I use linux for everything computer related these days. My laptop has a windows partition which I never use except to reproduce some Windows XP problems I come across in my work as a sysadmin. The distribution I use these days is Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon). It’s a little long in the tooth, but I see no compelling reason to upgrade yet. I’m also a gamer. When I want to go buy a new game, I go visit WineHQ and verify how much functionality there is under wine. For the uninitiated, wine is the linux way of running windows applications. It’s not perfect, but it does an admirable job in a lot of cases.
I won’t go into detail on how to run wine as there are plenty of web sites which will help you with this. I will give some tips about some of the issues I’ve run into which aren’t necessarily covered in the install guides at WineHQ or other support sites. I currently run wine 1.1.15. This version needs to be compiled from scratch since it’s not part of any distribution yet. It’s not hard to do and WineHQ has good instructions. Ubuntu 8.10 comes with a fairly new wine, so if you’re looking for something which works out of the box, that’s a serviceable choice.
Who should run games on linux? If you’re a sysadmin, or are comfortable with the command line in a linux environment, then you have a good shot at success. If you’re new to linux, you’re probably in for a steep learning curve. The instructions at WineHQ are complete in many cases, but they will seem arcane to the uninitiated.
ATI Video cards: I always had many problems in the past when I tried to use wine with ATI video cards. In the past, the 3D support has been pretty poor for linux. Judging from the comments on WineHQ, the situation hasn’t changed much up to now. I have had good luck with Nvidia cards.
WineHQ: On WineHQ, there is a tab at the top of the page labeled “AppDB”. You can browse this section to find info about whatever you may want to run under wine. The search also seems to work well. Use this to look at the various application entries and comments about various problems and fixes.
Ventrilo: I’ve had some issues getting ventrilo to consistently run well. My guild in WoW and my Corp in EVE both use vent, so I have to suffer through. I’ve had the best luck with OSS set under winecfg. This is probably why I have to disable sound in WoW. I suspect I’ll have to do the same with EVE. With ALSA set, I get the event sounds, but no voice under Vent. I’ll update this when I get ALSA working properly. Push to talk works for me if I enable “Use Direct Inut to detect Hotkey”.
WoW: For me, this has worked mostly out of box for a long time. Follow the instructions on the WineHQ AppDB site and you should be good to go.
EVE Online: The classic content linux client from the EVE Online site worked fine for me. This is being discontinued when the next expansion comes out, so I’ll talk about the premium client. The install seems to work fine. Occasionally, the splash screen will pop up and the game won’t start. I have to kill the process when this happens. Up to now, the premium client locked up frequently if sound was enabled. I read on a forum that disabling hardware acceleration fixes that. I’ll try that tonight and update this post if it works. EVE without sound is ok, but I’d like to get it working. Again, if you follow all of the instructions at WineHQ, things should mostly work.