Install Warcraft 3 on Ubuntu Linux – A Visual Guide

warcraft3-lichWarcraft 3 may be far from the hottest new game out there, but it’s still one of the most fun games I’ve ever played. And thanks to advancements in the WINE project, it’s also easy to install and run on the Linux operating system. Plus, it doesn’t require massive hardware just to run decently.

I remember trying to get my Warcraft 3 Battle Chest running in Linux a few years ago and ran into several problems. Now, it’s practically a point-and-click experience.

While these directions are specific to Ubuntu, most any other Linux variant should be similar. I tested these instructions on both Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and the current version 9.04. All the screenshots are from Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty,

The main system specifications I used are quite modest ancient indeed, but Warcraft 3 ran fine anyway.

  • Processor – AMD Athlon XP 2400+ (2.0 GHz)
  • RAM – 1 GB PC2100 (266 MHz)
  • Video Card – Nvidia GeForce 7600 GS (512 MB)

1. Video Drivers

ubuntu-hardware-driversIt goes without saying that in order to play most video games, you need video acceleration. Fortunately, the last few releases of Ubuntu have all offered a convenient way to install proprietary video drivers.

To install most common video drivers, go to System → Administration → Hardware Drivers. You can see if you already have a proprietary video driver in use, or if there is one available to install.

Ubuntu found and installed a driver for my Nvidia card just fine. I don’t own any ATI video cards, so I cannot offer any help there. If you run into any trouble, take a look at the Ubuntu Guide.

To see if you have video acceleration enabled, fire up a Terminal and type:

glxinfo | grep direct

If the direct rendering response is Yes, then you’re in business.

2.  Install WINE

WINE is a translation layer with a somewhat-humorous full name of Wine Is Not (an) Emulator. No matter what you call it, WINE provides an easy way to run a growing number of Windows applications on Linux and other POSIX-compatible operating systems.

Installing WINE on Ubuntu is as simple as launching a Terminal and typing:

sudo apt-get install wine

synaptic-wineAlternatively, you can launch the Synaptic Package Manager (System → Administration) and search for wine. Just add a check next to the wine package, then click the Apply button to download and install.

Following these instructions will install the latest stable release of WINE. On Ubuntu 9.04, the current stable WINE release is version 1.01. To find out which version you have installed, launch a Terminal and type:

wine --version

I found that both version 1.0 and 1.0.1 worked well for running Warcraft 3. If you want to install a more-recent Beta version, follow the instructions on the WineHQ site.

wine-configuration-alsaOnce WINE is installed, go ahead and launch it (Applications → Wine → Configure Wine). The default settings should be fine, but I do suggest that you take a look at the Audio settings and ensure that a suitable sound driver is selected.

I suggest sticking with the ALSA driver by default. If the sound is garbled or doesn’t work well, try switching to the older OSS driver.

Click OK to save your settings. Now it’s time to install Warcraft 3.

3. Game Installation

This may come as a shock, but installing Warcraft 3 on Linux is practically no different from installing it on Windows. You will need a copy of the game and valid serial numbers. If you don’t have it, the Battle Chest is pretty cheap.

warcraft3-discPop in the CD for Reign of Chaos. You should see an icon for the disc load on your desktop. Double-click that disc icon to view the contents. Find the file called install.exe and open it. It should open automatically with WINE and start the installation process.

From there, install the game just as you would on a Windows system, including choosing an installation path of C:\Program File\Warcraft III. Yes, WINE handles that for you automatically.

warcraft3-install-directoryAllow the game to install as usual. If you have The Frozen Throne expansion pack, install it as well. Do not play the game yet!

Update Patch

Recent Warcraft 3 game updates have removed the requirement to run with the original disc in the drive. Therefore, unless you’re just a glutton for punishment, I suggest downloading and installing the latest game patch instead of hunting for a No-CD crack.

Here’s a direct link to the patch page. The current game update (as of this writing) is 1.23a. Once it downloads, just double-click to install. It should open with WINE and install just like on a Windows machine.


Note: once the Blizzard Updater finishes patching the game, it will try to launch Warcraft III automatically. If the game crashes or freezes, don’t worry. We’ll fix that in the post-installation below.

4. Post-Installation

On my system, the game froze upon first launch. The reason is that it tries (and fails) to play the opening cinematic video. We can easily work around this issue by renaming the Movies folder.

wine-browse-cGo to Applications → Wine → Browse C:\ Drive. Pretend that you’re on Windows now and continue to Program Files → Warcraft III. Rename the Movies folder to something else, such as _Movies.

As you might suspect, this is only a workaround and not a true fix. It prevents any in-game cinematic videos from playing, but does not affect game-play in any way. You can still watch those videos at any time by opening them in something like Totem or VLC.

Try launching the game now. You’ll find it under Applications → Wine → Warcraft III.

Visual Effects

Here’s another minor issue you might run into. When you launch the game, it runs fine, but you still see the horizontal Ubuntu panels across the top and bottom. Annoying, huh?

ubuntu-visual-effectsIt’s easy enough to fix. On my system, I found that they were caused by having some visual effects enabled in Ubuntu. As nice as the eye candy may be, try disabling it before launching Warcraft III.

Navigate to System → Preferences → Appearance and switch to the Visual Effects tab. Set the level to None. When you launch the game again, the panels should be gone.

Create Launcher

Now that the game is installed and working, let’s create a launcher for it.

Right-click on your desktop and Create Launcher. Here are some parameters:

  • Type – Application
  • Name – Whatever you want
  • Command – “/home/your-username/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Warcraft III/Frozen Throne.exe”

The command is simply the full path to the Warcraft III executable file (in quotes). You can also add some options at the end of the command, after the quotes. For instance, you may get better performance by adding an opengl option, like this:

"/home/your-username/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Warcraft III/Frozen Throne.exe" -opengl

You can stack the options. For instance, if you want to require opengl AND make the game run in its own window, try this:

"/home/habibbijan/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Warcraft III/Frozen Throne.exe" -opengl -window


If you’re looking for a couple of good icons to use with your launcher, feast your eyes on these.

Warcraft 3

Game Screenshots

For your viewing pleasure, here’s are a few screenshots of Warcraft III running on Ubuntu. I ran the game in window mode instead of full-screen to prove that it does work on Linux. Yeah, I enjoy Skibi’s Castle a lot.

Image 1:

Image 2:

Image 3:

Image 4:

Image 5:

Have fun! If you have any additional tips for running Warcraft III on Linux, let us know in the comments.

27 thoughts on “Install Warcraft 3 on Ubuntu Linux – A Visual Guide

  1. nice. looks easy enough. any idea how the performance compares to running natively on windows?

  2. joe – Nope, I haven’t done any comparison testing. I suspect the performance is comparable. Even if there is a slight performance hit, I doubt it will affect the “playability” of the game. Bottom line: if the hardware will run the game well on Windows, it should work on Linux as well.

  3. Thanks for this excellent guide, now all the cons with ubuntu are gone for me 🙂

    At first i forgot to enable opengl and then the program was really laggy, but when i enabled it it worked fine. Very smooth gameplay!

  4. Just an update. I started using Ubuntu just a few days ago (8/13/09) and got finally got wc3 (mainly for dota) in 2 days since I’m a total noob and didn’t know squat about any kind of Unix. I used this guide and it worked out fine, but since I got this to work…I’m actually learning to like ubuntu a lot more than windows. So if I can get this to work believe me…this works.

    Intel 64x
    HP DV6500
    4gig ram
    50gig HD (for now) just testing this OS out.

  5. I feel exactly the same way, I am finally starting to enjoy Ubuntu more than Windows now that I got W3 to work. Haven’t figured out yet how to get it to run in full screen though.

    Thanks a lot for the superb guide!


  6. Hey. Great guide, but it did not work for me with ati graphics :(. Any help. I get the glove mouse pointer and the version in the corner, but everything else is black 🙁

  7. Heres the problem I am having and I was wondering if you have any idea how to fix this.
    While running the game in window mode the mouse always leaves the window when im trying to side scroll. Is there a command to prevent that? I also checked that option in wine config but no help. Please email me back thanks 😉

  8. If you get the Error: Unable to … Refrenced Memory Adress 0x000001 , YOU HAVE TO RENAME “MOVIES” FOLDER TO “ANYTHINGELSE” , when wine tries to load movie , it crashes. disable sound also , for me it was both problems.

  9. Hi. very good guide. I’d like to know if there is any way to fix the alt+tab problem. When the games loses the focus it simply crashes and I have to kill the process. Another problem I’ve been having is that when i host a lan game other computers can’t join the game, they can see the game on the list but are unable to join.


  10. Umm…. I installed it perfectly and I have no lag or sound error, but I can not find any explanation why I can not see other people on my LAN or them see me. I have already tried about 6 methods and am now wondering if it is literally my networking. But I am still wondering how to let it accept Warcraft now.

  11. Hi, I tried this guide and it worked out fine, except for when I got to the part about actually installing the game, i attempt to open the install.exe but it says Blocked: wine start /unix, and says that it isn’t marked as executable. Any help?

  12. I just have one question about wine, whenever I try to run an .exe I get this:

    The file ‘/media/Warcraft III/install.exe’ is not marked as executable. If this was downloaded or copied from an untrusted source, it may be dangerous to run. For more details, read about the executable bit.

    So I goto properties, and permission and mark as an executable, but on a cd I have to copy everything over to a folder or something then do this step. Is there anyway to no have to do that, to just have Ubuntu recognize it and run it in wine?

    I can still get it to work, but this is just an annoying problem! Again thanks for the tutorial!


  13. Hey,
    Following the tut quite nicely, until I got to the installation of War3TFT. I used the wine commands again and it comes up with this error: ‘wine: Bad EXE format for Z:\media\Warcraft_iii\install.exe’.
    I don’t know why it is looking in the z:\ dir because I installed it into the c:\
    Email me back please.


    1. Disregard, I figured out the install problem. I now have it working with the patch, but the rendering of the graphics is a complete disaster. Halp!!

      1. Edit: Found the issue with the rendering. I now have about 2 SPF (seconds per frame -.-)
        I am using -opengl and -window

  14. Hello, I followed this tutorial down to the smallest detail (or so I believe) and I can get Warcraft III to launch, not with a launcher though. The launcher thing doesn’t bug me so much, what bugs me is that when I launch Warcraft III it comes up with the home screen thing, you know, the tower, but there are no textures. Like, the tower in the back is just pure white with some shading, and everything is discolored and it lags so bad that I thought I’d have to do a hard shutdown just to get out of there.

    I just want to know what the problem is. Did I not do something right?

    Help is much appreciated.

  15. Ekalb, just select your video card driver in “Additional Drivers”.

    Just stopping by to let everyone who sees this know, that I was going to install this through PlayOnLinux yesterday, but the site where you need to download something for it to install correctly was no longer up. So, the installation on PlayOnLinux no longer works I think.

    Great guide though. Really helpful.

    1. Oh, forgot to mention something. I’m using Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal and when I start I have those 2 bars at the top and bottom, because I prefer the Ubuntu Classic. There is no longer a tab in Prefrences>Appearances to disable effects. On the login screen I tried switching my Ubuntu version selector thing (lol) to Ubuntu Classic (No Effects), but even this doesn’t help. I still have those dumb bars. The game is still playable, it’s just annoying with the bars.

      Just letting everyone know.

  16. How about making a simple Warcraft III compilation for linux?
    What’s so different between it and Warcraft for Mac when the system base is the same?

    Game industry need to understand the need of making a Linux release to get more buyers, more income.

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