How to Install Nvidia Drivers and Play Windows Games on Linux


Valve’s recent update to Steam for Linux – which introduces game compatibility tools under the Proton name – has seen a noticeable increase in the number of Windows users interested in testing Linux or removing their Windows partition altogether. For the curious among you, I wanted to write a guide on how to install Ubuntu on your PC, grab the latest Nvidia GPU drivers, and configure Steam to play some of your favorite Windows games only.


Read why I switched from Windows to Ubuntu Linux

I chose Ubuntu for this guide not only because I’m familiar with it, but also because it’s the most popular desktop Linux distro. Ubuntu is also the most used OS by the Linux community. test thousands of Windows games for Steam Play compatibility. This means that if you’re stuck or need to resolve something, you’re more likely to find the answers you’re looking for.

Note that I have personally performed all of the steps below on a clean install of Ubuntu to ensure accuracy, but your mileage may vary depending on the type of PC you have. And before you start to think that using Linux is a daunting task, know that I have only been using it for 6 weeks and am here writing a guide!

Windows Steam games on Linux: a brief introduction

Prior to last week, the only way for Linux gamers to play Windows-only games was with a tool called WINE, which stands for Wine is not an emulator. And it is not. Rather, it is a compatibility layer. WINE and other tools like DXVK and VKD3D translate DirectX (the graphics API found in most Windows games) to OpenGL or Vulkan. WINE also installs some fonts and .dll files only on Windows.

While this method works, it’s a bit scattered and requires a ton of trial and error, manual setup, and guesswork. What Valve did improved these tools (and hired the lead developer for the DirectX to Vulkan project) and released their own version called Proton. It’s open source and the tools are installed transparently in the background depending on the game. So now, theoretically, the vast majority of games that you can only play on Windows can now be installed directly into the Steam client for Linux. I can confirm that many of them are working fine.

Valve has taken Linux-based games to leaps and bounds with this initiative, but proceed with caution knowing that it remains firmly in the realm of “beta!” “

Step 1: Install Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS

I’ve written an Ubuntu installation guide for beginners, so if you don’t have Ubuntu on your PC yet, make it your first stop.

Step 2a: install the latest Nvidia driver

Since the Steam Proton update is so recent, it requires a newer Nvidia driver than the one distributed with Ubuntu 18.04.1. Using Terminal, let’s enter a few commands to access and install it. No click in menus or advance in configuration screens, no manual download. I promise you it’s easier than you think!

Just press your Windows key (called Super Key in Linux) and type “Terminal”. Once it’s open, type the following commands (note that “sudo” means you are running the command as administrator or “root”, so you will need to enter your user password):

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa: graphics-drivers / ppa
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt install nvidia-driver-396
  • to restart

Jason evangelho

Box: But what does all this mean? In the first row, you added another software source to Ubuntu, allowing you to acquire the latest and greatest graphics drivers. This means that they will also be updated automatically now. In the second line, you asked Ubuntu to check for the most recent software available, as well as any required “dependencies” or supporting software, which will be installed automatically. In the third line, you told Ubuntu to install the latest Nvidia driver, which as of this writing is 396.54.

(Note that after “apt-update” you can also go to your “Software and Updates” application, click on the Additional Drivers tab and select the latest available Nvidia driver. This may be necessary if you have an old one. GeForce card model.)

“Reboot” is self-explanatory! I figured that since you’re already in Terminal, take the geek option.

If you want to check the version of your Nvidia driver, just press your Super key, type in “Nvidia” and click on the result which displays “Nvidia X Server Settings”.

Nvidia / Jason Evangelho

Step 2b: Install the latest AMD drivers.

I hesitate to write instructions for methods that I have not personally tested, but if you are using an AMD Radeon graphics card, there is a brief guide to installing AMD MESA drivers. here. It pretty much follows the same procedure. Hope to test RX Series and Vega cards in the near future.

Step 3: Install Steam

If you’re comfortable with Terminal, installing Steam is ridiculously easy. Type “sudo apt install steam“and you’re good to go. However, we’ll introduce you to the Ubuntu Software Center. The fastest way to find Steam is to press your super key (remember, the Windows key!) and type” Steam “. result and you will come to the Software Center. Hit install, type in your user password and that’s it. Once that’s done, click” Launch “or hit your Super key again and type Steam .

Tip: Once Steam has updated, simply drag the icon upwards on your Ubuntu Dock and it will automatically add it to your favorites.

Step 4: Activate the Steam Play beta Start Steam

If you’ve used Steam on Windows, you probably know what to do now. In case, you will need to go to your Steam settings (Steam -> Settings -> Account) and sign up for the Steam Play beta by clicking “Edit”, then choosing “Update Steam Beta”.

Steam will now update to the latest beta, which includes Proton.

Update: The Steam Play with Proton update has just been integrated into the main Steam client. It was quick! This means that there is no need to sign up for the beta.

With Proton, Valve only officially whitelisted 27 games that you can find here. By default, these are the games that will be supported. To play them, just find them in the store. If you already have them on Windows, just install them normally. Your cloud backups will also be transferred between operating systems.

But here’s the thing: Almost 1,000 more are perfectly playable, and this update has only been live for about a week. If you want to venture out, skip to step 5.

Step 5 (Optional): Press the Override button


With Steam Play, there is a nuclear option if you want to try and play literally whatever is available on Steam for Windows. The majority of the 2000+ games tested so far are marked as stable or completely stable, but it’s a good idea to check here first. Some don’t work, others are buggy, but there are still over 1000 more games that are fully playable on Linux than there were a week ago! In a nutshell, go to Steam -> Settings -> Steam Play and check the “Use Steam Play for all titles” box to apply Proton tools to games not yet verified by Valve to have perfect, native performance. This greatly increases your options, but some games may not perform as expected or be buggy.

Again, keep in mind that this is a fast moving project and you are on the ground floor. Thinking about where we’re going from here makes my enthusiasm skyrocket.

Community support:

I have found the Linux community to be incredibly active and ridiculously helpful when it comes to troubleshooting anything. If you get stuck along the way, here are a few resources that I have personally found useful:


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