Aug 6, 2009

Best Games in Linux

While Linux is a great operating system for computer geeks, it has been a recurring tongue-in-cheek among them to proclaim the Year of the Linux Desktop in view a market uptake of below 10%. One of the difficulties for Linux to gain broader acceptance used to be usability (especially ease of installation), hardware driver support, and availability of commercial applications. All these points are changing and mostly not longer true. In this post I write about linux gaming, where also great progress has been made.

While there are many commercial games, mostly Windows-based that can be played in linux over the wine emulator or older DOS games which can be played over dosbox, there are also a lot of free games out. Free as in speech and beer. In this post I link to some of the free games that I liked best.

Many games are already included in the standard installation of ubuntu and other Linux distributions. If you are looking for great games in linux, the wikipedia article on linux gaming provides a start. Some recommendations and reviews of linux games can be found for example on WHDb, linuxlinks, the linux journal, or strangegamer.

My personal favorites include these (some of them are already included in the ubuntu repository):
Eat the Whistle, a football arcade
Freeciv, highly addictive clone of sid meyer's civilization
Freecol, clone of Sid Meyer's colonization
Bygfoot, a football manager
Ur-Quan Masters (aka Star Control 2), science fiction strategy adventure
Widelands, a real-time strategy, similar to Settlers II
Battle for Wesnoth, a turn-based strategy game

The renpy game engine allows the easy creation of visual novels. You can find already many games developed for it. Many of the games are bishoku games, i.e. they are oriented towards young adults, however a lot of them are quite enjoyable. I liked especially:
Winter Shard
Senior Year
Real Life
Heiress II
The Dreaming

ScummVM, the game engine originally designed for LucasArts adventure games, now freely licensed under the GPL, allows to play many point-and-click adventure games mostly from the 90s. Examples are Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken by LucasArts, Police Quest, King's Quest, and Larry by Sierra On-Line. Two great free games playable under ScummVM and to be found on the ScummVM project page are Beneath a Steel Sky and Flight of the Amazon Queen.

BTW, many of the old Sierra adventures can be played online, at

To give you more ideas, these two videos shows 18 games that can be installed from the ubuntu package manager.


  1. I agree, DOSBox PC emulator is designed primarily for running games on pc. With the exception of DooM Game and Wolfenstein Game, I missed out on the glorious days of D.O.S. gaming. However, some of the pc games I picked up in 1999 when I bought my ever first Windows running PC were actually D.O.S. games, so thats why I thought this seems like a great waay to pull those pc games out of retirement.

  2. I connect a lot of nostalgia to these old games and it's great to be able to play them again. I loved LucasFilm games like Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Zack McCracken, which you can play on the ScummVM or games like PoliceQuest or Larry from Sierra which you can play on-line. It's great to relive some of these moments.

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