Linux is the number one PC operating system behind Windows. But the sheer number of Windows users means that even coming in second-place, Linux is used by a small number of people. According to an analysis in December 2014 by NetMarketShare.com, Linux represents only around 2.5% of the world computing market.

Okay, so 2.5% doesn’t sound like much, but we’re still talking about millions of devices, including laptops, desktops, smartphones, supercomputers, mainframes, servers, and other essential gadgets. The primary appeal of the various Linux OS platforms is the simple fact that Linux platforms are published open-source, so that anybody who has the need for a custom bit of software (and the ability to code for it) can add it to the basic Linux OS and tailor it to their needs. Essentially, it’s a techie thing.

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At the place where programming and gambling intersect, no doubt some Linux operators are interested in playing online poker. The problem with playing online poker on a Linux system is that the total number of players looking to do that is pretty small. There aren’t nearly enough Linux operators to justify the cost of developing a platform (download or not) that’s compatible with Linux-based machines.

Having said that, some options do exist for people interested in real money poker on Linux system. Ubuntu users (or users of any other Linux-style open source platform) have to do a little bit more leg work to find a venue for their real money play.

What is Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is an operating system built on the basic Linux platform. Ubuntu hit the market in early 2004, and has slowly become by far the most popular Linux OS-based computer environment worldwide.

Where’d it get that funny name? The phrase “Ubuntu” comes from tribal people living in South Africa – while difficult to translate, it is a philosophical concept that outlines the benefits of supporting the community. Ubuntu came out of a software development process in a South African think-tank, hence the connection to the tribal language.

Who uses Ubuntu? A survey of Ubuntu users done by Canonical in 2012 gives some insight into why it’s highly likely that Ubuntu users may be interested in online poker. Ubuntu users are overwhelmingly young (average age in the poll was around 30), male (more than 95% were male, according to the survey), and tech-savvy (75% of users polled admitted to using at least three different operating systems on a daily basis). All three of those dovetail nicely with online poker’s demographic.

Ubuntu Poker FAQ

I run Ubuntu – can I play online poker?

Yes, provided you find an instant play game, run an emulator, or dual-boot your machine with Windows, Mac OS, or some other poker-friendly operating platform.

Is it legal to play online poker on an Ubuntu system?

Provided it is legal to wager online in your jurisdiction, it is perfectly legal to place wagers and participate in tournaments while using any Linux-powered computer.

Is it safe to play online poker on an Ubuntu system?

Again, provided you place deposits and play in games at legitimate, above-board poker rooms, it is perfectly safe to do so using your Ubuntu-powered computer.

Does online poker glitch on Ubuntu (or other Linux) machines?

The answer to this depends on a few factors. It’s true that using emulators can cause lag and other glitches, but Ubuntu users have a lot of experience dealing with these problems, and are the most likely population to be able to fix them to adjust for their real money poker play.

Examples of Ubuntu/Linux Poker Sites

Though no Ubuntu-specific platforms for real money poker yet exist (no sites or rooms that specifically invite Linux or Ubuntu users with a set of software aimed at their OS), there are methods that Ubuntu users can try to get access to real money poker online.

Some Ubuntu-friendly Web browsers can gain full access to so-called “instant play” on a fully browser-based poker or casino site. A popular alternative is to download an Ubuntu-friendly program called Wine, which basically acts like a mini Windows emulator and gives Ubuntu users access to download platforms designed for Windows users. Some Ubuntu fans (tech-savvy as they are) have taken to “dual-booting” a computer with Windows (or some other poker-friendly OS) so they can play their games and tournaments on their otherwise-Linux-powered computer.

An example of a decent instant play poker game (one that doesn’t require a download and can run on an Ubuntu-friendly Web browser) is PartyPoker. Many Ubuntu users have reported success playing at PartyPoker on a number of different Web browsers designed for running on Linux platforms. PartyPoker is also a huge name in the industry – maybe not as big as they once were, but certainly still in the top ten in terms of popularity and reputation.

When considering a poker room to recommend for Linux users who want to run the Wine emulator, I decided it almost doesn’t matter which room you pick. The trouble with running Wine (or any emulator) is that you increase the likelihood of glitches.

What happens, in layman’s terms, is that the software used to literally translate certain Windows files into a format that is compatible with Ubuntu will move slower than the packets of files coming in – this is called “lag,” and its murder on any kind of online gaming. Lag is a problem that may be fixable, especially for the tech-smart Ubuntu user. To that end, I’d recommend one of the world’s flagship poker rooms, like PokerStars, to any customer who is willing to run Wine or any other emulator to play real money Ubuntu poker.

As for dual-booting enthusiasts, the same is pretty much true. If you’ve gone as far as to dual-boot your machine with both Ubuntu and (say) Windows, you probably don’t need my help finding a decent poker site. For one thing, there are so many Windows-friendly online poker rooms that accept real money bets, you’ll pretty much have your pick. Look into the two rooms named above, as well as 888poker or even the subscription-based services at a site like ClubWPT.com.