Linus Tech Tips has unleashed Part 2 of its ongoing, divisive yet eye-opening Linux Gaming Challenge. It only takes 2 minutes and 48 seconds of viewing time in this new video to realize how fractured and confusing desktop Linux can be for beginners. Even to technically savvy beginners like Linus Sebastian.
The goal for Part 2 was straightforward: get their Linux desktops prepared for game streaming, including integrating their existing cameras and audio equipment.
Admittedly, the Linus Tech Tips team may have more exotic setups than yours or mine. And while they did slam into several minor hurdles, both of them ultimately ended up with a quality stream.
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sudo apt-get confusion
But one glaring issue came into focus along the way, and it has nothing to do with a user’s technical prowess. It has everything to do with fragmentation and misinformation.
Part 1 of this video series depicted Linus having a disaster of a time with System 76’s Pop OS. Let me summarize the end result for you:
Let’s not dwell on that today, though. System76 immediately patched that unfortunate bug, removing the possibility for that to happen to anyone else. (By the way, KDE now also prevents users from removing the Plasma desktop).
The takeaway is that Linus cut his teeth on a Debian/Ubuntu-based distribution. And since he used the command line, he got a crash course with the Apt package manager.
Linus, however, has since switched to Manjaro. As an Arch-based Linux distribution, it uses a completely different package manager called pacman. So when it came time to install OBS Studio (the gold standard for streaming and video capture), he opened a terminal window and innocently typed:
sudo apt-get obs-studio
Anyone who’s distro-hopped or is proficient in the way of CLI-fu is probably groaning, but that’s an honest, reasonable mistake! It underscores the need for a more harmonious solution to software installation across the Linux ecosystem.
The Linux Way: Pick Your Poison
Technically, there are no less than four separate ways to install OBS Studio on Manjaro. You can:
- Install it from the Snap store
- Install the Flatpak of OBS Studio
- Use the built-in package manager (via the GUI or via command line)
- You can install one of seven available versions (!) from the AUR (Arch User Repository)
On Windows and macOS, there is one common way to install OBS Studio. And that method represents the officially supported version of the software. (FYI: Only Mint and Ubuntu versions of OBS are officially supported.)
Complicating matters is that each installation method boasts its pros and cons, which vary considerably depending on who you ask.
Which leads us right into the next, even larger issue.
F*** You Nvidia!
Before we hit the 3-minute mark in the new LTT video, Linus bumps into another roadblock. The version of OBS Studio he installed from Manjaro’s software center lacks something crucial for Nvidia users: NVENC.
NVENC takes advantage of purpose-built hardware inside modern GeForce graphics cards. It’s an excellent solution for streamers and content creators because it effortlessly encodes video for streaming and recording. And it does so without your CPU bearing the load.
Linus’ disappointment upon discovering that he can’t use NVENC is palpable. Then he screenshots a two-year-old Reddit post stating that Nvidia’s NVENC isn’t supported on Linux.
Which is humorous, since I’ve been using it flawlessly on various Linux distributions for at least 18 months. That’s because during their tenure at Canonical, Alan Pope and Martin Wimpress put loads of work and a toy box full of extra features into the Snap version of OBS Studio.
The versions of OBS Studio in Debian and Ubuntu repositories also support Nvidia’s hardware encoding. Had Linus installed the Snap version on Manjaro, he’d be ready to rock with NVENC. But how would Linus know that? How would anyone, honestly?
How would they know unless they’re practically cemented into the Linux echo chamber? Maybe after they’ve scoured enough guides and Reddit posts with outdated information, they’ll eventually stumble onto the truth. Perhaps they’ll eventually stumble onto this article.
But the reality is this: Linus concludes that this feature’s omission must be yet another reason the Linux community hates Nvidia. Which is equally humorous, because I’m part of the Linux community and I prefer Nvidia for both gaming and gameplay capture. I’ve spoken to many others who feel the same way, citing that even brand new Nvidia cards “just work” out of the box with the proprietary driver.
Linus Vs Linux: We Desperately Need This
This Linux Gaming Challenge is going to ruffle the feathers of many a Linux diehard. If you count yourself among those ranks because you feel offended, or you believe Linus is dumb, or you believe it’s all just an elaborate ploy to get clicks, or because you think it’s perfectly acceptable for everyday users to implement hacky solutions to simple issues, you might be part of the problem.
Within 3 minutes, I actually felt embarrassed for Manjaro. I saw its outdated and clunky graphics driver menu through fresh eyes.
I saw through fresh eyes how confusing it is for that brand new Linux user to do something as basic as installing a piece of popular software. And I witnessed how misinformation and preconceived notions can spread like wildfire, unchecked by logic and reality.
And this is only 3 minutes of a single video that’s part of a larger multi-part series! Whoo-boy, we’re in for a world of pain.
Wait, no we’re not. We’re in for a world of improvement. Will it be painful? Will it leave scars? Yep. But desktop Linux should emerge from this scrutiny and criticism a better product. A more user-friendly experience. A more unified, dare I say it, platform.
But only if we remain open-minded and honest with ourselves. We love Linux, but if we want others to love it, Linux has to improve. And in the right hands, with the right guidance, this Linux Gaming Challenge will do that.
Embrace this, don’t hate this.
Linus makes simple, honest mistakes. He’s a very public reflection of so many people coming to Linux, getting frustrated, and returning back to Windows or macOS. But those mistakes are already yielding improvements.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.