Steam for Linux

Steam for Linux

Arch-based distro and Optimus-like system graphics management
I now own a sort-of high-end laptop, which I mainly use for gaming (On my Windows partition, that is). The Specs are as follows:

  • Intel Core i5 4200M 2.5GHz (3.1GHz on Turbo-Boost) CPU
  • 8GB Corsair Vengeance (2x4GB) RAM Modules
  • NVidia GeForce 750M 2GB Dedicated GPU
  • Standard Intel HD-4600 Integrated Graphics
  • 1TB Standard S-ATA Seagate HDD

A while back I partitioned my HD to istall Linux along with my running Windows 8.1, which I would use mainly for programming and software development. The thing is, I have this gear with considerable graphics processing power, and since I'd spend so much time on Linux, I'd like to be able to use my system to the extent of it's capabilities while on it, with a good-looking desktop environment, and maybe even do some gaming.

From what I've learned, my system apparently uses this Optimus-like technology to manage graphics processing between the dedicated and integrated hardware. So I started on Ubuntu and kept bouncing around distros, searching for one that would properly identify and create the necessary hardware associations so I could install a proper driver and use the gear. Debian based distros where of no help, with their generally old kernel versions. Finally I decided I could be more bold, and tried an Arch-based Spinoff. I'm currently using Antergos with Cinnamon desktop GUI.

I have to say I loved Arch. The thing is, the Spinoff is full of bloatware and came with configs and hardware associations that just don't fit my system. So I stopped for a while, and decided to read about the Arch way of things. Keep in mind that I'm no Linux expert, even though I learned enough to feel not-so-uncomfortable outside a Debian based environment. How hard can it be if you're willing to learn, right ? Anyways, I feel up to installing Arch from scratch, or at least using Archbang.

Will I be able to establish proper hardware associations with this gear and abuse the full system capabilities using a proper Arch build ? What about Archbang ? I believe in the performance and elegance of an Arch build, I just want some opinion and maybe guidance from someone who knows more than I do, which is not a high standard really.

Thanks in advance.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 comments
Yoyo San Mar 30, 2014 @ 12:09am 

You should go with installing Arch from scratch, imho.

I might be wrong, since I don't have a laptop with Optimus like technology, but you should be able to run it just fine.
Of course, you can't make it without reading a lot of their excellent wiki articles, so gather up as much patience and resolve as you can.

First, you should start with the Beginners guide[].

After you install it, you should checkout the laptop wiki page[] and the laptop's category here[].
What might suit you regarding hybryd graphics is Bumblebee[].

Regarding maintenance, you should follow these two guides:
- Arch Linux survival guide
- Enhancing Arch Linux stability[]

If you need help, don't hesitate to ask.


Last edited by Yoyo San; Mar 30, 2014 @ 12:15am
Natalie Suportman Mar 30, 2014 @ 12:36am 
Hey, Thanks for the quick response !

The links were acutally quite helpful. Even though I intended on using the Beginner's guide wiki article, the laptop wiki page is extremely useful regarding Synaptics touchpad enhancement and Hybrid graphics. And I'll definitely read regularly the pages regarding system maintenance...

As for the drivers, I might just end up using the nouveau's PRIME functionality, since I don't really care about power saving solutions to use Bumblebee. A third alternative would be the proprietary NVidia drivers, but apparently they are pure ♥♥♥♥ (Desktop screen tearing. Seriously? Ridiculous).

You've been very helpful, mate... Cheers !
Skepticale Mar 31, 2014 @ 6:32am 
Nothing wrong with Ubuntu. Got my pretty powerful notebook computer running the integrated and discrete graphics card whenever I want with the X-Swat distro's and Bumblebee. Even running some Windows only games through WINE better than it runs natively on Windows. Arch is by no means a necessity and I would rather spend the installation and configuration time of Arch in playing games on my Ubuntu system but thats just me.
SHO NUFF!!! Apr 2, 2014 @ 8:13am 
He doesn't actually need to install from scratch (although I did) but instead could recompile the kernel himself for the hardware he has. Configuration time for Arch is not bad... if you know what you are doing and have good bandwith it should take 15 to 20 minutes (fine tuning thing to the way you like.... eh, that might take another 30 min. I recommend saving your .config files so when you decide to install or reinstall than all of your settings will be done.

Ubuntu is fine...but there is a noticeable difference in speed when put up against Arch, which would probably dissappear if you made some changes to the desktop environment chosen and compiled a custom kernel.

Currently I am on a Galagos Ultapro laptop. For the most speed possible I went with openbox + pcmanfm desktop + lxpanel (for my desktop). In regards to a speedy desktop it has been unmatched. If you want a MAC OSX type look, swap out the lxpanel for docky and configure it for the MAC look. If you want to have a nice looking desktop that you can add whatever you want to it... you have to put it together yourself. I ran cinnamon for a while, it was nice but I was always missing something I wanted from KDE or XFCE.
aralmim May 27, 2014 @ 8:27am 
Hi,I have almost the same laptop. Could you give some directions to shorten my installation time ? And to make a little bit easy? Thank's
Krunchy the Clown May 27, 2014 @ 7:01pm 
You could give Manjaro a shot, it is also based on Arch, and you can install bumblebee in Manjaro too. Worth a shot.
SHO NUFF!!! May 28, 2014 @ 5:35am 
If you are familiar with installing linux then things should go relatively easy installing arch. It isn't as difficult as people make it to be.

The arch wiki should get you installed quickly:

For my personal installation I do not bother building swap because I have plenty of ram (16gb worth).... rather than wasting space I could be using for file storage.

Arch is barebones so you will become intamately reliant upon pacman (the package manager for Arch). I don't have a lot of recommendations to install arch faster it is just something you get better at once you've used linux for awhile.
(1) First thing I do is 'pacman -Syu'
(2) Afterwards I usually 'pacman -S firefox gimp blender libreoffice jitsi thunderbird clementine smplayer acroread openbox docky pcmanfm dropbox filezilla darktable tomboy keepass xbmc steam bluedevil fatrat bluegriffon geeqie eclipse xcompmgr' *you could copy and paste whatI have provided and you'd have a decent desktop. If a file could not be found then do a search for the proper name 'pacman -Ss nameofpackage'
(3) setup yaourt (used to install some common apps that are not official)

For my other Arch build, I use it for my HTPC and the 55' HDTV in my living room as my, you if you are going that route... which is awesome running Steam... I do recommend that you create a xrdb config file that will help resize your fonts for appropriate viewing on a large screen tv. The config iI use is one line that just provides a font to use and size. I believe I use Cantarell as my font... looks best on a big screen tv from the couch ;-)
Last edited by SHO NUFF!!!; May 28, 2014 @ 5:57am
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Date Posted: Mar 29, 2014 @ 9:28pm
Posts: 7