB

Sparky Linux – Gameover Edition comes with a special tool called APTus Gamer. It features easy route to install various consoles, emulators and other tools for gamers. A long list of emulators aisavailable through APTus Gamer.

A large number of Linux open source games come pre-installed with this distro. Moreover, it also comes with Steam client. Also, for Windows Games Wine and PlayOnLinux is bundled with Sparky Linux Gameover Edition.

It also provides a utility to help with installing proprietary drivers and an easy way to install multimedia codecs.

Pros

  • Steam Games supported
  • Windows Games supported via Wine & PlayOnLinux
  • Sparky APTus Gamer Tool
  • Stable release

Cons

  • ( Want to mention any? )

If you want a stable Linux distro for gaming that supports a wide range of games from different platforms, just try this one out.

3. Game Drift Linux

Game Drift Linux is optimized to give the best possible gaming experience on Linux. It provides out-of-box support for Linux and popular Windows games.

Game Drift Linux
Game Drift Linux

Base: Ubuntu
Desktop Environment: MATE
Package Format: DEB

Game Drift has its own Game Store filled with various open-source as well as commercial high quality Linux games. And more games are being added regularly. The Game Store supports One-click installation.

It takes advantages of CrossOver technology for running Windows games. You can play more than 1200 Windows games directly within Game Drift. You will also be able to run various Windows softwares with CrossOver.

Hardware Requirement (Recommended)

  • Processor: 1-2 GHz processor (32 or 64 bit)
  • Memory: 1-2 GB memory
  • Hard Drive: 4 GB hard disk drive for Game Drift Linux (excluding games)
  • Video Card: ATI, Nvidia or Intel graphics adapter
  • Additional: LAN/Internet

Pros

  • Dedicated Game Store
  • Windows games supported

Cons

  • CrossOver is not free (you’ll need to buy an activation key)

If you want Windows games support and can afford to spend some money for buying CrossOver, Game Drift Linux is a good choice.

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4. Play Linux [Discontinued]

Play Linux is another approach towards Gaming on Linux that comes with Steam and PlayOnLinux pre-installed.

Play Linux
Play Linux

Base: Ubuntu
Desktop Environment: Nebula
Package Format: DEB

Nebula is light and customizable. A customizer application is included for wide control over the look and feel of Play Linux. Play Linux also detects the CPU load and disables unnecessary features, like – composite windows manager, temporarily while you are busy Gaming.

The unique feature Play Linux offers is an integrated AutoGPU installer. It automatically configures and installs your Graphics drivers so that you don’t need to waste any time doing it.

Pros

  • Simple and Light distro
  • Steam support
  • Pre-installed PlayOnLinux (for running Windows games)
  • Automatic Graphics driver installation

Cons

  • Still in beta version
  • Might not be suitable for hardcore gaming

If you want a gaming distro that is also compatible for ordinary desktop usage, you can choose this one.

5. Lakka OS

Lakka OS is completely different from the distros we have discussed so far. This is a lightweight Linux distro that transforms a computer into full-blown game console, literally.

Lakka OS
Lakka OS

Base: OpenELEC
Desktop Environment: RetroArch

Lakka OS is able to emulate a wide variety of consoles. It brings all the console emulators under the gorgeous front end of RetroArch.

All the emulators are compiled with the best optimizations possible and so Lakka OS runs the games more smoothly than the normal emulators. Most of the games require very low hardware resource, except the Playstation or Xbox games.

The key features of Lakka OS are Multiplayer, Savestates, Shaders, Netplay, Rewind and Wireless Joypads support.

Pros

  • Totally lightweight
  • Beautiful User Interface
  • All in one Console Emulator
  • Various hardware supported
  • Automatic Joypad recognition
  • Various useful features for gaming

Cons

  • No support for Linux, Steam or Windows games

If you are a hardcore console gamer and have a machine you want to transform into one, Lakka OS is for you without any doubt.

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6. Fedora Games Spin

Fedora Games spin is the perfect example of Fedora’s ability to run games.

Fedora
Fedora

Base: Fedora
Desktop Environment: Xfce
Package Format: RPM

Fedora Games Spin comes with thousands of Linux games. Quoting the official site:

The included games span several genres, from first-person shooters to real-time and turn-based strategy games to puzzle games.

Steam client, Wine or PlayOnLinux are not installed by default. If you want Steam and Windows games support you need to manually install those via the package manager. Some pre-installed games also needs additional data to be downloaded before playing.

Pros

  • Thousand of Linux games pre-installed
  • Stable, Fast and Light

Cons

  • No out-of-box support for Steam & Windows games
  • Proprietary drivers are not pre-installed
  • Not for hardcore gamers

Though this distro is not so great for gaming, if you are a Fedora lover, you might give this one a try.

7. Ubuntu GamePack

Ubuntu GamePack is a gaming distro that provides guaranty to lunch about six thousand Linux and Windows games. It was developed with the intention to fill the gap of games availability between Linux and Windows.

Ubuntu GamePack
Ubuntu GamePack

Base: Ubuntu
Desktop Environment: Unity
Package Format: DEB

Ubuntu GamePack does not include any games out-of-box. Rather it opens the door for running Linux, Steam, Windows and various Consoles’ games in your machine.

Steam client, Lutris, Wine and PlayOnLinux come pre-installed with Ubuntu GamePack. Lutris is an open gaming platform for managing Console, Linux, Steam and Windows games.

It also supports Adobe Flash and Oracle Java. So, playing online games will not be a problem.

Ubuntu GamePack also provides a dedicated repository with a collection of hundreds of games.

Pros

  • Pre-installed Lutris
  • Compatible for playing Online Games
  • Linux, Steam, Windows and Console games supported

Cons

  • Might seem a bit slower

8. mGAMe

mGAMe (previously known as Manjaro Gaming) is a distro designed for gamers with the awesomeness of Manjaro. If you are a regular It’s F.O.S.S. reader, you know this one already. We have introduced this Gaming distro a while back. But, in case, if you have missed it, here you go: Manjaro Gaming.

mGAMe
mGAMe

Base: Manjaro
Desktop Environment: Xfce

mGAMe automatically installs necessary drivers for popular Graphics cards. It also provides various tweaks for optimal gaming experience.

mGAMe comes with various open source software often needed by gamers, like – video editor, games video recording and streaming application, chatting software, screenshot tool etc.

A long list of console emulators comes pre-installed with mGAMe. For running Windows games Wine & PlayOnLinux are included. But, if you want to play Steam games, you have to manually install the Steam client, which is a big deal in Arch Linux based distributions as Steam is not officially supported in Arch.

Pros

  • Pre-installed tools for gamers
  • Wide range of console emulators included

Cons

  • Not suitable for hardcore gamers

mGAMe is relatively new in this genre of Linux distro. But if you are a Manjaro fan, you can try it out.


That’s all we got as best Linux system for gaming. And next time someone asks which Linux operating system is best for gaming, don’t forget to share this article with them. :)

Have you tried any of these distros? Which one of these particularly caught you eyes? Let us know!

Comments

  1. Installed gamedrift. Then realized the archive is over 6 years old! Took forever to try and update and instead went with sparkylinux. Much better.

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