Saturday, May 17, 2014

Gaming on Ubuntu

So after almost a year of using windows 8.. and then 8.1 with really bad gaming performance(my 3d modelling and animation work was also getting affected).. i was left with 2 options.

1) go back to windows 7 where all the graphics drivers worked reasonably fine. And all my games rocked.

2) Try gaming on Ubuntu..where the graphics drivers are working fine.. and especially since most of my games are on Steam.. and Steam is now available on ubuntu.

I decided to keep windows 8.1 for a bit longer and hope they(Nvidia or Dell) give me some problem-free graphics drivers soon.. but it doesnt look like i will be playing my copy of Arkham Origins anytime soon.

..and in the meantime will try gaming on ubuntu and see how it goes.. if it goes well.. then maybe the next machine i'm planning to buy can be a Ubuntu Alienware.

Note: This will not be a Ubuntu fan's flowery description of the awesomness of linux gaming.. this will be a gamer's take on the whole Steam on Linux thing.

So heres my experience so far(updates will follow). 
To see the full specs of my machine scroll to the bottom of the post.

and so.. Steam on Ubuntu..

THE BAD : Most of my games are not ported yet(to be fair, porting does take time).
over the years i've collected 53 games on Steam..

However of these only 12 are installable on my Ubuntu system.

The Good: The ones that are available look just as good as they did on Windows. So far I've only tried out Zen Bound2..(and Halflife 2 .. see the update below)
seen below running in windowed mode on my dual monitor setup..

and here in its fullscreen glory

 anti alias looks good.. lighting and textures are perfect..
but then this is a very basic game.. I will be trying out some of the First Person Shooters in my library..

Am actually waiting to play the Halflife2 and Portal series all over again.

Halflife2 will be installed in a few minutes..

I have heard that the source engine performs well.. so will post an update on that soon.

While browsing the store for more linux ports .. I was tempted to purchase Metro: Last light , which is a much newer game..

But I've decided not to buy any new titles yet until i'm sure that they'll run well on my current hardware. 

Apparently Bioshock is also going to get ported.. so when that happens.. i should be able to install it from my existing library.

Gaming on Linux has come a long way.. i used to dread having to use vine and other tools to get windows programs to work.. but with Steam .. this is all set to change.

In the meantime have a look at Nixie's review below

As expected, Halflife 2 runs well at highest graphics settings
and excellent framerates. Am thoroughly enjoying replaying it again.
here are some screen grabs

My machines specs: 
cpu= i7cpu 2.20 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.10 GHz, 
ram= 6gigs DDR3 ram
storage= 1tb hdd, 
graphics= 2gb NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 540M graphics with Optimus(yes that painful thing), 
screen= 15.6" FHD (1920x1080) 

Hardware note: this particular graphics/motherboard model is known to be troublesome and on windows i would typically have to underclock it using MSI Afterburner, so it wouldn't crash during games. However on Ubuntu i've had to do absolutely no such tweaks.. which leads me to conclude that the fault is with the windows drivers supplied by Dell and Nvidia. 

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