Linux Gaming Across 9 Distros [Review in Progress]

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by cageymaru, Mar 20, 2019.

  1. cageymaru

    cageymaru [H]ard|News

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    Jason Evangelho of Forbes has started a Linux series where he reviews various Linux distributions (distros) for ease of use and performance in regards to Linux gaming. Jason's series isn't about just running benchmarks as he asks questions that everyday users would need to find out. Where am I going to get up-to-date graphics drivers for my AMD or NVIDIA graphics card? How is the default state of gaming on the Linux distro? Can I get Steam working right out of the box or am I going to have to tweak my system to accomplish this task?

    The 9 Linux distros that he is going to test in the series includes: Fedora 29 Workstation, Pop!_OS 18.10, Debian 9, Solus 4, Manjaro 18, Linux Mint 19, elementary OS 5, Deepin 15.9, and Ubuntu 18.10. His test system consists of an AMD Ryzen 5 2600, Radeon Sapphire RX 580, Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1080 and more. So far he has tested Fedora 29 Workstation and Pop!_OS 18.10 with Pop!_OS 18.10 easily winning hands down in usability and performance. With the recent announcement that Google is leveraging Linux, Vulkan, first party games, and open-source AMD drivers for games running on its Google Stadia game streaming service; Linux gaming performance may enter into our PC gaming world very soon!

    If you're an NVIDIA user, good news: Pop!_OS has a separate installer image for you which automatically installs the proprietary (and far more performant) graphics driver. Again, there's no need to enable alternative software sources or hit the command line. The moment your OS is installed you're ready to start gaming. You'll be using the latest and greatest stable driver, Nvidia 418.43.

    Radeon gamers have an advantage across several Linux distributions: the open source driver is part of the kernel (and thus ready to use immediately), well maintained and quite performant. This typically means less steps to get up and running with Steam and Steam Proton. One distinct difference between Pop!_OS and Fedora, however, is that Fedora runs with a much newer MESA driver. Specifically, Fedora 29 uses MESA 18.3.4 while Pop uses MESA 18.2.8. The kernel on Pop is also a bit older, but again I noticed no disadvantage on the gaming side save for one: updating your kernel to 5.0 will add Freesync support which is a feature I can't live without. It is quite literally a game-changer.
     
  2. ChadD

    ChadD 2[H]4U

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    I guess it will be interesting to see once he gets through his list of common distros.
     
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  3. naib

    naib [H]ard|Gawd

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    why no gentoo
     
  4. BloodyIron

    BloodyIron 2[H]4U

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    Pop looks like a rather good option, I'm probably gonna try it out soon.

    If you want a hot tip for a tool to help with non-native gaming on Linux, check out the tool Lutris.

    I built my new rig about a week ago, and switched from XFCE4 + Compiz to the Ubuntu's default Gnome GUI, and it's actually very good for gaming! No drop in FPS compared to previous DE.

    Anyone have any questions about Linux gaming?
     
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  5. jcollett69

    jcollett69 Limp Gawd

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    Off topic, but what's with the use of the word "performant" today? Saw this used on an Oculus Rift S article today on another site. Weird.
     
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  6. cageymaru

    cageymaru [H]ard|News

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    Actually there are thousands of working games on Linux now like Battlefield V, new Resident Evil, Devil May Cry 5, etc. Most of the games that don't work are related to DRM schemes from what I've been reading. I'm probably going to dump Windows this weekend and give Linux a try. I already have Ubuntu running on an older notebook and it works great! I really like it better than Windows. I want to finally give it a go with my "real" gaming system.

    If I like it on my main rig, I will finally finish my AMD 2200G build and install it there. All the parts are here for it; just been putting it off. Then I will decide if I want to go back to Windows on the main gaming rig or switch over completely. I like trying new things so Linux doesn't "scare" me.
     
  7. Vercinaigh

    Vercinaigh Gawd

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    it's not all sunshine and roses and i really suggest something based around Arch or something much more hip and up to date when it comes to gaming on Linux as it's all really new relatively speaking and compatibility and performance often relies on brand new tech, fixes and advancement. It's getting better all the time though.
     
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  8. tdkuhl

    tdkuhl n00b

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    I actually went to fully using Linux about 6 months ago. Lutris and Proton are huge game changers for gaming.
     
  9. ChadD

    ChadD 2[H]4U

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    I have 2 2200G systems now. I built one for one of the kids around Christmas, built a second for the wife recently. Both running manjaro with zero issues. Great 1080p gaming machines.
     
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  10. ChadD

    ChadD 2[H]4U

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    Manjaro has been my goto for awhile for everything. Arch with an extra layer of testing. Sure some stuff like MESA might be delayed an extra week or so... but its rock solid.

    Looking forward to what the Forbes guys thinks of Manjaro and Solus as well for that matter.
     
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  11. Skull_Angel

    Skull_Angel [H]ard|Gawd

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    I keep hearing this about Manjaro so it's on my "next to check out" list; I just need to get off my ass, dust off my secondary drive, and give it a go. Solus was next on my radar before reading more into Manjaro, but it's taken that spot due to overall popularity and overall support. My last go around was Antergos, and while it was pretty impressive, it was also very research intensive for still getting use to Linux as a daily-driver.

    All around, I'm happy for the platform with more software like PoL, Lutris, Proton making Wine more user friendly.
     
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  12. tdkuhl

    tdkuhl n00b

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    Manjaro has been great. Took a little bit to get my laptop going with Optimus but I have been very happy with it. Actually replaced Mint with Manjaro.
     
  13. ChadD

    ChadD 2[H]4U

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    Seeing as you mentioned Antergos here are the differences.

    Arch is the base distro... arch has a reputation of being not so new user friendly. It is very popular with power Linux users cause its rolling but still has a pretty good reputation for stability, and a lot of basic common sense choices. (assuming you are again not a new Linux user... the type of little issues the pop up are not considered an issue for arch developers as they aren't aiming at new users who have no idea what chroot is ect) Its a great base distro.

    Manjaro is a user friendly distro based on arch. So there testing repositories are basically clean arch repositories. They have a clean GUI installer... and a bunch of new user friendly defaults. (like defaulting to faster schedulers for spinning drives ect) In their stable repos they roll them... but they hold first version Arch pacakges. So for example. MESA 19.0.0 would never be in the stable manjaro repos. MESA 19.0.1 could be if after the Manjaro teams testing it appeared solid. So they basically just skip any .0 versions of anything, and wait for one or two bug fix releases first. Still they do hold the odd package awhile... which can be annoying if that package is a new Nvidia driver or something. Still for a new user I would say better to have at least a little caution. lol They also have a very good community for support... it is a new user friendly distro, and their choices reflect that. (default steam install, pre installation of Nvidia closed source drivers ect)

    Antergos... is as a distro is really just Arch with a GUI installer. I have used it and I do like it. I wouldn't suggest it for brand new Linux users mainly because you won't find much of any Antergos support. Antergos users tend to be arch users that just don't want to take an hour installing their system. If a new user does go Antergos you can look for help around arch circles... just be prepared if you mention that your on Antergos most arch people will not help you. With arch the developers and most long time arch users figure if a user got their arch up and running they have at least a min amount of know how and tried the obvious fixes before asking for help.

    I have tried solus myself in the past and found it okish. I wasn't a fan of the lite repos... they have lots of stuff but its not as expansive if your used to arch or even debian based distros with their massive repositories. I also lost some interest with the issues they had with their founder going AFK. It sounds like the might be back on track though. For me its a distro I will still keep an eye on and if this new group of leadership there gets a few releases out that get some buzz I might take another look in 6 months or something.
     
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  14. GNUse_the_force

    GNUse_the_force Limp Gawd

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    don't forget to take a look at the increasingly popular MX Linux. It's Debian based but rolling also, so very stable (as stable as it gets) and there is a software centre that is ready to go to install the latest software aswell as flatpack (or you can stick with the stable debian packages). It comes with nvidia installer and lots of other friendly tools. Unlike vanilla Debian the kernal is upto date (ubuntu 18.04 is 4.15 and MX is 4.19 for example)
    installed it uses less than 400mb of RAM if you want it too and can suspend & load sessions to RAM.

    It's like a more stable version of Arch and less stale than ubuntu / mint.

    https://mxlinux.org/

    https://mxlinux.org/current-release-features/

    Friendly community too.
     
  15. purple_monster

    purple_monster Limp Gawd

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    ...i think maybe you are trolling me but- dang... i cannot tell. this is some good bait. i am going to spend the weekend exploring the nuances of this comment. well played, i am baffled. what a tease!
     
  16. GNUse_the_force

    GNUse_the_force Limp Gawd

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    DMC5



    BF5 (bear in mind this was 6 months ago, things have increased in performance since then)



    Resident Evil 2




    Something, something linux gaming.. :eek:

    (in fairness, some minor setup is probably required and your grandma or average twitch streamer might not be able to manage that)
     
  17. Dekoth-E-

    Dekoth-E- [H]ardness Supreme

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    I would wager most if not all of us exploring options for linux own a windows license. It isn't about the money it is about the fact that support for win 7 is ending next year and Win 10 is unacceptable as a platform for some of us. I mean I probably have easily 10 windows licenses with probably 4 of them unused at the moment.
     
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  18. DogsofJune

    DogsofJune 2[H]4U

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    This is HardOCP son, We explore all options here and make our own call. Go troll someplace else. I have a couple hundred Steam games that work just fine.
     
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  19. DogsofJune

    DogsofJune 2[H]4U

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    I'd like to give Pop OS a try. I like Manjaro on one of my threadripper boxes, but may play with Pop and see for myself.
     
  20. Skull_Angel

    Skull_Angel [H]ard|Gawd

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    I knew what I was getting into with Antergos, I like to poke around and play with problems so that I can get a general idea of what to expect; it gave me a good idea of some basic dos and don'ts along with the wiki hopping and specific forum goings (mentality, how to search, when/how to ask questions), good learning experience overall.

    Solus seemed very appealing because iirc the project's focus was to design a distribution that was for the basic desktop user (stability and usability). But, last time I checked it seemed like development had slowed down; it's good to hear that it's been picked up again, I only hope the new leadership can keep the initial direction and it succeeds. This is what brought Manjaro to my attention; the idea of stable releases backed by a good dev team and enough popularity to keep the project and community support going.
     
  21. KarsusTG

    KarsusTG 2[H]4U

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    Because masochism is ultimately bad for you.
     
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  22. FSCDiablo

    FSCDiablo Limp Gawd

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    It's not as bad as that list. https://www.protondb.com/ has a nice compatibility list for steam and proton. I'm personally playing several "Silver" or better rated games atm.

    I came back to Linux after 5 years or so off from it. KDE Neon Working great for everything I need it for so far.
     
  23. Nobu

    Nobu 2[H]4U

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    I'm not going to say you're wrong, but winedb is horribly outdated, and no telling how many users actually go back to winedb to update entries after playing games which work (either the first try or after fiddling with settings). Besides it not being really relevant to steam and dxvk, etc. (Winedb is for games run in Wine, with it's runtime, for the most part. Afaik, it hasn't been updated to differentiate between that and front-ends which use winelib).
     
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  24. HAL_404

    HAL_404 Limp Gawd

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    Some enjoy the pain :barefoot:
     
  25. PenGunn

    PenGunn Limp Gawd

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    Winetricks works everywhere. I have Stalker running as DX10. I can do more but its does not really work that well much above for Shadow. Call Of Pripyat may benefit from DX12. In Slackware64 14.2 where it run really well.
     
  26. jfreund

    jfreund Gawd

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    MX is my go-to distro. I like that it does not use systemd by default. I need to fix the buzzing pump on my Linux system and fire it back up.
     
  27. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Rolling != stable

    One note: I may have made a mistake, but Pop OS was the only distro I tried that wiped the drive. At the time I was dual-booting, and well, there was a recovery effort after. Beyond that, it's not special.
     
  28. BloodyIron

    BloodyIron 2[H]4U

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    If not following appropriate steps Ubuntu and others can too.

     
  29. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Well, Pop didn't fix the problem I was having, and to my recollection, it didn't ask- whereas every other distro, be it Ubuntu (and drivatives), Manjaro, and Fedora had no problem with it.
     
  30. ChadD

    ChadD 2[H]4U

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    Interesting. Is that because pop is system76s distro and intended to basically be a restore disk as their machines ship with Pop ? Just curious, never touched it myself just seemed like a Ubuntu reskin for the most part to me.
     
  31. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Pretty much- was troubleshooting the sound issue I was having with Wine (etc.), without success, so I moved on. But I did have to pull a backup of my Windows partition after putting it on.
     
  32. BloodyIron

    BloodyIron 2[H]4U

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    I remember when I asked Kyle about seeing more Linux news around here, not too long ago, nobody wants it he said... ;)

    Hmm...
     
  33. DogsofJune

    DogsofJune 2[H]4U

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    To a degree I think some of us do want it. But in truth it's still a Microsoft gaming world. Which is ok too.

    Options are good and Linux should be mentioned as to the changes that are being made. Same should be said of any OS
     
  34. Astrowind

    Astrowind n00b

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    I can't wait to see how Linux Mint will do because I already made a disc with it (even though I haven't installed it yet).
     
  35. RanceJustice

    RanceJustice [H]ardness Supreme

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    Glad to see so much discussion of Linux gaming and Linux in general! There have been many strides made in recent years making Linux gaming way more accessible. Valve deserves special recognition as they played a major role in this by indirectly and directly backing, contributing / releasing their own projects as open source and Linux friendly. Of course, many others from engine builders (ie Unity,), porting houses (Aspyr, Feral), and tons of developers of all sizes deciding to support Linux have increased viability of the platform in somewhat of a continuously growing snowball effect. Ultimately, no matter what platform you may personally prefer, gaming on Linux is likely to be beneficial as it means more openness, quality, and ease-of-use in the tools necessary for open development rather than proprietary single platform or hardware specific technologies.

    If anyone has any further questions or interest in Linux, feel free!
     
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  36. ChadD

    ChadD 2[H]4U

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    Solus
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasone...-gaming-report-nvidia-amd-steam/#971f3b3533aa
    Manjaro
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasone...he-desktop-linux-distro-to-beat/#61e1fb666213

    Taking his time getting through his list of distros... but as I expected it seems the author considers Manjaro to be the distro to beat.

    Like that he touched on the AMD / NV Linux v windows disparity. He wonders why NV isn't as strong in Linux compared to AMD, as in Linux his 580 is almost competing with his 1080ti. (ok NV is still 20% or so faster but that is much closer then windows numbers would be) He suggests that perhaps NV isn't optimizing their Linux drivers in the same way. As a Linux gamer with both NV and AMD machines around.... imo its simple NV cheats like a MFer in windows. Every game I get running in proton on my AMD system looks better then it did in windows on NV. Makes me wonder how much BS NV does in their windows driver to get a few extra Frames.
     
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  37. schoolslave

    schoolslave Gawd

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    There's definitely something fishy going on -- even more perplexing is that Nvidia *does* have Linux drivers for "serious" HPC/server machines which are all Linux.
     
  38. ChadD

    ChadD 2[H]4U

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    Those are the same drivers the distros are installing. I think what it comes down to.... and I could be wrong, but lets be honest in the past (not the ancient past either) Nvidia HAS been caught cheating things like anisotropic filtering of transparent textures. Of course their windows game looks for the .exe of games they know they can get away with it in. I'm sure there are all sorts of things NV decides games don't need so they shut it off.... and in some cases hey perhaps that new NV driver that gives you 20% more performance in X or Y game specifically is cutting out things that can be, but I believe in a lot of cases they are just out right reducing quality in places they feel they can get away with it in. lol

    We all know the Vega cards as much as they got shit on.... where still insanely good compute cards and in many cases out performed the NV cards. When it comes to games... I think they suffer from not having the money to throw at developers. (if a developer decides an "optimization" makes sense that is probably better then NV "driver optimizations" after the game is on the market). IMO I think its a good thing that AMD doesn't "Optimize" their drivers as hard. Of course in Linux none of that is happening AMD side as the drivers 99% of people use to game with in Linux are open source. To be completely fair to NV.... even on the same AMD hardware I swear games look better in Linux then they do in windows. FPS is a bit lower under proton still but in most games its nothing I can see, but things do look a lot sharper, and FX are much nicer.

    A small example of a smaller game where I have noticed this. Star Trek online hardly the most popular game around. In windows with FX cranked it seems like the game or driver culls all effects on the screen after a specific point. If 20 things go off at once it seems under windows only half of them render on the screen. In Linux they all render completely... granted this can seriously impact FPS if it gets silly. Still I have no idea if its something about STO (which seems unlikely as the game doesn't know its not in windows) or if its something to do with the driver. I tend to think its the drivers... the Linux open source drivers have Zero cheats, the windows drivers; well no way of knowing for sure but I bet they are responsible for the FX culling. So I imagine if they are doing it in a low popularity game like STO its happening in all the big AAA titles to some degree.
     
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  39. KarsusTG

    KarsusTG 2[H]4U

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    I am excited to see how intel gpu's are going to do on linux side.
     
  40. ThatITGuy

    ThatITGuy Limp Gawd

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    All but one of the machines I moved to Linux were previously running Windows 10, the other being a Windows 7 install whose license had been "upgraded" to 10, but that I wiped and reinstalled Win7 on.
    I do maintain one machine with Windows 10 for gaming, just for those titles that are problematic in Linux. Honestly, that has become fewer and fewer of late.
    I do not yet have any machine running arch, so that will be my next thing to play with, but my installs of Ubuntu LTS and Manjaro are both stable and working fine. Plus, with Linux, I have less worry about the kids installing random "crap", and i have yet to see the "20 toolbars" in the browser they could get in Windows.