What Makes Linux Better for Gaming?

So, I hear this a lot, that Linux is better for gaming than Windows is. Why is this? Does the software have more control or access to the hardware? Are the processes just handled more efficiently? What makes it so much better?

Legally speaking the $100 you save on your OS can buy you many games during a summer sale

Also ya there should generally be less overhead involved

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Who told you that lie? Linux has never been better for gaming. for a couple of reasons.

1.) drivers have been finicky for a while depending on the distro.
2.) Gaming Support has always been low. (now to be fair everyone likes to mention that OH Valve brought their games to steam and there also other triple A titles (from a few years ago) but no one seemed to bother besides a small group of people, you'll always hear from every hard core devout Linux user (gaming is getting there.. it's getting there) they've been saying that for about a decade now.

Another example of this is the failure of SteamOS (a debian based Linux distro that was made by Valve to give people a reason to invest into a Linux based 'console'. the controller was bad and it was a dead on arrival with drivers being all of the place and game library being low.. and mind you it didn't do anything better from a feature standpoint than the average console. it just performed better than an Xbox or PS4.

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I've never been told this directly, but rather see it all over the internet. From YouTube videos to forum posts (not this forum, for good reason apparently). I guess support is slowly growing, but I haven't seen anything impressive firsthand, performance-wise.

Linux is better at 'getting out of the way of the game' than Windows.

Practically speaking, right now, Linux isn't better than Windows for gaming. That's because triple-A title developers aren't focusing their attention Linux. Even hardware driver development isn't focused on Linux. Linux gets scraps of dev time.

If the situation were reversed and Linux got more attention and dev time than Windows, Linux would 100% for-certain be better for gamers as a PC operating system than Windows. The reason for this is includes complex topics such as how Linux handles memory, processes, and threads and that Linux occupies less of your CPU's time than Windows.

If anyone can make this any clearer (maybe ask Reddit's "ELI5"), feel free. I doubt it can be made more succinct, at least.


the thing with overhead. that's because GNU / Linux uses OpenGL which is an open standard API which is available on All platforms (including Windows 10) but the gaming market has been stuck on DX11 for years now. now the good news is Vulkan (which is the Khronos Groups) new API has shown obscene performance gains compared to DX11 AND DX 12. this API also works on GNU / Linux so you might see some of these Vulkan based games move to GNU / Linux. though like I previously mentioned gaming on Linux has always been somewhat niche and there is un-certainty if they will port it despite it being somewhat easier now.

I would personally disagree that it's better for gaming - basically for the two reason @Kat mentioned in her earlier post.

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One might also suggest that software freedom is better for gamers.

We [rational gamers] all hate exclusives, right? :P

So, it's not better. It just has the potential to be.

Pretty much.

Chicken/egg situation.

Either the industry moves there before users/gamers do,
or users/gamers drag the industry to what we know is better.

I'm doing my part. :P

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Should also add that there exist some Linux-native games which perform better than their Windows-native counterparts.

Minecraft (with and without shaders) is the most well-known example of this, though one can argue that a Java blob isn't native to anything. :P


That and you have to understand that GNU / Linux has thrived on Open Source. Nvidia which at this point in time has the GPU market on lock despite all their horse shit and controversy hate Open Source. they will never bring their shit to Linux unless they are forced to.

If Windows died tomorrow and all the gamers moved to Linux then Nvidia would support it. but overall they will never do it. they do have quality drivers on Linux but that's because people have been yelling at them for years now. Optimus Nvidia drivers are still massive turds even today and even Linus Torvalds himself has yelled at Nvidia for this.

I think linux gaming will get a good push in the right direction, when vulcan gets to be more standard / used more.

"that's because people have been yelling at them for years now"
...Exactly. The more voices the better, eh?

"I think linux gaming will get a good push in the right direction, when vulcan gets to be more standard / used more."
Counting on that myself. I don't even necessarily want Linux-specific gaming. I just don't want games locked to specific consoles... or operating systems. Platform-agnostic is the future... but change is hard. :P

yeah but look how long they took to do it. they aren't going to listen to anyone unless it harms them.

It might have better performance in some specific games due to developers being used to how developing for Linux works, also a direct involvement/connection with the guys who write APIs and drivers would allow them to write good software. I know a lot of indie games that run better on linux, a lot of simmulation software that runs good, I know Dota2 has been performing like champs on Linux when Vulkan and Source 2 were ported, but that was mainly because they were super involved with the Khronos guys and knew how to do their stuff. But it's still not a lot in terms of how many games Windows has running well.

People who develop for Linux aren't all that interested in games really. A lot of Linux developers do networking, simulations, big data projects, clustering projects etc. But gaming has just never been approached by the developers. Be it because they choose windows or because they are just too grown to play and let alone develop games.

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Now, it's not better. In fact, as it stands now, Linux is a worse gaming solution, mainly due to vendors being assholes and not paying much attention to drivers, developers that opt to tie their games to Windows specific api's like DirectX. Then there's a lack of supporting tools need to come along with games that some people like content creators really need.

OS specific overhead is not something that really matters with software like games, since they don't really rely on kernels and system calls that much (only one exception being drivers, which as I mentioned are a bit inferior now), games will not get faster just because they are on Linux, a game's performance depends on how it is coded, I believe though that there are some edge cases, but they could be few and far in between. Hardware is the same, while both platforms have been around in development for long enough to eliminate their overhead and come up with engineering solutions.

I wish Linux could become a proper gaming platform, this would eliminate any need to have Windows at all for me. If all developers suddenly flipped a switch and started writing everything on Vulkan, I would be so happy, this would enforce everyone (game engines, developers, vendors) to support Linux in one way or another. But for that to happen Vulkan needs to beat DirectX 12 in some ways. Which will possibly not happen, because there are capable engineers on both sides. There is a need to find other ways.

Linux is getting better for gaming, it isn't BETTER unfortunately. AMD and NVIDIA have a LONG way to go for driver support (mostly AMD). Then there is several major transitions coming up for Linux which are still rather blurry at best on how well they will be received, such as Wayland/Mir xorg server replacements (think there is another also). Then there is a problem of no Skyrim/Fallout4/GTA5/Witcher3 to name a few games I own... I can use Wine on Skyrim but its very difficult to get right (plus the new version is DX11 which wine doesn't work with atm).

Once Vulkan becomes mainstream (in 10 years time) then things will be better, I don't see many companies trying to bring display driver features to OGL unfortunately (freesync/mgpu etc).

There are few well done ports, like TF2, that get a a few FPS more than Windows but nothing massive. It isn't so much better as way more convenient to have games on Linux for users of Linux. Less reason to dual boot or run VMs is always welcome.

If gaming is your primary focus Windows is the better option. But, if you have other needs for computing Linux is great and gaming is decent enough to make it a cozy home.

You conjured up a nice image then for some reason. with Linux pretty much everything Gaming related can be a bit worse and it wouldn't matter. The OS is personalized and is a tailored system for personal computing, not a corporate panopticon.