[Article Proposal] Steam and Gaming on Fedora

Hey,

Fedora got featured on the Linus Tech Tips podcast. And sadly, we got totally burned;

Thumbnail is clickbaity, get’s better after that. Conversation starts around 14:40

In the list of Debian, Gentoo Arch, and Ubuntu… we got dismissed as a suitable option for gaming.

It’s a bit of a shame, but this does show that we haven’t properly highlighted one feature of Fedora. We’re known as an amazing Linux-centric developer platform but apearently we have a lather boring and business-oriented distribution. As such, I would like to know if we should have an article about Steam (+ NVidia drivers, GOverlay and Discord) on Fedora.

Before I start working on a draft though, I would like to know if it’s allowed to give RPM Fusion related instructions on Fedora Magazine?

The contents would roughly be:

  • Disclaimer (gaming is for the most part a propriatary hobby)
  • Setup RPM Fusion
    • NVidia Drivers
    • Steam
  • Setup Flathub
    • Setup Discord
    • Setup OBS

So let me know; is an article about Steam and gaming in order? Also, what would be a another good thing to mention? Perhaps we could also have some feedback of our target audience, i.e. somebody not a software developer and over 30 :stuck_out_tongue:

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Okay, I will always +1 an article of this content. I would say that the linked commentaries above are outdated and unfair, but really Fedora hasn’t been known for it’s gaming presence ever, so they’re sort of accurate in the sense of practical usability as a gaming machine.
In my experience’s over the years, with any serious efforts to try gaming on my Fedora Linux machine(s), it would invariably come down to resolving the graphics card capability issue. By that I am referring to the lack of support to use the capabilities of the card beyond merely displaying the DE nicely. So that topic in itself could stand as an article of it’s own if done in detail.
For the record, I played coleco’s pong when I was about 15, and my first real game on a machine in some coffee shop no less, was pacman I think and I was about 17. I am 60 now, I still game.

I think we’ve traditionally shied away from doing articles that require RPM Fussion on Fedora Magazine. In fact, if you try searching for it on the Fedora Magazine site, you’ll see that nothing comes up.

I also checked the old mail lists and I found the below response from Paul Frields:

… Are we recommending people to add 3rd party repos with non-free
software? e.g.: RPMFussion non-free …

My position: It’s OK for us to talk about software we know people use
that is not free. For instance, we reference Google Chrome because we
know well over half our users download and use it. However,
recommending it is another step and one I don’t think we want to
take, because that specifically disadvantages free software.

Maybe there is a reason to make an exception here though? Does promoting non FOSS games “disadvantage” FOSS games? @pfrields

I watched the video. He actually isn’t concerned about running Steam. Steam is the easy store to get up and running. He is concerned about other stores like Origiin.

Personally I don’t think promoting non FOSS games is a big deal. I do find the tone of proposal kinda bad. I initially thought his disclaimer meant you needed proprietary drivers to run games but I realized he meant games are proprietary as well. To a certain degree he is right in that certain game experiences are simply not available in FOSS games or aren’t the same quality. That being said I do think we should highlight the FOSS games we have more.

The article does also plans to discuss discord. I’m more concerned about that. The proposal mentions OBS as well (which is available on RPM Fussion). While I know some people who stream, it isn’t the majority of gamers.

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@glb I’m not sure if that’s totally true. There is an article from 2018 talking about Steam and Proton. While it doesn’t mention RPM-Fusion explicitly, it does mention software that you can only obtain through RPM Fusion. What is the editorial line?

@dulsi I have mixed feelings on focussing more on FLOSS titles. As the Flathub maintainer of many FLOSS games, I must point out that most FLOSS titles in Fedora’s RPM repository, still require non-free game assets.
It also doesn’t actually address the ‘outside perception’. General audiences know that we have games, from the '90s that look rather retro… With an article like this, I would like to focus on modern proprietary titles: Yes, we can run the latest cool games, and you can stream them using OBS, while chatting with your friends on Discord.

To address both your concerns, I do think that a disclaimer is in order. Something like this:

Throughout this guide, we’ll help you play the latest video games, but a notice is in order. Most commercial games are proprietary, and they require proprietary services. While using any of these services and games, you can be subjected to aggressive monetization strategies, as well as privacy-disrespecting anti-tamper tools or user analytics. The choice is yours, and in this guide we’ll focus on the prerequisites of non-FLOSS gaming.

9/10 will likely scroll past this, but perhaps some might connect the dots and realise that there are alternatives.

On a personal level, I’ve grown quite apprehensive of proprietary games. Because users are not in control, publishers can push all kinds user-disrespecting crap like aggressive monetization and anti-cheat spyware, often targeted towards minors. I’ve worked in the game industry, and knowing how the predatory sausage is made, made me a strong proponent of FLOSS… An article like this would not focus on the things I like, but on things that many others do like, whatever my personal opinion is.

I stand by my +1. There has been and will continue to be articles like this since it doesn’t promote the games but Fedora Linux’s capability to play (even proprietary) games on it. This is something the community in general has expressed an interest in repeatedly. So I think it can be a well presented topic that doesn’t impinge Fedora FOSS approach while still exhibiting the capabilities Fedora Linux possess to do it and how to capitalize on those capabilities.

Thanks @eonfge. I wasn’t aware of that publication. Following some links from there eventually leads to the following explanation.

Excerpted from Workstation/Third Party Software Repositories - Fedora Project Wiki (emphasis added):

To further improve usability, the Fedora Workstation now makes it easier for users to install some software from outside Fedora repositories. This list, and the sources where this software comes from, have been vetted by the Workstation working group.

So it appears that a specific exception was made for Steam on the grounds that it was “vetted” by the Workstation working group.

I like the idea of requiring the disclaimer. I also feel the same apprehension about proprietary games. I wonder if we should require that Steam always be installed as a Flatpak to provide at least some level of sandboxing?

Anyway, since the Fedora Project appears to have made a specific exception for Steam, this article has my +1.

I’ve created card #378 to track this article. When you begin working on the article, please move the card to “in progress”. When you have it ready for publication, move the card to “review”. You will need to sign in on the Taiga system at least once to initialize a profile that I can then assign to the card. Thanks for contributing!

@eonfge You misunderstand. I don’t mind having an article on non-FOSS games. My problem is that fedora magazine has few articles on games and often it is about non-FOSS games. Searching for games or game, finds my article on open source achievements, a steam article, a stadia article, minetest article, 0ad article, and openttd article. That’s not a lot of game articles and few on FOSS games.

@glb wrong link, I think it should be #393. You can find my Taiga account at @Eonfge, but I’ve taken the liberty of assigning it to myself. Eonfge is also my handle on Fedora Magazine, so feel free to check out my previous articles.

Back the discussion, I was planning to mention Steam’s Flatpak… but I’m apprehensive because the Flatpak version of Steam has some very serious limitations. Steam has its own runtime-system called ‘pressure vessel’ which powers Proton, and it conflicts with Flatpak for now. Long story short, I would recommend against Flatpak’s Steam unless the trade-off is necessary for security reasons. My work-laptop for example has to make do with a Flatpak.

As for the RPM-fusion… I’ll stick within the lines of the wiki article you linked, and I’ll use that as the basis for Steam and NVidia’s instructions. While I personally don’t object to some of the packages of RPM-fusion (quick check, I have 35 installed), it’s better to stick on-message and to focus on gaming.

@dulsi You’re totally right and it’s a bit of shame. That said, I also wouldn’t really know what to write about a FLOSS game. I maintain the flathub of ET:Legacy for example and I’m really glad that it’s essentially plug-and-play. Perhaps that should be our long-term goal: Average users can do everything they want without a guide on Fedora Magazine. But I digress. Perhaps we should do a follow-up showcase with the some quality FLOSS games, although that’s an article for another time.

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Good to know. And that looks like a good paragraph to include in your article right there. I would imagine that such information could save some other readers a bit of time and headache troubleshooting problems.

Just my 2 cents.

@eonfge An article showcase of some quality FLOSS games is something I’d like to see. I actually debated doing one on new games in Fedora 35 but when I looked it up it was mostly just games I added. Which doesn’t necessarily prevent me from writing such an article but I was hoping to show off some others. I just posted on the Freegamedev forum to tell people if they have a complete (or mostly complete) game they could propose an article on fedoramagazine.

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I’ll most certainly mention Steam’s precarious situation. Steam on Flathub is one of those early-adopter things that people should be aware of. Even I don’t use it for day to day gaming.

@dulsi Another thing I just realised, is that OBS is available for Fedora Linux, but only on RPM-Fusion. Likely because it depends on the x264 video encoder from VLC. Thanks for bringing that to my attention, as it certainly makes the discussion more interesting.

@glb Come to think of it, how many people genuinely only use the Workstation vetted components of RPM-Fusion? Do we have any numbers on that?

Perhaps we should just rip the band-aid for this article and be like “This is all of RPM-Fusion, use at your own discretion”… because it feels a bit disingenuous to write an article telling people to get OBS from Flathub so that we can tip-toe around the fact that we got it in RPM-Fusion.

I know that I’ll be kicking up more dirt then perhaps desirable, but Fedora Magazine has been rather relaxed so far with it’s references to Flathub so perhaps we can also be more relaxed with mentioning RPM Fusion.

Is there somebody else that can cast some light on this? Perhaps you should bring it up in the next editors-meeting.

That sort of policy decision is “above my pay grade” :slight_smile: Unfortunately, there isn’t anyone else on the current Fedora Magazine editorial team that has the ability to affect that sort of change either. I would defer to Matthew Miller or Ben Cotton for that sort of decision.

I’m a little skeptical that they would want go that far even though there has been a little bit of a gray area with flatpaks as you point out. But maybe they are treated differently because of their sandboxing technology. I think Fedora’s relative “purism” with regard to supporting FOSS was no small part of its recent recognition as a Digital Public Good and I think that is a title that Fedora wants to keep. So being more “lax” about promoting/incorporating proprietary software may not be without its cost.

I think the real issue with the rpm-fusion directories (and if you care to read historically around Fedora) is more about licensing that is encumbered. So likely free and open software but not free or open as Fedora requires according to their established policies around licensing. Rpm-fusion then got split further into free and non-free to help users identify generally where the licensing fell. Most users don’t really pay close attention to licensing, but the Linux community (rightfully) has several members in all distro camps who value open sourced above all, and do pay very close attention to it. The idea about open software and indeed the reason for the existence of Linux in the first place is simply summed up in the following statement “This is my PC, I will decide what I put on it and how I use it.” This is a Magazine that was created to write about Fedora Linux, I think writing about how to use whatever software on my Fedora Linux box is fine provided the cautionary notes are there for the user to make an educated decision on whether they will install it.

That seems like a rather poor reason. The patents and license restrictions are not ‘sandboxed’ after all. From an editorial point-of-view, there is not really a difference explaining users to download OBS from Flathub, or RPM-Fusion. It is FLOSS software, which is using patent-encumbered codecs.

@jakfrost This is certainly the angle I wish to defend. It’s your computer, and nobody has the right to decide how you use it. Using non-FLOSS software is just as much a right as not using it. There are those who prefer their experience totally Free* but in the end, I’m of the school-of-thought that thinks that people are more motivated by the carrot then the stick: If we can show them that Fedora can do awesome non-Free things just as well, they might appreciate the Free elements on their own later.

As for writing, I’ve started on the first draft and I’ll draw the line following the Wiki article: RPM Fusion for NVidia and Steam, Flathub for OBS and Discord. I will mention that there are other ways using RPM Fusion, but explaining those would be ‘beyond the scope of this article’. That’s a bit of a half truth, but I certainly don’t want to challenge the Red Hat legal team over this one article…

*The FSF will gladly recommend them another distro then Fedora :wink:

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I wonder if we should add “and malware” to that list?

I found the below excerpt from a recent Sophos News article … interesting …

… A significant percentage of these credential stealers target Discord itself. Discord token loggers steal the OAuth tokens used to authenticate Discord users, frequently along with other credential data and system information—including tokens for Steam and other gaming platforms. They “log” stolen tokens back to a Discord channel through a webhook connection, allowing their operators to collect the OAuth tokens and attempt to hijack access to the accounts. …

That was an interesting read

In defence of Discord… this is no different then email or chat clients. Users are ultimately tricked into downloading and running malware, which then targets the delivery-platform itself to steal its credentials and sensitive data. So yeah, Discord could spend some extra time scanning attachments, but this is not a vulnerability in their platform.

Adding to that, I also don’t want to make it too dismissive: The debate whether or not FLOSS is saver then proprietary applications comes with so many caveats, that’s its own article.

Looking at past pasts… I also found another post recommending users to download non-free software to play games… from you!

I’ll make sure to link to it, because Stadia and GeForce Now are certainly good options for Linux gaming as well. :wink:

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Yeah, I guess it all comes down to who you trust. FWIW, Chrome does sandbox its apps (unless you add --no-sandbox on the command line). Also, I’m a little less concerned about malware coming from stadia.com than from discord.

I just think we should be upfront with the readers about all the risks. But I do understand that there is an interest in gaming on Linux. It’s a difficult line to walk. Your article has approval from the editors. Just don’t be surprised if you get some negative feedback in the comments. I got negative feedback too when I published that Stadia article. You might want to try to “head off” some of that feedback with some careful wording in your article. Just my two cents. :slight_smile:

Ow… I certainly will prepare myself. My first article was about using Docker on Fedora 32, which I use for my work. Never did I expect that so many people would be so passionate about containerization platforms. They also discussed the latest gender politics, Stallman, and much more. :roll_eyes:

In the end I did have a good laugh. My sister went through the comments and she read them to me. But since she is totally alien to the subject matter, she highlighted how pointless it is for people to get dragged into these kinds of fits on the internet. That helped, since in the end they’re just comments on the internet.

But yeah, let’s write a good article, mention both the up- and downsides, and let users decide. For every angry commenter, there are 10.000 readers that didn’t get all worked up.