Saturday, 6 June 2015

Getting high on Wine.

I finally took the leap and nuked the Windows installation on my gaming laptop. Rather than being the gaming version of suicide; this turned out to be one of the best decisions I've made in some time.

I've never been a big fan of Windows, even during its 'good' iterations. And despite the positive (and possibly hyperbolic) review I gave Windows 10 on my other blog, I'm a Linux guy at heart.

I've kept a Windows installation active for gaming, but there's been a number of times since I started playing SWTOR that I've looked longingly at its page on WineHQ, wondering if I had the skills to tackle the installation.

For those who don't know; Wine is a tool for running a Windows program on a Linux system. It provides a Windows-like environment that allows the program to run. And the larger, more complex the program is, the more difficult it is to get it running properly though Wine.

SWTOR promised to be diabolical in this respect.

And then I discovered PlayOnLinux. POL is an installable service that allows people who've successfully run Windows-only software using Wine to write an installation script that other instances of the service can use to install and run the same software.

And someone had been so kind as to create an entry for SWTOR. Installing SWTOR is now as easy as installing POL, finding SWTOR in its program list and hitting the [Install] button.

So, with hope in my heart, I reached for my trusty Ubuntu installation CD.

The process took under two hours, from the moment I discovered SWTOR was available on POL to when I logged in for the first time in my fresh Ubuntu 14.04 system (this includes installing Ubuntu itself and some minor configuration).

Obviously it would have been longer if I'd had to download all of SWTOR from scratch, but I'm in the habit of keeping an up-to-date backup of my installation to avoid that very thing (if you're using an Australian ISP, you can appreciate the necessity of this).

And it worked like a charm! I actually wound up investing significantly more time into finding a way to map the extra buttons on my mouse (since there's no proprietary support available) than it took to install and start SWTOR.

And the game works surprisingly well. Aside from a few client-crashing niggles that are easily avoided, it runs as well as it ever did in a native Windows environment. In fact, although it may just be my imagination, I feel like it actually runs a little better (Linux is much less resource hungry than Windows, allowing more computing power to go into running the game).

SWTOR blogger (and fellow Aussie) XamXam, hosts a great set of instructions written by her partner on how to install SWTOR on a Linux system. I didn't actually use this guide (as I only found it after I'd performed the installation myself) but the process described in the Play on Linux part is exactly what I did (except for the upgrading the Wine version part, which I've since done).

And I couldn't be happier with how it turned out:

The SWTOR login screen, with the PlayOnLinux interface (and a process spawned by it) in the background.
The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice a TeamSpeak icon in that screenshot. TS3 is available for Linux. The stylised 'M' above it is for Mangler, a Ventrilo-compatible Linux VOIP client. So I'm all set to game away to my heart's content.

Oh yeah!

I don't actually play with the sidebar visible like this; I use an external monitor.
I just wanted to capture it so show SWTOR in action on Ubuntu.

If you want to check out Star Wars: The Old Republic, you can play for free by downloading the game from and earn some free swag if you decided to subscribe!

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