Thursday, June 26, 2008

More WoW On Linux: Considering the Switch

Somebody sent me an e-mail today about WoW on Linux, and my reply wound up being so long that I figured it was post-worthy. So here you go, Neophyte Penguin Scouts...

Hey Pike,

I stumbled across your blog and I have always been interested in doing WoW with a Linux. There happens to be this one problem; I'm scared. Scared Boneless. I am wondering if your questions would help me. My computer is a very fast one (Alienware, yes I know but it was a present) and it is stuck with Windows Vista (Need I say more?) and I am hating it. I hate turning on my computer and I hate dealing with Windows Vista and the stupid confirming every click I make on my computer.

Bleh, I am wondering if you can help me. Do you know a good Linux OS that would work with Alienware? Do you know where I can go to Download said information and what not? I don't mean for you to do all this work for me but since you have some experience, I will gladly take your advice.

Thanks alot,

Hiya Verolia - Thank you for the e-mail. It's hard to say if WoW will work on Linux on any given computer, it is VERY dependent on things like hardware and sheer luck. I can tell you my current system set up looks like this:

Self-built system
AMD Athlon(tm) 64 Processor 4000+, MMX, 3DNow, ~2.4GHz
1022MB RAM
250GB hard drive
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 XT graphics card
Realtek AC97 Audio
Operating System: Kubuntu Linux 6.06 "Dapper Drake" / WinXP dual boot (I only log into WinXP for Ventrilo and only when I absolutely need to, which isn't very often; WoW runs better on Linux anyway.)

My advice to you would be to download Ubuntu because it is probably the most user-friendly Linux distro out there right now and has a huge community supporting it ( will answer most questions you can come up with-- they also have a HUGE WoW discussion thread). You can go to the Ubuntu Site here: , download an ISO and burn it to CD, and "try it out" on your computer without installing-- this is a good time to check and make sure you will even be able to get an internet connection (Linux is notoriously picky about working with Wireless, for example).

If you like what you see and the internet seems to be working and you are feeling gutsy, you can go ahead and install a dual boot. This is super easy with Ubuntu. The install menu will detect that you have an OS already installed, ask if you want to partition your drive, and you can resize your old partition and make a special space just for Ubuntu all with a nice graphical interface. (Remember the name of your Linux and Windows partitions in case you want to remove one later. For example, my own Windows partition is /dev/hda1 and my Linux partition is /dev/hda2.)

Once you have your new Linux partition set up you can sort of mess around with it and customize it to your liking, you will also want to install your latest video drivers which can usually be found in the Add/Remove Program repositories-- the Nvidia ones are, anyways. Then install WoW via a program called Wine. A really easy way to do it if you have, say, access to a portable hard drive, would be to install Wine (using the command sudo aptitude install wine via the terminal), run winecfg also from the terminal to create some files in your system, and then copy your entire WoW folder over from Windows and stick it into /home/[yourusername]/.wine
/drive_c/Program Files which should pretty much instantly install it. There is a lot of tweaking you will want to do from winecfg and you will have to edit the file so that it opens in OpenGL mode instead of DirectX. You can get a lot more info here: and here:

With any luck your new WoW on Wine install will work just fine; in many cases you will end up with little problems (that is the nature of Linux, it's touchy, but many of geeks view that as a good thing!) but like I said Ubuntu has a huge community of support that is glad to help you out to the best of their ability, which is a big reason why I recommend that particular distro (aside from ease of use).

A couple last things -- if you are using an ATI graphics card instead of Nvidia be prepared for some possible conflicts and issues (ATI is notoriously bad at supporting Linux, while Nvidia is very enthusiastic about it), oh, and if nothing works at all like you intended and you get sick of Linux and want it off your computer... stick the LiveCD back into your computer, boot Ubuntu from the CD, go to Gnome Partition Editor in the System Menu, delete your Linux partition and drag the little graph of your Windows partition so it takes up the whole hard drive again, and it will be as good as new.

As always though, please back up all of your stuff before you attempt any of this, because stuff can and will happen, and please be prepared for some frustrations along the way-- Linux for the most part is not an out-of-the-box, plug and play OS (although many parts of it are-- but many aren't.) A good analogy would be to compare Windows to a toy car and Linux to a box of Legos that can be used to make a toy car. You will have to put it together and it may take a couple tries. But once you have it set up you can make it just the way you like it. =P

I may have accidentally rambled into the realm of incomprehensible geekery, for which I apologize. =P Let me know if you have any further questions.


P.S. The "confirming every click" thing happens to much the same extent in Linux too, as a security measure. For example, Kubuntu, which I use, will default to not letting you connect to the internet without entering a password. And you can't use many terminal commands without similarly entering a password. You get used to it pretty quickly though and it doesn't strike me as being particularly annoying which perhaps it is in Vista? Can't say, I've never used it!

WoW running on Ubuntu in Windowed Mode. (I normally play fullscreen so the UI does look kinda wonky resized like that.)

Oh, and as promised: Here is the Mario wallpaper (click for the whole thing):


Souvraya and Luna said...

Nice explanation. May make me reinstall WoW on my stationary. Got a bit scared off by the "installing _through_ Wine"-thingy, but I might try this.

And can I ask you what that music player you use is? I've been wondering for a while, but I'm not experienced enough with Liux to figure out how best to dig up new programs yet. ^^;

Pike said...

Why, Amarok, aka "Best Music Player Ever", of course! =D

Souvraya and Luna said...

Thank you. Will go grab! =D

Awlbiste said...

Mario wallpaper is made of equal parts win and awesome. Thanks! *steals*

Boozsha said...

One of these days I'm going to move to linux. At least I keep telling myself this.

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

Hye Pike...

Have you ever tried Solaris 10? I love Solaris but I have 0% rep with Wine...

Pike said...

@ Grumpy Misanthrope -

I have actually always stuck to Ubuntu/Debian based distros, although I would like to exapnd my horizons in the near future, when I have the time.

Calamander said...

I'm using Vista with little to no trouble. I have a Dell 630i. The annoying thing about Vista's access control (UAC) is how it darkens the screen. I cringe almost eveytime I see it, makes me think something just broke. Linux and OSX just pop the little dialog box up. Much nicer.

Andy C. said...

Thank you for the Mario wallpaper, it rawks (I'm even wearing my "Everyone loves an Italian boy." Mario shirt today).

I hate the access control doodad in Vista and as such, it's always the first thing to get deactivated.

One of these years I'll break down and get Linux running.

BlackBeardFreelance said...

I love the mario wallpaper. If only it came in Widescreen sizes as well. =)
I may have to try this dual boot thing.
For a long time I've wnated to try linux, but have had that fear of 'what if i change and screw everything up'. This seems like a safe way to 'test-drive' and see if i like it.
Gotta tell ya I LOVE the blog. I've been reading it for a while and usually, even if I forget to keep up-to-date on some of the others, I try to stay up on yours and BRK's posts.

Thx for being awesome,
Uruz - Mal'ganis

Gibbiex said...

I love Linux but there are still annoying things about it. For example I could never get Amarok to support AAC. I think it can, i just couldn't figure out how. It involved installing a special DRM package but that package wasn't available on the 64 bit version (just 32bit). Thats what i recall from my linux days. Once you get things working, its great, but expect to spend some time googling and tweaking.

Verolia said...

Thank you Pike, your information has really helped me think about the switch.

I may try it out on my desktop first so I dont completely ruin my computer in case it goes wrong.

Once again, BIG thank you :-D


Anonymous said...

Hi Pike,

Nice post as usual. Just one thing - i noticed you were bashing on ATI for their linux support.

Now... not so long ago, i would have agreed with furor!


ATI (after AMD bought them) have committed to open source video drivers for linux. They've already released a bunch of specs, and some of the cards are working well with the open source drivers.

So... maybe cut them a little slack ^^.

// Okage on Misha

Boozsha said...


If I have a wireless keyboard and mouse, will that be disabled during the install. Or does it since usb ports and load driver?

Pike said...

Boozsha -

I'm afraid I really don't know. You can test it during the install and if it doesn't work, just pop the CD out and turn off the computer before you get to the actual installation part.

Anonymous said...

In regards to alienware - it looks like they're considering putting Linux (possibly Ubuntu) on the laptops.

Here's a survey they have:

If you're interested, fill it out and digg!