What Is Valve Proton? Why Is It Important For Linux?

New to Linux gaming? Here's what Valve Proton is!

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What is Valve Proton
Image: Abubakar Mohammed

Gaming on Linux has taken a massive leap forward over the past few years. With more games being added to the “supported games” list each day, some of which are working better on Linux than on Windows, over 80% of top AAA games in the Steam library are playable.

This is all thanks to Valve and its Proton Compatibility Layer. In this article, let’s look at what it is and how it helps play Windows games on Linux.

What is Valve Proton?

If you’ve used Linux before, you may have heard about Wine and how to use it. Wine is a program that helps Linux users run Windows apps by translating the Windows logic into UNIX logic. Proton is a Wine fork (based on Wine) developed by Valve that translates DirectX (Windows API calls) to Vulkan (Linux understandable instructions).

Before Proton, Linux only had a few native games. Game developers would often reject requests to bring their games to Linux. However, with Proton, people can now directly play most Windows-native games on Linux with ease or a little bit of tinkering.

Emphasis on “most of the games” because some games are still unplayable with Proton on Linux. An example of the same would be games with built-in anti-cheat mechanisms. Speaking of which, you may have heard about the Steam Deck. If not, check out our article, “What is Steam Deck.”

All hail Valve for the Steam Deck!

Steam deck SteamOS Update
Image: Steam

TL;DR; Steam Deck is a gaming console from Valve that runs Linux (SteamOS 3.0). Thanks to the immense hype that Valve created with the Steam Deck, by pricing it as low as possible and using potent hardware, both the console and Linux have highly benefitted from the same so far.

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Support for popular games with anti-cheat mechanisms was added to Proton once the Steam Deck orders started shipping. We have fabricated a list of supported and unsupported games with anti-cheat software. You can also check the list of supported games on ProtonDB and AreWeAntiCheatYet. One of the recent additions to the list was Apex Legends, which uses Easy Anti-Cheat.

The bottom line is, with Proton being open-source, Valve, working closely with game and anti-cheat developers, paved the way not only for the Steam Deck but also for desktop Linux.

How to use Proton in Steam on Linux?

To play Windows games on Linux using Proton on Steam, you’ll first need to download and install Steam on Linux. Once Steam is installed, follow our guide on “how to use Valve Proton on Linux.” Setting up Proton involves only a few extra steps.

What are your thoughts about the Proton compatibility layer and Linux gaming? Let us know in the comments section below. If you want to learn more about Linux gaming, check out our “how to choose a distro for gaming” and “best Linux distros for gaming” articles.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

Abubakar Mohammed

Abubakar Mohammed

Abubakar is a passionate tech writer whose love for tech started in 2011 when he got a Dell Inspiron 5100. When he's not covering Linux and open-source, you'll find him binge-watching anime or Tech content on YouTube.

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