Running World Of Warcraft under Linux: Installation

by on September 21, 2010

Update (September 2012): This article is out-of-date.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[1].

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.

Restricted drivers available

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[2]. If there are updates available, you can click on the icon in your top bar.

Update Manager

Update Manager

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[3].

The Linux Gnome Terminal

The Linux Gnome Terminal

In the Terminal, type this:

sudo apt-get install mesa-utils

You’ll be prompted for your administrator password[4]. 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

mkdir ~/wrath

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[5]. Still in the Terminal, type:

cd ~/wrath
wine ./Installer.exe

The WoW installer running under Ubuntu

The WoW installer running under Ubuntu

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.

Ejecting a DVD

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:

Launcher rendering error

Launcher rendering error

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?

[1] 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.
[2]Alternatively, run Synaptic and choose Reload.
[3]Although you’d be wrong in more ways than I have the time to list.
[4]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?
[5]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

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other posts from these categories: World of Warcraft

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary September 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I used the online method of purchase and installation of WOTLK. By downloading an install file from the WOW website then waiting for the different parts and patches to download to my Windows PC, it was installed with no DVD/CD. What are some points to consider in doing the online install from the WOW website with Linux? BTW, the 4.0 patch is downloading in background mode (about 4-6 Gb?). I have one laptop and 2 PC’s that got the 4.0 patch downloaded waiting for the launch date soon. The current patch is 3.5.5, or last I checked.


Brian September 29, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Pretty good post, the only hiccup is usually the WOTLK disc with its permissions as posted above… Once you mount the disk I would recommend copying them to a disk or some back up hard drive just in case you have to wipe at some point and don’t remember how to mount the disk. I also would recommend making all the CDs of the game and expansions into DVDs much easier install as you don’t have to keep putting disks in to keep going and it’s easy. Copy the CDs  that came with your game to a folder starting with the last one. When you get a message to over write go ahead and say yes. Then open K3b or what ever you’re using for burning and write them to the disk. One last thing too is this and it will help make any further installs faster. Look through the Wow folders and grab all the updates and save them somewhere. You can plop that folder right back in to the Wow directory if you ever have to do that long reinstallation.


John-Paul Stanford September 29, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I’ve been using WOW on OpenSuSE for quite sometime now. I use crossover games to do it as it makes things quite simple. The only issue I’ve had is when the Real Name update appeared. WOW no longer connected to the game servers. This turned out to be due to the recent version of OpenSuSE (11.3) I was using. Their was a kernel bug in 2.6.34 that stopped this from working. I reinstalled OpenSuSE 11.2 and everything worked again.
I hear that the bug has been fixed now, but I’ve not had chance to test it with OpenSuSE 11.3 yet.


Steve September 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Pretty good post. I have been playing wow in Linux for awhile. I usually backup my wow folder before I do a fresh installation of Linux. I then copy back on to my home partition and create a launcher to my wow.exe in my wow folder. That way I do not have to install it all of again. Saves time.


Bas September 29, 2010 at 11:08 pm

i’ve been thinking about this too, but i am a bit reluctant. How is the framerate compared to Windows vista home edition? Any noticable drops?


Udo September 30, 2010 at 1:08 am

After my WinXP game machine had a major meltdown about six months ago, I decided to give WoW a try under Wine, instead of buying a bunch of new hardware. I was stunned to find that WoW ran extremely well under Linux, much better than I would have considered “usable” performance: All graphics are turned up all the way and yes, I get between 30 and 120 fps on my (4-core Intel 64-bit) system. It’s as good as a native client, as far as I’m concerned.
And if you have an existing installation of WoW under Windows, simply copy the whole WoW folder from the Windows machine to your Linux machine and run “wine …/Wow.exe” (with … being the full directory where the Wow.exe file is located). No registry B.S. required; this is how I got up and running fast and painlessly.


John-Paul Stanford September 30, 2010 at 7:56 am

I also played it under windows to start off with till that machine had a meltdown and now play it on Linux on the same machine (needed a new hard disc). I’m not noticing any slow downs from windows to Linux. That mainly because it the game is not that demanding of the hardware.  My machine is a 2.6Ghz dual core Intel machine with 8Gig RAM and a ATI graphics card (using the commercial drivers).
I’ve also been playing it on my laptop running Linux and that also works pretty will though the machine is lower spec.


DW September 30, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I didn’t realise that I could just buy WoLK and install from that!

I’m just approaching WoW for the first time, on my Ubuntu 10.04 laptop, and thought I needed (as the guy in the shop said) to buy WoW, then BC and install that, then WoLK and install that.

And I couldn’t find good instructions for installing an expansion pack under Linux.

(Nearly went back to Windows for it, which is a bit said I know…)


Johnnie September 30, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Thanks for all the comments everyone. I’ll go through them in batches.

@Gary – Good idea. I’ve never installed via the web download, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work excellently. Just run
wine path/to/the/web/installer/whatever-the-heck-the-web-installer-is-called.exe
It should install to ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/World of Warcraft in exactly the same way as if you’d installed from the disc. Let me know how you get on if you try it!

@Brian – Copying the install disc contents to the drive is good suggestion, and well worth doing if you’ve got the disc space. Backing up all the updates and patches is also a great suggestion. I used to have a DVD full of patches which I’d use to save the download cost when reinstalling. Last time I tried, though, the DVD had become corrupted. Try as I might I couldn’t recover it, so I had to download them all again. That wasn’t a great day.

@John-Paul – Crossover is great (as is Cedega). I’ll be talking about them both in a future post. I hit the same bug with the 2.6.34 kernel. Thankfully a kernel update fixed the bug (which is lucky, because I had absolutely no clue how to do anything about it).

@Bas – I’ve got to be honest and say that I don’t know for certain. I can only tell you my personal experience. My current machine has never had Windows installed on it, but my previous machine dual-booted Debian and Windows XP. I had WoW installed under both OS’s, and I did some tests to see how it ran. My framerate was about 20% higher under Linux than under Windows. I’ve spoken to other people who’ve had a similar experience, and only a few who claim to have had an FPS loss under Linux. If you’re worried, you can always install Linux so it dual-boots with your Windows installation and try it out.

@DW – The guy in the store is right, I’m afraid. You do still need to buy WoW Classic and Burning Crusade as well as Wrath. I wasn’t clear with my comments – you can install World Of Warcraft entirely from the Wrath disc without touching discs from the previous expansions, but your account will need to have a valid serial numbers from Classic, Burning Crusade and Wrath attached to it in order to play the full game. That means you’ll have to buy all three versions of the game (soon to be four versions with the imminent release of Cataclysm). You don’t have to buy physical copies, though – you can just as easily purchase virtual licences online.

Subscribe to the Pot on Twitter, RSS or email to get automatically notified when I post the next part of this series.


DW October 1, 2010 at 8:00 am

OK – thats a lot clearer, thanks :-)


DW October 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Me again!  Quick question, if I may.  How does WoW on Linux deal with the matter of patches?  Do I have to manually download them, make them executable and just put them in the c:\Program Files\World of Warcraft folder, or will the software be able to deal with them itself even when running through Wine?  Thanks, again.


Johnnie Ingram October 1, 2010 at 4:18 pm

@DW – For the most part patches just work, in the same way that they do when running under Windows. I have encountered problems on a couple of occasions (both of which, in fairness, may well have been a problem with my firewall rather than with WoW+WINE). In each case, downloading the patch manually from a mirror and then dumping it into the WoW directory solved the problem (and remember – the WoW install directory on Linux is not c:\Program Files\World of Warcraft, it’s /home/yourusername/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/World\ Of\ Warcraft/).

I’ll probably be talking about patching in a bit more detail in a future article.


Aureliano Martins October 1, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Otimo translate your article into Portuguese and I am providing my


DW October 21, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Johnnie – Unfortunately, after looking into it in more detail, it doesn’t really matter about getting WoW working on linux  because I don’t think my graphics card is up to it – ATI Radeon Xpress 1100.  Ho-hum.


Johnnie Ingram October 26, 2010 at 6:04 pm

@DW – Okay, yeah, that’s going to be a bit of a problem.  You might actually be able to do it, but it’s going to be a royal pain. The problem is that (as far as I’m aware) ATI have discontinued support for their Linux driver for the Xpress 1100 series. That means that you’ll only be able to get 3d support using the free (open) drivers that have been built by the Linux community. I won’t lie to you: the open drivers are pretty poor. You might get WoW running, but I’d be very surprised if you did. The bad news isn’t over yet: the open drivers you need are no longer built against Ubuntu. In order to even get access to the darned things, you need to be running Ubuntu 8.10 at the latest.

So, in conclusion: the best thing you can do is to buy a new graphics card. In the meantime, though, it’s worth booting up Ubuntu 8.10 from a live cd or a dual-boot install, and seeing just how badly WoW runs. You never know.


Nick November 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Hello just installed ubuntu for the first time, really want to play wow on it but am having difficulty with pretty much everything.  Would it be possible to talk to anyone on msn or facebook or something, if so add me thanks :)


infonrefs November 19, 2010 at 7:43 am

Должен признать, вебмастер зачетно накропал.


Johnnie Ingram November 19, 2010 at 9:33 am

Hi @Nick – Missed your post first time around, sorry about that. If you’re still having problems, comment here and we’ll go through them one by one. “Having problems with pretty much everything” doesn’t give me much to work on, so let’s start at the beginning. Tell me how far you’ve got, and I’ll try to get you up and running from there.

@Infonrefs – Just as soon as Google Translate figures out a way for me to understand what the heck you said, I’ll give you a reply.


Jim December 1, 2010 at 2:18 am

I’ve got a question regarding patching
I’m running my own private server and it is only able to host to 3.3.5a but the patch downloader installs up to 4.something would i be able to install the updates with a dowloaded .exe?


Bilbo Baggins January 22, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Nice and working tutorial to install game. But I have problem. Every time I launch WoW it will crash before log-in screen. When the game crashes I will get error message:

This application has encountered a critical error:

ERROR #132 (0×85100084) Fatal Exception
Program:    C:\Ohjelmatiedostot\World of Warcraft\Wow.exe
Exception:    0xC0000005 (ACCESS_VIOLATION) at 0073:68EDA370

The instruction at “0x68EDA370″ referenced memory at “0×00000000″.
The memory could not be “read”.

Can you tell me what should I do?


Blad's World March 3, 2011 at 6:27 pm

All WoW guides available, check it out now!


zer0nes May 3, 2011 at 3:22 am

I have a problem. In the begninng of instalition the button ” I Agree” is inactived! I put down all the bar and still inactived. What I can do to fixed that?


Thor April 22, 2012 at 5:19 am

when i do the umount it says
umount: /media/Lich King: not found


brasilero July 29, 2012 at 10:30 am

guy i try do this for 2 years in my laptop and i do game load … but have a problem because my laptop use inter 945 drive and is load in mesa is hard fps in game, ready about in Internet i Discovery that intel close cod for this drive-.-’ then for load wow with good fps has a good video board, gforce or other that has drive linux thanks for all.


rebecca November 8, 2012 at 5:30 am

trying to download full game client online with linux/wine. unable to find full instructions on how to accomplish this. new to linux also. been able to find how to do it with the discs..but i have purchased all online over the last years. had a severe windows crash and restored with linux. any help would be great


matt willoretta December 30, 2012 at 4:10 am

matt@matt-desktop:~$ sudo mount -t udf -o ro,unhide,uid=1000 /dev/scd0 ~/wrath
mount: special device /dev/scd0 does not exist

thoughts? I just installed Ubuntu a few days ago, first time using it, took me a few days to get the routine crap out of the way, I was running dual boot with Win XP on a separate drive from an old dell, but you know how that goes…
formatted the old drive, now this is a strictly Linux system, but that command did not work, and I have no idea how to change it or to find the data that I need to understand what to change, any help would be much appreciated!


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