April 19, 2019

Gaming is Alive and Well on Linux

Shooters, Platform Games, Brain Games

  • October 7, 2010
  • By Paul Ferrill

Gaming on the Linux platform is alive and well, thank you very much. In fact, there are more quality games available for Linux today than ever before. If you're using a recently released version of a distro, like Ubuntu, you'll find a wide range of game categories available right from the install menu. The options increase if you're not opposed to spending a little coin.


Hardware performance is really only a concern for the graphic-intensive games. You'll need a fairly recent video card with on-board memory in the 256MB range. Chances are pretty good that you won't have any issues getting them to run either, although you may need to activate a proprietary video driver for the graphics intensive games. With Ubuntu 10.04 we had to enable the Nvidia proprietary driver on our Dell XPS M1330 laptop to get some of the games to work. Neverball was very jerky without the proprietary driver but ran extremely well with it.

Basic Stuff

Every Linux distribution comes with a few basic games installed. Ubuntu 10.04 comes with a number of familiar titles available on the Applications / Games menu. If you're looking for a quick game of Solitaire or Sudoku to distract you for a while or something like Mahjongg or Tetris (Quadrapassel), you're only a few mouse clicks away. The other two pre-installed games are gbrainy and Mines.

Installing more games is more a problem of choosing which ones to load. The Ubuntu Software Center has a huge list of free games (488 as of this writing) in a wide variety of genres. Available categories include arcade, board games, card games, puzzles, role playing, simulation and sports. We'll look at a number of different game types to give you an idea of what to expect.

Platform Games

If you enjoyed playing games like Mario Bros and Donkey Kong developed by Nintendo, then you'll like Super Tux. This type of game involves different platforms your game character must advance along while avoiding obstacles and collecting points. Super Tux uses specific keys on the keyboard to move forward, backward, up and down through the various scenes.

And Yet It Moves was one of the paid games we tested. It's another keyboard controlled game with a few twists. The world can be rotated using the arrow keys while navigation uses w a s d. The objective is to solve a puzzle by moving your character through a series of obstacles and levels in order to reach the end point. Versions for Linux, Mac and Windows are currently available for $9.99, and a Wii version is under development.

First Person Shooters

Open Arena is a first-person shooter similar to Unreal Tournament. This category of games typically requires high-resolution graphics and definitely doesn't look right unless you have the proprietary graphics drivers enabled. It's also the type of game a parent should investigate before allowing a child to play. The whole idea behind this type of game is to shoot the "bad guys" before they shoot you. While the animation behind this game is relatively tame, it's still a good idea to see what your child would see before you turn them loose with it.

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