Linux Gaming – Steam problem

Now that Steam is available on Linux and there are a decent number of games available for it, I’ve decided that as a massive geek I should probably game on Linux whenever possible.

I’ve already got a decent gaming rig (Intel i7-3770, GeForce GTX 680, 8GB RAM, 240GB Intel SSD) with Windows 7 installed, but I’ve not got a spare SSD to install Linux onto, so it took a bit of effort to shrink the NTFS partition down so I could install Linux Mint 17 onto it. Installation wasn’t a straight forwards as normal, as for some reason there were a mixture of GPT and MBR partition tables on the SSD, so it took a little fixing, but dual booting has been achieved.

Due to the space constraints of SSD’s I’ve decided that the end goal will be to have the OS and system software installed onto the SSD (for both Windows and Linux), and the Steam Library installed onto the file server, then mounted on the local machine. The OS, applications, office suites, utilities really don’t take up that much space compared to games, so having them on the SSD should be fine.

Getting Steam installed was nice and simple, but there’s a (I assume) bug when you try and add a mounted NFS directory as a Steam Library location of:

“New Steam library folder must be on a file system mounted with execute permissions”.

So after checking to see if it was mounted with execute permissions (it wasn’t), and some mucking about with the /etc/fstab options, I found that NFS4 mounts don’t quite work right on my setup at the moment (I’ll look into that later!), but NFS3 work just fine.

So I tried again and got the same error 🙁 . After bit of poking around the Steam install folder, I did discover a fix:

Run Steam, add any local file system directory (I used ‘Downloads’) as a Library location, then exit Steam. Now edit the file:

/home/user/.steam/steam/config/config.vdf

and search for the directory name you just added:

“BaseInstallFolder_1”           “/home/user/Downloads”

Then just change it to full path of the NFS mounted location, save, exit and start Steam again and it’ll work 🙂

So far, I’ve got a few of the games installed onto the server, but as it’s not finished yet, I’m keeping them to a minimum and ones with Steam Cloud enabled saves 😉 The first game I’ve been playing is XCOM: Enemy Within, as I’ve been a fan of the series since the original way back in the 90’s 😉

Speed wise, it’s not noticeably slower running it from an NFS mount than off the local SSD, which I’m a little surprised at! But the server’s got 16GB RAM and ~34GB of SSD cache. Local SSD access times are around 0.1ms, which is slightly faster the same ping from my machine to the server (~0.17ms) , so latency should be in the same ballpark. It’s just the raw throughput that’s different – 1Gbit/s Ethernet vs 6Gbit/s SATA-3, which whilst not exactly a small difference, doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact on loading times.

So once the file server is finished I’ll migrate all my games onto it, then I’ll probably reinstall both OS’s, then try and game in Linux if possible 🙂

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