Want to start out gaming on Linux? With utilities like Steam’s Proton tool, it’s not a dream anymore, albeit your game is officially supported on Windows only. Here’s our complete guide to gaming on Linux using Proton.
What Is Proton?
In the past, if you wanted to play Steam games on Linux, you had to put in and run Steam through a Windows compatibility layer called Wine. You had to understand the way to configure Wine yourself to form any particular game work.
These days, you’ll install a native version of Steam on Linux, and there are many games with native Linux support also. On top of that, Steam allows you to download their forked version of Wine called Proton, which is preconfigured to run your favorite Windows games. It’ll be a crucial a part of Valve’s Steam Deck.
When Proton was first announced as a neighborhood of the Steam Play project, there have been a humble 27 games with official Proton support. Since then, that number has grown exponentially, with Valve continually developing and refining Proton to suit a bigger swath of games.
So is gaming on Linux easy now? Well, sometimes. counting on a couple of variables, your game might work perfectly the primary time you run it. However, other games might require some tweaking.
If that sounds frustrating or intimidating, there are ways to predict how you’ll fare with a specific game.
How to Find Out Whether Proton Supports Your Game
When you start with Proton, your ally goes to be the web site ProtonDB. Here, you’ll find a database of Steam games with reports on how well they run on Linux, with or without Proton.
Search for a game, and you’ll find it with a rating starting from “Platinum” to “Borked.” These ratings are derived from user reports on their experiences running the sport . you’ll scroll through these reports to ascertain what players say, and you’ll filter for specific hardware and distros to narrow down the results to people with setups almost like yours.
Don’t be overwhelmed by all the stats, parameters, and version numbers. Those will only be worth watching if you encounter issues together with your game, as we’ll explain later.
Most important initially is that the game’s rating. If your game is rated Native, meaning that you simply don’t necessarily need Proton to run it. So, If it’s rated Gold or Platinum, there’s a high likelihood that, with Proton, it’ll work for you with no or minimal tweaking. If it gets Bronze or Silver, you’ll likely need to do some tweaking to form it work. Also If it’s rated Borked, there’s not much hope for you, although you’ll still provides it a try. Valve is continually improving Proton for better support, so it’s possible that a Borked rating can change.
Another way to seek out game recommendations is thru curated lists on Steam, just like the Proton Compatible curator. You’ll find many games, each with a quick report on the game’s stability with Proton. You would possibly prefer this method if you don’t want to scroll through tons of stats and user reports.
How to Use Proton for Steam
Open Steam, and, after logging in, find the sport that you simply want to play in your library.
Tip: confirm that the Penguin icon at the highest of your library list isn’t activated. This sorts out games that aren’t native to Linux.
The Install button on the sport page will probably be grayed out and unclickable.
Don’t worry. We’re close to turn that into a pleasant , clickable blue button.
On the right-hand side of the sport page, click the “Settings” button (a gear icon). within the menu that appears, select “Properties.”
In the Properties window, click the Compatability tab. you ought to find one option available: “Force the utilization of a selected Steam Play Compatability Tool.” Check the box next thereto .
Make sure that the menu that appears is about to the very best available version of Proton. Then, plow ahead and exit out of the Properties window.
The “Available for Windows” message should be gone, and therefore the “Install” button on the sport page should be blue and clickable now. Click it to open the installation window.
Here, choose your preferences for shortcuts. You’ll get an estimate of the disc space and download time required. Leave the install location because it is, then click the “Next >” button.
The game will begin downloading, along with the version of Proton that you selected. Once both are downloaded and installed, you can launch the game by clicking “Play.”
The first time that you simply launch, Steam might got to spend a couple of minutes in pre-game setup. twiddling my thumbs here.
Once your game launches, don’t be discouraged if it’s issues initially . Games don’t always compute of the box on Windows either, so you would possibly just got to make some adjustments to in-game settings. If that doesn’t work, otherwise you can’t access in-game settings, think about using a recommended launch parameter or a special version of Proton, as we’ll explain below.
Using Launch Parameters
Some reports that you simply read on ProtonDB will tell you to use specific launch parameters (also called launch options). They’ll be strings of words and characters that look something like this:
Parameters like these tell Steam that you simply want specific settings activated, deactivated, or adjusted at launch. Sometimes, they’ll fix your issues or improve performance. take care , though, as these always have the potential to cause more issues.
To begin, open the Properties window for your game on Steam again.
In the first tab that opens, the overall tab, search for the “Launch Options” section. There, you’ll find a text box where you’ll type in or copy and paste specific launch parameters.
After entering your parameters, exit out of the Properties window and check out running your game.
If you continue to have issues (or you’ve got new issues), simply open Properties again and take away the launch parameters. Try trying to find other parameter recommendations on ProtonDB. If you would like to self-diagnose, Steam Support provides a guide to commonly used parameters.
Using Alternative Versions of Proton
When looking up a game on ProtonDB, you would possibly notice users reporting playing the sport on different versions of Proton.
These different versions use different configurations and features that cause certain games to figure better, but they will also cause issues for other games. Users might state in their reports that a selected version works best for them. once you see this, and therefore the game isn’t working well on the version you’re using, consider switching thereto version of Proton. It’s easy.
Simply return to the Compatability settings described above, and within the menu , select the version of Proton that you simply want.
Exit out of the Properties window and launch your game. Steam might need time to download and install the version of Proton that you simply chose.
What Is Proton Experimental?
This option gives you the bleeding fringe of Proton development. It isn’t bound to be stable, but it’d have new features and fixes that you simply got to run your game. Treat it as a final resort if other recommended versions fail you.
Customized Versions of Proton
On ProtonDB, you’ll see either a “Steam Play” badge or a “Tinker” badge next to the version number of Proton that they’re using. The Steam Play badge simply means it’s a version available directly through Steam.
The Tinker badge, however, denotes that they’re employing a custom build of Proton, not a build officially supported by Valve. We don’t recommend using those unless you recognize what you’re doing.
Proton vs. Steam Linux Runtime
Sometimes, you’ll see something called “Steam Linux Runtime” among your Proton options. This isn’t another version of Proton. It’s an option that permits you to run a version of the sport that was built for Linux. You’ll select Steam Linux Runtime if you would like to put in and run that rather than Proton and therefore the Windows version.
If you do, you would possibly get a message at launch stating that your Linux OS isn’t compatible. If this happens, you’ll still proceed and check out . In our testing, the sport sometimes works perfectly anyway.
You shouldn’t always trust the Linux runtime, however. Sometimes, game developers aren’t ready to dedicate much time to making sure that the Linux version works well. It’s possible that you’ll be more happy with the Windows version amid Proton. Do some experimenting to seek out out.
If you can’t get Proton to figure for you, inspect the Steam community forums. ProtonDB also offers a helpful FAQ for troubleshooting.
Now that you’re playing Windows games on Linux, you would possibly be curious to understand what other popular apps you’ll get on your system.
RELATED: What Apps Can You Actually Run on Linux?