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The best Linux distribution for gaming in 2023

By - | Views: 85,893

Back in 2020 I pointed out what were the best Linux distributions for gaming, so here's the current state and what you should go for in 2023.

The thing is: not a lot has changed since my last article. Linux is still a minefield of many different distributions for people, and it can be very confusing. There's a lot of articles out there recommending really random and outdated distributions in lists too, so here's the real thing.

Without getting bogged down into packaging issues, and just giving you the basics of "this will work just fine" — go and install Ubuntu. People will (and I expect them to) argue for others, and people are free to, but a lot of people suggest other distributions for the wrong reasons. Manjaro has too many problems both technical and management, Arch can and will break things if you don't know exactly what you're doing, Fedora is messy with NVIDIA drivers and SELinux on Fedora is a nuisance and so on. Ubuntu is still to this day, the most simple distribution of Linux to install and get gaming.

Ubuntu isn't perfect by a long shot, but it remains as my number 1 choice to suggest to people both new and old to get into Linux and get gaming. It's one of the most used on desktop by any statistic you can find, which also means troubleshooting it is generally easier too.

With the Ubuntu LTS (long term support) releases, you also get support for at least 5 years, so you don't have the hassle and potential breakage of major system internal updates for quite a long time.

Valve's own stats show Ubuntu as one of the most popular too and it has been the same since Steam came to Linux.

As a user of Fedora myself, take it from me if you're in any way new to Linux: just go with Ubuntu. If you ever decide you "really know Linux now", then you can think about using something else. Don't make it difficult for yourself.

How might this change in future?

Well, Valve are here with the Steam Deck and SteamOS. Eventually, Valve will release SteamOS 3 so anyone can download it and install it. That might end up being a good pick, but right now it's not on the table as it's not released and anyone making their own version of it (like HoloISO and others) are too small to recommend serious use of them.

If you need help and support, specifically for Linux and also Steam Deck gaming, you can try asking in our Forum, Discord, IRC and Telegram.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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ElectricPrism 1 Dec, 2022
Obviously Liam is bias because Ubuntu is from the UK /s Just kidding buddy

My pre-click instinct told me the answer could be SteamOS as it's the heavy hitter and is the obvious one lifting us up as a serious platform.

I really hope Fedora closes the gap, they are doing a Raspberry Pi release, but I think some of their strict adherence to FOSS and making it harder to get mp3 codecs and other "absolutely proprietary" stuff do cost them the lead.

Its hard for me to get behind Canonical when I feel style vibes -- but hell, for the ultranoob they're hard to beat as they hit all the marks for that demographic.

Edit: I think GOL and other Linux sites need to supplant top Google search results for "Best Gaming Distros" -- these nobodies who could get no shits about linux get to fill the internet with their spam and bad advice -- we should have a coordinated effort to supplant them to protect noobs from their idiocy.

Last edited by ElectricPrism on 1 December 2022 at 6:33 pm UTC
denyasis 1 Dec, 2022
If she with Ubuntu. It's fine. Especially if you just want to game or use the system. Not everyone sees computer tinkering as fun. So a stable base for what's more and more consider an "appliance", is perfectly acceptable.

I moved away from Ubuntu years ago as I want to try rolling release distros, but I really can't say anything bad about it in particular.
Creak 1 Dec, 2022
Oh shoot, just discovered that I actually disabled SELinux a long time ago! I'll try and reactivate it, at least on permissive for now
dziadulewicz 1 Dec, 2022
Those still maintaining the statement about Arch, Manjaro, Endeavour or whatnot Arch based being more stable than Ubuntu are more or less bluffing.. The very nature of Arch base and the likes is not to be stable but more fresh, yet very untested..

Then again SteamOS 3.x is now Arch based also but quite nothing like Arch really.
sarmad 1 Dec, 2022
That's the right recommendation. People who can find their way through in distros other than Ubuntu are usually people who don't need recommendations anyway; they can make their own decisions. Those who ask for the recommendation are usually the ones who are new to Linux and therefore it's good to recommend Ubuntu to them.
rojimboo 1 Dec, 2022
Ubuntu is the answer to the question:
"What is the best distro for a Linux gaming newbie?"

It is not the answer to the question:
"What is the best distro for gaming?"

I'll let you divine the answer to that question. Let the distro wars commence! (or in this case, continue).
sarmad 1 Dec, 2022
Quoting: CreakOh shoot, just discovered that I actually disabled SELinux a long time ago! I'll try and reactivate it, at least on permissive for now

Haha... that's a good example why SELinux is less secure than AppArmor, it's too complicated that people tend to simply disable it. I used to disable it as well. SELinux is one of the reasons I stay away from Fedora.
Purple Library Guy 1 Dec, 2022
I'm a Mint person myself, but I'm not really going to disagree with Liam here. Mint is the best Linux distribution for general use. Really, it just is, sure there's individual taste and some people like their window managers modern and interesting or whatever, but basically, for the average computer user, Mint is better. Rough edges of all the others, knocked off. Stable. Comfortable interfaces. Stuff Just Working. No imposed Snaps. In general, no fuddle-duddling around.

But it tends to be kind of old package-wise, and for gaming you want stuff to be a bit fresher, and maybe Ubuntu is a better Linux distribution for gaming because of that. My gaming tends to the light side so I haven't actually had any problems with that kind of stuff, but if I wanted to be even not-particularly-bleeding edge I might.
dvd 1 Dec, 2022
Quoting: ExpandingManI use Manjaro on all of my personal machines and am extremely happy with it, but I have to use Ubuntu for work and, I gotta say, I am not at all happy with it lately. Not only do you lack a viable alternative to AUR but the repositories you do have are aggravatingly bare, update *waaaay* too slowly, and things have only gotten worse since they started moving things to snap. Concerns about snap are a whole other issue, but removing even the *option* of installing something with `apt` because a snap exists can be annoying.

The default configuration may work ok, but Ubuntu never seems to work right when you try to change the configuration. Try to switch to window manager, it breaks GDM somehow. Install lightdm with apt, of course it's broken on install and has to be fixed to be useful.

Even the idea that there is tons of information on ubuntu because it's so widely used doesn't seem to actually pan out. As far as I know there is nothing even close to as comprehensive as the Arch wiki, and the ubuntu wiki frequently seems badly out of date.

So, yes, Ubuntu may work well if you intend to install it, play games and never do anything else, but for day-to-day use I'm not at all happy with where it is right now.

I had to configure a wined snap for a relative once (printer driver), and it got infected with a trojan in like 2 weeks. I personally wouldn't recommend a linux distro to gamers, but would recommend debian for everyone else.
scirocco 1 Dec, 2022
Quoting: BumadarIf your an nvidia user I agree, it works better out of the box on them.
If your an amd user then I feel there are more option as you can totally avoid closed source drivers.

Well only disto I can think of thats not good for an Nvidia user is Holoiso steamos.

I have a pretty slow gaming computer so I have to go for speed to reach 4k or atleast 4k with fsr or the like, so atm I am running ChimeraOS and CachyOS, they are both great for speed in games, ChimerOS is the fastest I have tried, however its a bit too locked down for daily driver usage.
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