How to get gaming on Linux

Now that your Linux machine is ready to play games the big question is where can you get games to play? Steam is the obvious choice as it has a huge collection with a decent mix of genres and game types.

It also features some nifty features such cross buy, so you can buy a Linux game, and if it's compatible with Windows or Mac, you can play it on those OSes as well without having to pay for another copy.

Many games on Steam also support cloud saves for you saving your progress on one machine and switching to another and carry on playing where you left off.

To install Steam in Ubuntu you can either search for it in the Software Center or open up the Terminal and type sudo apt-get update and then sudo apt-get install steam.

Once installed you will need to sign in with – or sign up for – a Steam account. After that buying, downloading and installing games through Steam is a piece of cake.

Good Old Games is another great service that's now supporting Linux. Although it's not quite as straightforward as buying through Steam, its GoG Galaxy application takes plenty of cues from the Steam client (but isn't currently available for Linux, you have to use the launcher), but it does come with its own pros, such as it only sells DRM-free games and it guarantees games to run on supported platforms or your money back.

Also, as you can probably guess from the name, it started out specialising in old games, repackaging them so that they work on new hardware and OSes. Of course, it also features new games as well, and you can view and download games from its website.

Regardless of the game service you decide to use, you should now have a Linux machine that's fully ready to play the latest and greatest games.

Wine for games

Wine (which stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator) is a compatibility layer that enables Windows programs to run on Linux. Although it's usually used for running office suites and other programs that haven't made it to Linux (or don't have an open source alternative), it can also be used for running Windows games in Linux as well.

Of course, there's a performance impact to running a game via Wine rather than natively, so it's not really recommended for graphically demanding games – unless you have one hell of a machine. However if you have CDs of some old Windows games lying around, or you want to try an indie that hasn't made it to Linux just yet – then Wine is a great possible solution.

To install, open up the Terminal and type sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install wine1.7

A window will pop up asking you to read and agree to a EULA by Microsoft. You might have hoped you'd left all this behind, but it's a necessary step to using Wine. Once you've scrolled down and agreed, type in $ winetricks.

To run the graphical user interface for Wine. You may have to install additional packages, and Wine will take you through the process. With 'Select the default wineprefix' selected click 'OK' and then you can begin installing required software to run Windows games in Linux.

How to get gaming on Linux

Alienware is one of the big names that has built and released a Steam Box

Steam Machines

Valve, the company behind the Steam platform, has been promising to disrupt the way we play games in our living rooms with Steam Machines. These are compact gaming PCs designed to replace gaming consoles, such as Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Running SteamOS, Valve's Debian-based distro, the first commercially available Steam Machines are now on sale.

Steam Machines are being made by a variety of manufacturers, such as Asus and Alienware, and come in all different shapes and sizes. This means that if you don't want to build a gaming machine yourself, you should be able to find one that suits your needs – and budget.

Prices start from $449 (around £292 – roughly the cost of a PlayStation 4 but with a heck of a lot more power) to a wallet numbing $4,999 (around £3,256) for Falcon Northwest's Tiki with its granite base.

You can find out more about Steam Machines and purchase them from Valve's own Steam website. If you'd prefer to play your games with a controller rather than a keyboard and mouse, then many USB controllers will work plug-and-play with Linux and SteamOS, even Microsoft's Xbox 360 controller.

Valve has also created its own Steam Controller (£39/$49), with the unique device supposedly making it easy to control games that usually use mouse and keyboard controls with the gamepad.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.