How To: Run Team Fortress 2 (TF2), Portal, Half-Life 2, HL2 EP 1&2, and Counter-Strike In Ubuntu Using Wine

For those of you who are not familiar with The Orange Box, it’s five games in one box. It contains Half-Life 2, Half Life 2 Episode 1, Half-Life 2 Episode 2, Portal, and the one everyone has been waiting for: Team Fortress 2. My god! For 50 bones this IS the best deal in video game history.

Let’s start with a overview of what we need to accomplish: Copy DVDs to Hard Disk, Install & Configure Wine (including obtaining a proprietary, non-free font), and finally, configure the game to run properly.

I highly suggest finding some music to listen to while you do this. It takes about 30 minutes total, but well worth the time invested, as you could conceivably spend hundreds of hours playing these games.

May I suggest some Led Zepplin? OK, now that you’ve got something to kill time with, let’s get down and dirty.

    1. Copying DVDs to Disk

is a piece of cake.

Pop in either disk 1 or 2, then open up a terminal (Applications | Accessories | Terminal).

Make a directory on your desktop:
mkdir ~/Desktop/Orange_Files

Then run this command to copy the files over:
cp /media/cdrom0/* ~/Desktop/Orange_Files/
Expect copying a DVD to Hard Disk to take approximately 6 minutes. This would be a good time to make a sandwich.

Eject the DVD, and repeat this step for the next one. When finished, you should end up with 20 items that amount to around 7.8 gigabytes. Go ahead and remove the DVDs, you wont need them from here on out.

Easy so far, huh?

    2. Installation & Setup of Wine

is a little more involved, but is still pretty easy.

First we need to grab it from the Ubuntu apt repository:
sudo apt-get install wine
Then we need to install the Gecko browser for it.
wine iexplore
Click install when prompted, as soon as you can view the website, feel free to close the browser.

Next, we need to configure Wine to use the ALSA sound driver, which works like a charm. Go to Applications | Wine | Configure Wine. Goto the Audio tab and uncheck OSS. Check ALSA, then press OK.

Lastly for Wine, we need to install the Tahoma font. It’s a hop, skip, jump and Google query away:
tahoma filetype:ttf

I will not be more specific than this. Save the file you find to the Desktop, then run this command:

cp ~/Desktop/tahoma.ttf ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/fonts

Note: this command is case sensitive. If you find something called “Tahoma” or “TAHOMA”, modify the above command to reflect the change.

    3. Installation of the actual game.

Where’s my “That was easy” button?

Open up the Orange_Files folder on the Desktop, and right click on Setup.exe, choose Open With Other Application, scroll to the bottom and select Wine Windows Emulator then press Open.

You should be looking at something like this:
The Orange Box Installer
The next few steps should be familiar to anybody who has ever used Windows before: Install, next, you own my soul, next, next, install, and finish.

Now, we come to the part that is for lack of a better word, annoying. We have to activate the software before installing. Plug in your Orange Box CD Key and login to your steam account.

Now we get down to business. Select what games to install:

The Orange Box Installer Select Which Games To Install

Next, then next again. Keep both of those boxes checked, so that you have icon files already on your desktop if you want to make shortcuts, and entries in the Applications menu to launch the game.

Now, it prepares files to install (presumably decrypting them), then copies them over. Takes about 7 minutes on a 10k RPM Raptor, your results may vary.

The Orange Box Installer - Installing From Disk

This is a good time to grab a smoke, make a sandwich, AND sleep with your woman (or man).

Finally, we’re Finished! Hooray!

And we’re looking at all our new shiny games from a video game developer (Valve) that said “Fuck the man, we’ll create our own distribution platform and get rid of the middle men that take 60% of our revenue.” And on the seventh day, Steam was born. Kudos to Gabe Newell, he won my respect with that move years ago.

Alright, now we get to launch Team Fortress 2. Cue spotlight, heavenly music, and WHAT? Video Driver Outdated? Check a box, Continue Anyway. I think this is an inside joke from Valve.

The Orange Box - Video Driver Outdated

Hit Play game, and if you’re lucky, everything looks great. If you’re me, it looks like this:

The Orange Box - Not Quite Full Screen

If you get this, just ignore the fact that it’s half-way off the screen, goto Options, then to the Video tab and set it up to use the same resolution as your Desktop.

Press OK. Quit the game, then open it right back up again. Everything should be looking MUCH better now, with no more system menu bars all over the top and bottom of the screen.

Oolala - Team Fortress Configured Properly and Running!

Performance seems to be perfect using the latest nVidia binary blob with a generation old video card. On average, I’ll get around 40 frames per second when there is some really intense action, like 5 or more players all fighting in the same room. In most other areas I see about 80 fps. There is an occasional audio stutter, seems to happen most often during the beginning of a match, when all the textures for the level are being loaded.

I recorded a ghetto video for all of you to enjoy. I used a digi-cam for video, and used a voice note recorder on my iPhone for audio, then slapped em together for a half-second audio delay – but certainly watchable. Enjoy!

  • Blu

    What version of WINE are you using? I tried doing this the other day with a couple versions of WINE and had problems. Other than that…it looks awesome and I’m jealous.

  • Wayne


  • Binny V A

    I have installed a few Windows games in Linux using Wine – but most of them were kinda old games(eg. Max Payne 1) I have to try installing some new games.

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  • Wayne

    Hey guys, I didn’t mention, but all of The Orange Box games by Valve run just fine using this guide, not just TF2. Portal runs like a charm and it’s actually an awesome game too!

  • Chris

    Does this work with the download version of The Orange Box as well? or only with the DVD version?

  • Can +~

    Wine 0.9.47 appeared recently on my ubuntu update =D. According to WineHQ there is “A Tahoma replacement font.” so the tahoma step can be skipped.

  • !wine

    Wine still sucks for the sheer fact that it /still/ trips over games like Tribes Vengeance. Christ that game was built on the Unreal2003.5 engine, you would think it would work.

    Oh right, got a ‘silver’ or something on wine appdb, except for the fact that the game is completely unrunnable. Who rates that? Chimps?

    I’d love to run linux– if of course WINE would ever work.

  • Andy

    Why is the gecko browser needed?

  • Cedega

    If you don’t like the performance of WINE, try Cedega. It’s not free but it works pretty damn well for $5/mo.

  • Kevin

    Why is the gecko browser needed?


  • Drood

    I have to agree about how usable Wine is. I’ve read stuff and followed guides to run World of Warcraft in Wine, and the appdb clearly says it works.

    Well multiple experiences say otherwise. I am no Linux n00b (been using it since Redhat 5.2). People always say Wine in regards to gaming in Linux, but until such time as it can run without fannying about, locking up the system solid etc… (This is on multiple systems.) Linux is gonna stay niche in the desktop market for gaming.

  • jon

    Steam needs IE to render the main screen (It shows recent news, games that just came out, etc) Wine needs gecko to emulate IE.

  • MistaED

    This is good to see the orange box works fine in ubuntu/linux/wine. About the graphics, try going into your wine registry and putting these strings in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Wine\Direct3D:

    OffscreenRenderingMode fbo
    PixelShaderMode enabled
    UseGLSL enabled
    VideoMemorySize (size in megabytes, I put in 256)

    Last time I heard the offscreen rendering mode worked better with backbuffer sometimes, you might need to test. The most important option is UseGLSL which will allow all Direct3D9 shaders to be enabled :) even HDRI lighting.

  • cheetahman

    Could you add this to the Wine HQ Database

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  • Natural Selector

    All the new Shooters are released for Mac, XBoX and PS3.
    When will the Linux community be recognized as serious gamers?

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  • ORB

    Please get a life,
    Spend more time gaming on windows and less time on its installation on linux.
    Linux gamers will b never b taken seriously.
    Even id and epic are going 2 stop that.
    I used 2 b an avid linux gamer myself, not anymore, its pathetic!

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  • kwyxz

    > I’ve read stuff and followed guides to run World of
    > Warcraft in Wine, and the appdb clearly says it works.

    Yeah. And it does:

    > Well multiple experiences say otherwise. I am no Linux
    > n00b (been using it since Redhat 5.2).

    Copy the DVD contents to a hard drive, run the installer, set World of Warcraft to OpenGL in the conf file, and it just works. I’ve had it working on 5 different computers without any problem. Maybe I am an überl33t, then.

    You guys are bitching about Wine and about how crappy it is, but please. Without this software you’d be even more bitching about how much Linux sucks since there are no games at all running. If Wine gets World of Warcraft running on other people computers, blame yourself.

  • Noun

    Or I could just run Windows.

  • Scaine

    > Or I could just run Windows.

    Your choice, buddy. Got a paid-for copy, have you? Got anti-virus? Secured it with a firewall? Turned off unnecessary services? Drivers up to date? Signed the EULA? Signed up for WGA?

    Good luck with that.

  • nugget

    The fsckin feed icon following down the page makes it reeeal tough to read the article uninterupted. Please find another solution.

  • Eric

    Funny, I dont have virus software, turned my vista firewall off, turned UAC off, and yes I paid for it. Guess what? No viruses, spam, bs, and it works perfectly fine. The only firewall I have is my hardware router…

    So STFU about Windows security, they fixed the issue now go go suck your moms titty!

  • Waldo

    Sheesh, easy instruction and it actually works like a charm too. Damn, really starting to like linux…

  • Fragged

    Erm, not trying to flame or troll or anything, but is it against the rules to PLAY steam based games under Linux (I’m not trying to create FUD, just dont want my account banned : /)

    My evidence to support this is the whole ‘port steam to linux’ under steam forums has been there that many times that you now get your account deleted for mentioning the word ‘linux’ there so I’m too afraid to ask if emulation via the WINE layer or Cedega are truely against the rules.

    Please if somebody has any concrete information (IE a thread or url) reguarding the rules of running steam / games on linux, post it here for all to see :)


  • kwyxz

    > Funny, I dont have virus software, turned my vista
    > firewall off, turned UAC off, and yes I paid for it. Guess
    > what? No viruses, spam, bs, and it works perfectly fine.
    > The only firewall I have is my hardware router…
    > So STFU about Windows security, they fixed the issue now
    > go go suck your moms titty!

    It’s actually funny how people relaying 3000 spams every day without even knowing it are willing to let the world know about their cluelessness.

  • Waldo

    the water in hl is not that nice looking though.

  • Scaine

    The water isn’t as pretty cos even Cedega only has PixelShader 1.4 support (I think 2.0 might be out now… but I haven’t subscribed for nearly a year). Dunno what version Wine supports – 1.3 or 1.4 probably.

    As for getting your account banned on Steam – not only has it not happened to my knowledge, but Transgaming (the Cedega guys) posted often that they worked with the Steam guys to fix the breakages for their Linux users.

    The reason there is talk of banning accounts is in the Steam forums – people always asking for a dedicated linux client, when Valve’s position on this is clear (they won’t ever produce dedicated Linux clients). They banned certain accounts of people that weren’t getting that message.

    Shame really. HL2 was (is) ridiculously overrated, but it’s still worth a play. And Orange Box looks like good value (for a change).

    I’m going to follow this instruction just as soon as Gutsy goes live and final in a few days time. My Crossover subscription expired two months ago and I’m not inclined to renew it until I see some more apparent improvements in their tools over the stock Wine install.

    Bookmarked this site, btw. Despite that infuriating RSS script, which I’ll shortly be adblocking. Sorry – but it’s him or me.

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  • Wayne


    The infuriating RSS script strikes again. I ran a poll on removing it, 70% voted to remove it. Strangely it works to get RSS subscribers. The file is genki.js by the way.

  • hmm

    I can get the games to install, but as far as getting them to work reliably, nope. Episode 2 can’t make it past the menu screen. Portal will load a map, but freezes when you make 2 portals, heh.

  • Wayne

    I can suggest using the OSS sound driver instead of ALSA.

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    I tried to run HL2 and CS on Cedega a number of times to no avail (this was a few months ago). I figured that if I couldn’t play with Cedega I’d have no such luck with Wine. Your guide worked perfectly, and the frame rate I’m getting in CS is comparable to what I got in Windows. W00t!


  • Wayne

    Nice Kevin, glad you could get things up and running!

  • Crunchman

    I’ve been planning on making the move to Linux for a while now, and since Gutsy Gibbon recently went live, I think it’s about time.
    Now, how well does the Steam GUI work under these configurations? I assume the Gecko installation was for that, but I’ve heard minimizing the game or anything like that might freeze the game, as well as some other weird things.

  • Wayne

    I haven’t had any issues with Steam crashing like it used to under earlier versions of wine when minimized.

    There are zero problems that I’ve seen.

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  • Eric

    Do you guys know a good way to install wine on a AMD64 machine? I can’t get it to work no matter what I do.

    Do you guys think the problem is that I’m now using Gusty gibbons?

  • cheetahman
  • Desmond

    hey thanks for the great howto!
    just finished installing steam and games
    minor thing: my cursor while in the steam window clicks a bit below where the cursor actually is
    anyone else have this?

    hopefully it won’t affect gameplay

  • cheetahman

    Could you test/add games to the database and you can run it on these distros

    From Wine

    This is the Wine Application Database (AppDB). Here you can get information on application compatibility with Wine.

    As an Application Database member you enjoy some exclusive benefits like:

    * Ability to vote on your favorite applications
    * Ability to customize the layout and behavior of the AppDB and comments system
    * Take credit for your witty posts
    * Ability to sign up to be an application maintainer.
    * Submit new applications and versions.
    * Submit new screenshots.

    We’d like to thank you for being a member and being logged in to the system. Your help in stomping out Wine issues will be greatly appreciated.

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  • bob__

    What’s your computer specs ?

  • Wayne

    ~3GHz Core2Duo Processor, 2GB RAM, 7800GT