Note: This is cross-posted from the blog in my Desura account to ensure my backup system catches it.
After one of my previous posts, showing off my obsession with flowcharts and how much I overthink buying new games, it occurred to me that I can actually focus on a question other people might care about: How does one comfortably manage their games collection on Linux these days?
The only options I’ve been able to find for getting Linux games online are as follows and only the first three have package management beyond “download this installer” (though Gameolith plans to add private package repositories):
- The free packages in your distro’s native package manager and any 3rd-party repositories like PlayDeb.net
- A distro-specific package manager like the Ubuntu Software Center that also offers the option to purchase things.
- Bundles like the Humble Indie Bundles and specific games in things like Indie Royale Bundles
- Individual games like Minecraft which are playable on Linux (free or pay)
- Running GOG.com games inside DOSBox or Wine or using the purchased resources in reverse-engineered engines like ScummVM.
However, when most people think of digital distribution (the buzzword), we think of a unified experience that takes the hassle out of managing our games for us. (In other words, something developers have to support or else like Steam)
Obviously, nothing as comprehensive as that exists for Linux yet, but we can try to MacGyver things up for now. I’d like to hear what your approach is in the comments, but here’s the best I’ve been able to accomplish.
It’s not ideal, but I tried and, since I’m already using TiddlyWiki to manage everything else, it’s quite comfortable.
The key details are:
- The Desura button is a direct link to the client download page.
- The PlayDeb button and the PPA links in the “Package Manager” section are direct links to the lines I’ll need to re-add to
/etc/apt/sources.listif I re-install.
- The GOG.com button is a direct link to the “your games” page.
- The non-bracketed links in the “Package Manager” section use
apt:URLs to trigger the package installer from the browser.
- The rest are just links to the page where you choose your download type (deb, rpm, installer, etc.)
I’m still working on polishing up and streamlining everything, but I’m already making good progress on polishing up Desura as a general game launcher. Here’s what it looks like once I’ve added a few native Linux games and a few Windows games via Wine and wrapper scripts:
When I have time, I’m also planning to work on:
set_icon.pywork on Windows. (The main issue is using Windows methods to find Desura and extract icons from
.EXEfiles rather than Linux ones)
- A script which will create a wrapper for a Wine application, extract the icon, and add it to Desura with one command.
- A script which will sync all the games in my Linux desktop’s launcher into Desura (both additions and deletions) with one command.