Update (September 2012): This article is out-of-date. Take a look at our guide to updating to Mists of Pandaria under Linux.
Some time ago, I promised you a tutorial about installing and running World Of Warcraft on the Linux operating system. Well, here goes.
A few caveats before we get our collective geek on: first of all, this is going to be a long post. Certainly, it’ll be longer than we normally give you here at the Melting Pot. It’ll also have a lot of images within it. Again, this isn’t something we’ve done a lot of, so please comment if it’s all messed up for you and I’ll try to fix (particularly people reading via RSS). Finally, this article is only going to cover installation. I’ll do a follow-up article about tweaks and customisation, and probably another article of problem-solving and collective trouble-shooting.
Right then. Having used up a third of my usual word count already simply by telling you that I’m going to use more words than I usually do, let’s get started.
I’m going to start with a fresh installation of Linux, to make sure we cover everything that needs to be done. I’m going to be installing Wrath Of The Lich King on a system running Ubuntu Linux (10.4 “Lucid Lynx”, 64-bit version), but these instructions (or similar) should work for virtually any desktop Linux system. My hardware is a dual Athlon 64 6000+, running on an ABIT AN52V motherboard with a GeForce 8500 GT graphics card. So, not too great but not disasterously poor
Let’s get some drivers for our graphics card first of all. A fresh Ubuntu install will give you a “Restricted Drivers Available” popup. Click it, and then choose Install Drivers. Pick the recommended driver if there’s more than one.
The next thing to do is to make sure we’ve got all the appropriate software updates for our system. Just use the Software Update tool. If there are updates available, you can click on the icon in your top bar.
Unless you’ve got a darn good reason not to, grab everything under Important Security Updates (particularly base-files, libfreetype6, linux-headers-generic and linux-image-generic).
This’ll probably take a while to download and install, and you’ll need to restart your computer when it’s done.
Now it’s time to install WINE, which is the magic software that’ll allow us to run the Windows version of WoW without ever leaving the tranquil oceans of Linux. Click Applications and choose Ubuntu Software Centre. Search for “wine”, and install it. Whilst you’re here you might as well grab gnome-exe-thumbnailer as well, which will give your Windows .exe files pretty (and meaningful) icons, rather than an ugly Windows rectangle.
We have to move to the Terminal now. Click Applications » Accessories » Terminal. If you’re new to Linux and haven’t used the Terminal before, I don’t want you to panic. I know it looks intimidating and suspiciously hacker-like, but I’ll talk you through it. The Terminal is a direct line to the inner workings of your Linux installation. You can think of it as the Linux equivalent of the Windows command prompt if you like.
In the Terminal, type this:
sudo apt-get install mesa-utils
You’ll be prompted for your administrator password. Once the mesa-utils package has been downloaded and installed, type
glxinfo | grep rendering
If the Terminal now prints out a message along the lines of “direct rendering: yes”, then your graphics card and drivers can support the minimum of 3d rendering we’ll need to run WoW. If it doesn’t, you’ve gone wrong somewhere along the line. Comment on this post and I’ll try to sort you out. Don’t close the Terminal yet – we’ll need it again in a moment.
I’m going to give you an incredibly useful tip now. If you didn’t already know about this, you’re going to want to reward me with alcohol. The tip is this: you can install World of Warcraft directly from the Wrath Of The Lich King DVD. You don’t need to install WoW Classic and Burning Crusade first. There you go: I just saved you hours of disc-swapping, patch-downloading irritation.
So. Slap the Wrath DVD in your drive, and let’s get on with it. Unlike the installation discs for Classic and The Burning Crusade, the Wrath DVD is in a special format which means it can be read by both Macs and Windows PCs. Unfortunately, this makes it a bit of a pain in the murloc for us poor Linux folks. Not to worry, though. All it takes a bit of Terminal magic. With the DVD in the drive, type:
sudo umount “/media/Lich King”
The icon for the Wrath DVD will disappear from your desktop. That’s okay. We’ll get it back in a minute.
to discover your numerical user id. It’s probably 1000, but we need to know for sure because we’re going to use it when we get the DVD back. Type
That command will create a new (empty) folder in your home directory, called wrath. We’re going to magically make the contents of the DVD appear in that directory, and we’re going to do so with the following command:
sudo mount -t udf -o ro,unhide,uid=1000 /dev/scd0 ~/wrath
Type the command exactly as it appears here, but substitute your own user id if it’s something other than 1000. You might also need to change the /dev/scd0 bit if your DVD drive is a weird one (if so, comment on the post and I’ll help you).
The DVD is accessible, so it’s time to start the installation process. Still in the Terminal, type:
Hooray and hoorah! I’m going to trust that you know what to do from here on in, so go ahead and install WoW. Don’t worry about which directory to install into – just accept the default of c:\Program Files\World of Warcraft. Once the installation has finished, eject your DVD by right-clicking its icon on the desktop and choosing Eject.
You can now run WoW by clicking Applications » Wine » World of Warcraft » World of Warcraft. The game might crash the very first time you try to log in. Don’t worry about that, just restart it. You might also see an error on the Launcher, similar to this:
Again, you can ignore this. It’s not doing any harm.
We’re done. If everything’s gone according to plan, you now have a fully-patched installation of World Of Warcraft running under Linux. There are a bunch of tweaks we can make to improve the way the game runs and the way it fits in with the rest of your Linux experience, and of course there’s an inevitable list of troubleshooting tasks for common problems. We’ll leave those for the next post in this series.
How did you get on? Was it a painless installation, or did you hit problems?
 As it happens, this is the machine I usually raid on. Wow under Linux on this machine can hit anything from 30fps to 70fps on full graphics, depending on which area I’m in. I got my Kingslayer title on this machine, so it can’t be that bad.
Alternatively, run Synaptic and choose Reload.
Although you’d be wrong in more ways than I have the time to list.
Be careful with the sudo command. It means that you’re running instructions as an admin (or “root”) user, instead of as yourself. It’s quite possible to trash your entire operating system with a single destructive root command. Never copy/paste sudo commands if you’re not sure what they do. Yes, like the ones I told you to copy/paste as part of this tutorial. You should never do that … but you trust me, right?
While the WoW installer is running, you’ll see pages and pages of text being printed to the Terminal. There’s nothing wrong – it’s supposed to do that. Yes, even the lines that start “fixme”.
This series: Prologue | Part One