How to Install Proton for Steam on Linux? [15 Easy Steps]

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Last updated: June 28, 2024

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TL;DR

To install Proton for steam on Linux, follow these steps:

  1. Update your system by running sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
  2. Install necessary libraries with sudo apt install build-essential libgl1-mesa-dev libglew-dev libfreetype6-dev libx11-dev libxrandr-dev libxi-dev libxxf86vm-dev libxinerama-dev libxcursor-dev mesa-utils
  3. Enable the Multiverse repository using sudo add-apt-repository multiverse
  4. Get Steam by running sudo apt install steam
  5. Start Steam with the command steam
  6. Set up Proton in Steam by going to Steam > Settings > Steam Play, checking Enable Steam Play for supported titles and Enable Steam Play for all other titles, and selecting your Proton version
  7. Install and play Windows games by searching for the game in the Steam store, checking compatibility on ProtonDB, installing it, and starting to play

Tired of missing out on your favorite Windows games because you’re using Linux? Don’t worry, there’s a solution: Proton. In this post, I’ll show you how to set up and use Proton with Steam on your Linux system. You’ll get step-by-step instructions for installation, enabling Proton, and troubleshooting common issues. By the end, you’ll be ready to play a wide range of Windows games on Linux with ease. Let’s get started and unlock your gaming potential on Linux!

What is Proton?

Proton is a tool created by Valve that lets you play Windows games on Linux through Steam. It works as a compatibility layer, translating Windows game instructions so Linux can understand and run them smoothly.

Benefits of Gaming on Linux

  • Access to a Huge Library: Proton allows Linux users to play many Windows games, expanding the available game library without needing a Windows OS.
  • Enhanced Security: Linux is known for its security features. Gaming on Linux using Proton lets users enjoy these security benefits.
  • Customizability: Linux offers a highly customizable environment. Gamers can tweak their systems to optimize performance and gaming experience.

Compatibility Improvements

  • Improved Game Performance: Many popular Windows games run almost seamlessly on Linux with Proton, offering comparable performance and stability.
  • Continuous Updates: Proton’s regular updates ensure better compatibility with new games, meaning the list of playable games on Linux keeps growing.
  • Community Support: The ProtonDB website provides user-contributed reports and tips on game compatibility, helping gamers get the best out of their Linux systems.

How to Install Proton for Steam on Linux

To install Proton for Steam on Linux, first update your system with sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade. Then, install necessary libraries using sudo apt install build-essential libgl1-mesa-dev libglew-dev libfreetype6-dev. Enable the Multiverse repository with sudo add-apt-repository multiverse and install Steam using sudo apt install steam. Launch Steam, go to Steam > Settings > Steam Play, and enable Proton by checking the relevant boxes. Finally, select your Proton version, and you’re ready to install and play Windows games on Linux.

Continue reading for the detailed steps to install Proton for steam on Linux:

  1. Before installing Proton, ensure your system is up-to-date and has all necessary dependencies. Keeping your system updated is crucial for smooth operation.
sudo apt update

sudo apt upgrade
updating and upgrading system package list
  1. Ensure that you have all the necessary libraries and tools installed.
sudo apt install build-essential libgl1-mesa-dev libglew-dev libfreetype6-dev libx11-dev libxrandr-dev libxi-dev libxxf86vm-dev libxinerama-dev libxcursor-dev mesa-utils
installing necessary tools and libraries
  1. Next, you’ll need to install the Steam client on your Linux system.
  2. To download steam ensure the Multiverse repository is enabled by running:
sudo add-apt-repository multiverse
enabling multiverse repository
  1. Use the following command to install Steam:
sudo apt install steam
installing steam through terminal
  1. Once the installation is complete, launch Steam by typing:
steam
launching steam through terminal
  1. Once Steam is installed, you can enable Proton to start playing Windows games. Open Steam and navigate to Steam > Settings.
opening steam settings
  1. Choose the Compatibility tab. Check the boxes for Enable Steam Play for supported titles and Enable Steam Play for all other titles.
enabling options in compatibility tab
  1. Choose the version of Proton you want to use. Stable builds are recommended for most users, while experimental builds may offer better support for newer games.
choosing desired proton version
  1. To change Proton versions for specific games, right-click the game in your library. Select Properties.
opening game properties
  1. Under the Compatibility tab, check Force the use of a specific Steam Play compatibility tool and select your desired Proton version.
changing proton version for specific game
  1. With Proton enabled, you can now install and run Windows games on your Linux system.
  2. Search for your desired game in the Steam store and install it as you would on a Windows system.
  3. Consult the ProtonDB website to check the compatibility of games with Proton.
  4. Click the Install button on the game’s Steam page to download and install it.

Common Issues When Installing Proton on Steam

Installing Proton on Steam can sometimes be tricky. Here are five common issues you might encounter and how to fix them. These tips will help you troubleshoot and ensure a smooth installation process.

  • 🛑 Steam Client Doesn’t Open: If Steam fails to launch, try reinstalling it and ensure all dependencies are installed. Check if any background applications are conflicting with Steam.
  • 🔍 Game Doesn’t Start: If a game doesn’t start, verify game files through Steam. Ensure you have selected the correct Proton version for the game in Steam’s compatibility settings.
  • 📉 Poor Game Performance: Low frame rates or lag can often be fixed by lowering in-game graphics settings and closing unnecessary background applications to free up system resources.
  • ⚠️ Missing Dependencies: Proton may need certain libraries and tools to work. Ensure all required dependencies are installed using your distribution’s package manager.
  • 🚫 Incorrect Proton Version: Some games require specific Proton versions. If a game isn’t working, try switching to another Proton version in Steam’s compatibility settings.

To Sum Up

In this article, I guided you through the step-by-step process of installing Proton for Steam on Linux, ensuring you can play a wide range of Windows games on your Linux system. I also covered common issues you might face and how to troubleshoot them effectively, so you can enjoy a seamless gaming experience.

If you found this guide helpful, you might also be interested in these topics:

  • Discover how to set up Steam natively on Linux to enhance your gaming experience.
  • Learn to use the help command in Linux to easily troubleshoot and get assistance with various commands.
  • Understand how to resolve the “You Have Held Broken Packages” error to fix common package management issues and ensure smoother software installations and updates.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between Proton and Proton GE?

    Proton is the official compatibility layer developed by Valve to run Windows games on Linux through Steam. Proton GE (Glorious Eggroll) is a community-built version of Proton that includes additional patches and enhancements not found in the official version, often improving game compatibility and performance.

  2. Can I use Proton with non-Steam games?

    Yes, you can use Proton with non-Steam games by adding them to your Steam library as non-Steam games. Once added, you can force the use of Proton by adjusting the game’s properties in your Steam library, enabling you to run them on Linux.

  3. What are the best Linux distributions for gaming with Proton?

    The best Linux distributions for gaming with Proton include Ubuntu, Pop!_OS, and Fedora. These distributions offer excellent hardware compatibility, regular updates, and robust support communities, making them ideal for gamers looking to use Proton to play Windows games on Linux.

  4. How do I contribute to the Proton compatibility database?

    You can contribute to the Proton compatibility database by creating an account on ProtonDB and submitting reports on your experiences running games with Proton. Include details like the Proton version used, any tweaks applied, and overall performance to help other users.

Ojash

Author

Ojash is a skilled Linux expert and tech writer with over a decade of experience. He has extensive knowledge of Linux's file system, command-line interface, and software installations. Ojash is also an expert in shell scripting and automation, with experience in Bash, Python, and Perl. He has published numerous articles on Linux in various online publications, making him a valuable resource for both seasoned Linux users and beginners. Ojash is also an active member of the Linux community and participates in Linux forums.

Akshat

Reviewer

Akshat is a software engineer, product designer and the co-founder of Scrutify. He's an experienced Linux professional and the senior editor of this blog. He is also an open-source contributor to many projects on Github and has written several technical guides on Linux. Apart from that, he’s also actively sharing his ideas and tutorials on Medium and Attirer. As the editor of this blog, Akshat brings his wealth of knowledge and experience to provide readers with valuable insights and advice on a wide range of Linux-related topics.

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