Introduction into Linux gaming – part 2: initial installations and configurations

This series of my posts I will be creating on example of Ubuntu. Over internet and at official website is plenty of instructions where and how to download and install this Linux distribution. By myself I can add only one thing, during installation you should check these two checkboxes:

In previous post i mentioned Root user who is “master admin” of your OS and it is needed from time to time do some things as root user. In this screen of installation you are setting password for this account:
When you have Ubuntu installed first thing you should do is to update it, after fresh installation there should be few MB of updates to install available. With Windows you have start menu or with Windows 8, what will be better comparison, start screen, Ubuntu has similar thing, the thing is called “Dash”. Personally I find dash done better than start screen, you may not agree, that’s just my opinion. Just click on Dash icon and it will give you access to installed software, available files and proposed buys which are of course optional. To find system updates application just type in Dash “update”, the way it is shown on this screen:
and click on icon which is highlighted on screen with red circle. This will open software updates application which will check and list updates available for your installed OS and software. I said “OS and software” because this application, unlike “Windows Update”, updates all installed software, not only this coming from Canonical (or Microsoft in case of Windows Update). Installation of any software, updates and operations on fragile files of system require to do this as root so there will pop-up ask about password, remember, the same password which you did set on installing OS.
Once per six months Canonical releases new big version of Ubuntu. New version of OS is free the same as previous you are using so you do not need to pay for updating from, for example, 13.04 to 13.10. When new release is available there are two ways of upgrading your OS: GUI and terminal. Both should work just fine and do their job. With GUI, on new version launch day you will see window popped-up with proper information and question about install or not to install. If you choose to upgrade it will do this. Sometimes there may happen some problem with GUI upgrade and for example upgrade application may crash or show some errors and then you should perform distro upgrade with terminal way. To do so click Dash and type “terminal”, click on its icon to start it. In opened black-white window put this command:
sudo do-release-upgrade
and hit enter. It will ask you for root password, type it and hit enter. If any more questions will show up just answer them and upgrade will start. Upgrading system to newer version is huge thing and depending on internet connection (downloading packages to install) and performance of computer (installation) will take some time.

Next step in your setting up Ubuntu as gaming platform should be installing few very important programs. Open “Ubuntu Software Center”. In its top right corner you can see search, use it to find and install these programs: Midnight Commander, Open JDK Java 7 Runtime, ubuntu-restricted-extras and 7zip. This set of tools will be very useful very soon. Midnight Commander is terminal tool with simple GUI, it is files manager allowing also to execute commands. In my opinion mc is perfect tool for beginners who are afraid of terminal. Open JDK is open source implementation of Oracle’s Java runtimes, Java Runtime Environment is required to run some games, for example Minecraft. ubuntu-restricted-extras is package of little apps allowing you to play mp3 files, open flash elements in browsers, unpack .rar archives and many more. 7zip is to unpack and manage .7zip archives.

When you done with these it is time to install GPU drivers. I recommend for gamers to use proprietary drivers. What are proprietary drivers? In Linux we have few kinds of GPU drivers, the most important are open-source and proprietary. Open-source are created by volunteers  and may lack some features, proprietary drivers are made by AMD and nVidia, in some cases can be slower than open-source drivers. I’m very much AMD user so you can find instruction how to install AMD Catalyst drivers in one of my previous posts. I do not remember when last time owned nVidia’s GPU so for instruction how to install nVidia drivers you have to google it or check nVidia’s website.

We are almost there, soon your Linux PC will be ready for playing games. It is time to install Steam client. With Ubuntu 13.04 Ubuntu Software Center was glitched, it was showing Steam as available to buy but this program is free so you were unable to get it via USC. In 13.10 Steam is not available in USC so you have to download your first .deb installer from Steam’s website:
When it will be downloaded just double-click  on downloaded .deb file, it will open up Ubuntu Software Center with informations about Steam installation package. In this window click “Install” to install. This will take just a moment. Now start Steam, it is available to find in Dash or just click an icon on desktop. On first run it may display terminal window asking you to install required libraries, do this. Now you have Steam installed and fully functional. Use it exactly the same way as on Windows or Mac. You already achieved two thing in one step: installed Steam and learned how to install programs from .deb packages, congratulations!

How to change default OS in GRUB 2 loader?
If you installed Ubuntu and Windows on the same machine it means you are running them in so-called “Dual Boot” and on starting up computer you have selection menu which allows you to start Windows or Ubuntu. By default Ubuntu is set as OS to boot but if you so desire you can change it to make Windows default OS selected on this list. Selection screen is called GRUB2 and now we are going to edit its config to achieve what we need. Run terminal and paste into terminal (terminal copy and paste key combinations are one key longer, to paste anything into terminal use “ctrl+shift+V”) this command:
fgrep menuentry /boot/grub/grub.cfg
as output of this you will receive list of entries available in your GRUB2. Highlight entry with Windows and copy it (ctrl+shift+c). Now type this into terminal and hit enter:
sudo gedit /etc/default/grub
This will open GRUB2 configuration file in GEdit, simple text editor. Find line:
and replace ‘0’ with GRUB2 entry you copied before, for example fixed line in my case looks like this:
GRUB_DEFAULT=’Windows 7 (loader) (on /dev/sda1)’
Save changes and quit GEdit. There is only one more thing to do. To make GRUB2 use new configuration execute this command:
sudo update-grub
When you will start your computer again on your bootscreen selected default system will be Windows and it will be starting by default.

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