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Veyrdite

Linux and Wine: How to get all games & the launcher working

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Summary:

  • The W3D engine itself (in current game releases) has no compatibility issues on Wine, the games are click and play. 
  • Some games that use older versions of scripts  (ECW) require a simple workaround to get working.
  • The W3D Hub launcher itself requires many non-obvious workarounds to get working (as detailed further down in this post). 
  • New renderer (scripts 5.x games) do not perform as well as of the time of writing. (lower framerates).

Specific games:

  • Interim Apex: Works.  Tested over many hours of online play, completely stable.
  • RA APB: Works.
  • RA2 AR: Works offline, server is not being hosted at the time of writing.
  • ECW Works, but requires a workaround to avoid crashing on start with a 'Please report this error' message box.
  • Other games: Ask if you would like me to test.

 

In all cases except for scripts 5.x games: framerates are capped at 60 or rise into the hundreds.  I'm on a computer made from parts from a skip -- mid range 2014 CPU, 4GB DDR3 and a low-end graphics card using the in-kernel (default for most ATI users) radeon drivers.

fulldesk.thumb.png.b1edc3e25bdf40bb7d6048decae69f6f.pnggame_apex.thumb.jpeg.3ea9dc47bc30dd2aea10996e239ae515.jpeggame_ra.thumb.jpeg.8cd383678247179360bfe25fae0f221b.jpeg1694006553_2019-03-17145323.7150070611100Shyarenrisexplorer_exe.png.thumb.jpeg.ad555198030842f71123c512cc234648.jpeg

Introduction

For years I have run Renegade (and many other games) under Wine on Linux.  Wine's compatibility is reasonably impressive, but recent dotnet versions and DRM in popular games (eg Fortnite, Roblox) are known headaches or showstoppers.  The W3Dhub launcher uses a recent version of dotnet and WPF, both of which cause problems.

Wine lets you run Windows programs on Linux.  It's not an emulator, it doesn't have to be (we're all on x86), instead it provides a userspace compatible with Windows (dlls, services, etc) so Windows programs can be run natively.  Once wine is installed you can double-click on EXEs and they'll run.

Wine can be installed on any major Linux distro through your relevant package manager.  Typically you also need to install some 32-bit packages to get proper graphics acceleration for 32-bit exes if you are on a 64 bit distro; this step requires some Googling.  Some parts of the user experience are still rough around the edges.

W3D Hub Launcher

Download and run the W3Dhub installer as you normally would. 

I've ordered these problems based on the order I think you will encounter them.

Prerequisite: Wine 4.0 or later

Make sure you are running an up to date copy of wine:

$ wine --version
wine-4.0

Many distributions (eg Ubuntu, Mint, Debian) ship out of date copies of Wine.  These will not allow dotnet and the W3Dhub launcher to operate correctly.  Follow the instructions on winehq.org for setting up and installing Wine Stable (4.0 at the time of writing).

If you are running old or unstable copies of wine: the launcher may not start, or may crash when you try to play a game.

Problem 1: The W3Dhub installer hangs when it tries to install dotnet.

Workaround:

  1. Kill the dotnet installer process.  The W3DHub launcher won't notice the failure and will continue normally.
  2. Install winetricks.  Your distro should have winetricks in its package manager.
  3. Use winetricks to install dotnet461:
$ winetricks dotnet461

Installing 461 will take quite some time: various versions of dotnet have to be installed in a certain order to get there.  In my case one of the steps hung because I had other Wine applications open ("Waiting for all wine applications to close"), so I had to manually close some other Windows applications I was using.

Problem 2: Graphical glitches in the launcher make it impossible to read

Different graphics drivers exhibit this problem slightly differently.  On Intel Integrated I have found I don't need to enable 'emulate a virtual desktop' to fix things, but on Radeon I do.

launcherundrawn.thumb.jpeg.1b4915a6ac101db72b838a3e0713928b.jpeglauncherundrawn3.thumb.jpeg.918167fb1954798727332bfbb089e0e6.jpeg

It appears that the VRAM being used for the window isn't being properly drawn/flipped.

Workaround:

1. Open winecfg and tell Wine to use a virtual desktop:

winecfg_virtdesk.thumb.png.bc9e57b0ed4e0158a89f66c18c9b9c7e.png

2. Re-launch W3D hub if you have not already, so that it sits inside the virtual desktop.

3. Drag the corrupt-looking W3Dhub window off the edge of your screen and then back again.  It will redraw itself correctly when coming back onto your screen.

You will have to repeat this last step every time you open the launcher.

Problem 3: My login credentials are not being saved

The W3Dhub launcher only saves your login credentials when it exits normally.  If the launcher crashes then it won't save them.

Workaround:

  1. Enter your credentials
  2. Wait until you are logged in
  3. Close the W3Dhub launcher before it crashes (see the next problem).

Problem 4: The W3Dhub launcher crashes exactly 15 seconds after logging in

EDIT: As of Wine 4.3 (March 2019) this problem no-longer appears to occur.  If you are still suffering this problem then please reply to this topic saying so.

Workaround:

  1. Open the W3Dhub launcher
  2. Wait for it to log you in (your name and avatar will appear on it)
  3. Launch a second copy of the W3Dhub launcher

The second copy will login, work normally and will not crash.  The first copy will crash, but you can safely close it and ignore it.

I've paced the steps above for a reason: please follow them.  If you launch two copies of the launcher at the same time then there is a chance one copy won't login properly.  You can also open more than two copies, but this is not generally that useful.

Problem 5: Drop-down menus do not work in the game settings dialogs

Notably: screen resolution at the top-right:

resconfig.thumb.png.bb981b33e3965c088ed178c6723b53c9.png

Workaround: select the resolution drop-down box with your mouse, then use the cursor keys on your keyboard to cycle through the options.

Problem 6: DXSETUP fails to run when installing a game

dxsetup.png.03875c877e03e9afb9195d9ba3b68b85.png

Workaround: ignore.  Appears to be harmless.

Problem 7: The W3Dhub launcher pegs a few CPU cores

EDIT: As of Wine 4.3 (March 2019) this problem no-longer appears to occur.  If you are still suffering this problem then please reply to this topic saying so.

I have no idea what's going on here.  Excessive redraw loops if not vsync limited?  Mining for tibercoin?

 cpupeg.thumb.png.915ea9b546dbdd4f8f9b718bd80ddd50.png

This may negatively affect your gameplay if you do not have spare processor cores.

Problem 8: Extremely poor framerate/performance, even in the menus

This is a common symptom seen by people using 64 bit Linux distros that don't come with the necessary libraries for 32 bit graphics acceleration.  Ie you're stuck using software rendering (but you do not told).

On Debian based distros (Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, etc) you need to install several packages:

$ sudo apt-get install libglx-mesa0:i386     (other packages?)

TODO: find the full list of packages that need installing, or a source to link to.  Nag me if you need help here, even if it's years in the future

Problem 9: Expansive Civilian Warfare (ECW) crashes on start with a "please report this error" dialog

Thankyou to the members of the WineHQ community for providing me the fix for this one.

ECW came from an era of scripts/shaders where some directx8->directx9 conversions were being performed using a 'thunk' dll.  This only works if you are running a real copy of d3d8.dll, not wine's built-in copy.

Open up winecfg and add a native override for d3d8.dll:

d3d8_override.thumb.png.e1bd7dc75b920a4b1e846026357de6a3.png

I didn't have to do anything further than this, BUT it may be because I already had a native d3d8.dll installed from something else.  Please comment if you try this fix and it does not work for you, so we can track down a good copy of the dll.

Additionally: this workaround will break some other games.  You will have to turn it off (select '"Builtin (Wine)") for them to work.

W3D & Vanilla Renegade Games

Problem A: Screen is left looking bright (or dark) after a game is closed.

The W3D engine changes your screen/card gamma settings when the game is launched, but it does not seem to restore them back when you close the game.

Workaround: reset your gamma.  A simple way on the command line:

$ xgamma -gamma 1.0

Alternative workaround: set all of the brightness/contrast/gamma sliders in the in-game settings to 1.0 or 0.0 (as appropriate).  This will make the game use a gamma of 1.0, making things appear darker overall but also ensuring a strange gamma level is not left when you close the game.

Problem B: My mouse movement is limited or my mouse is not captured in-game

I've triggered this problem when using an external utility to take screenshots.  Some form of mouse grab gets stolen from the game.

Workaround: press Esc to enter the pause menu, then esc again to return back to game.  The game will grab the mouse back properly again.

The problem of 'limited mouse movement', where you feel that your mouse has been constrained in a large box, is also known to occur when some specific directinput DLLs are installed.  If you have previously installed these DLLs to fix other games you may need to remove them.

If all else goes wrong: starting from scratch

Eg:

  • Sometimes installers will refuse to cooperate because of the state of your Wine environment.
  • Installing some older versions of dotnet can 'break' dotnet461, stopping the launcher from running
  • Installing dotnet461 or other dlls can (in some circumstance) break other older games or programs.

If you need to start with a 'fresh windows environment', then consider deleting the ".wine" folder in your home directory.

    Warning: this will delete all files in your virtual C:\ drive, including other windows programs and games.

    Note: Filenames and foldernames beginning with a dot are hidden.

Alternatively you can create a single "Wineprefix" just for W3Dhub and W3D games.  Every "Wineprefix" you have is like a separate Windows installation and environment, complete with its own version of the C:\ drive and Windows registry.  Whilst Wineprefixes are a very effective way of segregating different Windows programs/games, they require some more advanced steps to setup and use, so I don't recommend them for beginners.

https://askubuntu.com/questions/956244/what-is-a-wineprefix

https://wiki.winehq.org/FAQ#Wineprefixes

I personally use wine prefixes extensively.  I have had bad experiences with experimental windows programs breaking my registry and ruining modded game installs that have survived for years.  I have also had certain games require dlls that dramatically slow other games down.  

End notes

This is a very Windows/MSVC-centric community so I don't ever expect Linux support to be priority, but it's nice to have it.  Dotnet and all of its extensions are always going to be a PITA to get working on other platforms, that's arguably one of the motivations of dotnet.  We now have projects like Mono and some interest from Microsoft in become cross platform, but things are far from perfect.

Happy to answer questions and hear people's opinions; I don't mind if you have not used Linux before and there's no such thing a silly question.

Last updated 2019-06-01  (current wine release version: 4.0,  wine development version: 4.9,  W3Dhl: 0.10.0.0)

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I suspect we'd have more Linux users if Westwood/EA supported the OS with the C&C franchise. 

Expanding Linux support might be worth considering if there is evidence of a userbase that would play W3D games on Linux.

In the short term thought, I'd argue we're even lacking Windows based users. Certainly a lot of room for improvement at all times in regards to simply speaking of "more players". 

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I have been moving a lot of the launcher code into dotnet standard recently which is cross platform compatible. Ultimately once dotnet standard 3 and xaml standard are available then we can cross compile the launcher directly as a dotnet core 3 app, but that's probably a long way off yet.

 

The drawing code is pure WPF, so rendering issues suggest that the wine implementation of WPF is behaving questionably. Might be related to the high CPU usage. FWIW, the launcher doesn't do any mining or whatnot

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As a quick follow up, I just wanted to mention that I'm open to suggestions to ease Linux support - in fact there have been a few code changes contributed from one of our staff members aimed at improving how the launcher runs on Linux. He's posted forum topics about getting it working in the past too.

 

The next update to the launcher already includes a command line switch for the installer that skips the dotnet install, a feature requested to aid Linux support. Also if you've got the dotnet environment already installed it'll check the registry keys and see that it doesn't need to try installing it at all.

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Having done a bit of googling to check up on the status of xaml standard 3, it looks like Microsoft are not actually intending to bring WPF to the cross platform part of dotnet core but actually put it alongside it as a Windows specific extension. Somewhat disappointing!

I have however found a xaml based cross platform UI library which is inspired by WPF which I intend to keep an eye on - http://avaloniaui.net

 

https://gitlab.com/w3dhub/w3dhub-launcher-net/issues/92

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21 hours ago, Veyrdite said:

Mining for tibercoin?

Oh you know it! :v

Good tutorial @Veyrdite, this is definitely well-put-together.

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Not a Linux user myself, but if anything Linux has shown me that it's extremely helpful in discovering programming code that can still be optimized for compatibility.

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Thankyou for all of the replies.  I smell a reply party organised on chat :)

 

Launcher bugs harv-walking

As of today the '15 second crash' and 'CPU hogging' problems have stopped occurring for me.  This is going to take some digging to understand.

The launcher UI is being drawn with 3D acceleration, so I'm able to peek at the OpenGL frametimes.  I'll keep an eye on the launcher and see if I can recreate the issues.

 

On 2/26/2019 at 3:32 AM, Raap said:

I suspect we'd have more Linux users if Westwood/EA supported the OS with the C&C franchise. 

Expanding Linux support might be worth considering if there is evidence of a userbase that would play W3D games on Linux. 

In the short term thought, I'd argue we're even lacking Windows based users. Certainly a lot of room for improvement at all times in regards to simply speaking of "more players". 

If we ignore the launcher troubles: I think the W3Dhub games themselves would have a good chance for getting players in the Linux world.  We have websites like gamingonlinux.com that represent an environment dominated by 2D game releases, likely because they're less risk for people to make from scratch.  As far as mature & free 3D Linux games go we have lots of mature quake-likes (Warsow, Sauerbraten, Red Eclipse, Xonotic, OpenArena, Alien Arena, Urban Terror, Tremulous, Unvanquished, etc) and a few 3D RTS games (Spring variants),  but there's nothing like C&C gameplay or even anything with remotely the same map scale.  You have to go to the commercial sector for this, which is primarily dominated by drunken Steam ports (Wine with little care).

I think a website like Gol would go bananas over a well-performing mature free 3D game that runs on Linux.  "Outdoors and not quake".  The Renegade community has set some very high bars internally if you compare with other free (or open-source) 3D game projects.

The catch would be making sure it's a pleasant experience for Linux users across the different graphics drivers (Intel SNA, Nouveau, Nvidia Proprietary, Radeon and AMDGPU) of which I can test everything except the last (requires newer hardware).  Given that W3D looks like it uses a fixed pipeline (correct?  I've noticed that the alpha sort order problems seem to have been fixed)  I don't expect there to be any massive issues.

On 2/26/2019 at 6:15 AM, danpaul88 said:

I have been moving a lot of the launcher code into dotnet standard recently which is cross platform compatible. Ultimately once dotnet standard 3 and xaml standard are available then we can cross compile the launcher directly as a dotnet core 3 app, but that's probably a long way off yet. 

The drawing code is pure WPF, so rendering issues suggest that the wine implementation of WPF is behaving questionably. Might be related to the high CPU usage. FWIW, the launcher doesn't do any mining or whatnot 

From what I read Mono has compatibility with a lot of dotnet, excluding WPF.  If we ignore WPF: I'm not familiar enough to know whether or not mono is an easy compatibility target or a world away in terms of effort to get it working.

Context: Mono comes bundled with Wine.  There's also native mono support on Linux.

On 2/26/2019 at 7:09 AM, danpaul88 said:

As a quick follow up, I just wanted to mention that I'm open to suggestions to ease Linux support - in fact there have been a few code changes contributed from one of our staff members aimed at improving how the launcher runs on Linux. He's posted forum topics about getting it working in the past too.

Thankyou for the tipoff.  Link:

It looks like Omar hit some similar issues three years ago.

Omar's scripts appear to do a lot more work than I expect; some of it specific to older version numbers of Wine.  Off the bat I don't think most of that is necessary any more, but I may be wrong.  I'd recommend people try my guide before running Omar's script anyway, there's a lot less dependence on specific versions of things.

 

The ideal goal for Linux users would be:

  1. Install Wine
  2. Double-click the W3Dhub launcher installer
  3. Everything works from there

All of the current in-game bugs (gamma left on exit, AA not working, etc) are completely excusable if the game is fun and easy to get working.  The moment you require a terminal to install the game you lose most users.

I don't think I can provide any suggestions here that don't have big compromises.  Porting to a compatible dotnet/mono version (inc replacing WPF) takes lots of time and creating a second launcher would be a maintenance burden; and probably not at feature parity (for practical purposes).  Whilst the task of launching game.exe with some flags is easy, the presentation of the launcher is not.

 

On 2/26/2019 at 7:09 AM, danpaul88 said:

The next update to the launcher already includes a command line switch for the installer that skips the dotnet install, a feature requested to aid Linux support. Also if you've got the dotnet environment already installed it'll check the registry keys and see that it doesn't need to try installing it at all. 

Hmm.  Might be an option for making a new script to automate this. 

My thoughts are still out on whether it's better to automate workarounds or get people to do them by hand.

 

On 2/26/2019 at 1:20 PM, Jeod said:

Not a Linux user myself, but if anything Linux has shown me that it's extremely helpful in discovering programming code that can still be optimized for compatibility.

Something of vague interest: because I'm running W3D on OpenGL I have access to a different set of profiling tools to most people:

gallium_hud.thumb.jpeg.58c89c775778cf73ebc963205e8dd836.jpeg

Note: The drawcall count is probably skewed by the DirectX->OpenGL shims that Wine provides

Edited by Veyrdite

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Wow MSAA is being done as supersampling in Wine from the look of it. The alpha on the trees is definitely being supersampled. I manually enable this on my end in windows with NVIDIA control panel but its interesting to see that Wine is doing this by default. 

Its also impressive to see how well wine emulates direct3d in opengl. 

 

The Launcher using 3d acceleration is normal. WPF was created specifically to use the GPU for rendering as well as be DPI independent as it primarily uses vector drawing rather than bitmaps. It was introduced in Window Vista. 

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Hmm, I don't recall seeing any AA in person.  You are right however: those screenshots definitely have smooth edges.

Smooth foliage: not just JPEG?  I'll upload some cropped foliage PNG shots later.

 

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I have MSAA 4x on by default in the IA client. That will smooth out everything except alpha textures. Those require supersampling to smooth out. Although now that I am thinking you may have turned on FXAA in the ingame performance menu which will smooth out alpha textures (it really just blurs them). I recommend turning fxaa off though. Its nothing more than a smear filter. It looks decent right now cause you also have MSAA 4x on. 

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Updates to "launcher crashes 15 seconds after login" and cpu core pegging

I've now tested extensively on my desktop (Radeon HD 6850 with 'radeon' in-kernel drivers) and my laptop (Intel HD Graphics 405, Braswell).  Both exhibit these problems reliably.

A few posts ago I mentioned these two problems being miraculously fixed, it seems that was pot luck that day.  I have not been able to reproduce it again.  My best guess is I had some part of dotnet or the launcher still hiding away as another sleeping process.

 

Anti-aliasing deep dive

All of my statements about AA not working are wrong, it's my eyesight that needs checking.

From the best I can tell: the launcher's AA setting is proper old-fashioned MSAA and the in-game FXAA setting is the crappy 2D filter AA.  Each setting is only accessible from the afore-mentioned places, so it takes a bit of searching and discovery.

 

FXAA immediately makes me unhappy.  Small objects in the distance (vehicles, people) go blurry.

lighthouse.png.57e505d95d7d2fddaf9e255042fd5651.png

The AA settings don't seem to have any effect on close foliage (where texture pixels >> screen pixels):

treefoliage.thumb.png.81f3a50d76eb2bc4192c140d88319f31.png

Some further away and overlapping foliage with different in-game texture filter settings (both MSAA and FXAA turned off):

1174407448_tree2compare.thumb.png.b58d1f63e21e3fb7f69e29c463692575.png

I'm trying to read up on supersampling; but I'm a bit confused.  Some sources refer to it as a generic category of AA methods that MSAA sits into (where MSAA usually uses a square grid); others suggest it's a more spacial interpolation/filtering thing (ie filtering of textures on planes inclined to the camera).

Screenshot reference: Wine version=wine-4.0,  Card=Radeon (BARTS) HD 6850, Driver=in-kernel radeon Linux 4.19.18_1


 

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2 hours ago, Veyrdite said:

I'm trying to read up on supersampling; but I'm a bit confused.  Some sources refer to it as a generic category of AA methods that MSAA sits into (where MSAA usually uses a square grid)

There are literally dozens of different anti-aliasing methods, though most of the newer and cheaper ones operate in screen space after the image is already rendered, which is not the case for SSAA and MSAA.

SSAA is the first and easiest to understand since it essentially renders the game at a higher resolution (multiple "samples" per output pixel) and scales it back down to the output resolution similar to how you would scale an image in Photoshop. This eliminates aliasing across the entire image, but is obviously very expensive.

MSAA optimizes this method by first testing how many different triangles are intersecting those sample points within each pixel and then only computing the shading for at most one sample per individual triangle. This effectively limits MSAA to the edges of geometry, which is the place where most aliasing happens (especially in old games; unfortunately, during the last 15 years or so shader aliasing became a major problem as well). Foliage, chain-link fences, grates, etc. are usually made using alpha-test textures, which means the geometry edge is not where the visible part of the object ends since it's just a transparent texture on a much larger surface. Thus MSAA by itself will not help with the aliasing here, but there are ways to manually make use of the texture alpha to explicitly tell the MSAA implementation "hey I want this pixel multi-sampled" (this is called "Alpha-To-Coverage").

Both SSAA and MSAA can use different patterns for the extra samples per pixel. A regular grid is the easiest to implement in hardware, but if the geometry edges align with the pattern (i.e. nearly horizontal or vertical lines), there will still be visible aliasing. Thus many different variants were introduced like rotated grids or semi-random distributions. MSAA can additionally vary the amount of samples used for testing how many triangles intersect this pixel (coverage samples) and for computing the actual shading (color samples) as the former are very cheap in terms of performance compared to the latter and can improve the results by weighting the color samples more accurately (examples of this are called CSAA [Nvidia] and EQAA [AMD]).

2 hours ago, Veyrdite said:

others suggest it's a more spacial interpolation/filtering thing (ie filtering of textures on planes inclined to the camera).

I'm not sure, but that sounds to me like you're reading about the generic theory of image resampling (how to scale an image from one resolution to another), which happens to be the last part of the SSAA/MSAA process. Surprisingly, downscaling is an incredibly difficult problem even though you have all the information available. It's almost impossible to tell which information is or is not "important" to preserve during this process so that the end result neither looks excessively blurry nor has additional artifacts that weren't in the original (e.g. aliasing, ringing). Regular SSAA and MSAA as implemented in the hardware will by default just use a simple average of the samples within each pixel ("box filter"), but some other variants have been introduced over the years as well.

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Thankyou Dghelneshi. 

I've seen "MSAA" quoted so often I've always assumed it's what you describe as SSAA.  I had no idea there has been so much effort into optimising traditional ("worldspace" is the right term?) AA.  My oblivity shows the optimisations have succeeded :)

 

> most of the newer and cheaper ones operate in screen space after the image is already rendered

The pits of hell oscillate mildly.

 

> others suggest it's a more spacial interpolation/filtering thing (ie filtering of textures on planes inclined to the camera).

I meant this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anisotropic_filtering

A better wording might be 'mipmapping method'.  Many games call this 'texture filtering' in their config; which is probably a bit too generic of a term.

 

Edited by Veyrdite

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Edited and updated to reflect a few bugs that have been fixed in recent (4.3, 4.4) wine versions.

Any objections if I rename, move and pin/sticky this topic into "Help & Support"?

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Also FYI the latest installer accepts a /skipDependencies flag explicitly added to help with Linux deployment - it won't ever try to install the dot net framework if this command line flag is set

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22 hours ago, danpaul88 said:

Also FYI the latest installer accepts a /skipDependencies flag explicitly added to help with Linux deployment - it won't ever try to install the dot net framework if this command line flag is set

I've been debating whether or not it's wise to add this to the guide.

In the long term: I think the guide is better if it tells people to install normally and then shows them how to work around individual problems.  This means that when problems are fixed in the future the guide is still valid, and if users experience different problems (eg different graphics drivers) they're not lost.

The opposite end of the spectrum is a shell script that does everything for the player.  This is very specific to wine and launcher versions, with little tolerance for changing conditions.  I too often come across guides that read like scripts, looking like they're designed by genius' but giving a newbie no hope of understand what fixes they are implementing and how to fix things if they go differently.

Thoughts?

 

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Hmm, I thought I had the ability to move topics, but it appears I cannot.

@OWA can I request you move this to "General Discussion/Help & Support"?

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I have Ubuntu Linux 14 installed as a second OS. I used it when my friend said that I need to test Avorion before we run an own server on Linux. Good to know there is a topic on W3D Hub that shows you how to prepare Wine for Renegade-games. Thanks a lot! =)

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13 hours ago, Veyrdite said:

Hmm, I thought I had the ability to move topics, but it appears I cannot.

@OWA can I request you move this to "General Discussion/Help & Support"?

Done!

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Update 2019-06-01: ECW now works, it's fix seems to be trivial.

Does this now mean that all release W3Dhub games now work on Linux/Wine?  I'll have to give Reborn another test (I think I've only played the Testing version).

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