Many Linux users will guiltily admit to multi-booting, where they have partitioned their hard-drive, so that as well as having Linux installed in one partition, they have the Windows system their laptop came with installed on another.

The usual reason for this is software that will not run on Linux. This is usually computer games, as most software has a simple enough function that its use-cases can be broken down, and a linux compatible alternative written; or its system requirements aren't sufficiently demanding to prevent either the system libraries being emulated with Wine, or the whole machine being emulated with a Virtual Machine.

This is however, becoming increasingly unnecessary.

Playing games for Windows with Wine and PlayOnLinux

Playing games with Wine is usually just a case of running wine on the installer, then wine on the program launcher binary.

However, you may need to track down missing libraries, or perhaps there's bugs which mean you need a very specific version of Wine for it to work.

PlayOnLinux attempts to solve this problem with a wineprefix, which is somewhat like a chroot for an emulated Windows environment, per game.

It also includes instructions to try and make installing games easier.

Optimal graphics performance for laptops with Optimus chipsets

Laptops need to make some sacrifices for power efficiency. One attempt to supply both battery life and performance on some laptops is to have a hybrid graphics card, with a lower power Intel graphics card and a higher power Nvidia card. The Nvidia Optimus chipset is such a beast, and is commonly available on laptops.

Because computer programmers are clever sods who like their puns, the way to handle this on Linux is program called bumblebee. To run a program with the Nvidia graphics card instead of the default, power-saving graphics card, prefix the command with the optirun command.

Native Steam client

Steam, the content delivery platform, has a wide range of games for Linux, and while they only natively support Ubuntu and SteamOS, you can find instructions on how to make it work on a wide variety of distributions.

You can enable Optimus support in steam games by following instructions from Steam's knowledgebase, though you may choose to use optirun rather than primusrun.

Open Source games

There's also games that were previously proprietary, but the game engine has been released, or games written entirely from scratch to be open.

Some which I have enjoyed in the past are: Battle for Wesnoth, The Freespace 2 Source Code Project, the venerable Quake, Warzone 2100 and Xonotic.