Install and manage games with Lutris Play Time

Install and manage games with Lutris Play Time

Article from Issue 228/2019

If you frequently play games on Linux, you are accustomed to dealing with many different installers and configurations. Lutris can help simplify the process of setting up all your games.

Games and Linux are normally not a good match. Often a troublesome configuration or Wine issues make the setup a slow and time-consuming process. With Lutris [1], an open gaming platform, you just need a few mouse clicks to set up a new game on Linux.

When it comes to commercial software, Lutris will only install games that you have purchased in advance. However, Lutris usually automatically accesses free and open source games from online stores, such as Steam [2] and [3]. All the games you install are stored in an integrated library; from there, the games can be started (or easily removed) at the push of a button.


Lutris uses Wine to launch numerous Windows games on Linux and takes care of the required Wine configuration independently. The program also cooperates with many other emulators, which you can use to launch countless classics, from the original Space Invaders to the Colonization strategy game for DOS.

Lutris uses runners, which are programs that run the games. For example, the Overwatch action game launches with the Wine runner, while Colonization, the legacy strategy game, is driven by the DOSBox runner with a DOS emulator of the same name (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Clicking on a game in the Games tab on the Lutris website provides you with details about the game, including known issues. You can also purchase the game directly from GOG or Steam by clicking on the corresponding link.

Native Linux programs have their own runner – unsurprisingly named Linux. The Lutris website [4] lists the currently supported runners, which include not only Wine and DOSBox, but also FS-UAE for Amiga and PCSX2 for Playstation 2 emulators, plus many more.

Lutris does not actually install games itself. Instead, it uses community-maintained installation scripts. A list of all currently supported games can be found on the Lutris website under the Games tab (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Lutris only installs games that is supports; you can find a current list on the Lutris website.


Some distributions, including openSUSE v15.1 and later, offer Lutris via their software package management. However, there are plenty of community packages available for older releases. The Lutris developers provide their own Ubuntu Personal Package Archives (PPA) repository. Listing 1 shows the three commands that add the repository and install the current Lutris version.

Listing 1

Installing Lutris on Ubuntu

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lutris-team/lutris
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install lutris

If the distribution you are using does not provide a Lutris package, download the tar.gz archive from the Download section of the Lutris website and extract it to disk; installing is not required.

Before you install Lutris, you need to make sure that you have Wine and all other required dependencies installed on your system (see the "Requirements" box). You can find these dependencies via the software package administration. On Ubuntu, the command from Listing 2 installs all necessary dependencies. You can then launch Lutris by calling ./bin/lutris from the program's directory.

Listing 2

Installing Dependencies on Ubuntu

$ sudo apt install python3-yaml python3-requests python3-pil python3-gi gir1.2-gtk-3.0 gir1.2-gnomedesktop-3.0 gir1.2-webkit2-4.0 gir1.2-notify-0.7 psmisc cabextract unzip p7zip curl fluid-soundfont-gs x11-xserver-utils python3-evdev libc6-i386 lib32gcc1 libgirepository1.0-dev


Lutris requires a number of tools and libraries. To run the Lutris client, you need to install:

  • Python 3.4 or higher
  • PyGObject
  • PyGObject bindings (GTK, GDK, Gnome Desktop, WebKit2, and Notify)
  • python3-requests
  • python3-pillow
  • python3-yaml
  • python3-evdev (optional for controller detection)

To install and run games with Lutris, you need the additional packages:

  • PSmisc (or a package for fuser)
  • pz7zip (or a package for 7z)
  • cURL
  • fluid-soundfont-gs (or other soundfonts to play MIDI music)
  • cabextract (for installing Windows games)
  • xrandr (for systems with an X11 server)
  • libc6-i386 and lib32gcc1 (for 32-bit game support)
  • A 32-bit OpenGL graphics card driver

Some games use the Vulkan graphics interface. If Lutris complains about missing Vulkan libraries at startup, you need to install these libraries manually. The procedure depends on which graphics card and distribution you use. (Describing this process is beyond this article's scope; for detailed instructions, see the Lutris Wiki [5]).


In the initially empty main window, Lutris displays all the currently active runners in the left sidebar (similar to the sidebar in Figure 3). At first, only the Browser and Linux runners should appear. These allow Lutris to install native Linux programs and run browser games. To add more runners, click the gear icon to the right of Runners and select the desired runners from the list (Figure 4).

Figure 3: Runners for Linux, Windows, and browser games are available here. In the center pane, Lutris lists all the known games that include the Super string in their title.
Figure 4: Lutris mainly has runners for emulators.

If you want Lutris to start and manage Windows games, you need the Wine runner (located at the bottom of the list). Click on the adjacent green installation button. With Wine, you can even select specific versions. Unless you have a reason, you should always select the highest version number without the tkg prefix.

Lutris stores the downloaded runners in the home directory below .local/share/lutris/runners/, smuggling them past the distribution's package manager. Install all the other required runners in the same manner. The DOSBox runner for DOS classic games is especially useful.

If you want to play games from Steam, then you also need the Steam and Wine Steam runners. Steam is responsible for native Linux games on Steam, while Wine Steam launches Windows games offered on Steam. When setting up Wine Steam, your system may complain about missing Wine-Mono and Wine-Gecko packages; install them if necessary.

Incidentally, the runners are the Steam client for Linux or Windows, which Lutris uses for its own purposes. On our test system, Lutris did not want to install the Steam runner. In this case, you need to manually install the Steam client for Linux, and Lutris will automatically detect it the next time it starts.

To delete a runner, click on the red trash icon next to the runner in the Manage Runners window.

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