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jeteran

What Linux Distribution is best to start making games?

15 posts in this topic

Hello everybody,

 

Something we are noticing is the increasing use of the Linux OS, attracting developers and users alike who wants to be part of this.

 

I am looking that more and more engines, programs and tools among others, are making their services available to Linux.

 

As a new game developer, I want to know what is the "best" (or more used, has te best features, good performance, etc) Linux Distribution to start using all this tools and making my games?

 

Thanks everybody for your time.

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I guess Ubuntu is the way to go right now. 

Together with QtCreator I've been able to get productive pretty quick, being a Linux Noob myself.

 

Maybe you also want to take a look at Bruce Dawson excellent presentation about

Debuggung/Programming using Ubuntu and QtCreator 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTmAknUbpB0

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Slackware is another user defined environment distro.

The things they deliver are working well.

 

QtCreator worked out of the box.

 

But you have to compile a lot yourself. They seem sometimes a bit outdated like me too.

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Ubuntu and family are the most popular ones, especially on the consumer side. To me, they have always felt like the entry level consumer distros.. Personally I'd recommend OpenSUSE with KDE. It's slightly more intermediate user targeted, and slightly more "professional" (as in "made for work tasks"). One of the main features of OpenSUSE is an install tool which will let you tweak lots of things about your installation, including packages such as development tools or various servers, which makes it easy to get up and running quickly.

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I would suggest use the distribution you prefer (they are all pretty similar).

 

You may want to use Ubuntu because it is one of the most popular so you know that your software is likely to work on other installs of that distribution.

(At the same time you should make sure to statically compile any libraries so that distribution specific library conflicts are avoided.)

 

Sometime a boring stable distribution is best (Like Debian) so you do not need to keep updating your workflow to match the whims of the latest hip and trendy Linux feature (in particular systemd, Wayland (and to some extent SDL2.0)). This is probably also the reason why SteamOS is based on Debian.

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Ubuntu and mint are very user friendly, so you probably want to start using those. Also, since they are very popular, you may find a lot of packages ready to install for them, which saves time from downloading the source and instaling yourself and updating.

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I like Linux Mint the best of the currently available distributions. Game development doesn't really impact it one way or the other.

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Back when I still tried to use Linux as a desktop OS, I found Fedora to be pretty decent as a development OS. I may be biased since I was a Fedora packager, but generally there was always an up-to-date RPM of whatever I needed, and a lot of the cutting-edge development of Linux the OS itself is driven by Fedora developers so it's a good place to be if you like things up to date.

These days I find Windows 8.1 to be the best environment to do all real development and then just use a Linux box for porting/testing after the game is already up and running and debugged and playable. If you're careful, making a game that runs on Windows, Linux, and OSX with minimal porting work is pretty easy. Use only cross-platform libraries (SDL2, OpenGL, Wwise, Qt, C++ standard library, etc.) and most of the porting work will be updating the build system to know how to compile on a new OS.
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I leave a vote here for the Xfce or KDE Manjaro distribution (based on Arch).

As VirginRed pointed out, Debian tends to lag behind when it comes to software version.

 

Take Code::Blocks for example, even though the last stable version is out for 8 months they did not update it from the old 12.11 yet.

Having to manage two versions of half the libraries I used was taking a considerable effort.

It was this kind of problem that made me move from Debian-based ditros to Arch.

 

The problem with Arch is setting it up, if you don't know what you're doing it'll be a really frustrating trial and error weekend.

And this is what took me to Manjaro, really straight forward set-up and all I had to do was install my Graphics driver.

 

In the end, I'd say it doesn't matter that much, but if you do not have any distribution installed and is just starting your research take a look at Manjaro. Still, if you do have something already set-up that you're familiar with, there won't be many good reasons to wipe your current system.

If you're careful, making a game that runs on Windows, Linux, and OSX with minimal porting work is pretty easy. Use only cross-platform libraries (SDL2, OpenGL, Wwise, Qt, C++ standard library, etc.) and most of the porting work will be updating the build system to know how to compile on a new OS.
I could say the same, but about Arch in favor of Windows 8. Actually, I prefer Windows 7 to Windows 8. Guess it all comes down to personal preferences and our team's conventions.
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As VirginRed pointed out, Debian tends to lag behind when it comes to software version.
 
Take Code::Blocks for example, even though the last stable version is out for 8 months they did not update it from the old 12.11 yet.

Umm... https://packages.debian.org/jessie/devel/codeblocks

 

Its there. You'd only use Debian 'stable' (aka Wheezy) if you need utmost stability and security for some reason (servers or stuff like that). For everything else, 'testing' (aka, Jessie) is the best option.

 

I doubt they'll update it on stable ever, that's not how stable works. Packages get frozen, only security and stability fixes get backported.

 

EDIT: You also have 'sid' and 'experimental' repositories if you absolutely need the latest stuff around for some reason (not having a reason to do so isn't a good idea). I've used those on a "per package" basis rather than upgrading the whole OS to those repos. You just add the repo to Synaptic, update the stuff you need, and then deselect the repos from Synaptic. Works fairly well.

Edited by TheChubu
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Something we are noticing is the increasing use of the Linux OS, attracting developers and users alike who wants to be part of this.

 

Really?

 

Linux as a game audience has probably gotten a lot better thanks to Steam/Valve.

 

But the Linux user base as a desktop OS has to be shrinking.  Most of the developers I know that developed on Linux long ago moved to Mac OS.  Same tools, same environment, vastly better supported hardware and larger install base.  While on the other hand, the low cost market has a lot more competition ( tablets, chromebooks, etc ).

 

 

Now the Steambox could certainly change all this, but Linux as a desktop OS seems even more niche than it ever was.

Edited by Serapth
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but Linux as a desktop OS seems even more niche than it ever was.

Even though the Gnome 3 desktop has set Linux back a couple of years in terms of a friendly OS there has likely been a large number of recent migrations away from Microsoft's own desktop breakages and I don't think Apple has mopped them all up since a lot of people do not want Mac hardware.

 

Since Apple has added online activation to Mac OS X since Lion, perhaps some people who originally ran to Apple to get away from Microsoft's DRM had nowhere else to turn but to Linux.

 

But wild guesses aside, people are getting quite excited about Steam and Linux probably because it is being talked about quite a lot now in articles and news sites.

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But wild guesses aside, people are getting quite excited about Steam and Linux probably because it is being talked about quite a lot now in articles and news sites.
Not only that but there is lots of support appearing around:

 

XCOM Enemy Unknown has a native client for linux. Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light both have and will have respectively native linux clients. Civilization 5 has a native Linux client. UDK4 supports Linux right now. CryEngine had a demo running on Linux (albeit irrelevant since CryTek is going down the drain). CDProject launched The Witcher 2 for Linux (with crappy VM layer in the middle), and said they'll launch The Witcher 3 for linux. TaleWorlds already launched a Linux native version of Mount & Blade Warband and implied they'll release Mount & Blade 2 for Linux too. Then you have popular indie games that work already on Linux like Overgrowth or Project Zomboid (and the big ass elephant in the room of course, Minecraft).

 

And most importantly, people are starting to ask for Linux clients in forums and they don't get 3 pages of why that idea is stupid! That is what I call progress.

 

I see it as running the uphill battle of getting out of the niche segment.

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If I'm not mistaken, I think the SteamOS recently(ish) ditched Ubuntu for Debian as their base. I'm not sure how that will effect how developers decide which distro to develop for, but I thought it was worth mentioning. There's certainly sometimes a lot of overlap between distributions, in terms of compatibility though. 

 

But, yeah, I thought I'd throw my hat in the "I think the linux gaming crowd is growing" camp. You can find statistics supporting either opinion, but I think they're often not all that accurate as many(most, near all tongue.png) linux users are also windows users (if sometimes begrudgingly), but not necessarily vice versa.

 

I think I read that something like 60% of Steam games released in the last year had a linux version, but can't seem to find the article now. Whether its user base is growing, companies have certainly realized that that 5%(or whatever percent) of the market is worth making a product for. 

 

Personally, I don't mind the small percentage of linux users. It's probably as much blessing as curse really tongue.png There would certainly be some serious downsides if linux ever gained a large percentage of the OS user base. Not that I want to go back to the old days tongue.png, but I think Linux is at a relatively healthy and stable place lately.

Edited by Misantes
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