Hello, welcome to this tutorial. This was originally posted on playonlinux.wordpress.com but I have decided to consolidate the information here.
This page is a quick dirty tutorial to assist with gaming on linux. I shall commence on the easiest way to get games running on Ubuntu and other debian-based distros. Since I expect debian users to be more ‘experienced’ as i use Debian myself, I have tried to simplify the steps to make it more suited for Ubuntu users. Of course, since wine has been very successful and easy to install, I will begin with wine and explain how to make use of its many abilities. This guide also totally assumes you to be a noob who just installed Ubuntu and want to play WOW or GW or any other games. If this guide is too slow for you, my apologies.
Nowadays, Ubuntu/Lubuntu allows installation of restricted drivers easily with a one click system. Using our OS, go to Start->Preferences->Additional drivers. This will quickly help you get access to to propriety drivers like NVIDIA.
I expect users to have installed their drivers before starting to install games. If you haven’t bought a gfx card, I recommend Nvidia. You’ll need a useful working 3d accelerated graphics card to run 3d apps and compositing programs like compiz. I expect most gamers to be running ATI or Nvidia.
WINE is not an emulator, it is an API layer or compatibility layer to ‘trick’ the game you are running that you are running windows. Likewise, only the needed parts are installed and you don’t need an entire windows installation. Wine is automatically installed when install PlayOnLinux. After installation, you will see that you can associate .exe files with wine and many of them will run. In most cases, I would recommend you to PlayOnLinux unless it is a very simple program like minesweeper (you can get minesweeper on linux btw), etc.
For new users, i expect you to use a GUI(graphic user interface), a simple organiser that doesn’t need a lot of command line interface tinkering. It helps you create the prefixes(what we know as drive c:>\ in windows) and also organize the different versions of wine. Scripts can also autoinstall the games for you in many cases. Installation notes are in the website given below:
apt-get is your friend. It makes sure everything is installed properly. Using the .DEB file for ubuntu would work too. The .DEB is used for installation files for software within the debian distribution, like Ubuntu, Lubuntu, etc.
Running POL and installing your first game
Now, I’m sure you can’t wait to install your very first windows game. Go Applications-> Games-> PlayOnLinux.
Now go to Install. For popular games, normally games are already listed on the list. Just follow the instructions. After installation, you might want to visit http://appdb.winehq.org. This helps you tweak your game, which i will talk about below. If your game isn’t there, refer to the next instruction.
How to check if your game works if it is not listed
Sooo, you can’t find your game in the list, no worries, many games aren’t listed anyway.
The above website lists all the games that have been run before or have been tried to run before. If your game is labelled as garbage, chances are that you won’t be able to run it. This is quite rare however. If your game is silver and above, it should run relatively well. Even at bronze, check all tests to see if other users have managed to run it at silver and above. Following the right instructions, you should be able to derive what other users are able to do. For more mainstream games, the gameplay quality might be revealed in youtube.
Yay, my game is at appdb, but what now?!!
Maybe I shouldn’t state the obvious since most likely ur game is able to be run 90% of the time (besides obscure programs, more sophisticated ones or windows specific DRM). Fire up PlayOnLinux if it isn’t already up. Select Install->Install a .POL package or unsupported application-> Manual Installation. For first timers, install the wine program in a new prefix. You should always install in a new prefix unless you are really sure what dlls are needed and if some games have the same req. One installation may screw the other up.
Enter the name of the prefix without spaces, and then click forward. You can pick a version of Wine here. If you do not have a particular version of wine installed, it will be downloaded on PlayOnLinux. If you are unsure, pick the latest version of wine. The installer will prompt you for an exe file. Select the exe file, which is normally setup.exe on CDs. A window will popup. Do not click forward until the installation has finished. Once it has finished, click forward and select the appropraite shortcut for the game. You can then launch the game from POL by clicking run. To run 3d games optimally, it is also recommmended that you turn off compiz by changing the window manager to metacity.
In many cases, the game may not work until you use tweak wine, tweak the registry and use wine tricks. I will mention winetricks in a future post.
Tweaking wine is a matter of selecting the right sound and graphic options and determining if your game runs fullscreen or on a virtual desktop. For those that are using twinview(dual monitors), using a virtual desktop is inevitable. First click on the icon, and then click configure this application. Next click on configure wine.
Sound: Alsa in most cases but refer to the appdb to see if OSS should be used instead.
Graphic: Pixel shaders should be enabled. 96dpi is optimal. Choose to run on a virtual desktop if there’s problem with resolutions. If a game doesn’t run, running it on a virtual desktop allows you to see if it actually ‘runs’ while giving you sufficient control. The windows manager should always have control otherwise you may not be able to type stuff into the game.
Tweaking Wine registry
The purpose of creating many prefixes is due to the registry. While one registry setting may work for a game, it may not work for another. Different games require different registry settings and each prefix has its own registry. If a few games do not need to have any registry tweaking, u can install them in the same prefix too! While it is possible to handle all your wineprefixes using the command line(covered in a future post), it can be quite tiring without a GUI. To access the registry, click on the icon, then configure this application and then to Registry Editor.
Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER->software->wine->Direct3D
Editing shortcuts and an easy way to get by winetricks(without the command line)
While most of your games should work by now, some would require winetricks. If you’re using PlayOnLinux later than 4.x.x, this is done via an automated process. POL has its own system in place now that does the same thing as winetricks. To use install basic winetricks in PlayOnLinux, go to configure->install components. However, for more complicated games, sometimes u will need to the command line to install more components of wine tricks. This will be covered in another post.
To Patch or Not to Patch and No-CD cracks
Linux has a few problems when running games from a protected CD simply because a lot of unnecessary security has been built into windows. This can be avoided by using a No-CD crack. You will have to find this yourself but search common names like reloaded or vitality and then the game name and you may have luck getting them. GCW has some too. This is often avoidable if you manage to use a downloaded copy or steam-powered games. If a game is single player, you may want to consider not patching because of an unavailable CD crack. In some established games, after several years, the cd check is removed in a patch version. This allows you to install the patch and play the game without using any backdoor methods.
Many edits to the installation are made here to get the game working. Sometimes you need to do more changes. Refer to appdb for individual programs to see what is required to be edited. With this tutorial, WOW, Guild Wars 1, Guild Wars 2, Diablo 3, Starcraft II, should run perfectly fine, save a few minor ignorable glitches. Not all games will run with just these simple instructions though, sometimes you will need to perform advanced tweaking of wine which will be discussed in a future post.