July 21, 2009

Linux Migration Guide: Keep Your Windows Games


One thing that can make people feel a bit nervous about moving from Windows to Linux is games. As much as everyone talks about productivity software and Web browsing, let's face it, everyone likes to have a little fun. Don't worry, you can make the transition without leaving fun behind. There's a ton of games available in Linux, and there's a number of ways to play your Windows games too.

TransGaming's Cedega

TransGaming offers a product called Cedega that allows you to run Windows games on a Linux computer. Sign up for a trial membership and try out Cedega with a Windows game like the Spore Creature Creator. Or, purchase a subscription for access to all updates over your selected period of time.

An important aspect about Cedega is that it can't run all Windows games in Linux. Be sure to check out the their games database, where you can see how well the games you want to play work in Cedega. A handy legend offers a collection of five symbols so you can easily see where a particular game fits:

  • A green checkmark says that the game works well, but may still have some minor issues.
  • A green checkmark with the Cedega Certified logo says the game works and is officially tested and approved as working well.
  • A yellow exclamation point says that the game works but may have some noticeable problems.
  • An orange question mark says that no one has rated this game for how well it works in Cedega.
  • A red X says that the game is known to not work in Cedega.

In addition, you'll see that various games are known to work best in different versions of Cedega. You can choose which version to use for a given game in the configuration options.

It can actually be a lot of fun to pick up some old Windows games that no one has rated, maybe from a dusty stack you haven't touched in years, and try them out in Linux under Cedega. And it's a bit brain-bending (in a good way) to play a game you know doesn't have a Linux version on your Linux computer! Even better, you don't have to install a copy of Windows to play.

CodeWeavers' CrossOver Games

CodeWeavers offers CrossOver Games, a product similar to TransGaming's Cedega. Rather than buying a subscription, you purchase the latest release, which gets you a year's worth of updates.

Again, CodeWeavers offers a list of games that you can examine to see how well supported the games you want to play are before you purchase the product. There's also a trial version available.


If you don't want to pay to play your Windows games under Linux, you can give WINE a try. WINE is the original project that created a translation layer letting Linux users run Windows programs. Choosing WINE means you'll need more of a do-it-yourself attitude, but the WINE wiki and forums are a great place to go for help.

You may be able to install WINE through your distribution's package management tools. If it's not available there, go to the WINE download page.


One option if you're just not happy with the alternatives is to keep Windows around. If you don't have a spare computer, then you can install Linux in a way that it shares the computer with Windows, and you can choose which operating system to boot into from a menu. See "Linux Migration Guide: Installation Tips" for more.

Linux Games

There are actually a lot of games available in Linux. If you want to experiment with them, check out the games available through your distribution's package manager, and check out these sites:

Click Here!