Anyone operating a Windows-based desktop or laptop computer might naturally assume that everyone can play online poker with ease. That’s because Windows users have never dealt with the issues owners of Ubuntu and Linux operating systems have faced for years now. It wasn’t all that long ago that Mac poker players had just as many issues trying to find accommodating US poker sites, but the majority of big-league operators have made the effort to optimize their software for Mac compatibility. Unfortunately, Ubuntu and Linux US poker sites are still awaiting assimilation.
This fact does bring into question why someone would choose an operating system that is so rarely accommodated in the first place. In reality, there are many advantages to using an Ubuntu or Linux OS. They just don’t include any kind of serious gaming – online poker included.
The Ubuntu operating system is actually based on and developed by Linux. It was the brainchild of Linux developers who wanted to create something absolutely everybody could use and have fun with. Ubuntu is generally preferred for its intense speed, stability, and 100% customization capabilities… that and it happens to be absolutely free, as are all of the installable applications one can add to it, like programming tools, web server software, spreadsheet applications, word processors, graphic imaging programs, etc., all the same stuff the majority of Windows and Mac customers use, but generally have to pay for.
The traditional Linux OS, on the other hand, was never meant to serve the general population. It is also highly customizable, extremely stable and runs indubitably faster than any version of Windows or Mac ever produced, but was specifically designed by and for IT geeks that can make the most of its ulterior characteristics. The majority of Linux operating systems are free, and the OS is the backbone of just about every web server known to exist. There are many reasons for that, but topping the list is the speed, stability, and, most of all, security. As often as Windows and Mac users complain about viruses and trojans on their systems, Linux users do not suffer the same transgressions.
Having a less popular operating system does not explicitly restrict online poker players from tossing chips with the rest of the world, though. It’s more a matter of knowing one’s limitations, and acclimating to the environment. In fact, there are multiple ways for players who use Ubuntu and Linux operating systems to play online poker, including the utilization of in-browser software or installing a Windows PC emulator, (or a non-emulator that acts like an emulator) such as WINE.
No-Download Ubuntu / Linux Poker for US Players
Most US poker sites offer their software in two distinct varieties; one for download (compatible with Windows and/or Mac), and one that loads instantly in the player’s browser. The latter version is a Java-based application that can be opened in any browser that supports Java and Flash technologies. Frankly, that covers just about all of them. FireFox is the pre-installed browser for Ubuntu and most other Linux OS distributions, and can handle no-download online poker software with ease. Iceweasel and Epiphany (which come with the pay-to-use Red Hat OS by Linux) are also fully capable of running instant-play poker platforms, as are Chrome, Safari, Opera and other well-known internet browsers.
Java poker software may not be quite as flexible as the everyday garden variety of downloadable poker clients, but players won’t have the same issue that Mac users often complain about – namely speed. Ubuntu and Linux are extremely fast operating systems, thus the graphics and features cause no lag and the overall gameplay experience is equitable to that of a desktop download.
Any Ubuntu or Linux OS that does not already have Java installed is a quick fix. Players can use the following link to download the corresponding Java Runtime for Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Arch Linux and Debian). If that doesn’t alleviate the issue, players should double check to be sure they’ve enabled Java in their browser.
The only potential drawback is finding a US poker site that still offers a no-download poker platform. For example, BetOnline and Bovada are two of the most popular online poker sites for US players post-Black Friday, but because a download is required to play (compatible only with Windows and Mac), Ubuntu and Linux users are, by default, ineligible to participate at these US poker sites, at least in the traditional manner. Any poker site that offers ‘Instant Play’, however, is fully accessible.
Play US Poker on Ubuntu / Linux via WINE
Windows and Mac OSs are so heavily laden with excessive aesthetics that the more programs a user has open, the slower the system’s performance becomes. For this reason, WINE is not generally recommended for PC or Mac. However, such is not the case with Ubuntu and other Linux operating systems. WINE was initially designed for Unix operating systems, from which all Linux OS are derived. As such, it runs seamlessly on Ubuntu and Linux.
To clarify, WINE is not a traditional PC emulator. In fact, its name is an acronym that stands for “Wine Is Not a (CPU) Emulator”.
Using WINE on Ubuntu and Linux is incredibly simple for any moderately experienced Ubuntu/Linux user. Enter “$ sudo apt-get install Wine” in the terminal and follow the usual set-up instructions. Alternatively, one can visit the Software Center and search for “WINE”, but the terminal is one of the OS’s ultimate conveniences.
Once WINE is installed, players can download the .exe file for any Windows based poker client. Note what directory it’s saved in, then in the terminal, go to that directory (i.e. if the directory is ‘Downloads’, type “$ cd Downloads”). Finally, type “$ Wine filename.exe” (replacing “filename.exe” with the name of the poker client).