How-To Run Doom 3 on Linux

The number one complaint about gaming on Linux is that native Linux games are graphically sub-par compared to their mainstream counterparts. For the most part that is true, graphics cost money to make after all, but there are a few examples of games which break that mold and Doom 3 is one of them.

Doom 3 was released on Linux in October 2004 and remains one of the best examples of cutting edge gaming technology on any platform; and on Linux it is supreme. Installing Doom 3 natively is a little more involved on Linux than just clicking a bunch of “do” buttons. I assume you have a legitimate copy of the game for this how-to; as I will assume in the future. Let’s go through it:

1. Bring up a terminal window and type in the following:

sudo mkdir /usr/local/games /usr/local/games/doom3 /usr/local/games/doom3/base

2. Copy the following files from your retail copy of Doom 3 into the /usr/local/games/doom3/base directory that you just made. You’ll need to be root to do this.

pak000.pk4, pak001.pk4, pak002.pk4, pak003.pk4, pak004.pk4

For example:

sudo cp /media/cdrom0/Setup/Data/base/pak000.pk4 /usr/local/games/doom3/base

3. Now go to id’s website and get the Linux installer. To save id some bandwidth/money I recommend that you use Bittorrent to download it. If not, then you can use the FTP.

id’s Doom 3 for Linux site

4. Set the permissions on the installer to allow execution. You can normally just right click it on your Desktop then hit “Properties” and look under the “Permissions” tab. But if you want a quick and easy solution then type this into your terminal (assuming you saved the installer to your desktop):

chmod ugo+rwx ~/Desktop/doom3*

5. Using the terminal, go over to where  you saved the installer and run it. For example (assuming you saved the installer to your desktop):

sudo ~/Desktop/doom3*

6. The installer will bring up a display that looks like it escaped off a computer from the late eighties. Leave everything at their default settings, just let it do its job.

– It will first confirm what kind of machine and system you are running. Just hit “yes”

– Hit the “Exit” box on screen or <enter> on your keyboard to accept the license agreement

– Hit “Yes” to confirm your acceptance of the license

– Hit “No” (keyboard: <right arrow> then <enter>) to avoid reading the README.txt

– Hit “OK” when it asks where to install to. If it says “No write permission to /usr/local/games/doom3” then you need to run the installer as root (step 5).

– Give the installer permission to install Punk Buster if you plan to play online.

7. The installer will put the rest of the game onto your hard drive and put Doom 3 into your default menu entry. (“Games >> Doom 3” under GNOME, “Other >> Doom 3” under xfce)

That’s it. As easy as that. Now you may have some problems, depending on your system, which I’ll attempt to address.

Amazing shadows for its time

Beautiful Doom 3


Q: Now that I have it installed, how do I run it?

A: You should be able to find Doom 3 under your panel menu, but you can also start Doom 3 by opening a terminal and typing doom3 into it.

Q: Doom 3 starts up and then runs very slowly. Like two or three frames per second.

A: Make sure you have hardware acceleration enabled. In other words, install the drivers for your graphics card.

Q: Doom 3 runs and looks great, but my audio stutters and/or loses sync with the graphics sometimes.

A: Doom 3 was made to run with ALSA or OSS sound architecture on Linux. But many distros now use Pulse Audio for sound. The solution: uninstall Pulse Audio.

Here’s some screen shots of Doom 3 running at max settings at a resolution of 1920×1200 on my computer. I just had to show off this beautiful game.


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