Golden Drake Linux

There’s growing interest in the Linux operating system as a platform for gaming and game development. It may not be the right choice for everyone, but for those of you who are (or wish to become) Linux enthusiasts, fans of Arch Linux specifically, and interested in the features detailed below, we are proud to offer a custom Arch Linux installer designed with gamers and game developers in mind: Golden Drake Linux (GDL).

Like the Anarchy installer it’s based on, GDL is not actually an independent distro. Rather, it’s simply a convenient method for installing a customized version of the Arch distro. It’s also provided without any warranty and without any promise of technical support: it’s just a fun open source side project that we hope might be of interest to some folks out there beyond our walls.

Here at Golden Drake Studios, we’re huge fans of all the major Linux distros, each possessing its own pros and cons, but we’ve gravitated toward Arch for the following reasons:

  • Arch is a robust, well-managed, rolling distro that offers bleeding-edge versions of software while still maintaining an impressive level of stability.
  • In addition to extensive official repositories, Arch offers convenient access to a seemingly endless array of additional software for those bold enough to venture into the Arch User Repository (AUR).  This greatly reduces the need to rely on snaps, flatpaks, etc., though these options are available, too.
  • The Arch community is highly knowledgeable and maintains one of the all-time best sources of Linux lore: the Arch Wiki.
  • The overall structure and philosophy of Arch make it uniquely versatile, customizable, and liberating.

The only major downside of Arch, in our view, is that its standard installation process can be intimidating for newcomers and time-consuming even for experienced Linux users. This is why we see great value in installation helpers such as ours.

Here are some of the features you can expect from GDL:

  • AUR helper yay-bin preinstalled for convenient access to AUR software.
  • A wide selection of free and open source (FOSS) games and gaming-related software (OBS Studio, MangoHud, Discord, etc.) available during installation.
  • If Lutris is selected during installation, GDL will also include wine-staging, winetricks, and other useful packages for running Windows apps/games through a compatibility layer, including all the prerequisites for Lutris-assisted installation of Blizzard Battle.net, providing access to Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Starcraft II, Diablo III, etc., all within Linux!
  • Steam, itch.io, the “legendary” Epic Games launcher, RetroArch, etc., can also be selected to provide even more access to an endless variety of games.
  • Unity Hub, Unreal Engine, Godot game engine, Gimp, Inkscape, Goxel, Blender, Tiled, Audacity, LibreSprite, and other apps relevant to game art, game programming, and other aspects of game development available for optional preinstallation.
  • A lightweight and versatile desktop environment, Xfce, customized as follows:
    • Thanks to xfce-superkey-git, the Super key (a.k.a., Windows key) opens the Whisker Menu without any undesirable side effects. In addition, several keyboard shortcuts have been set up to use the Super key, including:
      • Super+Up: Maximize window.
      • Super+Down: Minimize window.
      • Super+Right/Left: Tile window to the right/left (Super can also be used with numpad keys for tiling to the corners and top/bottom of the screen).
      • Super+D: Show desktop.
      • Super+W: Launch default web browser.
      • Super+T: Launch default terminal (terminator).
      • Shift+Super+T: Launch a fun alternative terminal (cool-retro-term).
      • Super+C: Launch calculator (galculator).
      • Shift+Super+C: Launch GNOME character map for convenient access to emojis and other special characters (gnome-characters).
      • Super+E: Launch text editor (mousepad).
      • Super+F: Launch file manager (thunar).
      • Super+S: Launch settings manager (xfce4-settings-manager).
      • Super+K: Kill selected window (xkill).
      • Super+L: Lock screen (xflock4).
    • To avoid annoyance, the standard “alert bell” (or “beep”) is disabled and the behavior of highlighting text by holding the Shift key while using numpad keys is adjusted to suit most modern users’ expectations (i.e., setxkbmap -option 'numpad:microsoft').
    • Visually, the environment is set up with a nice dark theme, a tasteful touch of red and gold here and there, and subtle window compositing effects, all of which can, like all settings and customizations, be changed to suit your personal taste and preferences.
    • If a game exhibits screen-tearing or other issues that might be caused by the window compositor, disable/enable compositing via this keyboard shortcut (chosen to match KDE Plasma and to avoid anything likely to be typed by accident): Alt+Shift+F12.
  • Major multimedia plugins (gst-plugins-base, gst-plugins-good, gst-plugins-bad, and gst-plugins-ugly) along with a soundfont for MIDI files (soundfont-fluid).
  • A variety of fun terminal programs, including asciiquarium, cmatrix, cowsay, lolcat, boxes, figlet, toilet, and nms (“No more secrets,” to recreate the data decryption effect from the 1992 hacker movie Sneakers).
  • A custom .bashrc file to provide the following while in a terminal:
    • A roll function for tabletop gaming or anytime random numbers are desired: type “roll 3 6” to roll 3d6 (or just “roll 3” since six-sided dice is the default), “roll 2 4” to roll 2d4, “roll 1 20” to roll 1d20, etc.
    • Functions for creating and extracting archive files: maketar, makezip, and extract.
    • An mcd function for creating a directory and immediately moving into it.
    • Aliases to improve some basic commands, facilitate a few important tasks (yayupdateyaycleanup, etc.), and provide more convenient access to the features of some of the fun terminal commands listed above.
  • Access to the Arch Wiki, online or offline, during and after installation, viawiki-search [query]” (courtesy of arch-wiki-lite).
  • The “Uncomplicated Firewall” (ufw), preinstalled and enabled.
  • Xorg display server (might shift to Wayland eventually).
  • The standard Linux kernel. Yes, there are a few interesting custom kernels, such as xanmod and tkg, that can in some cases provide slight improvements to gaming performance, RAM usage, etc., but they can also reduce stability and make upgrading less convenient, so, for now, GDL only installs the official stable kernel. You are, of course, free to install additional kernels on your own.

The first official release of GDL will be ready in May of 2021. We hope you’ll enjoy it and provide constructive feedback, but if it doesn’t offer what you’re looking for then we recommend checking out another tried-and-true Arch installer, such as Anarchy or ArchLabs, or a more user- and beginner-friendly Arch-based distro, such as Manjaro, EndeavourOS, or Garuda Linux. Alternatively, we can also highly recommend Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based distros like Linux Mint and Pop!_OS, options that some people consider even more user- and beginner-friendly.