A little (long) story about my weekend, life and the state of my Linux transition

Since my personal Linux Journey has been going on for years without major progress, and that changed in the past days, I thought I’d go ahead and share a bit of my experiences, tips and plans. Warning: This will get long. It’s basically my life story in the Linux world. I’m not mad if you don’t care to read it. I just want some kind of documentation (primarily for myself) and hope that a bit or two might help some newcomers.

So first off, I’ve basically been raised a Windows guy. I touched Linux once or twice back when you couldn’t get a DE or WM Out of the box but always thought it was this arcane thing crazy scientists use (thoughts of an 8 year old :wink: ). But the interested in Linux never went away after that. What really brought me back was the initial Ubuntu touch release for the Nexus 5 and 10. This brought Linux back on the map for me. And it’s been a journey ever Since.

So for the better part of two years I’ve been on the journey to get Windows from my Systems. At Home i always had a second or third drive in my PC to have Linux around. Once my Company allowed me to switch to Linux (as long as i can do my job as a Sys-Admin for 98% Windows Systems), i did that and have been happily working 100% Linux for 2 years at work, without any Problems (apart from Exchange Mail, but OWA is really good nowadays).

At home, it was a different story. My PC Time is split 50/50 between Gaming and Music Production. My entire Library and Workflow are crafted through years of Windows usage. I own Software and Plugins i bought for major sums that are Windows only. My Favorite Games are Windows only with poor wine support. So everyday I’d boot into Linux for my after work YouTube Catch-up and Mail stuff and such, but after half an hour I’d reboot to windows for some gaming with friends or to get a musical idea recorded. So basically, as close to Linux as my Workflow would tolerate, but far enough to bother me.

I recent weeks i spend most weekends trying wo finally change that. And the recent SteamPlay Launch gave me another motivational boost to finally tackle that problem. So, now, the fun part. Progress!

Some general Tips i feel might help those feeling stuck in Windows:

  • Determine what really keeps you on Windows. See what Programs you use and what the Linux Support is. Determine whether using a Linux Alternative works for you (Libra Office, Krita etc.). Don’t use something you hate. If the OSS Alternatives don’t work for you, try to make your Software work. But have a clear picture of what you want/need to do.
  • Don’t get into the Distro Wars. It doesn’t matter at this stage. Pick one. Don’t listen to those who say only Arch is the true way, or Manjaro is the best, or Only on Debian you can build a stable foundation. It’s yum or apt or pacman, other than that, any major distro will do what you need in some way. Once the fear for compiling packages from github is gone (and it’s easy) you can have anything anywhere.
  • Have a second Harddrive or Partition for Linux. Keep Windows to be Productive in the transitional period. This might take weeks or months (or years).
  • Don’t be afraid to nuke a install. Sometimes testing leads you to install or configure stuff that breaks other stuff. See it as a lab. if it doesn’t work, delete and reinstall. It’s quickly done. Set up a System to test a specific program/task and start clean for the next if you have to. Don’t install what you know will work over and over. Don’t customize your install out the wazoo and keep it simple until you switch completely. If you have the Power to run VM’s that can be a fast and easy testing ground with snapshots and such.
  • Tackle on thing at a time! If you take some time out your day to work on this, choose one specific problem to work on. Don’t try to solve everything at once. It’s sometimes hard enough to get single things working. Throwing more variables into the mix only complicates things.
  • Don’t dismiss solutions because they are old. Some things are valid years after writing, others might at least give you a hint in the right direction.

To go a little in depth on what i did last weekend:
My choice currently is Kubuntu. I love KDE Plasma, Ubuntu is what most bigger Projects are tested against and it’s rather current since 18.04.1 hasn’t been out for that long. Plus i pretty much grew up with apt-get until i switched to Arch for work. apt-get install is basically muscle memory at this point.

Step One: Steam. Native hasn’t been a Problem in Years, so Cities: Skylines and Borderlands 2 just work great. No Problems here. Enabled the Beta Client for SteamPlay and gave that a go. Results are mixed as Expected but decent. NFS Most Wanted plays like native, as does Burnout Paradise. Any Batman doesn’t work. But that’s nothing i really care about. It’s a playground to test stuff. Nothing i “depend” upon. Just notice that that system exists and when it works, it’s epically simple.

Steps Two: Rocksmith 2014. That’s the big one. I spend over 800 hours in this game (and counting). I’ll run Windows just for that if i have to. I never got it to work. So First try was SteamPlay. No dice. Wouldn’t even launch. So, Installing Windows Steam under the latest wine-staging lets that game run at lest. Performance is native without any changes. It just works. Audio doesn’t. At all. Which is a Problem in this case, as it’s a music rhythm game. After reading Windows troubleshooting, wine reports and info on similar games i finally figured it out: Setting the Sound Driver to Alsa and hard assigning the Audio Devices through wine Settings did the trick. Some fiddling with the Rocksmith.ini and it’s up and running. And better than native Windows. Latency is lower and Frame Rate more consistent. Load Times are a little longer, but who cares.

Step Three: Overwatch. The second big one. It’s my social game to play with my friends. Again, 500+ hours in. With Lutris it’s straight forward. It installs and runs perfect. The catch? I loose around 50% in Performance overall. Since my GPU is at the limit already in Windows (1440p 144Hz with a 1050ti), it is unplayable in Linux. I recognize it’s working, but the performance penalty is to big to be practical at the moment. The good news is, that i planned a GPU upgrade anyways. So once 1080 Prices drop a bit, that’ll be basically done (hope so. More testing with better hardware required).

Step Four: Recording. My DAW of choice, Reaper, recently got native Linux Support (just bought a second License to support the Dev for doing that so deep into the life-cycle of the software). So jay? Well, somewhat. After my Rocksmith endeavors i gave ALSA for recording a go and it fixed most gripes i had with recording on Linux because of JACK. ALSA works perfectly with my USB Interface with sub 10ms of latency. So, jay!

Step Five: VST Plugins. I don’t need much, but without a VST drummer I’m lost. I don’t play drums and my midi programming is sub par. I invested quite some money into EZDrummer. I love Toontracks Product and how it sounds. But no Linux Support. So what now? Google, Forums, Reading. Without Problems i can install their Manager and Licensing tool under Wine. Works perfectly, like native and all plugins install fine. And if you run Reaper under wine (which also works perfectly with wineasio) you’re done. But i want to use the native Reaper install.
Enter Carla. That took some reading. But after understanding what it does and how it works it’s easy as cake. You get the Native Linux plugin of Carla. You load that up in Reaper, Add a Patchbay and can then load any Windows VST Plugin. Neat. And it just works (after understanding what goes where and how to set the settings). Only dragging Midi files from the windows plugin to Linux Reaper doesn’t, but i can do that with a file manager.

So, that’s where I’m at. Once i started taking one step at a time and really figuring it out, everything fell into place. I’m now 95% on Linux at home (only Overwatch is left) and can nuke Windows once the GPU upgrade is done.
Apart from the obvious benefits of Having Linux, i also had some major moments of feeling accomplishment along the way. And as a professional Sys-Admin those are hard to get by these days :wink: I’m happy i gave the whole thing a final proper go. I didn’t think I’d get here, but it’s done. And I’m happier than ever with my current Setup.

If you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask me what ever. I’ll do my best to share what I’ve learned and apply what ever you’ve got to improve to my System.

Oh, and it “only” took 2 failed Antergos Installs (damn you Cnchi), and 7 Kubuntu re-installs over two 18 hour days to get here. And a LOT of DuckDuckGo’ing…


Not many people drag themselves kicking and screaming into Linux on their gaming/home rig. Most people I know that are capable of using Linux at home just run Windows because it’s easy and they don’t want to have to work at home to get their games running. Always glad to hear that people are still willing to put the effort in and make the heroic leap.

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Nice to see the progress you made. There was a time when I wanted to make a full switch to Linux. I chose the route of convenience keeping a Windows boot drive for select games and Linux for everything else.

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, i really, really want this to work. The latest Windows Update Caping all Games at 60FPS for me again showed me that there is no Future in Windows.

Then again, after a weekend of Progress i come home from work and want to play a round of Rocksmith and it just refuses to launch all together. A non descript error message from wine, thats it. Might be the latest Steam update or what ever.
But that’s basically it. Every time you think you’ve got it, some random update screws it up :wink: Even on Linux those windows Problems haunt me. But yeah, i enjoy fixing tech. That’s why i chose to become a Sys-Admin. So in large part making it work is a hobby for me.

That was a great read…Thanks for sharing. Good to see that some understand that ease of use does not mean lack of effort. A change is still a change no matter how user friendly something is. Especially on tools that are so pervasive in your everyday routine.

But that is exactly the reason why it is important to take the leap instead of choosing convenience. The tech we all use is too important to accept less sound, free and secure solutions for the sake of our convenience. So much that we forget that true convenience comes from experience and familiarity. You just have to take the time to build it up. No matter the OS.

PS. I think the correct term is ducking :stuck_out_tongue: