My experience with Linux (Nobara Steamdeck Edition) on the Lenovo Legion Go (Very Positive!)

First, a disclaimer - I have been using Linux for many many years and things that most people consider difficult or obtuse are easy for me. So any statements about Linux's ease of use should be taken with a bit of salt. Grin

So I bought my Lenovo Legion Go with the full intent to dual boot with Linux, and I couldn't be happier!

Nobara Steamdeck Edition was really easy to install (relative to other linux distros) and 90% of the device's features are working without doing anything else.

However, I'm a bit picky so I swapped out a bootloader that supported touchscreen selection (rEFind), and found a wonderful guide that brings the functionality almost to parity with Windows (and actually superior in a few ways) -

The end result is something that feels better to use than Windows. Nobara running in "Gaming Mode" (Big Picture) uses only 1.6GB of barely breaks 2.5GB with a third party launcher running. This means that setting the UMA memory allocation (Vram allocation) to 8GB works a lot better! Even launching into "Desktop Mode" provides a better experience than Windows 11 in many places - mainly resource usage and responsiveness. 

Ultimately, I'm considering shrinking my Windows partition to be only used for Firmware and Bios updates going forward. Linux provides that good of an experience for me.

Linux still probably isn't for the non-technical quite yet, but in a year or two, it might be! In the meantime, if you like to tinker, consider this an enthusiastic recommendation to give it a shot!

  • This is awesome to hear, I was also thinking about doing the same thing to try squeeze out some better 8gb vram performance. I've worked with various Linux distros over the last 5 years, while windows is very user friendly its sooo much nicer to have a lightweight OS running the show without hogging so many resources.

  • I had been wondering how this would work, and how well - glad to hear it was relatively straight forward and easy for you! Thanks for posting this.

  • Thank you for posting this, I'm fairly convinced Nobara is a viable dual partition for my Legion Go alongside Windows 11. My SteamDeck 1TB is configured in this manner, 512GB for Windows 10 with the other 512GB for Steam OS. I use a couple of 1TB microSDs for additional storage in Windows as well as Steam OS.

    Although the experience looks fantastic and the install effortless, for now I'm going to wait for 95% - 98% functionality. Gyro implementation could push me over the edge to install immediately or at the very least tomorrow. Come on Ben #1 and Ben #2 plus the engineering team let's get going on the gyro : ) 

    Have you played any game on Nobara yet? Is Proton working well? You mentioned Nobara OS is a better experience than Windows 11 in some ways, can you elaborate (we would love to know more)? Are you using Clover or rEFInd as your bootloader?

  • Gyro works, the latest HHD (HandHeld Daemon) release seriously refined it! I've used it for some silly things already!

    95% of legion space functionality is here along with 5-10% that Windows 11/Legion space can't do at all! It just requires a bit of manual assembly.

    To make it succinct as I can here's the most important that work ---

    • TDP Control (SimpleDeckyTDP)
      • and per-game TDP profiles
    • Ability to use the "Custom" Bios profile (purple power button led)
    • Fan Curves (Not in legion space yet IIRC)
      • and per-game fan profiles
    • Max Fan
    • GPU Clock Controls (again, not in legion space to my recollection)
    • Gyro (HHD)
    • LED Control (Multiple tools)
    • Back Buttons are mappable to anything steaminput can map, not just other controller buttons. (Unlike legion space)
    • FPS Mode
    • USB4/Thunderbolt Devices
    • Brightness Control
    • HDR when connected to an HDR compatible screen. (Steam gamescope)
    • Quick Suspend (Better than Win 11 too)
    • Scaling
      • Integer
      • Nearest
      • FSR
      • NIS
    • FPS Limits
    • Other Launchers:
      • I've tested...
      • Heroic (GOG, Amazon, and Epic)
    • Emulation
      • Emudeck makes emulation super easy no matter the platform.
    • And so much more!

    Here are the innate advantages of Nobara Linux:

    • Gaming tuned kernel - often outperforms Windows
    • Very low resource usage - More power, RAM, and CPU cycles for games!
    • Easy to use tools for most gaming needs (proton selection, installing common apps, etc.)
    • Unlike SteamOS, not immutable - so you aren't restricted to flatpaks only.

    By contrast, here are the things that don't work 100% yet.

    • Consistent button glyphs - since HHD emulates a Dualsense controller, games often show Playstation style buttons.
    • 144hz refresh (while in Gamemode, anyways) - It works until you accidentally change it since the display slider only goes to 120hz.
    • Easy-to-use boot menu - it ships with grub, and installing reFInd or others is difficult for the less technical. Ideally Nobara SDE (Steam Deck Edition) would use a bootloader that supports touchscreen selection.


    As for what I've been playing:

    • Diablo II - Resurrected
    • Viewfinder
    • Some old Sega roms - particularly Aero The Acrobat and Echo - Tides of Time.
    • Bomb Rush Cyberfunk (Through GOG/Heroic)

    All run well and haven't given me any issues.

  • FANTASTIC!!! I had no idea Gyro is working under Nobara, this is excellent news! Goodbye 1TB dedicated to Windows 11. Slight smile Actually now that I think about it, I'll likely have 256GB for Windows 11 and use a microSD to supplement thereby having a larger Linux (Nobara OS) partition.

  • Thank you, very valuable info here.

    Hope for more support by Lenovo on Linux.

    But, in the meantime, community is doing a great job!

  • That's awesome,  !

    Do you know which kernel you're running?

    Until I installed (Debian) kernel 6.5, I've had less than stellar performance on a Legion 5i Pro Gen 8.

    Kernel 6.0 was quite bad on Intel 13th-gen mobile.  Kernel 6.1 was ok, but not good or great.  I'm curious if you've tried upgrading the kernel — to the latest version.  You may see drastic improvements.  Not just performance, but power-management and battery-life.

    I know.  I know.  The Legion Go has an AMD Ryzen Z1.  And the Linux-kernel usually supports AMD better than Intel.  But, not necessarily... when the processor is brand new.

    If you're interested in reading more about my experience, check out my Lenovo EDU Community post(s) (link opens new tab or window).  FYI- custom configuration of tlp increased work-on-battery from 4 hours to 7 hours.  Suspend-on-battery remained the same — 1%/hour, for (theoretically) 4 days of suspended-on-battery.  I typically get 24 hours of uptime, before I need to recharge my (80 Whr) battery.  I also disabled Rapid Charge in the BIOS — to improve battery-health and battery-lifespan.

    I include links to some of my Geekbench6 scores.  They beat Wendell's scores¹ — running Geekbench6 Pro on a 13th-gen Intel ITX-system from MinisForum!  Even in multi-core!

    Wendell's system has a large heat-sink and a Noctua NF-A12×25 PWM (120 mm) desktop-fan on it.  My system has Lenovo's "Performance Mode" (Fn+Q) + gaming-laptop cooling.  But, Wendell ran his tests on Windows 11. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    ¹ While running the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro Gen 8 on AC-power — cooling in "Balance Mode".  That model has an i7 13700HX (16c/24t).  Wendell's MinisForum AR900i is running an i9 13900HX (24c/32t).  Both CPUs have the same number of P-cores — 8.  The difference in core-count/thread-count comes from the E-cores — 8 vs 16, respectively.

    btw- I've also been using Linux for "many many years".  This year makes it a quarter-century — starting with RHL 5.9.  But, I've been using desktop Linux for only 22 years — starting with Knoppix-STD LiveCD (2002). :-)

  • I decided to take the plunge by partitioning my 1TB hard drive into two 512GB partitions. Instead of Nobara OS Steam Deck Edition, I decided on Bazzite Steam Deck edition, and so far I'm EXTREMELY impressed by the functionality. So much so that Bazzite my become my daily driver gamer OS.

  • I tend to roll with the cutting edge kernel, which at the time of writing is 6.7.4. However in this case the 6.7 series introduces a frame-capping bug that I find annoying on some games. So I'm instead on the 6.6 LTS release for now and I'm pretty happy with it.

    I hope they fix the regression by 6.9 since that's when the AMD's preferred core patch finally arrives offering about a 2-7% performance uplift in CPU loads (depending on the silicon, of course).

    As for the Z1 Extreme, there's not a lot of special sauce needed for it, actually. It's still based on the documented ZEN4 architecture which was introduced a few versions back. From a CPU standpoint things are stable, and performance gets continual updates. The GPU is a Radeon 780M which has been usable since release and is constantly getting better. It can reliably output an HDR10 complaint signal and output games in HDR even!

    Bearing in mind that I'm using the Nobara fsync kernel which also introduces a few different patches that helps smooth over some wrinkles found in the standard kernel.

    No need to clarify your linux skills, they are apparent! Myself I'm a Cloud SRE that maintains some super high performance databases for some big named companies all on linux, using linux. It sounds like I'm bit younger than you though, so my first experience with Linux was Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn.

    Fun fact! I was born 09/17/1991 - check out what version of Linux came out that day!

  • I feel like I invested way too much time in getting Nobara and all my games setup that I hesitate jumping to Bazzite.

    I'm more likely to go with Arch anyways since the creator of Handheld Daemon also maintains a couple AUR packages that do the trick better than Nobara now.

    Glad that Bazzite is working for you! I hear that's a pretty User-Friendly OS and kinda hard to bork.