How To: Run World Of Warcraft (WoW) in Linux Using Wine


World Of Warcraft is one of the most successful games in history, with 9.3 million subscribers and counting. Believe it or not, the beta test of World of Warcraft actually had a Linux client. It’s true! When the game shipped, support for Linux was dropped and the game never shipped with a Linux client.

What a shame! The good news is, there’s been some positive collaboration between members of the Linux developer community who work on and contribute code to projects like Wine, Cedega and CrossOver. Because of this, installation and configuration of World of Warcraft is a snap for those of you who are interested in getting rid of your Windows partitions lying around if WoW is your game of choice.

We have 8 steps to complete to play the game:
1. Configure 3D drivers with Envy.
2. Install WINE and fonts.
3. Configure WINE.
4. Download (or install from media) the actual game.
5. Edit
6. Create a Registry key
7. Install a Linux specific AddOn
8. Launch the game!

1. First, we need to check to see if we have correct and working video card drivers that will work with the game. Open a terminal and type in this command:
glxinfo | grep rendering

It should return with something like this:
direct rendering: Yes

If it says “no” then we have to install the right drivers.

If you have an ATI or nVidia card, the quickest way is to use Envy. Head on over to the website and snatch a copy of the script. Scroll about halfway down and you’ll see the link that ends in .deb – that’s what you want if you’re running Ubuntu or Debian.

Open up the Envy .deb file once it’s done downloading, and we should be prompted with an installer program, just hit the install button and follow the prompts. After it’s installed, we will need to start up the script by going into the Application Menu, then System Tools, then select Envy.


Select “Install the NVIDIA driver” (or ATI driver) and press Apply. This process takes about 5 minutes to complete, so go make a sandwich and reboot your computer when it prompts you to do so.

Don’t worry if it seems like it’s not making progress – just be patient. After rebooting, run the glxinfo | grep rendering command again, and this time it should respond “yes” this time.

2. Then, we are going to install two items before we can actually start installing the game.
a. WINE allows us to run Microsoft Windows executable files
b. To make things look pretty, we need to download two different font packs.

In Ubuntu 7.10, the following command will install all three items in short order. You can open a run dialog box by pressing Alt+F2 simultanously (or open a terminal), then paste in the following:

sudo apt-get install wine msttcorefonts ttf-xfree86-nonfree

Type in the password for your user account, and follow the prompts. After that command completes, we’re just about done preparing the system and can install the game *almost* as easily as in Windows.

3. Configuring Wine
By running the winecfg command, we can choose which sound driver to use (OSS or ALSA), and also switch compatibility modes – just like XP and Vista have done for quite some time, WINE allows us to switch between different operating systems to allow for better compatibility with various programs.

Some users have reported that switching WINE to use NT 4.0 compatibility, issues with patches or installations have been resolved. If you run into problems, you may want to try here first. I left it on Windows XP mode the entire time and had no problems, but your mileage may vary.

4. We need to download and/or install the game from media.

I personally have an old account that has been sitting dormant for approximately a year, and I’ve thrown away my installation media. The easiest way to install WoW and TBC is using the original CDs, but if you don’t have them, or have a pretty fat internet pipe, Blizzard helpfully provides online downloads via BitTorrent, so that’s the method I’ll document here today.

Since I’m showing how to install via download, here’s the two links you need. The first one is to download the original WoW game installation files, and the second link requires you to login to verify that you actually have The Burning Crusade expansion enabled on your account before you can get the BT download program for TBC from Blizzard.

Both of these files utilize BitTorrent technology to allow users to download the entire game, except for the latest patch. These files are updated pretty often, so you usually don’t need to install more than one patch after you’ve got the game installed.

To run them, just open them up just like you would on a Windows computer. They should automatically open up in WINE, and after you select a download destination, you’ll have a pretty familiar window staring you right in the mullet.



NOTE: Your internet bandwidth is going to be sucked up completely by the download client. If you need to browse the web or anything in the meantime while you download over 4GB of data, select the View menu in the download program and select preferences, then uncheck download from peers.

When these are done downloading and installing, we can go and get a few tweaks setup so that everything will run smoothly once the game is downloaded.

5. We need to setup the file inside your WoW folder, by default it is located in the ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/World\ of\ Warcraft/ directory. If it doesn’t exist, login to the game once, and just exit right out. The game will create a default one for you.

We need to append a few items to this file to use the OpenGL rendering engine (instead of DirectX or Software rendering) and make sure we have everything setup to run properly under WINE.

You can run this command to edit the file:
gedit ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/World\ of\ Warcraft/wtf/

Then paste these lines at the end:

SET gxApi "opengl"
SET ffxDeath "0"
SET ffxGlow "0"
SET SoundOutputSystem "1"
SET SoundBufferSize "150"

6. Next, we create a registry key and value.
The following instructions to modify the registry are taken directly from the Ubuntu wiki page and is licensed under CC-BY-SA.

a. Find this key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Wine\
b. Highlight the wine folder in the left hand pane by clicking left on it. The icon should change to an open folder
c. Right-click on the wine folder and select [NEW] then [KEY]
d. Replace the text New Key #1 with OpenGL
e. Right-click in the right hand pane and select [NEW] then [String Value]
f. Replace New Value #1 with DisabledExtensions (Notice it's case sensitive!)
g. Then double click anywhere on the line, a dialog box will open.
h. In the value field type GL_ARB_vertex_buffer_object

It should look like this:

7. Now we can install a Linux-specific AddOn for the game so that the graphics options are able to be modified in-game without crashing. Download this file and unzip it.

Copy the entire extracted ApplyToForehead-4 folder into the following location:
~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/World\ of\ Warcraft/Interface/AddOns/

If the Interface or AddOns folder do not exist, go ahead and create them.

8. We can launch the game from the desktop shortcut, or create one pointing to the wow.exe file within the WoW folder.

You should end up with the launch executing flawlessly:

Now just hit the Play button and enjoy the most addicting game since slot machines. On the character selection screen, make sure to enable out of date AddOns so that ApplyToForehead is loaded properly.

That’s it! If you have problems with running the game, please leave a comment and I’ll attempt to answer it, or look for support channels via the following wikis:

Anything else:

And for your enjoyment, here’s a video. :)

  • abadtooth

    I wouldn’t use envy.
    envy is very dangerous to your system.

    Instead it would be better to either use Ubuntu’s restricted drivers, or if you don’t use Ubuntu just install the drivers from the cards website (Nvidia, ATI..)

    I think the name of that config file is kind of interesting 😛

  • abadtooth

    Oh just watched the video, what is that song you had playing?

    Oh and I got you beat 😛 7950GT OC 😀
    I got an AMD X2 6000 though…
    Nice video, which recording program do you use?

  • Wayne

    Amber by 311 is the song.

    I used the ubiquitous recordmydesktop with the gtk-recordmydesktop GUI package.

  • Wayne

    I’ve been waiting for the nv9 series to come out to upgrade. AMD? Pssssh 😉

    I tend to think upgrading to the 2nd best video card every 2nd generation is usually the best price:performance:longevity ratio.

  • abadtooth

    Hey I love my AMD chip 😀

    I WAS going to do a SLI setup but newegg decided to stop selling my card shortly after I got mine :(

    As for now my system has more than enough power for me, so I’m happy 😀

    I tried to use record my desktop back on mandriva a while ago but it was buggy, maybe it will work better now 😀

  • abadtooth

    Love the song by the way^^ 😀

  • Wayne

    I love my Intel chip too! I’m looking forward to a quad core upgrade in the near future, which should make for an interesting comparison.

    Newegg is the only place I buy technology products, other than brick and mortar shops. Newegg rocks.

  • abadtooth

    Yup, I built my system all from the parts I got off there, just recently got my 22″ LCD from them too 😀

    Newegg Rocks!

  • defcon

    envy is great for a custom compiled kernel, very convenient, although if you do not know what it exactly does do not use it.

  • Michael

    I got the error message that “World of Warcraft was unable to startup 3D acceleration” I followed the instructions pretty carefully, but will double check. Any suggestions? Thanks…great how to!

  • Taters

    I’ll vouch for abadtooth. Envy completely ruined my system.

    Anyways, nice guide.

  • Wayne

    yikes! Envy killing systems? No good, no good at all!

  • abadtooth

    It did that to a 7.04 install I had on one of my other systems, Fortunately I was using that system to test it and a couple other things out without disturbing my main computer.

    I was actually following a guide to installing Compiz-Fusion when the guide said to use envy… I followed it to the letter but it broke it :\

  • The other Michael

    The unable to open 3d acceleration error typically means you’re not using the proper GLX engine for your driver.

    In Gentoo with an nVidia card I know it’s:
    eselect opengl set nvidia

  • trident5

    Im new to linux and have installed Ubuntu 7.10 for my first linux…i followed the instrucitons and have World of warcraft working but i have 2 problems..first i can only do 1x video setting in wows video setup…i have a nvidia 7300 512 meg video 16x yet it only is showing a 1x setting…second i have it set to full now windowd and if i shrink or i guess you say alt esc to get back to ubuntu my sound disapears out of the game i have to exit and go back in to get the sound back..

    thanks again for the hints they helped… if you know how i can do please put it in steps im a complete noob to linux

  • The other Michael

    You can change your video settings in your file but I’m not sure what setting you’re looking for. I’m guessing it’s antialiasing which is defaulted to use application settings. You can change that at the driver level in the nvidia-settings application.

    As for the sound Issue, I’m thinking it has to do with wine and dmix when mixing a stream from a second application. I normally run Ventrilo on one desktop and WoW on a second desktop. If I switch to the desktop running Ventrilo, select Ventrilo, hit my Push to Talk and then switch back to WoW I get my game sound back.

  • Zach

    When I run the gedit ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/World\ of\ Warcraft/wtf/

    in he Terminal it opens some window woth nothing in it and I past the
    SET gxApi “opengl”
    SET ffxDeath “0”
    SET ffxGlow “0”
    SET SoundOutputSystem “1”
    SET SoundBufferSize “150”
    in it and try to save it, it says File not found.
    It is in there because I opened it myself.
    What is happening?

  • Wayne

    Zach: You need to run the game first and let the game create the original file, before trying to edit it, otherwise it wont work.

  • 15yroldlinuxlover

    just go in the folder and do it i done it and got it me it works

  • goldenmunky

    Envy didn’t kill my system, it actually helped me in installing my nvidia drivers without any issues.

    Awesome tutorial. I will try this out. Thanks!

  • zian

    when i run wow, it runs but it is really bad quality, laggy and the characters are incomplete
    can anyone help me?

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  • immrlizard

    Great write up. I like this a lot. This is one of the best Linux hack sites that I have found. Keep up the great work.

    I do suggest trying to get the video drivers set up without the use of envy if you can. I haven’t had any problems with it, but it will need to be removed if you upgrade to the new os version. Other then that, I haven’t had any trouble with it. Envy has helped me with a very stubborn ATI x850xt that I was having trouble getting to work with anything more then the basic drivers.

  • 15yroldlinuxlover

    Well i have a HD radeon 2600 pro and it barely works..then i tried my legacy card downstairs all dusty..and it works…soo i wonder why>?

  • sinteres

    Hello, I’m very new to Linux, and I am trying to get WOW working. I have read a lot of the forums and guides to get it working. I have it almost there, but I’ve run into an issue that I am not finding anyone posting about.

    When I launch Wow, my character models do not show up, I can see their weapons and armor, but no character. When I select one of them, the game loads, but freezes a few minutes into the game.

    I’ve tried modifying the wtf file, but if I add:

    SET gxApi “opengl”
    SET ffxDeath “0”
    SET ffxGlow “0”

    The game won’t load at all, I’ve tried changing the SET gxApi “d3d” as well with the same results.

    I have done the registry hack and loaded the applytoforehead add on as well.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

  • Tuxintosh

    Um I followed this guide and got everything to boot fine until I installed Burning Crusade
    I cant see the login screen properally its just like black with 2 weird off gray login bars and a black box for a cursor its really weird but i can find my way to login neways and when i get into the game the interface loads fine but the world is black… the spells and peoples names are still there… i have no clue whats going on help plz?

  • Zel

    Hello Wayne,
    first i want thank you for the guide,but i nothing do with the registry and it works very good :-)

    My System..
    Prozessor (CPU): AMD Athlon(tm) XP 1700+
    Geschwindigkeit: 1 298,76 MHz

    Gesamtspeicher (RAM): 1 011,7 MB

    GeForce 7600 GS

    Betriebssystem: Linux i686
    Aktueller Benutzer: [email protected]
    System: openSUSE 10.3 (i586)
    KDE: 3.5.7 “release 72”

    greez zel

  • Michael Gertz Nielsen

    I am planing to install Ubuntu (Getting tired of Microsoft) – I have WoW installed on my XP already.

    Do I need to reinstall wow for it to work on Ubuntu?

    Great guide (= a motivation for me proceed towards installing Ubuntu)

  • Huh?

    Yup you have to reinstall WoW tried to migrate wow to linux but i get an error that it says something i forgot O.o

  • Wayne

    Michael: You may not need to reinstall WoW – Repatching everything is going to be a HUGE pain in the neck, I would try running WoW in WINE by just running it from the currently installed directory… either back it up, or run Linux from another partition.

  • Michael Gertz Nielsen

    OK – Thanks for the answer; it is giving self-confidence that it is a good idea starting to use Linux :)

  • Muted

    I followed the steps and I got WoW running, but I face one small problem. My character and everyone else is invisible (including the npcs). The environment loaded beautifully though. When I don’t run the game in OpenGL mode everything loads, but I have a terrible frame rate. I use ATI Drivers. Any help would be appreciated!

  • Muted

    Solved: I seem to be able to fix everything by setting my file to something very Similar to this one!

    Not everything is exactly the same I made some changes. This might help some other people having the same problem I did!

    Great guide by the way!

  • Jac

    Muted i had same problem and your solution worked, thank you! but one problem still, every like 2 sec the background on the desktop flickers through, any1 know how to fix it?

  • sinteres

    I have the same problem as Muted, but I tried using that wtf file and got the same results.. Could you let me know what you changed in the file and I will try that?


  • Wayne

    I’ve emailed Muted requesting he post or send his file so we can have a look at it.


  • Jac

    ah found the solution to my problem a few posts up, if your game flickers every 2 secs, disable your visual effects. did the trick for me

  • Boogie

    Yo man. This is the best walk-through HANDS DOWN !! For the past 6 months I’ve struggled and struggled through configuration, after freakin configuration – to no avail. Then finally I find your corner of the Internet. Keep it up yo! You ROCK! Ubuntu ROX!

  • Wayne

    Boogie: Good news!

    sinteres: I emailed Muted and he provided his file. Perhaps this will help, just make sure to edit the resolution or change it ingame to suit your needs.

    Thanks again Muted!

  • Danny

    Awesome guide! and nice video!

    Thanks alot for this guide this is what i really was looking for.

    Wow Runs superfast in ubuntu!

    Thanks again!


  • hagelberg


    I have this issue where my launcher is stuck trying to download the latest patch. All the previous patches were successfully downloaded and installed, but this last one just won’t move.

    Anyone got the same issue or know what may be causing this?

  • Quwel

    i have a problem even starting wow after patches


  • Quwel

    not after patches i mean when im done it just crashes

  • Quwel

    when i try to run it (latest patches) sorry for triple post[IMG][/IMG]

  • Valenther

    Well i have a problem with installing the cd’ tells me that some application is preventing the wow disc to eject. please may you help me its sooo anoyying

  • Jac

    how to i unsubscribe from getting emails when ppl post comments here, the page it links u to in the email doesnt seem to have anything for unsubscribing. unless im blind

  • Boogie

    QUOTE: # Valenther | March 21st, 2008 at 3:15 am

    Well i have a problem with installing the cd’ tells me that some application is preventing the wow disc to eject. please may you help me its sooo anoyying
    Valenther – when WINE locks up and doesnt eject your CD, simply open a terminal (nterm, gnome terminal) and type: wine eject. Hope this helps!!

  • Bato

    hey guys i just downloaded the new ubuntu 8.04 iso. i am wandering how i can go about dual booting this with xp. i do want ubuntu as my os but not until i am certain it will work properlly. Basically i want to be able to choose whether to run my current(xp) or ubuntu. WoW MUST work as well :p

    sorry for the noob questions. i am a total noob when it comes to this kind of stuff.

  • Bato

    oh.. .and my machine is a lenovo t61 .. brand new. and i am verry scared of messing something up

  • Brian

    Well great guide i got everything to work i ditn get the regestry key added but it still works the performance i will say is a little bit jumpy anything i can do to fix that? im running ubut the newest one and i have a 8600gts vc