Is Qubes viable for gaming?

Let’s quickly get into this, I do have a background in using Linux and have tested using Qubes a few years ago.
I really like the segmentation in Qubes, but my big concern is I am a gamer as well ( I know I could dual boot but I don’t want to if I can help it. )

Is setting up a windows VM or Arch VM to use as my main gaming VMs, going to lead me to a hell of technical issues. I know I’ll have to address the GPU passthrough but I feel there is enough documentation now to deal with that.

But is this a viable option or am I just hoping too much?

Any advice or opinions on the matter would be really helpful.

just try first

From reading of your post I would think, you’re close to this person, I was - a few months ago. I would say, if you’re able to get Qubes installed on your device and can search the net for some fixes (if you run into some problems), then I don’t see, why you shouldn’t try the entire thing out.
Result is always getting wiser and becoming a daily user of the system.

Whether the GPU passthrough will work for you, probably depends on your hardware and how well it’s supported by Linux.

(edited the title to help others find this discussion)

Today “viable for gaming” seems close to equivalent to “can passthrough secondary GPU to a gaming VM”, but it has constraints (eg. output to separate display, or get video stream back to dom0 through other means like VNC), and that GPU cannot be used by programs in different VMs.

When sys-gui-gpu is made to work for more hardware, and when a GL/VK command-streaming infrastructure is put in place, I hope it will be much more comfortable. More manpower and neurons welcome :wink:


in short: NO, we are not there yet.

But if you have a lot of time to burn - instead of playing a ‘real’ game - it is not hopeless, but full of challenges :wink:

Loong time ago, this kind of activity was the ‘gaming’ for me… nowadays I prefer just play a real game - with my kids - instead.

but on Xbox, or on my windows based gaming rig :slight_smile:

I’ve never understood the allure of gaming on Qubes. Is it the convenience/necessity of having everything on one system instead of having a separate gaming system? Is it the fear of being hacked and swatted by a CoD opponent you spent the entirety of last week stalking and teabagging? Is it one of those “Because it’s there and I can” things? Is gaming on Qubes one of those achievements people flex about nowadays?

What makes it worth dealing with the issues that come with gaming on a VM, which would probably make everything laggy? To those who game on their Qubes: What has your experience been like?

Also, just to be clear: None of this is directed at you specifically–I’m just curious.

How about money? Not everyone has enough money to buy two powerful machines, for Qubes and gaming. If you have one machine, gaming makes it much less secure AFAIK. You would want to isolate it as much as possible from the rest of the system, which is why Qubes could help.

It’s also convenience: two machines take physical space, require independent updates etc. One is always more convenient IMHO, if it can do everything.

Why would a gaming VM make everything laggy? It doesn’t have to run games when you’re not gaming, does it?

I am not gaming on my Qubes machine, but I actually would like to. Waiting for it to be reliable and user-friendly…

On my side the primary motivations are:

  • being able to carry a single machine for all common usages (the “more machines” has a famously negative Wife Acceptance Factor :wink: )
  • obviously, being able to isolate the untrusted games/whatever (more and more anti-cheat install themselves as Windows drivers, @fsflover is 200% right about what gaming does to your machine nowadays)
  • and yes it’s still fun to learn new things :smiley:

(and coming from the team that brought up a “stream a gaming PC” tech solution, I’m pretty confident we can do something that will not lag on a single machine :wink: )

You’re just saying that to force me to bring my old meme, aren’t you ? Thanks :smiley:

Figure of speech. Running a GPU-intensive action game on a VM sounds like a laggy proposition. Running multiplayer games sounds like a nightmare with the network stack especially with VPN.

There could definitely be more improvements, but on the whole it seems pretty reliable and user-friendly now–unless you want the point-and-click Window experience on Qubes.

I’ve heard about installations messing with the kernel in the name of anti-cheat, so this makes sense.

I have a question about streaming gaming PCs–for a remote server that’s 100ms away from the user, which is what I imagine is average, how do you reduce input lag? How do you reduce compounding effects in multiplayer games? (e.g. a bunch of streamers playing a shooter together).

Also, since I have someone might be able to give me an informed answer here–would VR work on Qubes without being nauseating? My previous, less-informed answer (linked below) was ‘no’.

Short answer: don’t stand 100ms from the server.

There are several parts to that:

  • the service must have servers close enough to you. See this map: 3 datacenters for Western Europe, not offering service any further than France/IK/Germany/Swizerland/Benelux. And negociate peering with the main ISPs to get the best connectivity to target customers.
  • take a fiber subscription so you’re less than 10ms from servers (my experience was typically 2-3ms around Paris) - although a good DSL line is enough for many games (not for competitive shooters, then).
  • get FPS players in the dev team, so they make the system good enough for their pet game :slight_smile:

If it’s doable from the Cloud I’m pretty confident it can work on Qubes, given proper work (not sure if it is still a focus on Shadow, but that went to customers as an Alpha at that time).

(oh, and the tech behind that is PCI passthrough on qemu/KVM)

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I’m more skeptical about cloud VR than Qubes VR—much more skeptical. Your sibling/flatmate/parents streaming/torrenting/downloading while you’re strapped in could cause you to use your lunch. I think VR is one of those things that are just too lag-sensitive to put in the cloud, with the penalty for lag being nausea (you really don’t want your product associated with that).

This is why the computing hardware is moving closer to your face, not farther away from it (see: all-in-one devices like the Oculus Quest). That, and the computational requirements of basic VR aren’t high enough to justify cloud-ifying it.

I can tell you why. It is because when they have vnc connection because exploitng ME they can shut down your game when they want too. Aslo you are streaming for free without knowing if your actually streaming. Its not ideal.

to make gpu work in qubes os you have enable “GPU passthrough” to the VM? What if you have a Ryzen cpu with integrated graphics, like the 5000 series? Would this improve graphics in qubes os more easily or would you have to pass this throug aswell and hope that the hardware supports it?

If you Ryzen’s iGPU is already used by dom0 (likely) you can’t pass it through. That’s the precise reason why I started that little project (which only has a PoC for now).

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