Gaming is a beautiful hobby that many people are engaging with. Across all demographics people are busy creating their own digital farms, working together in combat, or simply socializing while maintaining a space-ship, free of impostors. All of this can be done on Fedora Linux. And while it doesn’t have a name for being flashy, looks can be deceiving. Keep reading to find out how you can play the latest video games on Fedora Linux.
With its mission statement emphasizing features and innovation, Fedora is often on the forefront of embracing new technologies, the latest Linux kernels and the latest drivers. All without sacrificing stability or reliability. Fedora won’t harm itself in an attempt to be first, but it will certainly try to lead by example.
Combine this with a short release-cycle, and you’ll find that Fedora is never more than a few months behind on major developments. While you could technically go without restarting your computer for weeks, in practice, every few days will bring new improvements to your system. This is great for users who are looking for the latest technology, including gamers.
This guide will help you play the latest video games. But a notice is in order. Most commercial games are proprietary and they often require proprietary online services. While using any of these services and games, you can be subjected to aggressive monetization strategies. You may also be subject to privacy-disrespecting anti-tamper tools and user analytics. The choice to use or not to use the software is yours. This guide will focus on the prerequisites of non‑FLOSS gaming using Fedora Workstation.
The RPM Package Manager is the basic software installation system for Fedora Linux. It’s a decentralized system that allows you to easily add or remove extra repositories containing packages with software. Some of these repositories focus on development-tools. But they also provide media and gaming-related content.
Two key aspects that are frequently of interest to gamers are drivers for an Nvidia GeForce GPU and Steam. This gaming content can be obtained from a secondary repository that’s often associated with but legally distinct from Fedora Linux, called RPM Fusion. RPM Fusion is a large project that also includes patent-encumbered video codecs and drivers. This guide will use two approved extensions that you can access right from the store.
- Open the Software Center
- Navigate to Options -> Software Repositories
- Scroll down and enable
- RPM Fusion for Fedora 3x – nonfree – Steam
- RPM Fusion for Fedora 3x – nonfree – NVIDIA Driver
After enabling these settings, you can find both Steam and the Nvidia drivers in the software center. Do mind that you don’t always need the non-free drivers. Users that are running AMD or Intel graphics cards will have their drivers bundled with the Linux kernel, ready to go.
You must restart the computer after installing new drivers.
To save you a few clicks, the direct commands that you can run in a terminal window are provided below. If you’re new to Linux, this might seem very intimidating. But I encourage you to try it out. I’ll include these instructions throughout the guide to give you extra help.
$ sudo dnf config-manager --set-enabled rpmfusion-nonfree-steam $ sudo dnf install steam
Optional: These command are only required for when you have an Nvidia GeForce GPU.
$ sudo dnf config-manager --set-enabled rpmfusion-nonfree-nvidia-driver $ sudo dnf install akmod-nvidia xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-cuda
Steam has a game-changing ace up its sleeve which deserves its own special mention. So without further delay, let’s talk about game availability and compatibility.
Linux is just a small platform and many studios and publishers will (for a variety of reasons) not release a Linux version. This is where a powerful tool called Wine comes onto the stage. Wine translates Windows-specific inputs into Linux-comprehensible instructions. Steam has its own version called Proton. You can enable Proton for any Steam title.
To enable this functionality, you can start Steam, navigate to Settings and enable Steam Play for all titles. Check out the community database – ProtonDB – for compatibility information. This database will indicate what games are known to work with which version of Proton.
But let’s dream bigger. You don’t just want to play cool games on your own, you want to engage with friends and share experiences with them. For this, we’ll be making an excursion to the world of Flathub. Flatpak is a newer packaging system that focuses on containerizing applications. This gives you more control and security, while also making it easier for developers to publish their applications. The official installation instructions are one-click.
$ flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
Discord has basic Linux support! This is great. And it’s much appreciated that tools like Discord release Linux binaries. There is no official RPM version. But as luck would have it, there is a community-maintained Flatpak that provides Discord.
$ flatpak install flathub com.discordapp.Discord
Open Broadcaster Software
Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is another great addition to a modern gamer’s repertoire. It allows you to stream on Twitch, YouTube, and many other platforms. With OBS you’ll have to choose which version you want. There is a guide using RPM Fusion which requires some extra work. But you can also get the software right from Flathub. Through the Software Center you can get additional plugins.
$ flatpak install flathub com.obsproject.Studio
Here are some more tools that can help you with your gaming-setup. While Steam certainly provides the most complete and feature-rich option out there, it’s certainly not the only way to game or the only tool to look at.
One thing that users from other operating systems have grown accustomed to is an overview of which applications are running in the background. This “App Indicator”-overview is not provided by default, but you can easily download and enable such an extension from the Fedora repository using dnf. Alternatively, you can also download and enable extensions from the GNOME Extensions website.
$ sudo dnf install gnome-extensions-app gnome-shell-extension-appindicator
Sometimes it will be necessary to look at a game’s performance to determine if your current hardware can handle the game you’re playing. The most flexible way of doing this is to use MangoHud via GOverlay. GOverlay is in the Software Center and it will include MangoHud and vkBasalt.
$ sudo dnf install goverlay
Another powerful toolset for Wine is called Lutris. This application allows you to run non-Steam games. It takes away most of the configuration hurdles. But it has some rough edges. If that is not to your liking, you can also cut out any middleman and use a tool like Q4Wine, which allows you to manually manage wine-prefixes. Both are in Software Center or can be installed using the terminal.
$ sudo dnf install lutris $ sudo dnf install q4wine
If you haven’t already noticed, there is a Flatpak version of Steam available on Flathub. This is great for accessibility. But this version has had some serious compatibility issues in the past. These are resolved with Fedora 35 and Flatpak 1.12. But it is still likely that there will be some minor bugs. If you’re in a security-sensitive position, you should certainly try the Flatpak version. It’s a classical trade-off between security and usability. But that’s a debate for another magazine article.
$ flatpak install flathub com.valvesoftware.Steam
Are you unsure which version of Steam you have installed from Software Center? In the top-right you can see which repository-source you’re currently looking at. You can install both the Flatpak version and the regular version side-by-side. Although you can’t easily share data between them.
This will all be a lot to take in. There are many tools and applications that didn’t make the cut. I didn’t get to talk about emulation platforms like Retro Arch or streaming services like Stadia because the line must be drawn somewhere. I also didn’t take any time to talk about older games or FLOSS titles. So be aware that there are many more gaming solutions to try.
Gaming on Linux has been making major strides in the last couple of years, and it’s no different for Fedora Linux. While Fedora Linux certainly prides itself on being a reliable and professional distribution, it’s certainly not without video-game merits.
Should you switch to Fedora Linux for your gaming needs? Well, this is a hard question to answer in a single statement. If you’re primarily gaming on other platforms, then you will run into compatibility and support issues. Not all games work. And some games will never work. Emulators and compatibility layers can achieve much. But they’re not miracle workers. No fair discussion about gaming on Linux can come without a disclaimer. Your expectations and/or willingness to compromise might be the determining factor.
Author’s comment. I’ve been gaming on a PC from an early age. But I started to exclusively use Linux four years ago. The question I asked myself was: “Has it ever mattered to me that I never played Halo, God of War, or Zelda because those are all platform exclusives?” No. And the few titles that I can’t play today because of anti-cheat software will also not affect my life in any meaningful way. For me the trade-off is worth it. But everybody will have to make that choice individually.
Got any video game recommendations? Feel free to place them in the comments below.