Nuggets of Wisdom

Below are some questions and thoughts that you might want to read through if you’ve never messed with Linux before. They’re just random pieces of advice and opinion that, I hope, will serve as a beacon for you as you start down the misty path of Linux gaming. I’ll add more to this list as I think of interesting nuggets of wisdom to share.

1. Which distro is best for gaming?

I have used many different Linux distros over the years and they have all been at least fair if not excellent. I recommend that  you read up on, and try out, several different distros to gain some perspective on the Linux world in general.

But which distro should you use for gaming? Right now Ubuntu is best for beginners, best for hardware support, and easiest to find support for. Unless you’re an advanced user you should stick to Ubuntu.

In this blog I’ll be writing detailed instructions from the perspective of an Ubuntu user because most Linux desktop users (i.e. gamers) run Ubuntu. My exact distro is actually Xubuntu 9.10, a sister distro to Ubuntu. But never fear, all the system stuff that pertains to gaming is still the same.

2. I’ve heard of GNOME, KDE, xfce, Fluxbox, Openbox, Window Maker and several other desktops on Linux. Which desktop environment is the best one?

Again, I’ve used all of them over the years. All of them are very good as well as new and interesting to use if you’ve just switched over from Windows or the Mac. Try all of them. You may dislike the look, feel, or workflow of one or many of them, but there’s no real barrier to trying them all. You can even have them all installed at the same time and just switch back and forth when you log in.

Currently I use xfce because I wanted a lightweight desktop and I also wanted to try something new. xfce is a little light on features, but it makes up for it with how light it is: I use 188mb of system RAM with bittorrent running.

Right before xfce I was a GNOME addict. GNOME is the lingua Franca of the Linux desktop world. Everything tends to just-work. With clean lines and a reasonable degree of customization available GNOME should be your first love.

I used KDE back in the 3.5 days and absolutely loved how much there was to customize and tweak, even by Linux standards. I dislike the look and feel of KDE 4, but it’s a personal preference- KDE is still the other major player besides GNOME.

3. I want to try out Linux, really, but I already have Windows installed and tweaked just the way I like it. Is there some way to try Linux without too much commitment?

Unlike Windows, or OSX, most Linux distros have what is called a “Live CD.” These live CDs let you boot up and run Linux from the CD without ever touching the hard drive or installing. Keep in mind that because CD drives are slow Linux’s performance when run from a live CD is terrible.

Now, if you want to get in a little deeper without quite cutting your Windows cord you can try what’s called “Dual Booting.” When Linux installs to your computer you can set up and use a bootloader to pick which OS to boot into when you start your computer. Dual booting can be tricky and carries the risk, if you have no clue about what you’re doing, of destroying all the data on your hard drive.

If you want to play games on Linux you’ll need to install to your hard drive- Live CDs won’t let you get the performance you need out of your system. So, here’s a guide on how to dual boot your machine.


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