Running World Of Warcraft under Linux: Installation

Update (September 2012): This article is out-of-date.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

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

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Fish-Like Squints And Candlelit Dinners: Or, First Impressions of EVE Online

In space, no-one can hear you … ask where your ship’s ‘on’ switch is.

I’d heard a lot about EVE Online and thought I should probably check it out. In all honesty I’d heard a lot of negative things about it but one crucial point made it stand out from the crowd: I could play it while doing other things. Great. Multi-tasking while working, what more could a gamer ask for? And I’m sure EVE will sell itself to me as a gamer, right?

I was fair optimistic about dipping my toe into the EVE universe. I snuck a look at yesterday evening and was greeted by a lack of selling points. There was no immediate connection. No “game meets new player, game takes new player out on candlelit meal, game and new player fall madly in love.”

Sure, I was there to try the 14 day free trial – but in this day and age I (somewhat grudgingly and jadedly) expect pretty signs saying “WELCOME! Come in, come in. YOU! Yes you! Must try this NOW! You’ll love it for these 20 reasons that might or might not apply to you. What are you waiting for? Click this IQ-test-huge-button and get these viruses route to sure pauperdom BENEFITS immediately!”

So, disappointed, I left EVE Online last night and came back to it today in the cold light of day. I read around the introductory pages and class types and downloaded the EVE game client.

It did its thing efficiently in the background while I wondered whether I’d feel any affinity to any one of the multitude of class/gender/race/prejudice types when I got to character creation. I wondered whether I was meant to: perhaps there were deliberately so many to choose from so that new players got intrigued. Or so that as you matured in the game, you warmed up to particular class and thereby playstyles, as I was used to in my native World of Warcraft.

Still puzzling I loaded up EVE Online and blinked. A lot. The writing was tiny. Lovely font and great layout on the login screen, but when I have to squint to read an options box, you’re doin’ it wrong. I spent about 5 minutes coaxing Eve to get its point across as plainly as it was comfortable with and then moved on to character creation.

Thirty minutes later and I have a character. I’m still not sure of her heritage or whether her eyes are facing an alluringly calculating or squigy fishlike direction.

We can hope the former but it doesn’t matter given she doesn’t interact with anything but her ship. I admit by the end of character creation I had a growing sense of appreciation at how clean EVE was looking. I do mean in UI – lots of little menus and pop up windows telling me tidbits of information, but I also mean the tidbits themselves, as they were clear and succinct. The voiceover summaries during character creation probably also helped my brain soak up interesting keywords.

Then I’m put in the game. In a ship. I gather I’ll be seeing a lot of this view. So, right, there’s a tutorial. Great. There are also a lot of menus and tabs on menus and buttons on… everything. And I still can’t read anything without imitating my character’s aquint. So, follow the tutorial. It’s comforting – again, very well written, step by step instructions. And doesn’t let you skip ahead, which for me is great but I imagine for experienced players is irritating.

The tutorial takes me through the basics. I mean the basics. I learn how to move – there seem to be three different ways to achieve exactly the same thing. I learn how to kill things – I suspect there’s more to know about that. I learn how to take missions – I still have to bend my neck unnaturally to read the text. And that’s about it. In fact, the tutorial got halfway through helping with careers and then upon undocking and deep space appearing, it went back several pages like someone had dropped it and flustered the bookmark back in at random.

Wait. WHAT? It’s finished?

What do the other four million buttons do?

How do I improve my ship?

What’s a good career for my class and bloodline, whatever those were again?

How do I do this quest you’ve just left me with?

You’re just leaving me like that with a half-hearted “remember you can get this tutorial up again by going to help”? I’ve read this one already! Where’s the love?

So, about two hours in, that’s roughly where I am. Were I being pedantic I’d say I have no idea where I am as I don’t even know how to find or use the map, but I suspect the “map” button has something to do with that.

I intend to keep playing around with EVE. I will – like any well-behaved gamer – to try to break the game, as upon starting the tutorial my newbie instincts had immediately told me that I must follow it to the letter and Bad Things would happen if I didn’t. I quite like the sudden freedom to prod the game mercilessly.

I suspect there are a lot of other tutorials to help ease into the game if I feel I need them, and I know the EVElopedia is there humming away in the background like a German spaceship. I know that there are Other Players, but frankly watching them in their native chat channels, they seem about as approachable as any experienced MMO playergroup. But the first tutorial’s rather sudden abandonment of me, leaving me quite literally in the grips of cold and dank space into which my ship’s drifted while writing this, really doesn’t inspire daydreams of candlelit dinners.

Actually, I first tested Eve out a couple of months ago so this is a little old now. I’m planning to have another go round the Eve installer so watch out for “second date” impressions, as well as posts detailing my first forrays into other MMOs.

What about you? Has Eve stolen your heart? Am I just a spoon fed woW philistine? Or are other games just never going to live up to WoW?
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Running World Of Warcraft under Linux: Prologue

Update (September 2012): This article is out-of-date. Take a look at our guide to updating to Mists of Pandaria under Linux.

When I’d finally kidnapped enough children to get Exalted reputation with the Kalu’ak, I was pretty excited. Not because they gave me a magic fishing pole that let me breathe underwater, but because they gave me a pet penguin. I like penguins. I like them a lot. You see, I run World Of Warcraft under Linux.

GNU/Linux is a free operating system. It’s an alternative to Windows, or MacOS X. I’ve been running Linux exclusively on all of my computers for years, and I love it, but I love Warcraft too and that’s where we hit a problem. If you check the side of the battered WoW installation box you keep on top of your wardrobe you’ll see it lists Windows and Mac OS as supported operating systems, but there’s no mention of this Linux thing. WoW is not designed to run under Linux.

It’s quite possible to make it run, though. In fact, once it’s set up and configured correctly, it can run just as well as it would under Windows or OS X. It’s the “set up and configured correctly” bit that’s the problem. It’s not trivial.

I’ve had a few requests over Twitter for tips and tricks from fellow penguin-lovers. Initially, I planed to knock together a quick post listing a few useful configuration commands and settings, but I’ve decided to go one better. I’m going to put together a comprehensive guide on installing WoW on Linux. We’ll start with a fresh Linux installation, and go through each step as required. If I make any mistakes, or if things go wrong, I’ll document them (and hopefully document how I fixed them, too).

It’ll take me a while to put it all together, but I’ll try to post Part One soon. In the meantime, have you ever tried running WoW (or any other MMO) under Linux? How did you get on?

This series: Prologue | Installation

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