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How did you get into Linux gaming?
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Thetargos 1 Sep
My story with Linux is linked to gaming, actually.

Like many have already manifested, I was there when DOS gaming was big. When games had to ship the different assortment of drivers for devices as varied as sound cards, mice, video (even 3Dfx had Glide on DOS!). Moving to Windows suddenly meant that you had to have a beefier PC to be able to play some games (that were perfectly playable in DOS with relatively the same quality). Like many I did the transition from DOS to Windows when 95 came along (before, I'd rather use DOS to Win 3, for pretty much heverything except those few programs (not games) that absolutely required it).

As an avid gamer, there was a local gaming site in my country that actually had made mention of Linux and that ticked my curiosity. It was summer of '95, and I was in my late teens. I had attempted to download an image, but failed miserably, but soon(ish) after my attempt, I came across a strange book at a local store that simply had in the title "Linux" and mentioned it included a CD (and a 3.5" boot disk).

The CD had Slackware 3 on it, and I was able to install Linux, to get to a familiar back with grey text prompt. Making my way through the text for configuration and familiarization with the system (the book was basically a glossary of commands with brief explanations and examples, as well as included instructions for setting up things such as sound and graphics in X11). I couldn't do much with this install, actually, but was blown away by the sheer amount of "programs" included in the CLI (unlike a default DOS fresh install) and I was actually able to configure and set up X11 (XFee86 3 in those days) to display the iconic black screen with an X cursor at a whopping 800x600 resolution!! (no XTerm, no graphical session or DE installed or loaded or anything).

That gave me an oddly satisfying feeling... of accomplishment. With some tweaks I was able to squeeze 1024x768 resolution (the native resolution of my CRT) and I was absolutely fascinated.

As I read more, and subscribed (rather lurked than post) to /. then I came across the first distribution I was actually able to download over dial up, Red Hat 5.2 (it took over a week to download over a 36600 baud modem). Installing it was a breeze (even back then it was faster to setup a distro like RH compared to Win95! ), I had to go back and forth from Windows to Linux, for one simple reason and my early lesson about hardware and its state in Linux: Modem drivers. I ended up fitting my computer with two modems due to this: My first real HW modem (14400, the one I could use in Linux) and the "newer" 36600 one I had to use under Windows. Back then, at one point I was able to come by a 3DBlaster Banshee which was an amazing upgrade from my already ageing 3Dfx Voodoo Rush based card. And yes, I was able to get stuff like Starcraft (actually a very temperamental game) to run in wine as well as a wide assortment of other older games, but what made the icing on the cake was being able to get Quake and later Quake 2 running fully HW accelerated...

Then came the transition from XFree86 3.x to 4 (and the rise of tech such as DRI and DRM kernel modules), which also meant 3D acceleration was much easier and faster than before. I was delighted I was able to get Glide 2 and 3 running on Linux with my Banshee and then my Voodoo 3, and was even able to get games such as Unreal Tournament (and hence Unreal through a mod called OldSchool) to run with native Glide (which I may be wrong, but I do remember Glide being faster on Linux than on Windows for this particular game).

By the end of 2000 I stopped dual-booting and used Linux exclusively on my personal computer. I skipped Windows ME and XP altogether and for anything I needed Windows for, I used 2K instead in the family computer, which I got free from Microsoft themselves as part of a program I signed up to and which I was able to keep up until around 2004 (when I no longer had any use for it).

I did sacrifice many top tier games from that era, but I had been making most of my gaming on consoles: Game Cube and Play Station 2 as well as the occasional XBox session (which my brother-in-law had). Still tinkering and getting whatever I could run on Linux. I played weekly with some friends Diablo II in wine and Neverwinger Nights natively on a regular basis. Ever since 2004 onwards, I had to upgrade my GPU and had to replace my faithful Voodoo 5 with a GeForce (yes, I moved to the dark side), and while there were issues back then, it was the only real alternative for high performance graphics back then for a while... Then I got an R300 based Radeon 9500 which was amazing when I still dual booted on Windows, but was terrible on Linux, even with the proprietary driver fglrx, and games such as Unreal Tournament 2k3 and 2k4 "worked" but struggled and lagged a LOT on it (I remember cringing every time I watched the Assault flyby of the train with that card, regardless of graphics settings).

While not ideal, the nvidia experience in my personal experience has been rather good for the past almost 20 years of exclusive use. Sure there has been issues: the most annoying one a bug which caused your computer to crash, have no input or SSH and be still able to move the mouse but have no input nor keyboard, it was somewhat common in the early days in the order of once or twice per day, and again seen when multi-core CPU started to appear and be affordable, never knew what exactly caused the issue. Mesa wasn't without issues either though, especially with the early open AMD drivers once AMD bought ATi. I kept the 9500 on a secondary computer for a while and tested regularly and it was a crash festival for a loooong while. Alas, AMD has proven their take on the matter has paid off and are now regarded as an example in how an Open driver should be (not even the behemoth Intel can match their open driver with AMD's even with such a HUGE head start).

Ever since late 2012 I was very happy to learn Valve would release Steam on Linux, and when it came to be in 2013 I was ecstatic. I loved every single native game that has been released, though I confess I do not own every single one of them, I do try to support with $$ those who do. Then Proton came along and the amount of games playable (I had been playing most of those games in Steam under Wine, though) seemingly exploded, Proton injected loads of fresh air to stagnant gaming scene in Linux, effectively giving existing Linux users what is considered one of the key aspects for lack of adoption: application support and offered prospect and would-be users variety and actual ability to almost effortlessly running many of already existing games. Albeit, Proton's success has been at the cost of native ports decline (and the fact that the encroachment of Windows games and applications given the prevalence of reliance on Windows-centric game development technologies (especially DirectX, which beside the API, assets have to be of a certain non-portable format, that have to also be translated on-the-fly, contributing to the under-performance of many native Linux ports, amongst other issues).

The remedy has taken way too long to appear in the form of better coding practices (portable code) and Vulkan support, propelled in part due to the biggest gaming market being in the mobile space, where Vulkan is dominant. In any case, the future of gaming on Linux looks promising for now and Valve has been able to shut off many detractors of translation layers and even made a case for Linux-centric devices to be successful (I wish the Deck would sell as the Wii once did in the millions per day), hopefully they will be able to spark more companies to actually invest in proper support and take the premise of Linux better performance even further. Yes, Valve is our kind dictator, to which we "owe" many advances in the open source scene and who actually has contributed to upstream projects to increase adoption.

Nowadays I am a very happy Linux user. My whole household use Linux. My wife (she moved almost at the same time as me back in the early 2000s) and my kids laptops both run Linux on them (ASUS Vivo Book and some Lenovo pad).

I still have to deal with Windows at work, though.

Seems this thread inspires long posts
Pengling 1 Sep
Quoting: Thetargosand the "newer" 36600 one I had to use under Windows.
Oh god, Winmodems - they are not missed!

Quoting: ThetargosSeems this thread inspires long posts
I love reading every single one.
Quoting: Pengling
Quoting: Thetargosand the "newer" 36600 one I had to use under Windows.
Oh god, Winmodems - they are not missed!

Quoting: ThetargosSeems this thread inspires long posts
I love reading every single one.
Ha, my first computer build (from the first Windows machine I used, and ended up just buying a bunch of parts to upgrade... to the point I then had enough to just build my own) I refused to get a Winmodem, and ended up with a USRobotics 56k. That was a jump from the 300 baud on the 800xl, the 1200 baud on the ST, then 14.4 for the ST.
Thetargos 1 Sep
Quoting: PenglingOh god, Winmodems - they are not missed!

Indeed. I was extremely happy when broadband was finally available (initially with PPPoE) in my region, which was superbly supported by Linux, and prompted me to create a small file server, firewall and router for the home, that worked amazingly well for at least 5 years (until our ISP gave us a router proper, time when the machine was set to fileserver only)
Intro video

The only options I know of for Linux games in general stores, at that time, were ID, Epic, S2 Games, and maybe whoever made Marble Blast?
I worked as a graphic designer for ages but always liked pc gaming growing up. I used and owned macs for work but also took some more general courses in university. I found out there was an alternative operating system to Windows and Mac, called Linux. That was probably 12 years ago or something.

At the newsagents in Sydney, you could buy linux magazines with DVDs on the cover, full of distros. I didn't know anyone else personally who used Linux but there was something great about open source operating systems. They were fast, didn't need much maintenance, could run on anything and had lots of free software. And also didn't catch viruses. I dual booted ubuntu and Windows on my laptop. Ubuntu with gnome 2, was the distro that worked with my WiFi card. Although I played with debian, opensuse, mint, pclinuxos etc.

I've always found Windows to be a bit annoying. Always had to be refreshed and got dirty real quick. Although I continued to use it. Then I remember Gabe Newell decided to promote Linux because Windows was locking down games into their software store. Then Windows continued to get worst and worst with privacy and ads etc. Not like Windows 95!

But I kind of knew that Linux would grow because Valve was investing in making it work. And also that Linux was a modular operating system that could be tailored to get the best performance out of any hardware. So I could see the potential of it for gaming or for anything really. I put Linux on my parents computer, they loved it. My dads old dual core laptop ran peppermint for like 8 years without breaking.

I'd never buy a Windows magazine but Linux is fun. It's just great! And right now I'm running manjaro KDE and I play dota 2 with awesome nvidia drivers. And there's so many games that you can play on linux so it's really awesome! So I guess I liked PC gaming but ended up liking Linux more as an operating system, rather than Windows.
Quoting: NoiramSangSavage
Intro video

The only options I know of for Linux games in general stores, at that time, were ID, Epic, S2 Games, and maybe whoever made Marble Blast?

Amusingly you couldn't actually get most of those to work 'out of the box' from the store. id didn't have the Linux installers on the disk. Epic did for some, but I think UT2004 if I recall didn't have the installer on the disk? (Or UT didn't and UT2004 did? It's been too long). Savage 1/2 were the only ones that I think actually had the Pengiun on the box.

Oddly enough one of the very few companies that would release their games including all three major platforms on the installation medium was... Running with Scissors! Unfortunately (or fortunately) the last two Postal games have not received Linux ports (yet?). Granted Postal 3 was... not actually done by Running with Scissors, and they apologized for that!
14 4 Sep
I'm an IT professional and learned how to use Linux in college and then got good at it at work. I used to have a Windows server at home, but I always had Linux servers. I dual booted early on because I was curious if I could use it for my desktop. Back then, there were forum tutorials to get games to work. There just weren't enough of my games that worked.

SteamOS came out and therefore compatible games. There came a point where I realized I hadn't booted into Windows for four months! It was at this time that I was willing to cut off a portion of my Steam collection and delete my Windows drive. If I wasn't on Arch yet at this point, it would have been Linux Mint.

As we all fondly remember, more and more games became easily playable on Linux. Any time I've briefly thought of running Windows again, I think about how much control Microsoft took away from the computer owner, and maintaining two operating systems and application configurations instead of one. I never went back.
I got into Linux in the early 2000s. Back then i didn't have much of a clue what could become of it, but i liked the idea of a completely free and open community driven system that everyone could tinker with and help improve upon. It was what i had thought would be the only way to go forward into the future considering the ever increasing complexity of technology. In the long run, single companies, even with the size and weight of Microsoft would not be capable to constantly innovate and create good software. And now, 20 years later it turned out is was finally right about something. I got into gaming with UT '99, back when it was new and the fascination never left me since. Gaming on Linux had a rough start, but with the capable wine developers pumping out massive improvements to their translator, i had much confidence in it becoming really good some day. Back in 2007, long before Valve started their huge investment in Linux, the most incredible feat imho was a patched wine version that could run the almost brandnew STALKER game perfectly and with on-par performance on Linux. I was in IT school back then and my classmates could not believe what they saw on my laptop. That got some of them much more interested in Linux than they would like to admit :D
For me it was: No Tux, no bucks with a few exceptions when the devs would not go out of their way to block us Tux gamers. Just like Blizzard did. They were totally ok with people playing their WoW, WC3 and Diablo games on the Tux. Not offering any support wasn't a deal breaker to anyone anyway.
Things went pretty slow until Valve stepped into the game with SteamOS and their first official Steam Client. It had a rough start, but the commitment to the platform was obvious. Unfortunately by the time, my private life went south and it took years until i had an option to stabilize and get back into gaming.
Now i own a Steam Deck and having put off gaming for years, i now regained interest, thanks to this amazing, though not perfect device. I am really looking forward to what the future brings.
I also never thought possible that Microsoft would ever touch Linux, but there we are now.
What a time to be alive!
Lamdarer 4 Sep
Quoting: PenglingI'm loving all of these stories, and I'm really surprised by how many folks are in the "using Linux exclusively for 10 to 15 years" bracket
To not add into that bracket anymore:
For me it's also less about how than when, I was more or less always a PC Gamer though I had a Nintendo or gamed outside™ etc.
I already knew that Linux was a thing somewhat longer and I also got more into the Privacy and tec cautious bubble, when Windows started to continuously break my PC with updates or push features which weren't quite user ready etc. Things were just adding up, but I hadn't really considered trying out Linux not to mention switching to it from Windows 10.

About 3 years ago or a little more I got a new colleague at work (by that time I was already familiar with Linux in the server realm) and he had a laptop with Ubuntu so with me being already somewhat interested and him being probably as talky about Linux as everyone who uses it we naturally talked quite a bit about it.
Around 2,5 years ago(so not much later) I switched to Linux and while there were some games I couldn't play yet on Linux I didn't really feel like utilizing the Dual Boot function, so I only game on Linux since then.
Also while Ubuntu was my first try I quickly dropped it, tried Kubuntu, but settled with Manjaro since then, though when I got a new PC I didn't switched from xfce to KDE and of course I couldn't be bothered to install windows on it.
EDIT: But yeah [Linux exclusively since like the first month] or so

Last edited by Lamdarer on 5 September 2022 at 2:24 pm UTC
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