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How to improve gaming performance on Linux with Feral GameMode

Feral Interactive has created an innovative program for Linux gamers known as GameMode. It’s an impressive tool that can improve performance while playing video games by optimizing several aspects of the Linux operating system, including the CPU governor, I/O priorities, GPU performance, and much more.

Using GameMode on Linux requires that the program be built from its source code available on GitHub. Building the source code is very straight-forward, as the developers outline what dependencies it requires, how to install them, and have even included an elegant installation script that, when run, can take the tediousness out of compiling software.

To start the installation process for GameMode on Linux, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, once the terminal is open, follow along with each of the sections of the installation process to get your copy of GameMode up and running!

Getting dependencies

The most important part of installing GameMode on Linux is getting the variety of build-time software dependencies it needs installed. To get the dependencies for GameMode set up on your Linux PC, follow the command-line instructions below that correspond with the Linux OS you use.

Ubuntu

On Ubuntu Linux, the dependencies required are Meson, Libsystemd-dev, Pkg-config, Ninja, Git, Libdbus-1-dev, and Dbus-user-session.

sudo apt install meson libsystemd-dev pkg-config ninja-build git libdbus-1-dev dbus-user-session

Debian

Debian Linux is very similar to Ubuntu under the hood. As a result, the dependencies required to build GameMode on it are identical (Libsystemd-dev, Pkg-config, Ninja, Git, Libdbus-1-dev, etc.)

sudo apt-get install meson libsystemd-dev pkg-config ninja-build git libdbus-1-dev dbus-user-session

Arch Linux

Arch Linux users only need to install 4 dependencies to get GameMode built. They are Meson, Systemd, Git, and Dbus.

sudo pacman -S meson systemd git dbus

Fedora

Fedora Linux users looking to compile GameMode on Linux must install Meson, Systemd-devel, Pkg-config, Git, and Dbus-devel.

sudo dnf install meson systemd-devel pkg-config git dbus-devel

OpenSUSE

The developer doesn’t explicitly outline the correct dependencies required to build the software on OpenSUSE. That said, the Fedora ones should work fine. However, you run into issues, ask the developer directly on this page.

sudo dnf install meson systemd-devel pkg-config git dbus-devel

Download the source code

Now that the dependencies are taken care of, the source code for GameMode must be downloaded. To do this, we must make use of the Git program, and it’s clone feature.

git clone https://github.com/FeralInteractive/gamemode.git

Once the cloning process is complete, a folder with the name of “gamemode” will appear in your home directory (~). Move the terminal session into this folder by using the CD command below.

cd gamemode

Building GameMode on Linux

The GameMode application is easy to build on any Linux PC, thanks to the “bootstrap.sh” script. To run the script, run the execution command below in a terminal window.

./bootstrap.sh

Upon running the “bootstrap.sh” script on your Linux PC, you’ll be asked to enter the password for your user. Do so, as the script needs it to gain sudo access during the build and installation process.

When the build/installation process is complete on your Linux PC, you will be able to access the GameMode manually by typing the command below.

man gamemoded

Run GameMode on non-Steam games

GameMode can run video games installed on a Linux computer via the command-line. For example, to get better performance out of Super Tux Kart on Linux, you’d run the following command in a Linux terminal window.

gamemoderun supertuxkart

To run any video game installed on your Linux PC, write the gamemoderun command, followed by the game’s execution command.

gamemoderun game-name

Run GameMode with Steam games

Aside from running from a terminal, GameMode can also work with Steam games. To configure any game to run on Steam, start by launching the Steam app. Then, once the Steam application is open, click on “Library” to go to your video game library.

Once in the “Library” section of Steam, look for an installed game and right-click it with the mouse to bring up the right-click menu.

In the right-click menu of your Steam game, find the “properties” option and select it to open the properties area for the game. Then, look for the “set launch options” button and click it to open up the Steam launch options window.

Inside of “Launch Options” for your game on Steam, write the following command into the text box to enable GameMode for the Steam game.

gamemoderun %command%

Click the “OK” button to save the command to the Steam game. Then, click the “close” button to close the Steam game’s properties window.

To start GameMode on the Steam game, click “Play” and enter your password in the pop-up window that appears on the screen.

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