Gaming on elementary OS

It is fairly easy to set up gaming on elementary OS. For games on Steam, you are just a few clicks away from playing after a fresh install of elementary. For games not available on Steam, Lutris is a popular game manager that has thousands of titles, and it can be installed in just a few steps. This guide will cover setting up both Steam and Lutris on elementary OS.

Steam on elementary OS

Because Steam is available on Flathub, if you have already installed any software application from Flathub, then Steam will show up in the AppCenter, and you can just click to install. If you have not installed any software from Flathub, head over to the Flathub website and search for Steam. Click “Install” and this will install steam, and also add Flathub as a repository available through AppCenter. So you can now install, update, or uninstall any Flathub applications through AppCenter.

The Steam page on Flathub

Inside Steam, you can access your library and many titles developed for Windows run flawlessly on Linux. This is thanks to amazing work done by Valve Software in developing Proton, a compatibility layer for Windows-based applications to run on Linux.

In just a few clicks, I have Civilization V running on elementary OS through Steam!

Lutris on elementary OS

Lutris is a game manager built for Linux, and it includes thousands of titles. Many of them will work with a single click, making this a good method to use for titles that are not available through Steam. Lutris uses Wine to run Windows games, and Lutris integrates with Wine fairly well.

I use Lutris because one of my favorite games of all time – Heroes of Might and Magic III – has a community developed expansion that is not available in the Steam version. This section will describe the steps to install Lutris, and as an illustration, we will get Heroes of Might and Magic III running on elementary.

There are basically three steps to getting a game running through Lutris:
1. Install Wine
2. Install Lutris
3. Install games and play!

This process does require using the command line a bit, but this should not intimidate new Linux users. The command line is a really neat tool, and installing games is a great way to learn some familiarity with it. And because elementary uses Ubuntu as a base, guides for doing things on Ubuntu are a good starting point for doing those things on elementary OS. The steps below follow closely to a guide from LinuxConfig.org to installing Lutris on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa.

Step 1: Install Wine

The first thing to do is install Wine, which is a dependency for Lutris. This is what allows Lutris to run Windows games.

On elementary, I found that in order to add repositories with the command add-apt-reposutory, I needed to first install the package software-properties-common. This can be done by opening the Terminal and entering the command:

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common

Note that you will need to enter your password when first running a sudo command within a Terminal session. Once the software-properties-common package is installed, you can enter the following lines to install Wine:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
wget -nc https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/winehq.key
sudo apt-key add winehq.key
sudo apt-add-repository 'deb https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/ubuntu/ focal main'
sudo apt update
sudo apt install --install-recommends winehq-stable

The first line enables 32-bit architecture on 64-bit systems. Lines 2-4 download and add Wine’s repository key and repository to your system. Note that in line 4, “focal” specifies the Ubuntu release 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa, which eOS 6 is based on. Lines 5-6 update apt and install the latest stable release of Wine.

Step 2: Install Lutris

It is easy to install Lutris once Wine has been installed. You can simply enter three lines in the Terminal. This is based on the installation instructions at Lutris.net.

The first line adds the Lutris repository from Ubuntu’s Personal Package Archive (PPA), and the second and third lines update apt and then install Lutris:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lutris-team/lutris
sudo apt update
sudo apt install lutris

Step 3: Install and Play!

Note that the first time that Lutris opens, I experienced that it took a long time to load, but after the first launch it loads quickly. Once Lutris has launched, you can search for games in the Lutris library. Alternatively, if you have a Lutris account, you can log in and see the titles in your library already. If you do not have an account and want one, head over to Lutris.net and sign up. Your online account library can sync with the Lutris application you just installed.

I searched for the open-source game 0 A.D., clicked “Install”, and before I knew it I was launching a new game.

Now, the main game I wanted in my Lutris library is Heroes of Might and Magic III. The best version is the one available for purchase from GOG.com. I purchased it, and downloaded the two offline installation files from GOG.com. The Lutris page for HOMM3 also has a link to the setup file for the HotA expansion.

Now in Lutris, I could search for Heroes of Might and Magic III and click “Install” and select the option to install HOMM3: Complete + HotA (Horns of the Abyss is the community developed expansion). Two files are required. In the first slot, browse to the ~1GB installation file that was downloaded from GOG. And in the second slot, select the HotA expansion set up file that was downloaded from the link on Lutris.

The installation proceeds pretty smoothly from here. Note that after the base game installs, it will launch, but then exit from the program and a second installation for the expansion will begin. After the second installation cycle, you will be ready to conquer the world with an army of Titans!

Conclusion

I hope this post has been helpful to illustrate how quickly one can get gaming up and running on elementary OS. Of course, which games will run properly will also depend on your hardware. I am running eOS on a 2015 MacBook Pro. This hardware is not really suited to the newest AAA games, but for many fun titles that do not require an intense gaming computer, this setup works great.



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