Introduction

In general, gaming on Linux used to be limited to the few FOSS games available for the operating system, which is no longer the case, and it has seen steady growth over the past few years. With major companies like Valve providing Steam for Linux, Proton, the development of DXVK, the continuous work put into Wine by its developers, and Indie game developers creating games with Linux support out-of-the-box, the amount of fun for Linux continues to expand.

This post will be pt. 1, and it will only deal with obtaining games.

Difficulty: ★☆☆☆☆


Native

Native games refer to games that specifically target Linux, and these games do not require any form of emulation or middleware to run.

Not all games native to Linux are FOSS (free, as in freedom, open-source software) or free (as in gratis).

With that said, how can users obtain these native Linux games?

The first source is AppImageHub.com, which offers games (among other applications) packaged as AppImage. Users can download content from AppImageHub.com using Nitrux already via appimage-cli-tool.

AppImageHub.com offers users a vast catalog of AppImage applications.

To explore the games listed at AppImageHub.com, you can use the NX Software Center or the terminal (Station).

Games category in the NX Software Center

If you wish to use the terminal, run the following command.

app
  • Open a terminal and type’ app –help‘ for information about how to use it.

appimage-cli-tool is available in Nitrux by typing the app command in a terminal.

Likewise, PortableLinuxGames offers game packages such as AppImage. PortableLinuxGames packs and distributes great Linux games as portable, self-contained packages that will (or should) run on any Linux system. It uses the AppImage package format and some script magic.

  • We recommend downloading the files from PortableLinuxGames to ~/Applications for more effortless organization.

PortableLinuxGames packs and distributes great Linux games as portable, self-contained packages (AppImage).

A third source to obtain games is itch.io. itch.io describes itself as “an open marketplace for independent digital creators focusing on independent video games. It’s a platform that enables anyone to sell the content they’ve created.”

  • The itch.io client doesn’t use the AppImage format; itch.io stores the game in the user’s home folder instead of the root directory, like a Debian package.
    • We include a shortcut to install the itch.io client for Linux in the application menu; we do not include it by default.

itch.io native client for Linux.

Non-Native

Steam

Non-native games don’t specifically target Linux, and these games do require a form of emulation or middleware to run.

The most popular source for non-native games on Linux currently is Steam. Steam is a top-rated digital game store that offers Linux games (including free-of-cost games). Steam has both ported and native Linux games and offers Steam Play for selected Windows games to be playable in Linux.

  • The Steam client doesn’t use the AppImage format; Steam stores the game in the user’s home folder instead of the root directory, like a Debian package.
    • We include a shortcut to install the Steam client for Linux in the application menu; we do not include it by default.

Steam (Flatpak) client for Linux

Proton/DXVK

First, let’s answer the question, “What is DXVK“?. DXVK is a set of replacement DLL files that translate from DirectX to Vulkan.

To run Windows games, Steam utilizes a version of Wine called “Proton,” which is optimized to run various games that do not have Linux support through Steam. Users can select from various bundled versions of Proton with Steam, besides adding custom versions of Proton created by third parties such as Proton-GE.

Steam allows users to enable its compatibility tool “Steam Play,” which uses Proton.

Heroic Games Launcher

Heroic Games Launcher is a popular option to run games purchased through other stores, such as Epic Store or GOG. Heroic (for short) describes itself as “an Open Source Game Launcher for Linux, Windows and macOS.

  • Heroic doesn’t use the AppImage format; Heroic stores the game in the user’s home folder instead of the root directory, like a Debian package.
    • Users can download Heroic from Flathub. To add Flathub see the Notes.

Heroic is an open-source game launcher for Linux, Windows, and macOS.

Like Steam, Heroic allows users to use multiple Proton and (vanilla) Wine versions.

Heroic allows users to select which version of Wine or Proton to use.

Using Proton-GE

  • Users can download Proton-GE from its repository. To use Proton-GE with the Flatpak releases of Steam, Heroic Games Launcher, Bottles, or Lutris, do the following.
    • Download the latest release from Releases.
    • Extract the TAR archive using Ark and move the uncompressed directory to the following path.
$HOME/.var/app/com.valvesoftware.Steam/.local/share/Steam/compatibilitytools.d

Emulators

Emulation is a software compatibility layer that emulates hardware components of game consoles, instruction sets, and related APIs. Emulation software can emulate CPUs, GPUs, audio hardware, and other physical components in actual game consoles.

The following list only accounts for some emulators available, but a shortlist of those more popular emulators available as AppImages either officially or by third parties.

  • Duckstation. DuckStation is a simulator/emulator of the Sony PlayStation(TM) console, focusing on playability, speed, and long-term maintainability.
  • PCSX2. PCSX2 is a Playstation 2 ’emulator,’ a free program that tries to replicate the Playstation 2 console to enable you to play PS2 games on your PC.
  • RPCS3. The world’s first free and open-source PlayStation 3 emulator/debugger, written in C++ for Windows and Linux.
  • RetroArch. RetroArch is an emulation frontend that hooks into game-specific emulation cores to play games. It supports over a hundred emulation cores. A list of these cores is available here.
  • DeSmuME. DeSmuME is a Nintendo DS emulator.
    • DeSmuME is available from AppImageHub.com and is available through the NX Software Center.
  • Dolphin. Dolphin is an emulator for two recent Nintendo video game consoles: the GameCube and the Wii.
    • Dolphin is available from AppImageHub.com and is available through the NX Software Center.
      • And an updated version is available from Flathub. To add Flathub see the Notes.
  • PPSSPP. A PSP emulator.
    • Users can download PPSSPP from Flathub. To add Flathub see the Notes.
  • xemu. Original Xbox Emulator
    • Users can download xemu from Flathub. To add Flathub see the Notes.

Stay tuned for Pt. 2, where we will examine what extra tools we can use to improve our gaming experience.

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