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General Distribution Setup Guides?
Tinwhistle commented on 30 December 2018 at 1:34 pm UTC

Hi there,

after using Linux for decades in terms of "serious work", a few months ago I was so fed up with Windows even for gaming that I finally switched to Linux completely. As you probably all know it was a bumpy ride, especially since I use AMD hardware.
While tinkering around with several Linux distributions in terms of gaming I found that none would work "out of the box", and there was a surprising lack of easy to find documentation on which steps you need to do to turn distro XYZ into a gaming setup. For example, some games will crash without useable error messages if you are missing certain packages.

So, assuming I did not overlook anything, how about some HowTo articles on the Wiki? I could start with articles on OpenSuSE and Linux Mint, both including the steps to get Radeon hardware running with Steam and Vulkan. I'd have done it already, but since this is my first post, I thought to ask first.

Cheers
Tin

tuxintuxedo commented on 30 December 2018 at 2:13 pm UTC

I do hope you won't take my words offensively.
If you don't have the newest hardware, then AMD cards just work (most probably). The only thing that can be suggested is using a ppa for more recent Mesa packages.
With newer cards, you will need a newer kernel also, meaning non-rolling distros need manual tinkering on the kernel side.
Needing certain packages can happen with any kind of game and any kind of video card (not just AMD), so I don't think a guide is possible on this.
I feel that you didn't define your goals, expectations properly on this topic.

14 commented on 31 December 2018 at 7:49 am UTC

I personally think the wiki here would be a great place to have some how-to's, even if it's sometimes a simple link to a distro-specific wiki page on the topic.

Also, be sure to browse GamersOnLinux to find game specific guides, although a lot of their guides tend to be with WINE.

dvd commented on 31 December 2018 at 11:07 am UTC

TinwhistleHi there,

after using Linux for decades in terms of "serious work", a few months ago I was so fed up with Windows even for gaming that I finally switched to Linux completely. As you probably all know it was a bumpy ride, especially since I use AMD hardware.
While tinkering around with several Linux distributions in terms of gaming I found that none would work "out of the box", and there was a surprising lack of easy to find documentation on which steps you need to do to turn distro XYZ into a gaming setup. For example, some games will crash without useable error messages if you are missing certain packages.

So, assuming I did not overlook anything, how about some HowTo articles on the Wiki? I could start with articles on OpenSuSE and Linux Mint, both including the steps to get Radeon hardware running with Steam and Vulkan. I'd have done it already, but since this is my first post, I thought to ask first.

Cheers
Tin

Well some simple steps:

Use Debian testing
Don't forget to install the firmware blob, you won't even get the console screen without it on more moderm amd graphics
install amd64 microcode
Use steam and/or gog: 99.99% of times problems with running games are due to games being proprietary blobs themselves: they are using ancient versions of libraries that may be hard to get, like openssl 1.0 or libjpeg12. If you buy the games on steam it has these ancient dependencies downloaded. If you get your games from torrents, however, setting up the libraries are messier.
(I believe gog and feral also provide some external libraries for ancient versions of libs)
If it's your work system, refrain from using external kernels and drivers unless you are very sure it won't crash on you when you've got a looming deadline.
Most old games (and steam too, unfortunately) are 32-bit only, thanks to windows, so if you don't have steam or other 32-bit games installed you have to enable foreign architecture support in debian in order to be able to install them and their dependencies.

What do you mean they would not work "out of the box" though?

That you have to install java for minecraft?
Or that you have to download and install the blobs (which are not part of many distros) similar to windows?
Or that you have to enable cross-architecture support?

Tinwhistle commented on 31 December 2018 at 12:30 pm UTC

dvdUse Debian testing
Don't forget to install the firmware blob, you won't even get the console screen without it on more moderm amd graphics
install amd64 microcode
[...]
What do you mean they would not work "out of the box" though?

That you have to install java for minecraft?
Or that you have to download and install the blobs (which are not part of many distros) similar to windows?
Or that you have to enable cross-architecture support?

That is more or less what I meant. Steam for example does not tell you to install Vulkan or updated Mesa packages from external sources, but often fails silently on game startup. This is very frustrating. Many games will also fail silently or have issues if you do not have libSDL2 installed. This is probably the "ancient library problem" that you mentioned.
In my case, I have to blacklist the radeon module and use amdgpu, but on doing so, the system will crash with a black screen on boot (gotta set some proper kernel parameters for amdgpu). Arguably, this is more of a hardware issue and not a distro thing, but it still gets in your way when setting up for gaming. And none of the many forum posts that I pieced together for this tells a complete story.
When someone installs a Linux system for gaming and "nothing" will work, I do not think many people will be as patient as you or me trying to find out all the extra steps. Your post is a perfect example: install firmware blob, microcode, the Mesa PPA, ... seriously, which casual Linux user would know (or even know how to find out) that?

Cheers

dvd commented on 31 December 2018 at 4:17 pm UTC

TinwhistleThat is more or less what I meant. Steam for example does not tell you to install Vulkan or updated Mesa packages from external sources, but often fails silently on game startup. This is very frustrating. Many games will also fail silently or have issues if you do not have libSDL2 installed. This is probably the "ancient library problem" that you mentioned.
In my case, I have to blacklist the radeon module and use amdgpu, but on doing so, the system will crash with a black screen on boot (gotta set some proper kernel parameters for amdgpu). Arguably, this is more of a hardware issue and not a distro thing, but it still gets in your way when setting up for gaming. And none of the many forum posts that I pieced together for this tells a complete story.
When someone installs a Linux system for gaming and "nothing" will work, I do not think many people will be as patient as you or me trying to find out all the extra steps. Your post is a perfect example: install firmware blob, microcode, the Mesa PPA, ... seriously, which casual Linux user would know (or even know how to find out) that?
Cheers

I'm sorry if this comes out as a smug statement, but gnu/linux is not a free beer microsoft windows, it's a different operating system. You only need those PPAs if you develop drivers or want to look l33t. Installing the blobs is the equivalent of downloading the drivers from vendor website on windows, which just about every microsoft windows pc gamer knows.

It doesn't take more effort either, you just need to figure out 2 package names (amd64-microcode and firmware-amd-graphics or whatever the nvidia ones are).

If you opt for ubuntu, it has graphical software store thingy, that let's you install stuff, and even buy paid for software. It is probably easier than Android store.

Again, i do not say this to hurt you, but the time and knowledge needed to maintain a reasonably stable PC is not very high. Since OGL and Vulkan caught up to speed with the rest of the platforms, there is no pressing need to use extra hacks or PPAs either just to use your hardware/games.

How to install drivers is also prominently displayed on just about every distros forums/wikis. If you come from windows world it's a good idea to RTM, and to use one of the big desktop environments to start with, so it is a bit less of a "shock".

Shmerl commented on 1 January 2019 at 1:25 am UTC

How old is your AMD hardware? I find using recent one to be quite easy, as long as you stick to a rolling distro.

lucinos commented on 1 January 2019 at 12:08 pm UTC

when you say amd it is really important which one. It can make huge difference.

My experience with the rx560 is absolutely out of the box everything just works, I did not had to do absolutely anything with the runtime/native silliness. But on other amd or intel hardware I had found that a steam-native package was required at least on Arch/Manjaro. You also do not need it for nvidia. I do not know for other distros. For vanilla Arch also you need to read the Archwiki and not forget to install packages like the ones needed for Vulkan.

For amd do _not_ install pro drivers. Probably what you already have is the best option. For nvidia you need the nvidia drivers for almost any gaming.

Also you need to install as many fonts as you can find. Many games just require fonts or do not run at all. This is especially important on vanilla Arch.

Strangely I found Vanilla Arch a pretty out of the box and straightforward experience.

If you opt for a different distro some general recommendations:
For amd you need very recent kernel and mesa. Any distro older than 2018 is unacceptable! Even if it is "supported" like Ubuntu 16.04. Ubuntu 18.04 is probably acceptable depending your hardware but is not ideal and maybe installing ppas is recommended. Same goes for example for debian. Debian stable is not acceptable, you need debian testing at least.

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