Switching to Linux – A Gamer’s Guide

Switching to Linux (From Windows) in 2020. So, the new decade’s arrived and Windows 7’s
end of life approaches on January 14. As a holdout poweruser, you now have to make
a tough decision. Continue
using an unsupported operating system or begrudgingly make the switch to
Windows 10, with neither choice being particularly great. Thankfully, you also
have a third option: switch to Linux. This way, you’ll still get up-to-date
software while not having to deal with Microsoft’s current bullshit. So if you’ve heard about Linux in the past
and want to make the jump soon, I’ll be guiding you through all of the steps to
get your system running and gaming ready. Before I get into that, I need to make a disclaimer. Linux is not Windows. It’s
a completely different operating system with its own nuances. So forget what
you already know about Windows and come into Linux with an open mind, ready to
learn the basics. Now, you don’t need to become a system administrator,
but a brief understanding of how your computer works
will make your life a lot easier. Strictly speaking, this isn’t necessary and
you can stick entirely to graphical menus, but I recommend learning
the essentials so you can play more games and further customize your desktop experience. Part 0: Reasons Why So, why would you use Linux over Windows? I’ll try to keep this list rather
concise, so I’ll avoid going into overly technical details. 1). If you want up-to-date security updates, your
only other choice besides Windows 10 is a Hackintosh. If you’re like me and despise Microsoft’s
trashfire of an operating system, then Linux is your
only real alternative for PC gaming. Another benefit here is that anti-virus is
generally not needed, due to Linux having stricter file permissions system and
robust software repositories. As a
result, you don’t need to worry about a virus scan hogging up resources that
could be otherwise used for a game. 2). Linux is completely free. You can legally download it at no cost and
use it how you see fit, without dealing with Microsoft’s
arcane licensing and terms of service. Another thing to consider here is that important
poweruser features aren’t locked behind another paywall ( like
Windows 10’s offline bitlocker support and the group policy editor). 3). Linux generally has no bloatware. You can install it without receiving
constant advertisements for candy crush saga or dealing with cortana’s constant
nagging. Oh, and let’s not forget all of the obnoxious
telemetry baked into Windows 10. While you can disable these to an extent if
you’re on a Pro version or higher, it’s extremely annoying to get
rid of all of the pre-installed crap, as you have to mess around with the group
policy editor, batch scripts, host files, and so on. Even then, Microsoft can add everything back
in a future update, so get ready to deal with lots of
headaches. On the other hand, Linux
respects you by default and doesn’t make you jump through hoops to have some
peace of mind. 4). Linux is everywhere. Though you might not see it on your desktop,
it’s the backbone of the internet, with Google, Amazon,
and Facebook’s servers running off of it. Teslas and Toyotas use automotive grade linux. If you have an
Android phone, that runs off of linux. As a result of Linux’s wide enterprise
usage, there’s a very good chance that your hardware will be supported out of
the box, even if it’s a more obscure piece of tech. That’s not to say that Linux doesn’t have
its downsides, the major one being software support. While WINE is a great way to run Windows-exclusive
programs, you might encounter software bugs that aren’t
on Microsoft’s platform. There
are also applications that flat out refuse to work. I haven’t noticed many of
these beyond games with anticheat or DRM, but they do exist. So if you have a
particular piece of software that does not work on Linux, it might be worth
keeping around a Windows partition on another drive for that. Part 1: Selecting Your Distro For those of you that already know what flavor
of Linux you want to run, feel free to skip this section. Otherwise, I highly recommend listening. Unlike Windows, there are multiple variations
of Linux available, known collectively as distributions. While these “distros” function similarly under
the hood, they can vary drastically in their included software, update cycles,
and desktop experiences. With such a large selection to pick from,
I’m going to be curating my list to only include a handful
of distros that I find to be extremely user friendly. The first recommendation I have is Pop!_OS. It’s based on the popular Ubuntu
distro, but includes some great quality of life tweaks provided by its
developer, System 76. The default desktop environment is called
GNOME, which offers up a rather unique user experience. If you’re not a fan, then you can
install extensions to change functionality, such as adding in a more
traditional start menu or a window bar. The second recommendation is Solus. Unlike Pop!_OS, it’s a completely
independent distribution that seeks to offer a curated desktop experience. Its
flagship desktop enviroment is budgie, which offers a more traditional user
interface than GNOME. This is my distro of choice, and my daily
driver. It is
leaner on software support than Ubuntu, but I find it to have the essentials,
which tend to be more up to date due to Solus’ more frequent update cycle. Finally, I’ll be covering Linux Mint. Out of all the distros mentioned on this
list, it offers up the experience most similar to Windows 7. So if you don’t
want to have to deal with GNOME or want a more robust software repository than
what Solus offers, then Mint is a great choice. Of course, there are many other fantastic
choices out there, such as Manjaro or Kubuntu, but I’ll focus on those three for
now, to keep this video rather accessible. Part 2: Setup. To get started, all you need is a spare flash
drive and an internet connection. For advanced users, you can go ahead and configure
options in your motherboard’s BIOS right now. I’d recommend disabling secure boot, so you
don’t run into any problems with that later on. Now, while in Windows, navigate to the website
of your linux distro of choice. Pop OS is located on system76.com/pop, Linux
Mint is on linuxmint.com, and Solus is on getsol.us. Links will be provided in the video
description. From here, navigate to the download page and
choose the appropiate link. System 76 provides different files based on
your graphics card manufacturer, so be sure to choose the one
that matches your current installed GPU. For advanced users, you can go ahead and download
the additional SHA256SUM file, which allows you to check the integrity
of the operating system you just downloaded. This is not necessary by any means, but it
guarantees that you got the right file and that nothing was damaged
during the download. To validate
the output of the iso file, use Windows’ CertUtil in the command prompt to
generate the checksum. Type in certUtil -hashfile yourFilesFullPatch
SHA256 to generate the appropriate output. If it matches the one on your distro
provider’s website, then you’re good to go. From here on, you’ll need a program to burn
the Linux iso file to a flash drive. Some notable programs include rufus or balenaEtcher. I’ll be using the
latter due to its simplicity. Keep in mind that this process will wipe the
drive, so save all data that you don’t want to lose. Once you’re ready, select
your iso file, then your thumb drive, and proceed to flashing. Once you’ve finished with that, restart your
computer. When you see the splash
screen, hit the F11 key to enter the boot menu. From here on, you can select
your linux flash drive to boot on instead of your Windows installation. If you’re an advanced user, you can skip this
step on start by adjusting your boot priority in the motherboard’s BIOS. To access it, press the delete key
when you see your manufacturer splash screen logo, but it doesn’t hurt to mash
it. Once there, you should see a graphical list
of icons. Move your Linux drive
ahead of your Windows one, and you should be good to go. If you want to disable
Secure Boot, enter your settings menu, go to the security tab, and make sure
that the trusted computing platform option is disabled (this can be called many
things, but they should be some variation of “secure boot”. Save your changes
and then reboot your computer. Now, my motherboard manufacturer is MSI. Different companies can assign
different hotkeys to the boot and BIOS menu, so be sure to consult your manual
if they’re not listed on the splash screen. After a short wait, you’re taken into a live
desktop environment. From here,
you can play around with the UI and get used to it before making any changes. If you like what you’ve seen, then click the
install icon and walk through the installer. You’re generally given the option to select
if you want to create a new Linux partition to coexist with your Windows
install, or dedicate the entire drive to Linux. Choosing the latter option will wipe all existing
data on the drive. For me, I’ll be creating a dedicated Linux
install since I’m using Windows on a virtual machine, so if you’d like to follow
along, be sure to back up all of your important files to another computer or
to the cloud. Alternatively, you
can select to create a Linux partition alongside your current install instead
of doing a clean start. Once you’ve finished customizing all of your
option the graphical installer and rebooted your computer, you now have a brand
new Linux machine. Feel free to
play around with it and tweak your settings to your heart’s content. From this point on, I’ll be splitting the
video into two more sections. The
next one will focus on basic steps to gaming on Linux, while the following
section will focus on more advanced concepts such as software repositories,
terminal commands, and package managers. Feel free to skip the sections that
aren’t relevant to you. Part 3: Basic Gaming This section explains how to keep your software
updated, install drivers (for Nvidia users), and setup Steam. We’ll also cover native ports and Steam play
(Windows games running on Linux), but I’ll only talk about officially
whitelisted titles. Press the Windows key to launch the start
menu (note: this key is referred to as the super key in Linux). From here, type in “software” and you should
see something along the lines of Software Center
or Software Manager appear. Unlike on Windows, all of your software should
be located and installed from this repository. That way, you can easily keep all of your
programs up to date, and search for new ones as necessary. The concept of downloading an exe file
online and installing it manually doesn’t really exist on linux, so get used to
finding all of your software here. There are other ways to install and manage
your programs, but I’d only recommend looking into that if you’re a more
advanced user. Now comes the point where you need to manager
your hardware drivers. If you use
Intel and/or AMD, then all you need to do is keep your operating system
up-to-date, as their drivers are included directly in updates. Specifically,
they’re located in the linux kernel, so make sure that isn’t too out of date. Nvidia users don’t have it quite as easy,
as their drivers aren’t directly integrated. By default, you should have something like
the nouveau driver installed. While this is fine for browsing the net or
watching videos, it’s not suited for gaming. So you’ll need to install the correct proprietary
driver. Doing so manually isn’t recommended due to
how many choices you have. I’d
recommend using your system’s hardware drivers utility to automatically install
the correct one as it’s the least painful way of doing so. Once you’ve updated your programs, it’s time
to get Steam setup. Thankfully,
it’s handily located in most software repositories, so all you need to do is
look it up in the search bar. Once you’ve found the right package, click
install and enter your password. At this point, I’d also recommend installing
the Wine and winetricks packages, as those are also incredibly useful. From
this point on, the Steam experience is nearly identical to that of Windows. Enter your account credentials and launch
the client. Then, you’re free to
install and play any native or proton whitelisted titles such as Overload and
My Friend Pedro. Just make sure that Steam Play is enabled
in the settings menu. And that’s it. You’ve now got your rig setup for basic linux
gaming. Part 4: Advanced Gaming Okay, you’ve exhausted the whitelist and want
to branch out. Perhaps you want
to play a game on GOG or try out some other games. Unfortunately, the process
is not as straightforward. And in the case of some more problematic titles,
you’ll need to use the terminal. But, I’ll guide you through that too, so don’t
be afraid. To handle your non-steam library, I’d highly
recommend checking out Lutris. It’s a free launcher that allows you to easily
manage all of your PC titles from GOG and the like. Just search for the game or application you
want to install and run the community-made script
to automate installation. Do keep in
mind that some games have issues while others don’t work. Check out the
community ratings on lutris.net to see if your particular titles run or not. For advanced Steam Play, check the “Enable
Steam Play for all titles” button in your Steam settings menu. Doing this will show your entire library and
open it up for experimentation. Before you jump in, I’d strongly recommend
referencing ProtonDB, a community-curated list of compatibility
ratings. These range from
working flawlessly out of the box, to completely borked, so it really depends
on the game. More often than not, if a title isn’t outright
broken by DRM or anticheat, it’ll usually runs with some tweaks. These can be as simple as renaming a
launcher or moving some files, to as complicated as using proton/winetricks to
fix the issue, such as accessing the product key verification for Age of
Empires 3, or enabling a virtual desktop for Sleeping Dogs and shuffling it
between workspaces to get past a white screen on launch. Some other community-made tools to help you
out are Protontricks and mf-install. The former is a wrapper script that simplifies
setting up Winetricks for Steam games, while the latter
adds in support for Media Foundation, letting you play some otherwise
broken games like Blasphemous. Setting these up does require me to explain
the terminal to you. If that’s
something you’d rather not deal with, I’d recommend sticking to native and
whitelisted titles. Using the super key, launch the terminal. Some distros have this mapped to a
shortcut, like super + T. Once you’ve launched it, you’ll see a prompt, usually
your username followed by your computer’s hostname. In my case, it’s
[email protected] After that, you’ll notice a tilde, or squigly
line. This
is shorthand for your home directory (/home/yourusername). There are other
major system directories, but it’s not necessary to talk about those for the
scope of this video. To see all of the files and folders in the
current location, type in the command “ls”. You’ll notice that folders will have a different
color from files. Now, this isn’t all you can do with the “ls”
command. If you want to
view hidden files or folders (these have a period proceeding any text/name) add
in the -a option after you type in “ls” but before you enter the command in. The full string should be “ls -a”. Notice that a lot more files have appeared
here. These hidden folders generally contain configuration
files that you can use to tweak applications. For now, it’s not something you need to be
concerned about. Additionally, you can enter in arguments for
certain commands, trailing after the main one and its relevant options. For example, if type in “ls -l
testfile”, the terminal will output a detailed list of information about the
testfile, including permissions, file size, date of creation, and so on. If you ever forget what a command is or don’t
know what its options or arguments are, then be sure to memorize the
“man” command. By typing in man
before any command you execute (in a way, they become arguments to man), you
can pull up the relevant manual page. So if I type in “man ls”, the manual
page will appear, showing me a brief description of the command, how it’s used,
and all of the options available. Here, we can see -a clearly. To navigate
around, use the spacebar to go down the page, and the “b” key to go back up. Once you’re done looking at information, press
the “q” key to exit back to the main terminal screen. If a man page does not exist for a command,
you can see if it has a –help option, with no other arguments. Now, to navigate between directories, you
need to use the “cd” command. To go
down a specific folder, type in cd followed by that folder’s name. So to go
into my documents folder, I’d type in “cd Documents”. To go up to a higher
directory (i.e. the opposite direction you came from), type in “cd ..”. Notice
that I’m back in my home directory, and I can see that Documents is a nested
inside home. You can also chain these commands together,
so if you want to access a subfolder two levels deep, you can
type in the full path, separated by slashes. For example, to go to the TestFolder in my
Documents folder from my home directory, I would type in “cd Documents/TestFolder”. To go up two levels
to my home directory, I would simply use “cd ../..”. At any time, if you want
to ever get back to the home directory, you can type in cd with no arguments or
options. So using this information, we can now find
the Steam directory and the games we’ve installed. In my case, it’s located in
.var/app/com.valvesoftware.Steam/.local/share/Steam, but it depends on the
install. I’ve seen it as a hidden folder simply called
.Steam. If you’re
unsure of where it is, you can use the find command. Type in find followed by a
single period as an argument (a single period refers to the current directory,
so if we’re in home, it’s ~. The pwd command will show your current working
directory). After that, use the -iname option, which does
a case insenstive search based on whatever query you’re looking
for. The full command is “find .
-iname Steam”. Again, you can refer to find’s man page at
any time if you’re confused. Now cd into the Documents folder. If you ever forget what folders are in the
current path, you can double press tab to show what’s there. A single tab press
will autocomplete the command, if possible. We’re going to setup mf-install and protontricks. While you can manually
download and unpack the releases, I find it more convenient to use git. If you
do not have git installed, please download it from your software center. Alternatively, you can use the package manager
in terminal. To install any
program, you need to have superuser or root permissions. To run an elevated
command, you’d need to put sudo before it and enter your password when you
execute it. So if I want to install git on Ubuntu, I would
do “sudo” followed by the name of the package manager (Ubuntu’s
is “apt”) then “install”, and concluding with the name of the package you
want to download. So to install
git, we would do “sudo apt install git”. If you want to install multiple
packages at once, separate their names with a blankspace. If you don’t know the
name of the program you want, you can use the search command built into the
package manager. On Ubuntu, that would be “apt search git”,
and it will list all of the packages containing git in their
name. While version control is a very complicated
beast, we’re only going to use it to clone (or “copy”) the online repos that
we want. In your web browser, click
on the green button that says “clone or download” on the github page. Copy the
url and paste it in your terminal following these commands “git clone”. Do note
that in the terminal, you need to hold shift to paste with a hotkey, as the
shell will interpret Ctrl V and Ctrl C as commands otherwise. So to paste the
url, we’d use Ctrl + Shift + V. So cloning the protontricks repository is
“git clone https://github.com/Matoking/protontricks.git”. This will download a copy
of it into your current folder. To install protontricks, we need to have the
pre-requisite packages, so install those based on what distro you have. For Ubuntu, it’s “sudo apt install
python3-pip python3-setuptools python3-venv”. Follow the commands listed for
pipx to install protontricks. Let’s try fixing Age of Empires 3 now. We can see that we need to use
protontricks to install the missing requirements. Do Protontricks -s Age of
Empires 3 to pull up the game’s application id. Following that, use
protontricks 105450 (AoE’3 steam app id) mfc42 windxp l3codecx. Once you’ve
done that, you can now relaunch the game. Notice that the broken CD-key
activation screen now works! In general, this is how you’re going to be
fixing your games, but be sure to consult ProtonDB
for each specific title. Part 5: Conclusion Well, thank you guys for watching. I hope this video was helpful to you in
figuring out if Linux is for you. There’s definitely a learning curve, but just
keep at it. I don’t expect everyone to become a master
overnight. You’ll get
more comfortable with the terminal as you keep using it. And don’t forget that
there’s a massive community eager to help out newcomers (such as the linux4noobs
sub-reddit). For channel specific updates, regarding future
videos, since the holidays are now over, production has picked up. The next video will be on Jamestown Plus,
followed by some other smaller games I’ve played recently. Saya no Uta and DUSK
are still happening, but those got pushed to the backburner. I still want to
talk about them, so they will happen, but I don’t know when they’ll be out. If you’d like to see all of my announcements,
you can join the Squidcord discord server or follow me on Twitter @SquidTheSid1
to see upcoming announcements. Finally, if you’d like to be absolved of all
guilt from using an ad blocker, you can financially support the
channel by becoming a YouTube member or joining my Patreon page. I’ve recently added in a new tier, so it
should be more accessible to everyone now. Every little bit of help puts me one
step close towards making this dream into a full time career. As always, stay frosty.

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