There are three core operating systems used within desktop computers today – Windows, macOS and Linux. Understandably, Apple desktops will automatically have the macOS pre-installed, giving gamers little alternative. However, custom-built gaming machines can be pre-installed with either Windows or Linux.
Desktop users tend to have a love-hate approach towards the Linux operating system. Some people go all-in on Linux and are happy to use it to power their gaming, while others steer clear of it like the plague. The reality is that Linux is a credible option alongside Windows as your primary gaming operating system. It’s no longer a system built exclusively for “techies”.
For gamers in particular, the advent of HTML5 technology has ensured consistent online gaming experiences, regardless of OS, device or screen size. The rise of HTML5-powered massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) has seen games like Mad World become hugely popular, with browser-based gameplay that enables cross-platform play between gamers on desktop and mobile devices. Meanwhile the latest online slot titles available to iGamers, from Kong’s Temple to Pentagram 5000 and Reel Keeper, are now designed and built exclusively around HTML5.
If you are intrigued about the prospect of switching your gaming desktop from Windows to Linux, check out the following pros and cons before you make a final decision:
Pros of Linux-powered gaming
- Minimal software is incompatible with Linux machines
Gone are the days of most mainstream software being incompatible with Linux OS. Most web applications are cross-platform these days anyhow, but the leading web browsers like Firefox and Chrome are all compatible with Linux on desktop. The huge reduction in browser-based plugins has also been a boon for Linux, with no need for emulators or workarounds thanks to HTML5.
- Thousands of compatible games listed on Steam
You might not be aware but the biggest online game distribution portals have supported Linux for years. Steam has formally supported it since 2012. They are now bursting at the seams with Linux-compatible online games even if some of the triple-A games still avoid developing for Linux machines.
- Linux hardware is more consistent than Windows components
There remain various components within Windows 10 that are susceptible to breaking hardware drivers. Windows 10 updates are notorious for this. The Linux OS can be installed on pretty much any machine and is much less likely to give you driver misery.
Cons of Linux-powered gaming
- Limited scaling on Linux desktop environments
Visually, the Windows OS still has the edge over Linux. It is capable of powering high-DPI gaming screens up to 4K and 1440p, but Linux is only really capable of handling scaling up to 200%. This can be vital for certain types of online games.
- Compatibility layers can hinder performance
At the end of 2018, a new Proton compatibility layer was released, transforming the compatibility of almost any Windows game for Linux. The new Proton layer was a big improvement on the previous Wine software, as it has since enabled Linux to handle games powered by DirectX 9 and 11 without a hitch.
On the whole, Linux is now a more than credible option for online gamers and is well worth taking for a spin to see how it works for your favorite titles and even your everyday computing tasks.