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Gaming on Pop!_OS

Steam (Install)

Install Steam From Command Line

Open the Terminal application by searching for Terminal after pressing the Super Key //SUPER.

Activities Overview

Once the Terminal application is opened you can use the Command Line tool apt to search for it like so:

apt search steam

Terminal

Once we find the right name for Steam we can install it with apt as well. Please type this command into the terminal and press Enter:

sudo apt install steam

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be very careful when using sudo with ANY Command. It can make system wide changes so be sure to read everything before entering 'Y'.

Install Steam From the Pop!_Shop

Open the Pop!_Shop application then either search for Steam or by clicking the Steam icon on the Pop!_Shop home page. Now click the Install button.

Pop!_Shop Steam

Once installed, use the Activities Overview to search for and run Steam.

Enable Steam Play (Proton)

Proton is a compatibility layer tool which enables support for some Windows games on Linux. It's based on the WINE project with some tweaks and additions by Valve. You can enable Proton in:

Steam -> Settings -> Steam Play -> Check the box for "Enable Steam Play for supported titles AND "Enable Steam Play for all other titles" as pictured below:

Steam Settings

Install Protonup to Manage Custom Proton Versions

Protonup is a tool, written in Python, used to install the newest-available version of ProtonGE into Steam's proton directory. ProtonGE is a fork of Proton, maintained by GloriousEggroll on Github.

Glorious Eggroll often does testing of newer games and is often able to implement bug fixes before the team at Valve does. If a game is not working with mainline or experimental versions of Proton, trying ProtonGE is a good troubleshooting step.

You can view Glorious Eggroll's Github here.

The Protonup tool is maintained by Naseef in the PyPi project directory here.

First, to install protonup we'll need the Python package manager, pip.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install python3-pip

Now, let's install protonup via pip.

pip3 install protonup

The protonup command will be available after a reboot, or you can run the below command to add it to your PATH for immediate use.

source ~/.profile

After Steam is installed, you can run protonup in a terminal. The command will fetch the newest ProtonGE build. This tool will also pull hotfixes. Below is an example of the tools output:

protonup
Ready to download Proton-6.10-GE-1
Size      : 370.81 MiB
Published : 2021-06-07
Continue? (Y/N): y
Downloaded 100.0% - 370.81 MiB/370.81 MiB
[INFO] Installed in: /home/aaronh/.steam/root/compatibilitytools.d/Proton-6.10-GE-1

Gamehub (Install)

GameHub is a game launcher that can use different compatibility layers like Wine/Proton, DOSBox and other tools. It can hook into Steam, GOG and other sources.

It is written in Vala and you can read more about it here.

Install Gamehub From Command Line

Open the Terminal application by searching for Terminal after pressing the Super Key //SUPER.

Activities Overview

Once the Terminal application is opened you can use the Command Line tool apt to search for it like so:

apt search gamehub

Terminal

Once we find the right name for GameHub we can install it with apt as well. Please type this command into the terminal and press Enter:

sudo apt install com.github.tkashkin.gamehub

Install GameHub From the Pop!_Shop

Open the Pop!_Shop application then either search for GameHub, or navigate to the GameHub page by clicking the GameHub icon on the Pop!_Shop home page. Now click the Install button.

Pop!_Shop GameHub

Once installed, use the Activities Overview to search for and run GameHub.

Lutris (Install)

Lutris is a game launcher, written in Python, that is very similar to GameHub, though it also has its own community that writes installer scripts like the WoW installer (covered later on in this article).

You can read more about Lutris here.

Install Lutris From Command Line

Open the Terminal application by searching for Terminal after pressing the Super Key //SUPER.

Activities Overview

Once the Terminal application is opened you can use the Command Line tool apt to search for it like so:

apt search lutris

Terminal

Once we find the right name for Lutris we can install it with apt as well. Please type this command into the terminal and press Enter:

sudo apt install lutris

Install Lutris From the Pop!_Shop

Open the Pop!_Shop application then either search for Lutris or by clicking the Lutris icon on the Pop!_Shop home page. Now click the Install button.

Pop!_Shop Lutris

Using Steam

Once installed, use the Activities Overview to search for and run Steam.

Proton vs. Native

Playing a Proton Game

Playing a native game

From a UI standpoint, there is virtually no difference between launching a Linux Native game and a game using Proton. The first picture is of a Windows game using Proton, the second is a Linux Native game. Once you've enabled Steam Play, they both present the usual green "Play" button.

NOTE: If you haven't enabled Steam Play, other options like "Stream" or a greyed-out "Download" button may be present.

If you click on the "i" button in the top-right corner of the game info pane, you can see that Proton games show the message: "Runs on this computer via Steam Play" and shows the Proton version you've selected.

Skyrim 1

Skyrim Detail

Changing the Proton Version for a Specific Game

It's possible to specify a certain Proton version on per game basis. You can switch between older and newer Proton versions installed on your system by the Steam client, or select custom versions of proton like ProtonGE.

To change the Proton version:

  1. Click on the "Gear" icon in the top-right corner of the game info page.

  2. In the drop-down menu, select "Properties."

  3. Once the properties window opens, click "Compatibility" from the left menu pane.

  4. Check the box to "Force the use of a specific Steam Play compatibility tool."

  5. Select the desired Proton version from the drop down menu (as pictured below).

Compatibility Menu

Using GameHub

Using Steam on GameHub

Once you sign into Steam though GameHub your games will be displayed. Note that games will be slightly discolored if they aren't installed. Notice, in this example, that the two, top left games are installed on this system.

Using Steam with GameHub

Using Lutris

Using the website

Some games like World of Warcraft (WoW) have installers on Lutris' website (see screenshot below).

With Lutris installed you can click the Install button to start the installer script. A pop-up window will appear asking to use Lutris as the application to run the installer.

Lutris Install Button

Use Lutris to open the installer (shown below). From there click the Install button to start the installation.

Lutris Installer

Next, click the Continue button to start the installation of Battle.net

Lutris Installer 2

You will need to install some WINE packages during the installation of Battle.net

IMPORTANT NOTE: close Battle.net to complete the installation then reopen it to sign into your account.

Now that Battle.net is installed, you can select Wow from your Games and launch Battle.net with the Play button.

Once Battle.net launches you can finish the World of Warcraft installation.

NOTE: If you run two installer scripts for games from the same launcher application (e.g. Battle.net, uPlay, EA Origin, etc.) Lutris will install multiple copies of that launcher in separate folders inside the virtual C:\ drive. This shouldn't prevent the games from being installed, just be mindful of hard drive space, and pay attention to where Lutris is installing game files. Overwatch could end up in the same general area as World of Warcraft, or in two seperate folders, each with their own Battle.net install. This means that clicking on Overwatch, or World of Warcraft will both launch Battle.net but one may show Overwatch as installed, and the other may show only WoW as installed, or vice-versa.

Lutris Installed Game

Using .exe files

In this example we'll be using the Windows build of Firefox to show the power of both Wine/Proton and Lutris. From the Game Info screen when adding a game we'll set the Name and Runner (you can read more about Runners here).

Lutris Add Game Info

In the Game Options tab we'll set the path to the Executable (the .exe file extensions is short for executable) and we'll choose the firefox setup [version].exe file downloaded from the Firefox website (it will be in your ~/Downloads folder by default). For this example, we can leave the rest of the boxes empty in the other tabs and close this window.

Lutris Add Game Options

Now click on the Firefox item in Lutris and then press the Play button. Once the install is finished be sure to unclick the checkbox at the end of the installer. Once the installer closes, right-click on the Firefox item and hit the Configure button. Now change the Executable path to ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Mozilla Firefox/firefox.exe using the Browse... button. Otherwise, every time you launch Firefox, it will run the setup wizard again, intead of the newly installed Firefox.exe.

NOTE: You will need to hit Ctrl+H to show the hidden .wine folder when setting the Executable path first.

Now save and launch Firefox again with the Play button. After waiting for a few seconds a Firefox window should open.

Open Source Games

Unvanquished

Unvanquished is a free, open-source first-person strategy game/shooter written in C++. You can read more about Unvanquished, and how to install it on their website here.

Unvanquished One

Veloren

Veloren is a multiplayer RPG which is written in Rust. You can read more about it and about installing it on their website here.

Veloren

0 A.D

O A.D. is a free, open-source game of ancient warfare written in C++. You can read more about it and about installing it on their website here.

0ad

Battle for Wesnoth

Battle for Wesnoth is an open source, turn-based strategy game with a high fantasy theme. You can read more about it and about installing it on their website here.

Battle for Wesnoth