Return to Level1Techs.com

Advice needed: Teaching the wife linux... distros and daily drivers with some passthroughs maybe


#1

I will start by saying during this process I will also be teaching myself a lot of things but must say that I do have some decent amount of experience with Ubuntu. most of my Ubuntu experience comes from 12.10 to 14.10 give or take a few versions in between. I have heard Ubuntu is doing mandatory data collection(correct me if I am wrong) and I haven’t used any Linux distro within the last 2 years. She probably won’t do anything besides some minor gaming unless she really likes it but probably wont unless I put a pc into the bedroom and use steam link with it. I would love to use linux full time but it probably wont happen either. I want to know whether I should stick to what I know and use Ubuntu(really don’t like data collection but I am still using windows so I cant say much here :smiley: ) or use something like Fedora, Debian, or any other distro. I personally would like a good daily driver(mostly just normal everyday use nothing fancy) but the ability to play some windows games obviously. I play a lot of games that will never be able to play on Linux unless they are completely overhauled so the thought of using GPU passthrough is definitely enticing if anyone can confirm I can do so with Virtualbox or another VM using a Radeon R9 280 or HD 6450 as the passthrough card for the Windows VM. The last I checked on this was way back when VM GPU passthrough was being experimented with. Any and all advice/help will be helpful.


#2

Have yet to read whole post. But data collection is not mandatory.

During install time, you can choose to opt in tho and give them info like:

Total install time
Hardware used
Etc…

EDIT: whoops. Read the article again, and it is opt out during install and opt in during upgrades. My bad.


#3

That is useful information. I have been out of the loop on any and all technology for quite a while now. been binge listening to the tech just trying to catch up on recent events. No internet for almost a year will do that to you.

edit: I read the post and it seems harmless enough and could help considering a lot of people haven’t upgraded their hardware and maybe we can get some older driver updates and fixes.


#4

Virtualbox has PCI passthru but it is experimental(and has been for years).

KVM+QEMU+Libvirt+Virt-Manager+OVMF is what most people here use. KVM does the efficient CPU virtualization, QEMU does the devices and actual VM, Libvirt does management like config and startup/shutdown, and VIrt-manager is a GUI for Libvirt. OVMF is a UEFI for the VM, and makes passthru easier but only works with Linux guests and window 8+ guests.

As for which distro to use for the host, Ubuntu works great once you set it up but is a little harder to setup for passthru then some others. Debian has worked well for me, and Fedora and Arch have worked well for others.


#5

sounds like a lot of research to do overall. finding the distro is part one gaming is part 2. I will probably do a dual boot setup until I can figure everything out.


#6

I moved over a year ago and had many of the same issues with games. I have not messed with pass thru. I just dual boot. It isn’t that bad for me and personalty have not had Windows mess with Linux or Linux mess with Windows. I do use separate drives for Windows and Linux that may have something to do with it, not really sure.

After I moved over I found my self on Linux much more often than on Windows. Most will not recommend dual booting and I understand why. I recommend looking into it. Also if you have not already look into it check out your most played games, I was surprised to see all the games I played that worked on Linux. Dual booting is an option, but not the best for everyone.

The wife part, I would just let her look at desktop environments, show her KDE, gnome, xfce, etc. Then just install a flavor of Ubuntu with that desktop, or a distro with a good version of that desktop. My gf really liked how gnome looked so she went with Ubuntu Gnome (now just Ubuntu), after she got to firefox she was at home. Then after I showed her how to install software, all she had to say was that it was easy and worked like her phone.


#7

Fedora is a good choice if you’re set on passthrough. I have my wife set up with opensuse on her laptop, as that was the only distro that was both easy to use and immediately stable on that hardware.

Elementary would have been amazing but gave me too many problems that weren’t easier to solve than installing Suse was. Since then, I’ve grown to like opensuse. It seems very stable, which is really what any casual user needs. With Ubuntu, it seems like things are always changing. Do an upgrade, everything is different, not good for her.

Honestly if you’re going for gaming I’d dual boot it with win10, but kvm + pt is certainly viable; just not for the feint of heart.


#8

First off, best way to learn is to use Linux fulltime. You can do a thirty day trial challenge for instance, is there any reason at all you need Windows? Special software for instance? Because I know several people managing to do most tasks just fine on Linux alone.

Second, regarding distro, do not go with a rolling release distro (Arch, Manjaro, Gentoo, Debian unstable etc), unless you are prepared to deal with broken features every now and then. It could be broken Wifi, broken HDMI out signal, broken kernel or broken graphical drivers. While the package managers of these distros are great at what they do, they are not perfect, so there will always be some breakage sometimes.

Third, if the Ubuntu phoning home scares you, then you could always go with Mint or Debian Stable. Mint is more up to date but might switch things up quite a bit; Debian is more conservative both in changing stuff and having the latest and greatest. Both are very solid options depending on what you do.

Whichever you choose, welcome! Beer is in the fridge and the nuts are all over the board!


#9

Speaking of challenges. I totally forgot about this. Thanks for the brain jog.

We have the 1 Year Linux Challenge Thread.

You can enter yourself into the challenge by clicking on the greenish/blue edit button at the bottom of post 1, and entering your username, under the section participants.

After 1 year, comeback and add your username to the completed section and make a blog thread about your experience under the blog section of the forum and then you get a badge!

Although you did say you used Linux in the past, so you could probably be grandfathered in.

Forum self promotion over.


#10

Smite, Escape from Tarkov, R6 siege, Warframe, Defiance 2050, and many others depending on the day. Most of these wont work without a ton of troubleshooting if they work at all. I will have her look but I think I am going to choose gnome if we go with Ubuntu.


#11

Smite, Escape from Tarkov, R6 siege, Warframe, Defiance 2050, and many others depending on the day. Most of these won’t work without a ton of troubleshooting if they work at all. I will have her look but I think I am going to choose gnome if we go with Ubuntu. Debian is also enticing considering I used it for a small period of time. We are both full-time gamers and considering she forces me to play Xbox anywhere titles it would be a bit hard to use Linux full time which is why I would love to do passthrough when I get the chance to take that challenge.


#12

I have always heard a lot of good things about suse. it fedora and Ubuntu gnome are the 3 I plan on letting her look at

things changed here is the list she got to look at on her own time

Fedora
Debian
Opensuse
Ubuntu
Ubuntu Gnome


#13

she uses a mac at her workplace and I have a decent amount of experience with Linux and would absolutely never touch windows if I did not have to for some reason. I used linux as my daily driver before but thanks to my favorite games I had to switch back. If I can get gpu passthrough to work then I will gladly never touch windows unless it is in a VM


#14

A suggestion I would make to your distro short-list is Elementary OS. It’s Ubuntu-based but its layout is targeted to Mac users. Plus, the distro maintainers are known for their app eco-system that is surprisingly high-quality. Also, another rock-solid choice is Linux Mint (which is usually targeted at the beginner who knows Windows & also Ubuntu-based). The 2 on your list I could argue are not for newbie Linux users are Debian or Fedora. Both usually do not have the user-friendliness of Ubuntu and require a intermediate understanding of the CLI - command line interface to get things done that Ubuntu based distros will do for the user; such as dependencies for programs, certain codecs. etc. In fact, Fedora has a reputation for going so non-proprietary and with bleeding edge kernels that it can unfairly malign new Linux newbs who have nothing else to compare their issues but their Mac OS or Windows…and then they unfairly develop a negative opinion of Linux. So this is my two cents of advice. Good luck.


#15

No offense, but in that case, I do believe you are kinda putting the cart before the horse.

Yes, Linux does not have support for quite a few games, and if these games are your absolute must have daily driver, then having an exclusive Linux gaming rig does not make a whole lot of sense. Better to dual-boot in that case.

But, since you are having quite a few games that you consider “must haves”… Chances are, none of them are your absolute favorite. Which is fine of course, you like a whole lot of them… But do you love any of them? So much that you cannot imagine a life without them?

If not, I’d say it’s better to start exploring the world of native games. Go cold-turkey for a month and see if both you and your wife can “survive” on native-only. There are quite a few great indie and AAA titles out there like Stardew Valley, Cave Story, Pillars of Eternity II, Total War: Thrones of Brittania, Civ 6, X-COM 2, Rocket League, Stellaris, Super Hot, Cities: Skylines… Don’t tell me that’s not enough titles to at least keep you going for 6-12 months, and there are thousands more available!

Sure, you narrow your selection somewhat. But guess what, if you own a Playstation 4 but not a Switch, you won’t be getting a lot of games too (and vice-versa)! So, unless there is a game that is an absolute must have, chances are after a couple of months, you won’t even miss Windows at all. :slight_smile:

Of course, it’s my opinion. In my case I had a bad League of Legends addiction that finally disappeared this year, finally enabling the permanent switchover for me. Haven’t looked back since.


#16

Another option for Windows support on native Linux is Wine. Although, being a serious gamer, I would suggest you pay for Wine’s more mature cousin who went out and became a professional, Crossover Linux. Now, its not a free solution…but it can grant you some Windows layered support natively that you would normally have to dual-boot for. Case in point, you could run the Windows version of Steam for your Windows games that aren’t natively supported on Linux (such as Witcher 3, for example). Ethically speaking, the programmers that create Crossover push many changes to the Wine project itself…so paying for Crossover is the same as donating to the Wine Project…many of the same programers. I imagine they went the proprietary route for their best stuff cuz eating Ramen and living in their parents basement at their age is a non-starter. But I digress, Crossover may be another solution to look into.


#17

we both own ps4 and she owns a switch. I can live with dual boot but would eventually like to do passthrough. most native games I own are small indie games I got through giveaways. steam says smite has 2.5k hours and she is constantly with friends on xbox play anywhere titles as well. I understand switching is going to be hard and I will definitely have problems but right now I cannot make a full switch to linux but I will do what I can to stay off windows


#18

I made sure she understood debian and fedora were more my style of distro than hers but she has full choice. I am glad you gave me more suggestions to give to her and I will copy and paste what you said to her as well. she uses mac at work but does not entirely like it. (call center for apple so kind of forced) she will be getting the training to do support for mac in about a month or so though so she might like the idea of Elementary OS


#19

If you own a PS4, then a lot of popular games can be enjoyed that way if there is no Linux support on them - this greatly reduces the need for a Windows PC even further. See, for instance, this: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/smite-ps4/

My general thinking is this, you won’t miss the games you’ve never played. If I were you I’d buy a 256GB Harddrive to have as a Windows exclusive and dual boot for those must-have titles. However, I would try to find Linux titles that we both enjoy, and try to stick to those titles as much as possible.

The goal is to convince her she doesn’t need those Windows programs because as long as she believes otherwise, it’s probably a lost cause. :slight_smile:


#20

Wife acceptance factor is a cunning, oiled up piglet to catch and hold :slight_smile:

Setting up the distro so she can do everything easily is by far the biggest hurdle. Ubuntu is fine you can opt out of data collection. So if you’re skilled with that stick too it. Could also look at Linux only games as mentioned above. If she loves a linux game she will be using linux because of the game.

Dual booting for games is not bad with a clean install on an SSD for both OS’s. Swapping to Windows should be fast. For headphone chat etc use something that works on both Linux and windows like discord etc.

Going to pass-through multiple keyboard, mouse, displays etc add more complexity than needed in my opinion. Even fully setup slick, it only has to break a few times for the “its easier on windows?” complaints.

Lastly you could have a dedicated windows / steam machine and use In-Home Streaming to her Linux box for Windows games. I have been meaning to try it but I have no experience with how well it works.