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Linux gaming made easy: The fastest way to get up and running

Did you know that there are many top-tier commercial games available for Linux? Here's the quickest way we know to get up and running.

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1 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Linux gaming is possible

You don't have to be running Windows to play great Triple-A game titles. Many are available in Linux. Let's look at how you can make it all work.

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2 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

We're starting with Ubuntu

We're starting in Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver using GNOME. Since Linux distros can be so different, you may need to follow other instructions depending on your distro.

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3 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Launch the Ubuntu Software Center

The Ubuntu Software Center is the UI package manager for Ubuntu. It's the easiest way to get started, but -- of course -- there are always command line options if that's your jam.

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4 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Select Games

Go ahead and select Games.

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Lots of Linux games available

Right "out of the box," Ubuntu comes with pages of game options. Most of these are casual games native to Linux, but it's a nice and fun selection.

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6 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Find the Steam Installer

Scroll down and look for the Steam installer. Click it.

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7 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Launch the Steam installer

Once you're in the installer, hit install. Don't let the lack of a screenshot scare you away. This installs the full Steam app. If you're not familiar with Steam, it's Valve's software distribution system and is used to provide access to an enormous library of great games.

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8 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Give it a few minutes

Give the installer a few minutes to run.

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9 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Launch options

You can launch or remove Steam from the Software Center, although this isn't what we'd recommend for regular use.

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10 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Launch Steam

Instead, launch Steam from the launcher. This is how you'll do it when you want to play or manage your Steam library.

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11 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

This is Linux...

It's Linux, so things didn't exactly go smoothly the first time around. We wound up having to try launching Steam a few times before it got itself sorted out and started working. But once you get it working...

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12 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

It's regular ole Steam

It's regular ole Steam. If you've played Steam games in Windows, this is exactly the same environment.

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13 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Log in

I have a Steam account, so I just logged in. If you don't have one, you can create one easily enough.

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14 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Authenticate using the Steam app

Steam has MFA using the Steam app on your phone. Just authenticate and you're in.

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15 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Yep, it's pure Steam

It looks like Steam. It smells like Steam. It works like Steam. It's Steam.

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16 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

The Steam dashboard

Once you're in Steam, you have access to the full Steam dashboard. Along the left are the games you already own. The list shown represents my game library. Yep, I like strategy games.

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17 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Tap the tiny penguin

Not all Steam games will run on Linux. If you tap the tiny penguin, you'll see the games that are available. About half the games I own run on Linux. About half the games I own are also Fallout. I like Fallout.

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18 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

No Fallout 4 for you

Not all Steam games will work on Linux. Notice that Fallout 4's installer is grayed out.

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19 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Let's install Civ5

Civilization 5 is one of the games compatible with Linux. Let's go ahead and install it by pressing Install.

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20 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Configure install options

Go ahead and configure the install options. If you opt for a desktop icon, you'll get one in GNOME.

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21 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Wait for download

Give the game a few minutes to download and fully install.

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22 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Ready to play

There it is, ready to play. Press the green button and prepare to conquer the world.

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23 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Civ welcome screen

Once the game launches, you can configure it like normal. Sound and graphics work just like you'd expect.

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24 of 24 David Gewirtz/ZDNet

Let's play

And here we are. Once the game launches, it plays exactly as you'd expect it would. 

What Steam games do you play on Linux? Let us know in the comments below.

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