6 Best Linux Distros for Gaming in 2024

While a normal user chooses a Linux distro based and stability, ease of use, and security, a gamer has a different priority. A gamer looks for high performance, high compatibility, and low latency. It is no easy task to list all the best distros for gamers as different gamers have different tastes. That is why, in the beginning, I tried to list some of the criteria gamers look for in a Linux distro. Based on those criteria, I have listed the 6 best Linux Distro for gaming.

What Gamers Look for in a Linux Distro?

To choose the best Linux gaming distro, gamers look for the following features:

  • Low latency and high performance: The distro should have a fast and responsive system while handling intensive gaming tasks without lagging. The distro should use a low-latency kernel that optimizes the CPU scheduling and reduces the input/output delays.
  • Support for various gaming platforms and controllers: There are different sources such as Steam, Lutris, Wine, Proton, RetroArch, and a Linux distro should be able to run games from these sources. Moreover, the distro should support various controllers, such as PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, etc.
  • Ease of use and installation: The distro should be easy to install and configure. In addition, it should have a simple, user-friendly, and intuitive interface that allows users to access games and settings without any hassle.
  • Availability of drivers and compatibility layers: A distro should have a wide range of drivers. The drivers should include graphics, audio, and network.  Furthermore, there should be compatibility layers that can enable users to run games that are not natively supported on Linux. The compatibility layers should include software that emulates or translates Windows APIs, such as Wine Proton, DXVK, etc.
  • Support and Community: The distro should have regular updates and bug fixes. Moreover, it should have a strong and active community.
  • Security: The distro should contain a secure and robust system such as a firewall, antivirus, and encryption to protect users from malware, viruses, hackers, etc. The distro should respect the privacy and data of users and not collect or share any personal information without consent.

Top 6 Best Linux Distros for Gaming

In the following section, I will discuss the 6 best Linux distros for gaming with their official download page link. Moreover, I will discuss the system requirements to install them and their pros and cons for using them in gaming. So that this article helps you to choose the best Linux distro as an operating system for gaming.

1. Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS is a Linux distro based on Ubuntu and it is designed to be user-friendly, easy to install, and optimized for performance and productivity. It has some tweaks and enhancements to improve the user experience. The current release is 22.04 LTS.Pop!_OS for "best linux distro for gaming"

Download Pop!_OS

Click here to visit Pop!_OS‘s official download page.

System Requirements for Installing Pop!_OS

  • CPU: 64-bit x86, ARM (RAS PI 4) architectures.
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Drive Storage: 20 GB
  • GPU: Integrated Graphics or better.

Reasons to Choose Pop!_OS

  • It has an application named Pop!_Shop that allows a gamer to install Steam easily. Steam is a popular game client that offers games that are natively compatible with Linux. It always supports non-native games using a compatibility layer tool, Proton.
  • The Pop Shell feature enables the auto-tiling of windows, which can help to organize work and gaming space efficiently.
  • It has the same level of support and community as other more popular distros such as Ubuntu or Mint.

Reasons to Avoid Pop!_OS

  • It may require additional steps to install and manage custom Proton versions, such as ProtonGE.
  • It may not have the lasted drivers and compatibility layers for some hardware and software components.

2. Garuda Linux

Garuda Linux is a Linux distro that is based on Arch Linux. Arch Linux is a rolling-release distro that always gets the latest software updates. Garuda Linux is free and open source. The latest release is Spizaetus which features a brand new Hyprland Community Edition.Garuda Linux

Download Garuda Linux

Click here to visit Garuda Linux‘s official download page.

System Requirements for Installing Garuda Linux

  • CPU: x86_64 CPU
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Drive Storage: 30 GB
  • Video card: OpenGL 3.3 or better

Reasons to Choose Garuda Linux

  • It offers a variety of desktop environments, such as KDE, Dr460nized, GNOME, Cinnamon, Xfce, and others. These are designed to be beautiful, fast, and user-friendly.
  • It uses the Linux-zen kernel, which is optimized for desktop, multimedia, and gaming performance.
  • It has a Garuda Gamer app to install gaming software such as Steam, Lutris, Wine, ProtonGE, and many others.

Reasons to Avoid Garuda Linux

  • It is a rolling release distro, which means it may be unstable.
  • It uses the BTRFS filesystem with zstd compression and automatic snapshots which may consume more disk space and CPU resources.
  • It may have less support and community than other more popular distros.

3. Drauger OS

Drauger OS is a Ubuntu-based Linux desktop gaming distribution. It has many modifications and optimizations over stock Ubuntu for improved gaming performance and the gaming experience. It uses the Xfce Desktop Environment and replaces PulseAudi with Pipewire for better audio quality.Drauger OS

Download Drauger OS

Click here to visit Drauger OS‘s official download page.

System Requirements for Installing Drauger OS

  • CPU: Dual-core, 1.8 GHz, 64-bit processor
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Drive Storage: 16 GB or 32 GB
  • GPU: Integrated Graphics
  • Screen Resolution: 1024 x 768 at 30 Hz

Reasons to Choose Drauger OS

  • It is based on Ubuntu LTS releases, which means it is stable and secure. In addition, it gets updates for 5 years.
  • It uses the mainline Linux kernel, which offers better performance and compatibility.
  • It has many modifications and optimizations, such as dark GTK theme, light-weight Xfce desktop environment, and Pipewire, which are intended to improve gaming performance and gaming experience.

Reasons to Avoid Drauger OS

  • It uses SystemBack as the installer, which is unreliable and uncommon.
  • It has a heavy-weight live session that consumes a lot of resources and may affect gaming performance.
  • It has a desktop layout with three panels and massive icons, which may not be very user-friendly or appealing.

4. Ubuntu GamePack (UALinux)

Ubuntu GamePack is an Ubuntu-based Linux desktop gaming distro. It can support games developed for Windows, DOS, and consoles. Ubuntu GamePack is similar to Drauger OS, however, it uses a customized GNOME desktop environment instead of Xfce.Ubuntu Game Pack

Download Ubuntu GamePack

Click here to visit Ubuntu GamePack‘s official download page.

System Requirements for Installing Ubuntu GamePack (UALinux)

  • CPU: 2 GHz Dual Core or better
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Drive Storage: 25 GB

Reasons to Choose Ubuntu GamePack (UALinux)

  • It includes tools and means to install more than 85,842 games developed for Linux, Windows, DOS, and various game consoles.
  • It has game management and delivery systems, such as Steam, Lutris, io, and Game Jolt, that allow one to easily install and play games from different sources.
  • It has utilities for running Windows games, such as PlayOnLinux, CrossOver Linux, WINE, and DXVK.

Reasons to Avoid Ubuntu GamePack (UALinux)

  • As it is based on Ubuntu 20.04, it may not have the latest drivers and software updates for some hardware and games.
  • It offers a Windows 10-style interface by default, which may not be very appealing or customizable for some users.
  • It may have some bloatware and unnecessary applications that consume system resources and disk space.

5. Lakka

Lakka is a lightweight Linux distro and it can transform a small computer into a full-blown retrogaming console. It can emulate a wide variety of systems such as Nintendo NES, SEGA Genesis, Sony PlayStation, Arcade Games, and more. In addition, it supports USB joypads and other features such as rewinding, netplay, and shaders. The latest release is  Lakka 4.3.Lakka

Download Lakka

Click here to visit Lakka‘s official download page.

System Requirements for Installing Lakka

  • CPU: 1 GHz
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Drive Storage: 8 GB
  • GPU: Any supported GPU

Reasons to Choose Lakka

  • It is a lightweight Linux distro that can be installed on a small computer.
  • It is built on top of the RetroArch emulator, which can emulate a wide variety of systems.
  • It has some useful features such as automatic joypad recognition, rewinding, netplay, and shaders.
  • It is easy to set up and use and supports many devices such as Raspberry Pi, ASUS Tinker Board, Odroid XU4, x86 PCs, and others.

Reasons to Avoid Lakka

  • It is focused on retro gaming, and may not support modern games or platforms.
  • It does not have a desktop environment or a file manager and relies on a command-line interface for advanced settings and customization.
  • It may have some compatibility issues with some hardware components or controllers.

6. Sparky GameOver

Sparky GameOver is a special edition of SparkyLinux, a Debian-based Linux distro. It is lightweight and comes with tons of preinstalled games, useful tools, and scripts. Moreover, it is built for both native and emulated games. It is designed for gamers who want to have a ready-to-use gaming system on their computers.Sparky GameOver for "best linux distro for gaming"

Download Sparky GameOver

Click here to visit Sparky GameOver‘s official download page.

System Requirements for Installing Sparky GameOver

  • CPU: i486 / amd64
  • RAM: 256MB
  • SWAP partition: 512MB or bigger
  • Drive Storage: 20 GB
  • An Optical Drive or USB port

Reasons to Choose Sparky GameOver

  • Its lightweight Xfce desktop environment is fast and customizable.
  • It included platforms, such as Steam, Lutris, io, Game Jolt, RetroArch, ScummVM, DOSBox, and others.
  • It has tools to run Windows games, such as Wine, PlayOnLinux, CrossOver Linux, DXVK, and WINE.

Reasons to Avoid Sparky GameOver

  • It is based on Debian testing, which may be less stable.
  • It may not have the lasted drivers and software updates for some hardware and games.
  • It may have bloatware that consumes system resources and disk space.

Gaming Features of Some Linux Distros

Linux distros provide gamers with the following gaming features:

LINUX DISTRO GAMING FEATURES
POP!_OS Steam, Lutris, GameHub, Tensorman, Pop shell, Protonup, ProtonUp-Qt
Garuda Linux Garuda Gamer, Wine, Proton, Vulkan, wine-tkg, proton-ge, Lutris, Heroic Games Launcher, Legendary, Winetricks, Protontricks, CoreCtrl, DisplayCAL, NoiseTorch, OBS Studio
Drauger OS Steam Client, Lutris, GameMode, MangoHud, ReplaySorcery
Ubuntu GamePack Steam Client, Lutris, Itch, Game Jolt, ScummVM, PlayOnLinux, CrossOver Linux, WINE, GameMode,  DXVK, Gnome Twitch
Lakka RetroArch, Libretro, Lakka Menu, Lakka Switcher
Sparky Game Over Steam, Itch Client for Linux, Wine, PlayOnLinux, TeamSpeak Installer, Sparky IA, Sparky APTus Gamer

Conclusion

In this article, I have tried my best to list the best Linux distro for gaming. However, it is up to you which distro you find best. Hopefully, this article helped find your distro and start gaming.

People Also Ask

What is the easiest Linux gaming distro?

The Pop!_OS distro, developed by System76, is one of the easiest Linux distributions for gaming and is designed to be both user-friendly and simple to use. This easy-to-use feature makes it an ideal choice for both novice and experienced Linux gamers.

Is Linux good for gaming performance?

Yes, some Linux distros are good and considered for gaming as they offer low latency, high compatibility, and better customization. However, some distros may not be able to run games that are designed only for Windows or other platforms.

Is Linux better for low end PC gaming?

Yes, Linux can be a better choice for low-end PC gaming due to its compatibility, hardware support, and open-source drivers. It runs efficiently on older or less powerful hardware, making it ideal for gamers looking to maximize performance on their low-end devices.

What is the best Linux distro for gaming?

Several Linux distros can be considered best for gaming such as Pop!_OS, Garuda Linux, Lakka, etc. In addition, some other distros such as Linux Mint, Manjaro, and Regatta OS are also considered for gaming.

Are all Windows games compatible with Linux?

No, not all Windows games are compatible with Linux. However, you can often run Windows games on Linux using compatibility layers like Wine or Proton. While many games work well, some may have performance or compatibility issues.

Can I customize Linux distros for gaming?

Yes, you can customize the Linux distribution to your gaming needs and requirements. Linux is known for its flexibility and open-source nature, which allows you to modify your system to meet your gaming preferences.

Can Linux increase FPS?

Yes, Linux may increase FPS however it depends on the drivers, kernel, CPU, and factors. A User needs to use the latest drivers, update the kernel, and lightweight desktop environment for high FPS.

Why is Linux not used for gaming?

Linux has a low market share and it is less compatible with some hardware and software. That’s why some say it is not for gaming which may not apply to every Linux user or every game.

5/5 - (25 votes)

Walid Al Asad

Hello Everyone! I am Walid Al Asad. Currently, I am working at a tech company named Softeko as a Linux Content Developer Executive. I live in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I have completed my BSc. in Mechanical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). You can find me on LinkedIn, and ResearchGate. Read Full Bio

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