Best Linux Distro for Gaming - Top 10 Options

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best linux distro for gaming

Are you looking for the best Linux distro for gaming?

You may have heard that gaming on Linux is crazy and it’s better to use a Windows PC. But what if I tell you that Linux systems are less resource-intensive compared to Windows? This ultimately leaves more of your system’s power for your favorite games.

Sounds like a good deal, right?

Below, I’ll show you the 10 best Linux distributions for gaming. Each of these distros has its unique features, gaming-centric approach, and optimizations for improving your gameplay.

So, let’s jump right in!

Best Linux Distributions for Gaming

Some of the best Linux distributions for gaming are:

1. Ubuntu

ubuntu distribution homepage

Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions. It offers a smooth gaming experience due to its extensive software repositories and community support. In addition, NVIDIA drivers are just one command away on this distro.

On my Ubuntu system, I’ve personally installed Heroic, Steam, and other game launchers using Snaps with ease. However, if you don’t like Snaps, you can go for FlatHub.

There are also numerous open-source games available in the Ubuntu Multiverse and Universe repositories. In case you switched from Windows to Ubuntu, you can use Wine, Lutris, and GameHub libraries to play some Windows games on Linux.

ProsCons
Compatibility with Steam and other gaming platformsSnaps are slow
Large community supportDefault installation may include extra packages
Stable distro

Try Ubuntu

2. Manjaro

manjaro distribution homepage

Manjaro is a user-friendly Arch-based distribution that offers the latest software updates. With its rolling release model, you can take advantage of up-to-date graphics drivers and software. Additionally, it provides access to the Arch User Repository (AUR) which expands the gaming software options.

Manjaro also has a dedicated gaming repository that contains several gaming-related packages. So, you can easily install games on your Manjaro system.

Moreover, this distro also has a Game Mode to improve the overall system performance. This mode ensures that unnecessary services and background tasks are disabled to free up resources for gaming.

ProsCons
Installing NVIDIA drivers is simple and easyOccasional compatibility issues
Excellent performance and up-to-date softwareSmall community compared to other distributions
Highly customizable (KDE)A steep learning curve for users who are new to Arch-based distribution
Rolling release for latest features

Try Manjaro

3. Fedora

fedora distribution homepage

Fedora is known for its open-source software and innovative features. This means that you’ll always have access to the latest gaming technologies. Moreover, you can install NVIDIA drivers in a few clicks.

By default, Fedora isn’t gaming-centric. However, technologies such as Wayland and the latest kernel version contribute to a high-performing gaming experience.

Like Ubuntu, Fedora is based on GNOME 3 shell which offers easy-to-use repositories and smooth animations. It also comes with Flathub preinstalled to download apps such as Bottles to play your Epic games, and stores like Heroic or other libraries.

ProsCons
High-performance gaming experience with WaylandIt’s a little trickier to search for the right place to download games
A stable distro for its release cycleIt doesn’t come with preinstalled game launchers
A decent-sized community
Great for GNOME lovers

Try Fedora

4. Lakka

If you don’t care about the latest AAA titles and want to sit back and enjoy retro games, then you should try Lakka! This distribution can turn your old PC into a retro gaming console.

Lakka is based on Libretro and utilizes a custom RetroArch shell for its front end. It doesn’t come pre-installed with games, but you can easily install them from the ROM files or ISO images.

Lakka permits you to play games from old Nintendo consoles, such as 2D, 3D/s, Wii, GBA, NES, original PlayStation, and the PlayStation 2. This distro is also highly customizable and scalable.

ProsCons
Supports a wide range of gaming consolesLimited customization options compared to other distros
Based on RetroArch front-endMay need some setup for the optimal performance
Great for playing retro gamesLimited modern gaming software support

Try Lakka

5. SteamOS

steamos homepage

The Valve Corporation designed SteamOS specifically for gaming and built it as the operating system for the Steam Machine gaming consoles.

It comes preinstalled with the Steam client which provides direct access to an extensive library of games. It also features Steam Big Picture mode for a smooth gaming experience.

In addition, its user interface is easy to navigate, even if you aren’t familiar with Linux.

ProsCons
Direct access to an extensive library of Steam gamesNo NVIDIA support
Optimized for Steam gamingMay require additional effort for non-steam games
Clone of SteamOS on Steam DeckLimited software options outside of Steam

Try SteamOS

6. Drauger OS

Drauger OS homepage

Drauger OS is a Ubuntu-based distribution developed for Linux gamers. This distribution claims to have particular changes in it for gaming and the overall system performance.

Drauger OS has an Xfce desktop environment by default which allows you to run your favorite games on an older PC easily. This distro comes preinstalled with PlayOnLinux, Wine, Heroic, DXVK, and Steam applications.

Moreover, you can also use the GameHub to play games from GOG and other platforms.

ProsCons
Comes with preinstalled launchersMay require additional configuration for certain games
Game Mode for optimized performanceLimited community support and smaller user base compared to other distributions
Lightweight and good for old computers
Kernel tweaks for great performance

Try Drauger OS

7. Linux Mint

linux mint distribution homepage

If you want to try a Linux distribution for gaming with a Windows-like interface, then go for Linux Mint. A lot of navigation is the same as in Windows, so things are much easier to find.

As Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based Linux distro, it shares numerous repositories, which makes it easy to install games. Moreover, it replaced Snaps with Flatpak for a fast and organized package management system.

Linux Mint has a Cinnamon desktop environment known for its simplicity and ease of use. In addition, it also has several gaming-friendly features, such as a Game Mode and a performance overlay.

ProsCons
Installation of NVIDIA drivers is super easySmall gaming community compared to other distros
Easy installation of game launchers with Flatpak
Reliable and stable platform
Wide range of gaming software support

Try Linux Mint

8. Ubuntu GamePack

ubuntu gamepack homepage

Ubuntu Gamepack is a standalone Linux distro. It’s based on Ubuntu and that’s why it inherits the widespread support and stability of its parent distribution. It features a pre-installed selection of gaming software to minimize setup time.

The ideal thing about Ubuntu GamePack is that it’s designed specifically for gaming. It includes Java and Flash support and also has a customized optimizer to assist the graphics card.

On Ubuntu GamePack, you can easily use Lutris, Game Jolt, and PlayOnLinux. It also allows you to use Cross Over, a premium Linux app for playing Windows games.

ProsCons
Access to Ubuntu’s extensive software repositoriesMay include unnecessary packages
Pre-installed gaming softwareLess customization options compared to other distros
Based on Ubuntu for stability

Try Ubuntu GamePack

9. Pop!_OS

popos distribution homepage

Pop!_OS is developed by System76 and designed with a focus on performance. It includes a separate ISO for running NVIDIA GPUs, which saves a lot of time instead of trying the manual drivers’ installation.

This distro is based on Ubuntu, so it has an extensive library of gaming-related applications like Heroic, Steam, Lutris, etc. Additionally, it features a Pop!_Shop for software management to simplify the installation of gaming-related applications

Pop!_OS gets graphics working directly from the GPU without any command-line interaction. So, if you prioritize both gaming performance and a modern visually appealing interface, then Pop!_OS is the right choice for you!

ProsCons
Always uses the latest KernelMay require additional setup for particular games
Highly stable because of the Ubuntu baseIt doesn’t come with pre-installed launchers
Gaming-centric features aren’t as prominent

Try Pop!_OS

10. Solus

solus distribution operating system

Solus distribution is designed to be fast and lightweight, which makes it perfect for older systems with limited resources. It comes with a Budgie desktop environment and its own package manager.

While Solus isn’t explicitly designed for gamers, it still supports different gaming software through its Software Center. The rolling release model makes sure that the packages are up-to-date, so you’ll always have access to the latest games.

ProsCons
Rolling release for up-to-date packagesLimited gaming-centric features
User-friendly with Budgie desktopLimited community support compared to other distros
Performance-oriented distro

Try Solus

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So, now you have all the essential information to choose the best Linux distro for gaming. Feel free to share which distribution you prefer in the comments below!

More about the topics: gaming, linux