Playing Starcraft on Linux using Wine

Wine logo

Here's a quick HOWTO for using Wine to play Starcraft on a Linux machine.

Starcraft Installation

  $ apt-get install wine (as root)
  $ winecfg

The winecfg (graphical) utility will setup some config file defaults in your ~/.wine directory. Click on Graphics and activate Allow DirectX apps to stop the mouse leaving their window. Also, click on Audio (a dialog will pop up, just click OK). This will autodect your soundcard and setup Wine to use it. Under Drives click Add (this will add D:) and change the path to /media/cdrom, so that Wine knows about your CD-ROM drive. Finally click OK to close winecfg and save the settings.

winecfg screenshot

The next step is to insert the Starcraft CD-ROM into the drive and start the installer using Wine:

  $ mount /media/cdrom (as root)
  $ wine /media/cdrom/setup.exe

Follow the instructions in the installer until the Starcraft install is finished (you'll need your CD key number), then exit the installer (don't start playing Starcraft right away).

The next step is to get the latest patch and get rid of the need to insert the CD-ROM every time.

  $ wget http://ftp.blizzard.com/pub/starcraft/patches/PC/SC-1161.exe
  $ wine SC-1161.exe

After the patch is installed click OK and Starcraft will be started (very annoying). Leave the game again. We'll get rid of the CD-ROM requirement now:

  $ cp /media/cdrom/install.exe ~/.wine/drive_c/Programme/Starcraft/StarCraft.mpq

That's a pretty big file, it may take a while. You might have to change "Programme" in the path (I have the German Starcraft version). That's it. You can now play Starcraft (without needing the CD-ROM) using:

  $ wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Programme/Starcraft/StarCraft.exe


A good thing is, it even works nice and fast with the open-source nv NVIDIA driver (no need to install the proprietary driver).

I noticed one very annoying "bug" with the mouse behaviour at first. The mouse would sometimes just get stuck during the game (which is a total disaster of course, if you're in the middle of a fast-paced game). Left-clicking somewhere would "unstuck" the mouse, but it's still very bad. After many, many hours of reading bugreports and trying various patches I finally found out the root cause for the problem.

It's somehow related to my window manager (IceWM); whenever you move the mouse to the bottom of the Starcraft screen (where the IceWM status bar is, even though it's not on top or even visible, and even though Wine/Starcraft runs in full-screen mode!), something funny happens with X11/IceWM and the mouse gets stuck. I haven't yet found out if/which IceWM option could fix this behavior, but I have a small work-around. Just start Wine directly on a second X11 server with Starcraft (without any window manager being involved):

  $ xinit -e '/usr/bin/wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Programme/Starcraft/StarCraft.exe' -- :1

No patches needed (stock Wine from Debian unstable works fine, that's version 1.0.1 right now). I hope this saves other people some debugging time...

Brood War Installation

In order to play the Brood War expansion you can follow a similar procedure. Insert the Brood War CD-ROM, then:

  $ mount /media/cdrom (as root)
  $ wine /media/cdrom/setup.exe
  $ cp /media/cdrom/install.exe ~/.wine/drive_c/Programme/Starcraft/BroodWar.mpq
  $ wget http://ftp.blizzard.com/pub/broodwar/patches/PC/BW-1161.exe
  $ wine BW-1161.exe

After you've done that, you can start both Starcraft (classic) and Brood War via:

  $ wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Programme/Starcraft/StarCraft.exe

You will be asked in the game whether you want to actually play the Starcraft or Brood War variant.

Reducing CPU load

As of version 1161 for the Starcraft / Brood War patch, there's a new game option which can drastically lower the CPU load while playing Starcraft. First fire up Starcraft and start any game. Then, press F10, select Options / Game speed, and check the "Enable CPU Throttling box". You'll probably need to restart Starcraft afterwards.

Multiplayer and Firewalls

Multiplayer LAN games work just fine (didn't try BattleNet that much yet), but if you use a strict firewall rule set as I do (which blocks most ingress as well as egress traffic) you have to open a number of different ports. Here's what I added to my firewall script:

  $IPTABLES -A OUTPUT -m state --state NEW -p udp --dport 6111 -j ACCEPT
  $IPTABLES -A INPUT -m state --state NEW -p udp --dport 6111 -j ACCEPT
  $IPTABLES -A OUTPUT -m state --state NEW -p udp --dport 6112 -j ACCEPT
  $IPTABLES -A OUTPUT -m state --state NEW -p tcp --dport 6112 -j ACCEPT # BattleNet

Starcraft on netbooks

One A110 netbook running Starcraft

Starcraft works just fine on various netbooks; for instance, I tested it on my One A110 netbook (VIA VX800) with 256 MB of RAM, and the whole .wine directory being on a USB thumb drive (thus slow; but my internal SSD was already full). I bet it'll also work fine on the ASUS Eee PC and other netbooks...

Audio works fine, and game speed is quite OK, the only minor "problem" is that you should use an external USB mouse, the touchpad is just too small (and too slow to use) for such a fast-paced game.

The full Wine package (and all dependencies) consume quite a lot of space on the (usually very small) hard drive or SSD of a netbook, but luckily you can get away with only a minimal Wine install for playing Starcraft:

  $ apt-get install wine-bin libwine-alsa (as root)

That's sufficient, and a lot smaller than installing the full wine package.

Update 2010-06-23: There's a contributed Hungarian translation now (thanks!)
Update 2009-03-04: Added info about patch 1161 and CPU load reduction.
Update 2008-12-19: Added Starcraft-on-netbooks section.
Update 2008-12-13: Added BroodWar and multiplayer info.

Debian unstable X11-related bug and workaround -- Unrecognized option: /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc

FYI, if you're not using xdm/kdm/gdm but are instead starting the X11 server manually with startx (which is what I usually do) you might have experienced brokenness in Debian unstable recently:

Fatal server error:
Unrecognized option: /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc

This is already reported as bug #482425 and #482527 and should hopefully be fixed soon, but in the meantime this patch against /usr/bin/startx should work around the issue:

--- /usr/bin/startx.orig 2008-05-26 18:21:26.000000000 +0200
+++ /usr/bin/startx     2008-05-26 18:21:36.000000000 +0200
@@ -107,9 +107,7 @@
 if [ x"$server" = x ]; then
     # if no server arguments or display either, use rc file instead
     if [ x"$serverargs" = x -a x"$display" = x ]; then
-       server=$defaultserver
-       display=$defaultdisplay

Hope that saves some people out there lengthy investigations and hassle.

Testing stuff with QEMU - Part 1: SELinux support in Debian unstable [Update]

Update: "Testing stuff with QEMU"-articles published so far:

Here's a quick HOWTO to get you started with the QEMU emulator, the Debian installer (etch beta 3), and SELinux. If you execute the following steps you'll be left with an SELinux-enabled Debian unstable QEMU image, but not with a complete working and perfectly configured SELinux system. A more detailed article about SELinux will probably follow...

Basic Debian unstable install in QEMU:

  1. Install QEMU:
    apt-get install qemu
  2. Download the latest Debian etch installer ISO image (etch beta 3, currently):
    wget http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/etch_di_beta3/i386/iso-cd/debian-testing-i386-binary-1.iso
  3. Create a QEMU image which will hold the Debian installation:
    qemu-img create -f qcow /path/to/debian.img 5000M
  4. Boot directly from the ISO image and install Debian into the QEMU image (I won't go into the details of the installation itself; Wolfang Lonien has nice HOWTOs for that: part 1, part 2, video):
    qemu -hda /path/to/debian.img -boot d -cdrom debian-testing-i386-binary-1.iso
  5. After the installation is done, configure the system, tweak /etc/apt/sources.list if needed, and then dist-upgrade to the latest stuff:
    apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade
  6. That's about it for the basic Debian install, you can now shutdown the OS and QEMU (type "halt" in the emulated Debian, wait for the shutdown to complete, press CTRL+ALT+2 to switch to the QEMU console, and type "quit").

Creating a QEMU overlay image:

QEMU has a nice feature called overlay images which allows you to "clone" an image, where the new (overlay) image will only store the "diffs" to the original one, thus saving lots of space. This also allows you to remove the overlay image at any time and restart from the original image (which is nice for testing stuff which may break).

  1. Create an overlay image based on the previously installed Debian image:
    qemu-img create -b /path/to/debian.img -f qcow /path/to/debian_selinux_overlay.img
  2. Now boot into the new overlay image:
    qemu -hda /path/to/debian_selinux_overlay.img

Basic SELinux setup:

SELinux / sestatus screenshot

  1. SELinux wants to label all the files on your system (all inodes actually), so your filesystem(s) need the so-called extended attributes (xattr) and "security labels" (both are kernel options) which most modern file systems now support. For ext3 (for example) you need these config options:
    Luckily the Debian kernels are xattr-enabled by default so we don't have to do anything at all here.

  2. Install the basic SELinux packages and the source package of the SELinux reference policy:
    apt-get install checkpolicy policycoreutils selinux-policy-refpolicy-src
  3. I noticed a bug in the current Debian packages (the setfiles utility is in the wrong place, see #384850), but there's a simple workaround:
    ln -s /sbin/setfiles /usr/sbin/setfiles
  4. Now we can (re-)label the file system:
    cd /etc/selinux/refpolicy/src/policy
    make relabel
    This will build the reference policy from source and relabel your file system (this will take a while).
    There might be some warnings (and maybe you'll notice further bugs), but they seem not to be critical.
  5. We can now (almost) enable SELinux, but before we can reboot we need to work around another bug (#384852), otherwise SELinux will not be enabled when we reboot:
    ln -s /etc/selinux/refpolicy/src /etc/selinux/targeted
  6. Now reboot the emulated Debian system, and at the GRUB console add the kernel option selinux=1 to enable SELinux in the kernel (press "e" to edit the boot options).
  7. You'll get tons of SELinux log messages while the system boots, that's normal at this point, don't worry.
    Then you can type "sestatus", which should print some information on the running SELinux system. If it says "SELinux status: disabled" something went wrong.

Congratulations! You now have a QEMU image with minimal SELinux support and you can start playing with it, tweaking the policy, finding and reporting bugs, reading tons of documentation on how SELinux actually works etc. etc.

As SELinux is (half?) a release-goal for Debian etch, it would be nice if many people could test it before the release, and this is one method to do so without breaking your production systems.

Update 2006-08-28: You don't really need user_xattr support for SELinux, only xattr support (for security.selinux xattrs) for the filesystem you use, which is available per default in Debian kernels (thanks Russell Coker).

OS Install Experiences - Part 1: Debian stable + unstable [Update]

Debian Open Use Logo

Note: This article is part of my OS Install Experiences series.

OK, so let's start with something simple: Debian. Simple in the sense that there probably won't be too many surprises for me as a Debian developer (or for most readers of Planet Debian). For other people this might be interesting, though, and some facts are probably interesting to one or the other experienced Debian user/developer, too...


A few words on the hardware I'll be installing all these OSes on. It's a cheapo (200 Euros) x86 PC (Intel Celeron, 2 GHz), 80 GB IDE hard drive, 256 MB RAM, ATI Radeon 9200 SE graphics adapter, Realtek PCI ethernet controller, CDROM, USB, and all the other standard stuff. Nothing fancy, really.


  1. First, I downloaded a Debian sarge 3.1r2 CD image, burned it on a CD, and booted from that.
  2. An installer menu showed up, where you can press F3 for boot options. I chose "expert26", which will ask me more questions and give me a 2.6 Linux kernel instead of 2.4.
  3. The installer (newt-based, i.e. not graphical) will now start to boot a base Linux system.
  4. Now, you can choose your language (used in the installer), country, region, and keyboard layout.
  5. You'll be asked which additional kernel modules you want to load (default: all), and whether you want PCMCIA support. Also, you can choose which extra installer components should be loaded (LVM, PPP, serial, IrDA, ...).
  6. Your hardware can be automatically detected (my Realtek card was successfully detected, the "8139too" kernel module was then loaded).
  7. The network was successfully auto-configured via DHCP within seconds.
  8. Now you can choose a hostname and domain name for the box. I used "hydra" as hostname (guess why), and "local.domain" as domain name.


Now the funny part starts: partitioning the disk. As I will be installing >= 10 OSes, this needs a bit of consideration.

I have chosen to create a 10 GB (primary) partition for a Redmond OS I'll be installing later (for games, testing, proprietary software I'm forced to use, and similar things). This will be the first partition and I marked it bootable, as Windows might choke otherwise.

For the rest, I reserved 5 GB for each OS — that should do. So the next two (primary) partitions are 5 GB each. I'll leave these empty for now, as I might encounter obscure OSes which must be installed on primary partitions. Let's hope it won't be more than two ;-) As you can only have four primary partitions, I then had to create a logical partition, which will "contain" any further partitions.

The next three (secondary) partitions are 1 GB each, intended to be used as swap. One of those I marked as swap in order to use it for Debian. Other Linux installations will be able to reuse this one. The other two are reserved in case I encounter OSes which have another form of swap and cannot use Linux swap partitions...

The rest is easy: create twelve 5 GB partitions => lots of space for more OSes. Here's the resulting fdisk output:

Disk /dev/hda: 81.9 GB, 81964302336 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 9964 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

      Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
   /dev/hda1   *           1        1216     9767488+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda2            1217        1824     4883760   83  Linux
   /dev/hda3            1825        2432     4883760   83  Linux
   /dev/hda4            2433        9964    60500790    5  Extended
   /dev/hda5            2433        2554      979933+  82  Linux swap / Solaris
   /dev/hda6            2555        2676      979933+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda7            2677        2798      979933+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda8            2799        3406     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda9            3407        4014     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda10           4015        4622     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda11           4623        5230     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda12           5231        5838     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda13           5839        6446     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda14           6447        7054     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda15           7055        7662     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda16           7663        8270     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda17           8271        8878     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda18           8879        9486     4883728+  83  Linux
   /dev/hda19           9487        9964     3839503+  83  Linux

Install, continued

  1. The Debian partitioning tool allowed me to do all of the above via a friendly menu. As it does not modify the partition table until you say "done", I could revert many changes, and play around with different layout ideas until I was satisfied.
  2. Next thing you can choose is the Kernel flavor (386, 686, smp).
  3. You may now configure and install GRUB, the bootloader. I installed it at "(hd0)", the master boot record of the hard disk.
  4. Soon the CD ejects, and you have to reboot.
  5. After a restart (which also shows whether GRUB works fine), you can now choose your timezone, and decide whether you want shadow passwords (say yes!).
  6. Now enter the root password, and decide whether you want to create an additional user account (say yes, and enter a different password here).
  7. You can now configure apt, e.g. tell it which sources you'd like to use (CDROM, FTP, HTTP, ...). You'll be asked whether you want to install software from Debian's "non-free" archive. After choosing a mirror (and proxy settings, if you like), you can (should!) also say yes to the question whether you want security updates...
  8. Finally, you may now choose "tasks" (desktop, web server, file server, ...) your machine should be able to perform; this will influence which packages will be installed. You may choose "manual package selection", of course, if you want more control. I used "desktop".
  9. That's about it. You'll see a few more application-specific questions (configuration of MTA, ssh, fonts, X11, gdm, and others), and after that you'll be left with a GNOME login window.


Continue reading here...

Update 2006-06-05: Added netstat output and the list of world-writable files.
Update 2006-06-02: Shortened the length of the article on my main webpage as well as the RSS feed. But you can always read the whole article here, of course.
Update 2006-05-19: Updated "why is Debian-exim capitalized?" info as per comments, thanks!

Debian packages release names - Reloaded [Update]

Upon popular request (my post was even featured on Debian Weekly News), I re-ran my previous query on the changelog files in Debian packages. This time, however, I didn't only retrieve 40 random package release names, but "all" of them, for unknown values of "all". I didn't analyze some of the files (missing permissions), and maybe I missed one or two because my query sucked, but I think I've got most of them.

I ran a slightly more complicated query than last time, using the data from gluck:/org/lintian.debian.org/laboratory/. I have not the slightest idea how old the files in that archive are, but there's ca. 10.000 packages in there — more than enough, if you ask me.

The results (78 KB) this time are in alphabetical order, and include the package names where the strings were found. There's a total of 1408 strings.

Here are 20 randomly chosen strings, for some more fun:

gdb: * The "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Release.
glibc: * The "Fuck Me Harder" release.
abiword: * The "Foolin' Myself" release.
opensc: * The "RTFM" release.
directory-administrator: * The "On Train" release
xchat: * The "Merry Christmas, mine beloved Xchat users!" release.
apache: * The "Yes, we know there is a new upstream release" upload.
mmm-mode: * The "But I'm Not Dead Yet!" Release
mozilla-firefox: * The "becoming more and more an iceweasel" release.
nano: * The "Marbella, ciudad hermanada con Benidorm" release.
thy: * The `Empty Spaces' release.
glibc: * The "Chainsaw Psycho" release.
sam: * The `Minime' release.
xchat: * The "Binary only" release.
tellico: * The "pbuider and buildds are not the same" package release
pingus: * The "All you pingus are belong to blendi" release
xchat: * The "Ok, wrong patch, excuse me guys :)" release.
cappuccino: * The "It's time for the upload" release
abiword: * The "Got A Good Thing Goin'" release.
firefox: * The "what he taketh, he giveth back" release.

I also created a small statistic this time. Here's the Top-20 packages (the ones with the most release names):

64 abiword
62 thy
41 xchat
35 glibc
31 shadow
31 abcde
28 menu
18 reportbug
18 firefox
17 fetchmail
15 ccze
14 tama
14 mozilla-firefox
12 nano
12 apache2
11 gaim
10 debconf
9 mailutils
9 lirc
9 geneweb

Feel free to grab the whole results file for more reading fun during boring hours of the day.
If you do any further processing or analysis of any kind with the data, please post a comment and let us all know ;-)

Update 2006-05-23: Enrico Zini has done some interesting things with the data...

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