problem

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

Notes

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.

Syndicate content