Nils is our new member at Boiling Steam. You may have already seen his first video about How to Make A Video Game in Godot in 10 minutes, which is proving very useful to get you started in Godot. He has got a lot more coming in the next few weeks. In the meantime, we wanted you to get to know him a little more!
Nils started experimenting with Linux with dual booting since 2005, when “What do you mean I can install stuff from the repo with one line, and there are a bunch of games there too?” changed everything for him. Nils has then been using Linux exclusively since 2020 to avoid intrusion and bloatware. His favorite style of games are the ones that “don’t feel like doing chores; I have my own daily tasks to finish.”
Since we like Q&A’s at Boiling Steam, it’s a good chance to replicate the format for Nils.
How did you first learn about Linux?
Nils: I was taking a professional program during high school (not sure how to translate because I never saw this kind of program outside of Brazil). It was a hardware class where we would build a computer from spare parts, install an OS and configure it on the network. It might have been Mandrake Linux.
What first attracted you to try out Linux?
Nils: I was quite ignorant about Linux at the time, but luckily I was forced to use it. At the program I mentioned before, there was this classmate that convinced everyone to use Linux for one of the classes. During university, it was because of consistency: we had many projects in C/C++ so the professors encouraged us to use Linux.
What made you stay as a long-term Linux user?
Nils: The Package Repository and Ubuntu.
A classmate appeared with a box full of Ubuntu CDs. He thought they would never ship the installation CDs to Brazil, then he spent the next few weeks distributing those and convincing people to try Linux around the university. I took one, and it just worked well out of the box, almost a painless experience.
The package repository was a huge plus. This was a time before those phones with places where you can get all the apps. You type a line on your terminal, and you get almost anything you want, even games. You create a simple script, and you have all the programs you want on a fresh installation. I may be oversimplifying it here, but that is how I remember it felt.
When did you actually start gaming on Linux?
Nils: Probably with Proton 4, full time with Linux only in 2020 with Proton 5.
I remember playing some games on Linux from the repository. Before even, I created a Steam account.
There was a game similar to civilization, FreeCiv, I remember you could train this unit that would have skis, and it was powerful in the mountains. There was also this game about snowboarding, maybe there was a penguin snowboarder, or perhaps I am mixing with the game that you hit the penguin with a club to get it far away. Linux was mostly for productivity at that time.
I revisited the idea of gaming on Linux when Valve posted about getting better performance while porting their games to Linux.
By Proton 5 most of the games I was playing worked just fine and Windows was giving me plenty of headaches, so I made the jump. There were just a few games I gave up on because of anti-cheat, and only one of my VR games that was not working at the time, Creed, but it works great now.
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What were your most painful experiences on Linux?
Nils: Dual boot with Windows, and how things used to progress.
I remember trying to troubleshoot why I had no audio on Linux, to discover that depending on how I ended my Windows session (either restart or shutdown) Ubuntu would not be able to use the device properly.
I remember seeing a bunch of the jokes about how things used to progress. Like Linux supports 128 cores but cannot play videos on YouTube. Or something about a guy wanting to implant a USB port on his arm. I think it was this one from xkcd
I feel that Linux is way more user-friendly now and have been progressing in strides on usability.
Any favorite distro? Any favorite desktop environment? And why for each?
Nils: I am still distro-hopping.
Manjaro helped me jump to Linux exclusively, and I quite enjoyed the AUR. I revived an old notebook with Void OS and have been enjoying using it for work. Nobara Project is great for games, but lacks in productivity. COPR is promising, but I end up being too dependent on Flatpaks and getting their permissions right.
Same with DEs, but I have had fewer problems with KDE than what I used to have with Gnome. XFCE is also great for the old notebook. I am still building some courage to try those minimalistic WM, but right now, I am avoiding anything that people say you need to put a lot of time for it to work just right.
What types of games do you like to play?
Nils: I like when they explore new mechanics. Or old mechanics in new ways.
Lately, I have been forcing myself to play games I wasn’t playing before, or different than the previous games I’ve played. I found some good gems and other ways to enjoy a game. I am also focusing mostly on offline games or at least coop if it needs internet. I was playing competitive-ish games before, and they take much of your time to keep on par with other players. I go back to them once in a while, just because I am a masochist.
What keeps you busy outside of games?
Nils: Currently, I work with AI/ML + Computer Vision. For leisure, I just finished playing a slow-pitch rec league. This year was my first time playing; it is not that common in Brazil. It is a sport that you get to rest a lot during the game. Now that winter is coming, I do more activities indoors and I have been enjoying bouldering.
Well, I think I listed some games. Let me change a bit. I try to find some DIY projects to spend time on. I recently built a keyboard, so now I have to learn how to use it properly. Also, the usual: music, movies, series, books.
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