Gaming Linux

Introduction to Linux Gaming

Michael & Eric 10-06-2008

Introduction to Linux Gaming counterstrikeWhen you think of Linux, you probably think of open source software and security, but not gaming. Most people think if you are into gaming, Windows is your only option. A few years ago this might have been the case but not anymore.


So, if you are a Linux power user, or just prefer Linux, here are a few of your options for playing games on your Linux box.

Native Linux games

I was very surprised to see how many games there were for Linux. These are games that have a Linux version, no emulation or trickery involved. Of course there are the standard games provided by Gnome and KDE when you installed your distro. However, these are mostly just card, arcade, and board games. These are great but sometimes you want something new and exciting. Here are some native Linux games you should check out:

1) Neverball is a puzzle game where you use the mouse and/or keyboard to tilt the floor in order to move a ball around and collect coins. You have to collect a certain number of coins to move onto the next level. Since there are 75 levels, you won’t beat this game in one sitting.


2) Frets on Fire is a remake of Guitar Hero where you use your keyboard as a guitar. If you already have Rock Band or Guitar Hero for your game console, you can even use those guitars (USB versions) instead of the keyboard. One of the best features of this game is you can create your own songs to play or edit your current ones. So, if you find yourself saying, “Why isn’t that song on here?”, you can add it yourself or come up with your own tune. There’s also a huge song list you can download, and most (if not all) are free.


Frets on Fire

3) FlightGear is a flight simulator, similar to Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X, with 20,000 real world airports. FlightGear is known for its accurate runway locations and markings. The scenery in this game is so realistic, you feel as if you are looking out of the window of an actual cockpit. Being able to fly numerous aircrafts is one of the best features.


Of course these aren’t the only three games for Linux. In fact, there are SO MANY great games designed for Linux, we could not cover all of them. The above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the different types of games available. Here are a list of sites where you can find more games designed for Linux. If we left any out, please post them in the comments for others to enjoy!

Advertisement [Broken URL Removed] – click a download category to see the games available (Free&GPL Games is a great place to start)

The Linux Gamers’ Game List – a lot of these are free games but some are commercial.

Loads of Linux Links – another great list of top games with a brief description of each. – 42 of the Best Free Linux Games, Part 1 and Part 2WikipediaList of open source games


Rangit.comTop 25 Linux Games

There are even Linux distributions that are specifically designed for gaming such as Fedora Games Spin and Ubuntu Ultimate Gamers Edition.

Play Windows Games in Linux

1) Wine (free) is a “compatibility layer for running Windows programs.” Wine is made up of a bunch of open source code that replaces the Windows API but does not require Windows at all. Basically, it [Wine] is used to fool an application or game into thinking that you are running Windows.

Wine is getting better and better with each new release. Some applications/games work so well you forget you are running Linux, while other applications/games will not work at all. For a list of compatible applications, check out Wine HQ. Here is a list of applications sorted by compatibility rating.


2) Cedega (pay per month) is a upgraded version of Wine (that’s why you pay for it) that has improved directX support. For those of you who do not know what directX is, it is a bunch of code Microsoft uses in their games. Therefore, improved directX support allows for Windows games to play better (in Linux).

Play Game Console Games in Linux

If you miss playing your old Nintendo64 or Playstation games, you are in luck. There are all kinds of emulators available for these gaming consoles. Once you have the emulator installed you need to download the games (ROMS). There are many sites which allow you to download these ROMS. To find such sites, simply Google the name of the game and add ‘ROM’ at the end of it. You will be surprised how many games from the good old days are available for download. I still enjoy playing the N64 Mario Kart.

For the latest news in Linux gaming, check out LINUXGAMES.

How do you play games in Linux? What games do you play? Let us know in the comments!!!

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  1. Virneto
    December 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Awesome content here!!

  2. mgb9
    June 17, 2008 at 3:15 am

    freeciv is quality :-)

  3. Robin
    June 11, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I mean I love Linux and use it exclusively (no M$ at all in my house, on principal) but I have yet to come across a really good native Linux game - most of them are about 10 years in the past. I mean, no one would even dream of blogging about Windows games that are on the level as the three games you mentioned here...

  4. Network_Punk
    June 11, 2008 at 6:02 am

    No mention of Tremulous? Has windows and linux versions, and runs well on every machine I've used it on

  5. Lee Mathews
    June 11, 2008 at 10:35 am

    I'm a Mint devotee now (on my laptop anyhow)...Tops on their software portal:

    Open Arena: Excellent FPS
    Warzone 2100: 3d RTS
    Boson: another RTS
    FreeCiv: Open Source Civ clone

    Mint has a lot of one-click games available on their software site. Check 'em out!

  6. Mackenzie
    June 10, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    And don't forget: you can use an Xplorer 360 with Frets on Fire! I do.

    Neverball and Frets on Fire have Windows versions available. FoF has an OSX version too. It's Python, so there's not much to do to port it :P

  7. eagle
    June 10, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Also add the list of commercial games at

  8. Eric
    June 10, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    @ eagle
    Thanks for the update! I was focused on the free games and forgot to mention the commercial games.

    @ Mackenzie
    The game console guitars make playing FoF even better! Still a pretty cool idea to use the keyboard though.

    You are right about Neverball and FoF having Windows versions as well as Linux versions. FlightGear is the same way. It is a cross platform game.

    • Rick D.
      May 10, 2009 at 7:22 am

      Hi Eric, I have a question for you. I'm a retired musician, I play Guitar, and I sing. Does anyone have a program that does Recording ? Just like a big PA system would have a Drum Machine, an Organ, Guitar, A Bass, A synthesizer that that has sounds effects capability ? I hope I didn't lose you there. They have programs for Apple computers, I own a computer system is Linux. Can you tell me where I might be able to find some one that does, or point me in the right direction where to look, I would sure appreciate it. Thank you for your time, and take care, Rick