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The best Linux distribution for gaming in 2023

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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 There's a lot of articles out there recommending really random and outdated distributions in lists too, so here's the real thing.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.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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About the author -
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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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119 comments
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mr-victory 2 Dec, 2022
Quoting: HxEthan playing russian roulette when updating software on Arch
😂😂
My PC hasn't killed me! Yet...
HxE 2 Dec, 2022
Quoting: mr-victory
Quoting: pleasereadthemanualIf you're wondering why H.265/HEVC (and now VVC) never got much adoption compared to its predecessor, this is why.
I converted all of my videos to H265 back then with VLC and saved around %80-95 disk space. Do you think I should convert them to AV1, would I reclaim even more disk space? I don't care about patents because both Arch Linux and VLC just ignore their existence and ship all the codecs.
Manjaro is in EU, european patent laws don't see algorithms and most of software stuff as patentable, so another benefit of Manjaro is potential avoidance of video format drama.
Deleted_User 2 Dec, 2022
Just wanted to participate in the Distrowars and throw MX Linux into the ring. Has a nice Toolbox coming with it with reasonable but not overcomplicated features. All of my gaming related activities were supported ootb.

However: I'm aware that this distro is almost never mentioned, so i guess there is a very little userbase. Can anyone explain to me how they manage to be #1 on distrowatch.com? (which is how i became aware of them)
peta77 2 Dec, 2022
Quoting: Deleted_UserHowever: I'm aware that this distro is almost never mentioned, so i guess there is a very little userbase. Can anyone explain to me how they manage to be #1 on distrowatch.com? (which is how i became aware of them)

Simple: distrowatch doesn't count usage, downloads, etc. Just how many page views were there. So people seem to be interested. That's the only thing distrowatch can tell you. You could be number one for a whole year there without having any active users!


Last edited by peta77 on 2 December 2022 at 11:48 am UTC
CatKiller 2 Dec, 2022
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Quoting: Deleted_UserCan anyone explain to me how they manage to be #1 on distrowatch.com? (which is how i became aware of them)
Distrowatch only measures the number of times that people look at the distro information on Distrowatch. Distros that people actually use don't need to be looked up on Distrowatch.
HxE 2 Dec, 2022
QuoteManjaro has too many problems both technical and management
I have a huge problem with Manjaro: other people tell me that Manjaro is bad, and the funny detail is those people don't use Manjaro anyway.
infinity-stable 2 Dec, 2022
I agree, Ubuntu just works and it's a good distro for gaming. I prefer LTS releases for stability.
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Quoting: mr-victory
Quoting: pleasereadthemanualIf you're wondering why H.265/HEVC (and now VVC) never got much adoption compared to its predecessor, this is why.
I converted all of my videos to H265 back then with VLC and saved around %80-95 disk space. Do you think I should convert them to AV1, would I reclaim even more disk space? I don't care about patents because both Arch Linux and VLC just ignore their existence and ship all the codecs.
As much as I'm excited about AV1, I've not done much with the AV1 encoders/decoders that exist today, so I really don't know if they are more space-efficient. Given that AV1 was developed quite some time after H.265, I would guess that its main competition is with H.266/VVC now. I'll have to try it out someday. Preferably with some hardware acceleration...

H.265 is a great codec. MPEG-LA made hundreds of millions of dollars developing the standards, after all. My hope is that AV1 can be even better without causing trouble for software developers everywhere.

As for why ffmpeg's x264/x265 can be freely used by free software media players that distribute their software to users like VLC, it has been suggested that France cares less about software patents than other countries (I don't know how true this is). I don't think MPEG-LA is interested in going after VideoLAN anyhow. ffmpeg themselves do not distribute binaries (only source code), so they are not infringing on any patents.
itscalledreality 2 Dec, 2022
Ubuntu sucks with is snap packages. Sorry new people but choose Arch or Manjaro (which the latter sucks because it’s so heavily Manjaro’d…I run Manjaro).
Purple Library Guy 2 Dec, 2022
Quoting: itscalledrealityUbuntu sucks with is snap packages. Sorry new people but choose Arch or Manjaro (which the latter sucks because it’s so heavily Manjaro’d…I run Manjaro).
Ehhh, if your main problem is Snap packages, then new people should go with Mint, which is a more user-friendly Ubuntu without Snaps.
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