Linux was 20% of issues, but 0.1% of sales


Many hardcore linux users are playing Windows games in VMs, passing through their PCIe GPU to the VM. This approach offers essentially perfect compatibility and essentially no performance degradation over playing natively in Windows.

The downside is that you need a second GPU for linux stuff, as the passed-through one cannot be shared without a reboot. If that limitation was somehow fixed, all the compatibility and performance issues associated with porting games to Linux or running them in WINE would essentially go away. Pretty cool stuff.


My primary desktop has been Linux for about 20 years, and I gave up on Linux gaming about 18 years ago. Maybe if I installed Steam for Linux that would change, but I doubt it… Nothing I do on Linux really requires a fast GPU. I have a WIndows box which is essentailly an expensive console for cheap games.


Ehhhhh I spent a lot of money to do this and it never worked out. There were huge stuttering issues that I could not get resolved that made me finally go back to Windows. It’s definitely not “no performance degradation”, or at least without a ton more research after the 4 months i spent on tuning it.


Not really. The setup is very messy and fragile. Even if you got GPU sharing working (e.g. with SR-IOV), you also need to deal with similar issues with audio and input devices. E.g. a Windows 10 update in May 2018 somehow broke MSI-X support inside VMs, which is necessary for acceptable performance. Pretty much unsolvable without installing an old version and making sure it never updates.

It’s never going to be a good solution for the mainstream Linux user, just for the particularly crazy ones. (And I count myself as one of the crazy ones… I did spend a few days last year trying to coax GPU passthrough into working well with my new machine, before giving up and just building a gaming only Windows PC from the parts left over from the upgrade).


I did say hardcore-- this is very new and needs a lot of work to be anything remotely approaching mainstream. But it could absolutely get there.


Yeah, I also had a look at that and said “haha. Nope”.
But indeed, if that became more usable, it would be awesome. A switch between the two modes to only require a single GPU would be quite helpful, too. I certainly wouldn’t want to put 400€ down for a second GPU just so that I don’t have to dual-boot to Windows if I need it…


I paid $50 for the 2nd GPU to run Linux with the $350 GPU running games through the virtual machine. The only reason it cost me a lot of money is because my previous CPU didn’t support virt-io (I think that was it) that allowed for the 2nd GPU to be passed through to the vritual machine. And since my CPU didn’t support it that cascading into CPU + motherboard + memory + PSU (apparently) upgrade.


That makes sense, of course, but I’d still prefer running native Linux games on Linux, and not on a VM inside Linux.
Or can this second GPU actually be used normally while the VM isn’t running? Dual-GPU setups are really something I never invested much thought in.


Some AMD cards will support dynamic reallocation, which involves the VM shutting down the card then Linux being able to reload the video card. I think it does require an X11 restart. The problem is some cards (like the Fury I had at the time) had a firmware level bug where when the card is told to shut down it fully shuts down and cannot be brought back up until full reset (I think this doesn’t exist in 4xx and 5xx cards).

No idea about nvidia stupport.


AMD has some GPUs with VF support, but in general I think you need to blacklist the device to avoid a driver loading for it, and then load a pci stub for it to passthrough to the vm.


Yes, it all requires a bunch of manual configuration and is extremely far from “it just works”, even for linux. But it is definitely promising, even if it isn’t actually gaming in linux.


Dave Arlie has been working on something called virgl, which is a virtual gpu for qemu that passes opengl commands to the host. I’m not sure what state that is currently in.


AMD has virtual GPU support in the cards Google is using for Project Stream that use native linux ports of games AFAIK.


There’s also Looking Glass, which allows you to game in a Windows VM with passthrough GPU without a separate keyboard, mouse, and monitor. All still really hacky in-development software, but it’s starting to come together.


Looking glass is what I used and is an amazing piece of tech and is pretty much flawless by itself.

That’s neat. Seems like it just needs windows drivers to work.


My experience is Linux VMs on windows work super well(*). If you just prefer the linux environment but aren’t bothered about having Linux as your base operating system, that seems like a good solution to the “playing games” problem.

(*: Although admittedly that’s on my work machine, the spec of which is best described as ludicrous)


Run Windows? Do I look like some kind of a peasant?


@Teiman, I think you misunderstood my point. As much as I love Linux, (it basically powers the Internet) most of us use it headless.

Linux Desktop users belong to a rare breed that like to twink their systems, the mindset between power users who love to compile sources and tweek and build their OS and the apps and source level and the rest of us extremely different.

And I feel that this difference goes into the software installed. Again, How many SELF-RESPECTING Linux desktop will install a software that they have no access to the sources? It’s practically zero.

My feeling is that this extends into games. Practically nobody buys games for Linux, even when they exist. And that is the key point here. It’s less than 0.1% of sales. To put it into perspective, a game that sells 1,000,000 only made 1,000 units in Linux. That is abysmal for the necessary work required for launch and post sale support.


I mean, I do… once a year, and then it just keeps going.

I think the number of people who install the NVIDIA drivers puts a little dent on your argument :) anecdotally, I do think most users do, as long as it’s easy.

I think your average is off by an order of magnitude, but it can get a lot higher.


That is some interesting stats from Beamdog. 2% is quite respectable. I’m actually impressed.