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Can you play games on Linux? 5 Linux-based gaming OS

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Linux has always been known as the go-to operating system for programmers, developers, hackers and so forth. There hasn’t been any great multimedia utility in Linux.

The picture distorts further when it comes to gaming. Linux initially didn’t support a lot of games, but this has been improving recently.

Popular PC gaming platforms such as Steam have a lot of games now that support Linux. There are even Linux based gaming OSs popping out now.

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Can you play games on Linux?

One word answer, yes.

There is a good number of game titles that run natively on Linux. Alternatively, with a little bit of technical know how you can run almost any windows game on Linux. The most common one being, Wine.

Wine is sort of a Windows emulator for Linux. It can run basically any windows application on Linux. The real player here, however, is Steam.

Steam is an insanely popular PC gaming platform available on PC, Linux and macOS. Recently, Steam released a feature called Steam Play which allows users to play windows games on Linux.

Steam Play is basically a fork of the Wine program customized by Valve for gaming. This is currently an experimental feature, so some games might crash or not work at all.

Also read: Top 5 websites for streaming or watching games

How to play Windows games on Linux using Steam Play

Step 1: Download and install the Steam Client on your Linux machine.

Step 2: On the top left corner, click on Steam and then on Settings.

Can you play games on Linux? 5 Linux-based gaming OS

Step 3: Once inside the Settings menu, choose Accounts from the left pane and click on CHANGE under Beta Participation.

Can you play games on Linux? 5 Linux-based gaming OS

Step 4: Select the Steam Beta Update from the dialogue box.

After this, the Steam Client will download the update and restart.

Can you play games on Linux? 5 Linux-based gaming OS

Step 5:  Go to Settings once again. You’ll see a new option called Steam Play. Click on it and select the following boxes:

  • Enable Steam Play for supported titles
  • Enable Steam Play for all titles

Step 6: Simply go to the game you want to install and you will see that there’s an option to install the game.

Keep in mind that only 27 windows games have been whitelisted so far. You can find them here.

Also read: Top 15 browser games for PC

Top 5 Linux-based Gaming OS


Can you play games on Linux? 5 Linux-based gaming OS

Talking about gaming-centric OSs, SteamOS takes the first place.

Steam built this incredible OS quite some time ago and it has been steadily on the rise. The OS basically converts your PC into a PC gaming console.

The UI is fluid, much like the Big Picture Mode on the Steam PC client. Since it is a Linux based operating system, the users are limited to games that support Linux natively.

You can, however, try playing windows games using Steam Play.


  • Dope UI
  • Great hardware support
  • Steam Library is huge


  • High-end hardware required
  • Steam exclusive

Play Linux

Play Linux is yet another distro which comes with Steam and PlayOnLinux pre-installed.

It is based on the Nebula desktop environment, which is very light and customizable. A separate customizer application is included which provides tons of customization options to control the look and feel of the OS.

Play Linux automatically detects the CPU load and disables all unnecessary processes while you’re busy gaming. The unique feature of Play Linux is that it offersn an integrated AutoGPU installer. It automatically configures and installs the most relevant graphics drivers for you.


  • Very lightweight distro
  • Steam support
  • Automatic graphics driver installation


  • Still in beta

Sparky Linux – Gameover Edition

Can you play games on Linux? 5 Linux-based gaming OS

Sparky Linux is another great Linux distro for gaming.

It comes with a special tool called APTus Gamer. APTus Gamer allows users to easily install various consoles, emulators and various other tools for gamers.

A number of Linux open source games come pre-installed with Sparky Linux. It also comes preinstalled with Steam too. There’s also Wine and PlayOnLinux bundled for playing Windows games. There’s also a utility to help install hardware drives and multimedia codecs.


  • Steam Games supported
  • Ability to play Windows games
  • Amazingly Stable


  • Not all windows games might work

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Lakka OS

Until other distros featured on this list, Lakka OS transforms your computer into a complete game console.

Lakka has the ability to emulate a wide variety of consoles. It basically compiles all console emulators under the RetroArch frontend.

Lakka OS is pretty well optimized and all games run more smoothly than core emulators. Since most games require low hardware resources (except PS or Xbox) so performance is not a problem.

The most notable features of Lakka include but not limited to multiplayer support, Netplay, Rewind, Wireless gamepad support and so on.


  • Gorgeous UI
  • Very lightweight
  • Multiple console emulator support


  • No support for windows, steam or Linux games.

Game Drift Linux

Can you play games on Linux? 5 Linux-based gaming OS

Game Drift Linux is possibly the best-optimized Linux gaming distros.

What really makes this one stand out is the out-of-box support for Linux and most popular Windows games.

Furthermore, Game Drift has its own GameStore. There are hundreds of commercial as well as open-source games available with new games being added regularly. The Store also supports one-click installation.

Game Drift takes advantage of the CrossOver technology for running Windows games. At the moment there are about 1200 windows games that you can play directly withing Game Drift. CrossOver might also help you run some Windows software.


  • Dedicated game support
  • Windows games supported


  • CrossOver requires you to buy an activation key

Also read: 5 common mistakes that compromise your gaming console’s security


Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: [email protected].