We explain how you can run any Windows game on Linux thanks to Proton, Steam’s new tool to make all games compatible with this operating system. It is still in the testing phase but we have already been able to play some titles without problems, even some with quite demanding graphics.
Windows is by far the most popular desktop operating system, although not a few prefer macOS or Linux. The problem is that not all Windows programs are available in other OS, starting with games.
However, and fortunately for everyone, you can now play Windows games on Linux normally and legally . You will finally be able to run Age of Empires or Civilization on Ubuntu and other distributions.
Until now, doing this was something complicated that required using programs like PlayonLinux, not easy to handle for inexperienced users. Now you can run Windows games on Linux through Steam , directly from its client and without additional programs.
It’s possible thanks to Steam Play, a new feature announced by Valve just a few weeks ago. Use Proton, a modified version of Wine for this. It is the famous program to run Windows programs in other OS.
Along with some Valve’s homegrown tools, it’s the key to eliminating the compatibility issues that often arise in these cases. It’s a boon for those people who don’t want to get stuck on Windows 10 or have to forcibly install a dual boot on their computer.
The positive is that it is so easy to use that anyone can do it. The negative is that Steam Play is still in beta , so some games may not work or do not work at all well, although it is always worth a try.
According to Valve, they will be adding new titles to the full compatibility between Windows and Linux little by little. For now we have already been able to verify that in the two cases mentioned above it works perfectly, as well as in others such as The Lord of the Rings Online or Path of Exile.
In short, this option promises a lot. This is how you can use it step by step.
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Activate the beta version of Steam
Any Steam user has the option to participate in the beta version of their desktop client, both on Windows, Linux or macOS, an edition that includes some features in the testing phase and which is obviously more unstable than the standard version. .
If you have not yet installed the desktop client, you can download it for free from their website . When you have it and you have logged into your account, go directly to Preferences in the upper left corner.
Once inside, go to the Account tab and there select Change in the beta area. Choose Steam Beta Update and then completely restart the program.
Activate Steam Play for all games
By default, Steam Play / Proton is only activated for those games that Valve has marked as compatible, a few tens of the hundreds or thousands of titles that are available on Steam.
That does not mean that those that have not been marked as such do not work, but that the company has not yet checked if they are or has filed the possible errors that could arise. To cover their backs, they do not enable execution through Proton, unless you choose to do so voluntarily.
To play a Windows game on Linux manually you just have to make Proton work with all of them regardless of whether their compatibility has been confirmed or not.
You can do that once more from Preferences. Now, instead of going to the account section, go to Steam Play. There check Enable Steam Play for all titles .
Run any of the games in your library
Now in theory you can run any game you have purchased directly on Linux and natively, without installing additional software beyond the Steam client.
If you go to your Library, you will see that the message This game is not compatible with Linux no longer appears , but the Install button directly. You will see that you can download and install any title without any problem.
Of course, once you have installed it you have to open it, and that is another story. As we have already said, games like Age of Empires II HD and Age of Empires III, Shadows of Mordor or Path of Exile work perfectly.
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For a few seconds, Steam will install the version of DirectX that corresponds to the title in question before opening it directly on your desktop.
Much of the success or failure of using Steam Play and Proton to play Windows games on Linux depends on your hardware . Not all graphics cards, for example, perform equally well or are equally optimized.
My game is not working, what can I do?
A little trick that works with some games that seem not to be compatible is the following: right-click on their name and go to Properties. Now go to Local Files and open the folder where the game is installed.
Locate the executable .exe that makes the title work and rename it to launcher.exe . It is recommended to save a backup in another folder, just in case.
Sometimes, for whatever reason, Proton and Steam Play won’t run the game unless the executable is called launcher.exe .