Linux gaming, part one: first person shooters

June 16th, 2007 | Games, Linux by th

Linux might not have as much games as Windows (or game consoles) but people enjoying this wonderful open source operating system can have fun with games too, as there are a lot of free games for Linux available, even some huge commercial ones. Even Linux games are a niche market, Linux gaming has got a pretty colorful history so far. So what’s the state of Linux gaming?

(Brief) History of Linux gaming

Linux has longer history with commercial games than many of the current generation Linux users might realize. When biggest Linux boom was going on at late 90’s, many commercial games got ported to Linux along the ride. The biggest name in the scene at the time was Loki Software which was founded in 1998 to port games for Linux. Loki closed down four years later, but undeniably Loki was important boost for Linux getting mainstream. Loki ported many famous games for Linux, such as Civilization: Call to power, Heretic 2, Heroes of Might and Magic III, Myth 2, Quake 3 Arena, Soldier of Fortune, Tribes 2 and many others. Sometimes porting didn’t pay off, as the rumour goes that Rune sold only 1000 copies.

Following Loki’s footsteps, Linux Game Publishing was founded in 2001 to port commercial games for Linux. First port from Linux Game Publishing was Creatures: Internet Edition back in 2001. From well-known mainstream games, LGP also ported Postal 2 for Linux.

Probably the best known game developer in the industry supporting Linux was, and still is, iD Software. iD has ported many of it’s hit titles (or partner-developed games using iD Software’s engines, notably Raven Software’s games) to Linux, including latest Doom 3 and Quake 4. Back in late 90’s, Quake 2 and Quake 3 were very popular on Linux.

Linux games shot

BioWare also saw an opportunity with Linux and released Linux client for their hit title, Neverwinter Nights. However, the client was released a year after the Windows version and didn’t ship with installation discs. To install the game, players needed to copy data over existing Microsoft Windows installation or download Neverwinter Nights data files as free download. Players still needed to purchase the Windows version of the game to get the cd-key which made installation on Linux and downloading data files possible. Many experienced Linux users were happy with the release, but the actual installation process wasn’t easy enough to attract gamers to move over to Linux.

Shot of neverwinter nights

Another company with a different solution to the gaming problem was formed by former Corel-employee Gavriel States who ran Corel’s Linux division. The company in question is TransGaming Technologies. Rather than porting games natively for Linux, they took the emulation approach. TransGaming took source code from Wine project and added DirectX-features and released the outcome under the name WineX, which later was renamed as Cedega. Altough WineX ran some games almost as well as they run in Microsoft Windows, many people were worried that it could discourage native Linux ports. However, to run games like GTA3, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Half-Life 2 and other popular titles on Linux, Cedega is Linux gamers’ only change for now. Some games might run under regular Wine too, but Cedega has improved DirectX support over Wine along with support to run installers from copy-protected discs.

Need for speed Carbon under linux

Screenshot of Need for Speed: Carbon running on Cedega.

First person shooters

First person shooters are likely the most popular among Linux gamers, thanks to the iD Software who released the source code for Doom, Quake, Quake 2 and Quake 3 engines under the GNU General Public License. This allowed homebrew-coders to release professional looking games with stunning graphics, thanks to the Quake engines.


Amateur coders have impressed the world with some stunning games using Quake-engine. Without exceptions, these wonderful fragging-games are all available for Linux. Probably the most interesting project, at least by originality with graphics, is Warsow. Not only the graphics are amazingly beautiful cell-shading graphics, but the gameplay and the playing experience is something that strikes old QuakeWorld fans like thunder. Movement is, like Quake should, extremely fast. Unlike most of the new reality-shooters, QuakeWorld required sharp and stable mouse hand with absolute accuracy. The game is really fast and fun. In addition to legendary QuakeWorld-alike speed, Warsow has some interesting additions that were wet dreams for last-millennium quakers, like wall-jumping (Video tutorial for wall jumping).

Warsow 1 Warsow 2 Warsow 3 Warsow 4

Warsow Screenshots (More here)

Warsow also has very active player community, whenever you want to play, there are almost always servers full of players. Warsow is free Download for Linux and Microsoft Windows (available at Warsow homepage) .


Fast-paced quake-alike first person shooter which stands on it’s own. Unlike most of the other free fps-games for Linux, Sauerbraten (Also known as Cube 2) is not based on any Quake engine, but rather totally original one. Not only it’s original in code-wise, it’s very original in technical sense. Unlike Quake-engines, Sauerbraten levels can be edited real-time inside the game which separates it from its rivals. The game also has stunning graphics, something that’s rare for original open source game. The source code is also available under very permissive ZLIB-license, which means you can create commercial works from it. Sauerbraten also has very active player base, and finding a fragfest is rarely a problem. The game is available (for free) for Linux, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows at Sauerbraten homepage.

Sauerbraten 1 Sauerbraten 2 Sauerbraten 3

Screenshots from Sauerbraten (See more).


Nexuiz is one of the popular free games based on open sourced Quake engine with gorgeous graphics and Quake-alike gameplay. First version of Nexuiz was released in May 2005 after being over 5 years in development, and since then it has won over the hearts of the many fps fans. Nexuiz has been downloaded over half million times. Many might think from the (beautiful) graphics that Nexuiz was based on either Quake 2 or more advanced Quake 3 engine, but Nexuiz is in fact based on Quake 1 engine fork called Darkplaces. You can download Nexuiz for free for Linux, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X from it’s homepage.


Screenshot of Nexuiz


Tremulous is another popular FPS based on Quake engines. However it’s vastly different from other Quake-based games as it blends team based FPS elements of an real-time strategy game. Players choose their side from two unique races, either aliens or humans. Players on both sides can build working structures in-game, like in strategy games. These structures provide many functions, like spawning. If there are no spawning points available, players won’t be able to rejoin the game after death. This makes the game more interesting since designated builders must ensure that there are spawning structures always available. Players also advance as they make kills. Human players are rewarded with credits for each alien kill and the alien is also able to evolve into a new class. The more kills gained the more powerful the classes available. Tremulous is available for Linux and Microsoft Windows as free download.

Tremulous 1 Tremulous 2

Tremulous screenshots (See more)

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory

Enemy Territory is not an open source game, but it’s available for free of charge. The game was originally planned to be released as a commercial expansion pack to the popular FPS Return to Castle Wolfenstein but was released as a free stand-alone multiplayer game in 2003. The game uses Quake 3 engine which is open sourced, but modified version used by Enemy Territory remains closed. Source code for the game logic, however, is open sourced to help modding community to build better modifications for the game. Enemy Territory is available as free download for Linux, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.

Enemy Territory

Screenshot of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory

Commercial first person shooters

If free first person shooters aren’t enough for you, there are also popular commercial fps games available. Not only iD Software has released high-profile titles like Doom3 and Quake 4 for Linux, but very popular shooter Unreal Tournament 2004 is also available. Altough UT2004 game box doesn’t mention Linux in the requirements nor the manual say a word about it, the game box carries a tiny penguin logo and the last game cd contains Linux installer (AMD64 patch also available!). It’s there, though very hidden from general public. Older commercial well-known fps games for Linux include Quake 2, Quake 3, Tribes 2 and Postal 2.

Doom 3


There are a lot of first person shooters available for Linux, especially online fps games. Not all fps-games are covered here, but old myth “Linux doesn’t have games” hardly stands, at least for the first person shooters. Linux users can enjoy fragfests either with fine free games, or with well-known hit titles like Quake 4 or Unreal Tournament 2004. Cedega can also run Half-Life 2.

Happy fragging!

Read also other parts of this article:

Love Linux games? Maybe you should pursue a degree in video game design. You can enroll in an online universities first to see if game design is something you’d be interested in learning. You’ll love how easy it is to get your online bachelor degree in a field you enjoy.

If you want to make a website, the first thing you need is the high speed internet, and then of course, you will think of the cheapest domain name, and a website can’t build without the help of online software. You can avail from the verizon wireless prepay service, when setting up your web for 70-292 or 350-030.

31 Responses to “Linux gaming, part one: first person shooters”

  1. Linux Gaming World » Modern Linux Gaming Review |

    […] new technology site, Kahvipapu, has started off their articles by reviewing the state of Linux gaming. So far, so good - no mention of Tux Racer. The writing in this part-one of the series covers first […]

  2. kahvipapu » Linux gaming, part two: strategy games |

    […] Part one covered first person shooters on Linux. Blizzard just announced Starcraft 2 for Windows and Macintosh, but how’s the strategy gaming on Linux? […]

  3. Stephen Gentle |

    I just thought that I should mention that Wine is generally better for playing games in now than Cedega.

  4. Anonymous |

  5. Ramblings of a Geek » Linux Gaming (FPS / Strategy) |

    […] to the Dark Side! Linux Gaming Part 1: FPS Linux Gaming Part 2: […]

  6. Linux Tricks » Blog Archive » Linux Gaming [Parts One & Two] |

    […] Complete Story (Part One) […]

  7. Spanky |

    What about “open Arena”?

  8. virtual |

    True Combat - Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory MOD is worth mention!! Check

  9. xenuphobia |

    While Linux might have games available, that doesn’t mean they will run. For instance, any computer running an ATi card is going to have some really bad performance due to lack of any kind of decent drivers for it. For all intents and purposes, with my ATi card, there are no good games on Linux because none of them will run.

  10. th |

    You’re better of going to the nearest retailer and buying a Nvidia card. For 50$ you’ll get a better card for Linux gaming that ATi will ever make. It’s well known fact that ATi doesn’t support Linux, so vote with your wallet.

    Give feedback to ATi, they’re the ones making bad drivers for Linux.

  11. s |

    You are missing the free Americas Army Online whis uses the Unreal Tourmanent engine and are available for Linux.

  12. bed |

    Another good outstanding free shooter is World of Padman
    Look here at theire Homepage http://
    and here for my German stuff about it :
    for example

  13. desertc |

    @S: America’s Army stopped support for Linux operating systems a couple of years ago. And UT2K4? Well, I don’t blame him for not mentioning it. There are more playable games than that 3 year old one. UT3 is coming out and it will hopefully put the UT series back on every Linux gamers’ list.

    I am glad old games were not included in these lists. That’s right, I’m saying games that were last updated three years ago are old. Linux gaming has come a long way recently. Most people don’t realize Linux is a good gaming OS - if it isn’t the best gaming OS then it has the potential of becoming the best. Keep looking toward the future, Linux gamers.

  14. » Linux gaming |

    […] Linux gaming, part one: first person shooters […]

  15. eNTi |

    ffs. WINE Is Not an Emulator, so isn’t cedga! its a god damn wrapper and it emulates nothing.

  16. Games games games · DragonFly BSD Digest |

    […] linked on Blue’s News: Kahvipapu articles on Linux gaming with first person shooters, and strategy games parts one and two.  There’s more sections promised, and it covers some […]

  17. Playing Games. « Helpful Linux Tidbits |

    […] kahvipapu […]

  18. Onur Yalazı |

    May i translate and publish this article series on my blog? I could not find out your email. You must be a hard target for spammers ;)

  19. Stephen's Blog » Blog Archive » Linux gaming, part one: first person shooters |

    […] saw this on Digg - it’s the first of an interesting series about Linux gaming. Includes a brief history, and some of the best Linux games available. There are even more […]

  20. next_ghost |

    There’s a little mistake in the paragraph about Tremulous. Builder designation is a feature that is not included in all server versions. Anybody can become a builder in Tremulous.

    Some servers allow players to vote about player’s designation or admins to explicitly designate a player. This gives the designated player ability to toggle structure protection which prevents players who are not designated from deconstructing it.

  21. Gaming overview « 0ddn1x: tricks with *nix |

    […] Gaming overview Filed under: Linux — 0ddn1x @ 2007-06-24 17:49:27 +0000 […]

  22. Linux gaming series « 0ddn1x: tricks with *nix |

    […] Linux gaming series Filed under: Linux — 0ddn1x @ 2007-06-24 17:58:45 +0000 […]

  23. kahvipapu » Linux gaming, part four: massive multiplayer online games |

    […] Linux gaming, part one: first person shooters […]

  24. kahvipapu » Linux gaming, part three: strategy games (continued) |

    […] Linux gaming, part one: first person shooters […]

  25. Linux gaming, part two: strategy games « Renato |

    […] on July 12th, 2007. Part one covered first person shooters on Linux. Blizzard just announced Starcraft 2 for Windows and […]

  26. kahvipapu | Half-Life 2: Deathmatch on Linux |

    […] there is several good free fps games available for Linux - I just love HL2DM. I’ve spent countless hours trying to […]

  27. javad |

    Hi, I want an engine for strategy games.
    any body can help me?
    sorry my en language is weak
    please send for me link

  28. Never Tell… Richard Eibrand » Blog Archive » links for 2007-11-26 |

    […] kahvipapu | Linux gaming, part one: first person shooters So what’s the state of Linux gaming? (tags: linux games) […]

  29. tim stirner |

    You forgot urban terror under your first person shooters - linux native, ioq3 standalone, free download:

  30. Gaia Herbs |

    Oh sweet. I’d love to play more games on Ubuntu

  31. &nbsp A Brief History of Linux Gaming » GBGames - Thoughts on Indie Game Development |

    […] part one, the author focuses on first-person shooters. Loki ported quite a few games from Windows, including […]

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