Getting Started with Quake

How to get this most popular game to run on your Linux system.

Quake is one of the coolest games available for any platform. Thanks to Dave Taylor, who began id Software's tradition of porting their games to Linux back in 1995 with Linux Doom, today we have Quake for Linux. This article is meant to be a quick start to getting Quake running on your Intel Linux system. If you encounter problems not addressed here, look at the Linux Quake HOWTO at for more detailed troubleshooting information.

Figure 1. Player about to capture the blue flag in the “Capture the Flag” game

Necessary Files

The minimum system requirements for Quake are shown in the “System Requirements” sidebar. To install Quake on your Linux system, you will need some flavor of the official Quake distribution from id—either the retail DOS/Windows CD-ROM from a software store, or the shareware version downloaded from the Net. Alternatively, if you already have Quake installed on a DOS/Windows machine, you can use the relevant files from that installation.

In addition to the official Quake files, you will need Linux-specific binaries. All the necessary files for Linux Quake are available at id's site can be very busy, so you may want to use one of their mirror sites (see Resources).

Version numbers in this article are current as of September 1998 and aren't likely to change. Quake is considered a finished product, so new versions will be released only if major bugs are found.

The shareware Quake for Windows distribution is necessary only if you don't have a Quake CD-ROM (

Quake can render its graphics three ways: in an X11 window, full-screen SVGA, or hardware-accelerated OpenGL. You'll need to download the binaries only for the renderers you plan to use. (See Resources.)

QuakeWorld is a multi-player version of Quake optimized for play over the Internet. Get one of the packages listed in Resources if you plan to play on-line. Red Hat 5.x/Debian 2.x users should get the glibc version. The .rpm and .tar.gz package contents are identical. Choose one according to your distribution.

If you plan to run an Internet QuakeWorld server, select one of the dedicated server-only binaries (see Resources). Most people won't need them.

System Requirements


Start by creating the directory in which you will install Quake. The “standard” location is /usr/local/games/quake. The QuakeWorld RPM package installs its files in this directory, so it is a good idea to install here if you plan on installing QuakeWorld later.

mkdir /usr/local/games/quake
Installing From CD-ROM

If you have a very early release of the Quake CD-ROM, these instructions won't work. Please see the Linux Quake HOWTO for details on installing from older CD-ROMs.

A file on your Quake CD-ROM, resource.1, is an lha archive of all the Quake game files (lha is a file compression and archiving format like tar or zip). We will use the lha command (see Resources) to extract it.

Mount your Quake CD-ROM, move to your Quake directory and extract the resource.1 archive:

mount /dev/cdrom /cdrom #change for your system
cd /usr/local/games/quake
lha e /mnt/cdrom/resource.1

Your /usr/local/games/quake directory should now contain a bunch of new files and a subdirectory called /id1. The most important files for Linux Quake are in /id1, so you can safely remove everything else. If you are totally new to Quake (or even if you are not), you may wish to keep the *.txt files for reference. On my system, I put all the READMEs that accumulate into a /doc subdirectory.

Installing the Shareware Version

The single-episode shareware version of Quake has all the features of the full version of Quake, with a couple of major limitations: you cannot play QuakeWorld (multi-player) with it, and you cannot play custom or modified levels.

Installing the shareware version of Quake is not much different than installing from the CD-ROM. Put the file in your Quake directory, then extract the resource.1 lha archive:

cd /usr/local/games/quake
unzip -L
lha e resource.1

Now save the README files (optional) and remove everything else except the /id1 directory:

mkdir doc
mv *.txt doc
rm -f *