Configure Wine Ubuntu For Running Windows Based Games

If you’ve come to Linux Ubuntu from Windows, you probably left behind a few favorite computer games. You may already know that Wine can help you play them again; in some cases, however, the solution is less than perfect.That’s where this tutorial can help.

There are times when, as a Linux user who does not have a Windows-based operating system installed, you would like to play your favorite Windows game in a Linux environment using Wine. Sadly, in most cases, the game will run under less optimal/desirable conditions than when it is executed under Windows environment.

This means that the games will be plague with a lot of technical issues. These can include:

  • Uncontrollable/undesirable game lag
  • Inappropriate game colors
  • Bad sound or no sound at all
  • A very slow game overall; not just lag, but a slowdown that affects the frames, mouse speed, and more. 

This tutorial will be aimed at beginners or intermediate users of a Linux Ubuntu Wine installation. The goal is to help them achieve the best gaming experience of running Windows games in Linux without having to deal with terminal commands.

Not all games are guaranteed to work with this tutorial, but what is presented here are useful technical troubleshooting processes that the user should go through to optimize gaming conditions in Linux Wine.

If you are not familiar with Wine, you can find it at the link. You can also find installation procedures here if you are using Ubuntu.

{mospagebreak title=Does Wine Support the Game?}

Before you dive into the details of improving your gaming experience in Wine, it is important to find out if the game is supported in Linux Wine.

Not all Windows games will run perfectly in Wine. It is important to know that Windows games in Wine are classified into four categories:

  • Platinum rating – This type of Windows game, when installed correctly in Wine, will run perfectly without additional settings required.
  • Gold rating — This type of game installs and runs perfectly in Wine, but it needs some tweaking and configuration. Once fixed, it will run perfectly, just as it should run in Windows.
  • Bronze rating – This type of game will work (install and run), but it will not run optimally, as it would run in Windows. This rating also means that the tweak to the game has not yet been discovered. If the tweak for the game has been found and it sorts out the game’s problem (e.g intense lag), it will be elevated to the gold rating status.
  • Garbage rating – These games will never run in Wine. If by chance it does run, it will require an incredible number of steps to correct lots of errors appearing during the game session.

Now, as a Wine user, how can you find out whether or not your Windows game is fully supported to run in a Linux environment?

The following are the steps to ensure that your game is fully supported to run in Wine. Your aim should be at least a Gold or Platinum rating for your game, so that there will only be minimal Wine configuration settings needed, which will be discussed later in this tutorial.

Step 1. Go to this website: http://appdb.winehq.org/  This is the Wine application database.

Step 2. Under AppDB sidebar navigation, click “Browse Apps.”

Step 3. Under “Add new filter,” enter the official name of the game in the “Name” field only. Enter only the broad name, not the specific name, so that you can see more complete results. Leave the other options at their default settings.

For example, suppose I would like to play Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in Linux Wine. I will only enter “Grand Theft Auto” in the name below:

Step 4. Click “Update Filter.”

Step 5. In the results, scroll down until you see the exact game name and click the link for that game name.

Step 6. Click the game version you are using under the “Version” column.

Step 7. You will now know the game rating. For example, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is rated gold. What is also important are the “test results” of the game under the Linux Ubuntu version and Wine version you are using. See example:

Based on the result in the screen shot above, if I am using Ubuntu 9.10 and playing 1.1.36, the rating is Gold. But for other versions, it went from Bronze to Garbage. This is how important it is to meet the software requirements if you want to play your game.

{mospagebreak title=Optimizing a Windows Game in Wine}

To illustrate the rest of the configuration process, let’s use an actual example. Suppose I want to play Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in Wine. The following are the things that I’ve already done (before game optimization).

Step 1. I copied the game folder to C:Program Files in the Wine Linux Ubuntu directory. (see screen shot below):

You can locate the C:Programs Files in Applications => Wine => Browse C: Drive => then double click Program Files.

Step 2. The game was then executed by double clicking the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas folder, right clicking on gta_sa.exe , and then clicking “Open with Wine Windows Program Loader.”

Step 3. I tested the game, and it was not in the optimal mode. Two problems were found. First, the game was a bit more laggy overall than it played in Windows. Second, the frame movements or frame rate was a bit slow.

Step 4. According to the Wine database, the game is fully supported, and it is rated as “Gold” with the following technical requirements (for version 1.0):

  • Wine version 1.2
  • Setting Vertex Shader Support to None (procedure to be discussed in the next section)
  • Allow Pixel Shader (details in the next section)

{mospagebreak title=Implementing the Wine Recommendations for the Game}

Let’s implement the Wine recommendations for the game step by step:

Upgrading Wine Version to 1.2

Currently I am using Ubuntu 9.10, and the Wine version installed is 1.0.1. If you do not know your Wine version, you need to go to Applications => Wine => Configure Wine => click “About” tab.

The wine version needs to be upgraded to 1.2. The procedure is explained below.

Step 1. Go to System => Administration => Synaptic Manager. Under Quick search, type wine. You will then see different wine versions in the repository. Click the version to which you would like to upgrade and hit “Apply.”

Warning: Upgrading Wine is not recommended if you have a lot of working programs (applications and games) using the old Wine version. They might not work with the new version.

Step 2. You will know that your version of Wine has been successfully upgraded if you see the recent version with a light green square next to it in the Synaptic manager. See the screen shot below:

Step 3. It is a good idea to restart your Linux computer to refresh it from the changes.

Changing the Graphics Settings as Suggested in the Wine Application Database

To change the graphics settings, you will need to go to Applications => Wine => Configure Wine => Click “Graphics” Tab.

Make the following changes:

Step 1. Set Vertex Shader support to “None.”

Step 2. Check “Allow Pixel Shader.”

Step 3. Click OK.

Re-testing the game for improvements

The game works excellently under the above settings. The lag was drastically reduced, and the frame rate improved.

{mospagebreak title=Configuring Wine for Gaming: Important Note}

You should note the important information below pertaining to configuring wine for the best gaming experience.

First, your wine registry is only one area (similar to Windows). So your optimal Direct 3D settings, as suggested by the Wine application database, or any related registry tweaks, might only work for a single game — but drastically affect the performance of your other games. In this case, make sure you note the settings so that you can revert to them any time you need to play another game in the future.

Second, as I noted before, upgrading your version of Wine is only recommended if you are sure the upgrade will not affect previously working applications and games. In this tutorial, the Wine version has been upgraded to conform to what was suggested in the Wine application database. But note that this will have drastic consequences when you have several programs installed.

If upgrading happens to break several of your applications that previously worked perfectly, you can revert to the old version of Wine by simply reversing the process (checking the old version in the Synaptic manager and then applying changes).

The synaptic manager will remove the new version and replace it with the old version. Do not forget your old graphics settings in the wine configuration menu so that you can re-adjust them when needed.

The good thing is that your registry will not be altered during the upgrading and downgrading of Wine versions.

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