The Week of the Linux Desktop

So, I installed a Linux distribution on my main gaming and workstation PC. I ran it for a week.

To provide some information for those new to alternative operating systems to Windows, let me give you a small synposis: One of the more common operating system families other than Windows and macOS is often referred to as “Linux” or “GNU/Linux” as an umbrella term. The actual operating systems in this family are called “Distributions” – and there are a lot of them. That’s all you really need to know for context.

I’ve been running Fedora Linux on my ThinkPad (and my Dell Latitude before that) for multiple years now and I never looked back to Windows there. But it has been a different story for my stationary PC at home – the one being used for games and, to be fair, most of my work as well. Any non-Windows solutions were always a bit iffy for certain software and especially games.

But a while ago, Valve released their Linux-based gaming handheld, the Steam Deck. And that changed a lot. Suddenly developers were interested in getting their games to run on this “new” platform and Valve, as well as the great community surrounding Linux gaming, did (and are still doing!) a lot of great work to make this as headache-free as possible.

So I deemed it as ready for my use and wiped my Windows installation.

I decided to use Nobara, a distribution headed by GloriousEggroll. They are also the lead developer of the Proton-GE, a community fork of Valve’s compatibility layer for Windows applications on Linux, which adds a bunch of optimisations and tricks to get games to run better. Also, Nobara is based on Fedora – the same distribution I was already used to. All this made it seem perfect for what I was trying to do: Running games and some other applications, many of which ran on Linux natively anyway.

The Nobara logo

Installation was painless, everything went well. No driver installations were required, since I am running an all-AMD system. Installing my Linux-native applications was also quickly finished. Steam ran without issues, everything was well so far. Unfortunately, most other game launchers do not natively support Linux – but I was only really interested in GOG anyway. I decided to use Heroic, which did the job well. All my games worked at least as well as on Windows – which was very pleasant surprise to be sure!

Now, if the games and normal applications worked perfectly fine, why did I go back to Windows 11 then? Jank. But not really Linux jank, or distribution jank.

Discord on Linux is somehow even more broken than on Windows. Screen streaming there only works on Xorg (the older display server standard), not Wayland (the more modern display server standard). Application audio does not work at all. There is a third party client, but that has its own issues.

Playing local multiplayer games over the Internet does not work properly either. Parsec only supports Ubuntu (a different distribution) for hosting and Steam’s “Remote Play Together” feature would not recognise my Xbox Controller not matter what I tried. After faffing about with quite a few different solutions, I gave up.

Zoom would also throw a tantrum when I tried to use that for university. Screen sharing (of course) would only work with Xorg again and downloading attachments from chat was not possible.

Last, Affinity Photo, my photo editing software of choice, is also not really runnable on Linux at the moment. And no, I will not use GIMP – I miss my selection brush too much there.

To sum all of this up: The problem with running Linux on desktop for me is proprietary software I require for one reason or another that is not sufficiently optimised or will not run at all. This is not Linux’s, GloriousEggroll’s, Valve’s or any other Linux developer’s fault. This is big companies being unable to do what hobby programmers can pull off – which is perhaps strange, but certainly annoying.

I will keep an eye on all of these issues, and try again. When the time is ripe.

Cover image by Derek Oyen on Unsplash.






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