DISCLAIMER: I’ve got 20 years of Linux experience, so don’t come at me with the old “You don’t know what you’re doing” card. I tried this experiment as a normal user, not a power user, would.

Linux. It’s a great OS for a lot of things, and there are a ton of people that will tell you it’s a great gaming platform. I’m sure it can be, but if you’re talking Steam, you’re in for a bit of pain. I tried two different distributions, installing to a spare 60GB SSD and not to a VM.

Attempt #1: Solus
Solus comes with Steam preinstalled, and they offer their own ‘integration’ which allows for running Steam with newer, updated libraries as opposed to using the old libraries Steam is distributed with. I tried with this integration enabled and disabled. Here’s what happened:

  • Steam started, installed an update.
  • I installed The 7th Guest

I started The 7th Guest and…. nothing. Okay, just to be safe, let’s restart and try again. Log into Steam, start The 7th Guest and once again: nothing. I then install Risk of Rain. It’s smaller, it’s newer, and surely it’ll work, right? Well, I had a bit of success. Risk of Rain started, and I managed to play about 10 to 15 minutes before it locked. I couldn’t kill it, couldn’t switch to another window, I had to hard reboot.
NOTE: My hardware is perfectly fine, thank you.

Attempt #2: Linux Mint 18.1
Unlike Solus, I had to install Steam from Mint’s repositories. Easy enough, it started and I got my credentials set up. I tried the same games as Solus and was met with the same result.

Afterthoughts
* The Steam client seems to be working well * Yes, I could have tested plenty more games. No I did not want to download 10+GB to test a AAA release * Your mileage may vary

Two major things keep me from converting to Linux: Gaming and Photography. My photography workflow lives in Adobe-land, and some games I play are not ported to Linux at all. If you have the time to work out the quirks, Steam gaming can work well on Linux, as I’ve seen it. However, if you’re someone that was convinced to try Linux and you run into situations like this, it may be disheartening.