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Thread: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

  1. #1

    Talking Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

    Istaria on Linux
    Created by Jacob Strandlien. Feel free to use and distribute.

    Yes, I managed to pull it off. It took months of tinkering with it off and on, but last night, I finally got Istaria fully-functional in linux at 10-15 fps! I'm finally free from the Tyranny of Microsoft!

    And as I promised on Order's marketplace channel last night, here's a complete, step-by-step how-to, from installing the operating system to getting rid of screen flicker when Istaria runs. I explain things in enough detail so that you may be able to get it running even if you've never tried linux; if you ever wanted to see what all the buzz is about, here's your chance. Enjoy!

    EDIT: Er, sure, now someone points out Steelclaw's tutorial in the player guides section. Heh, thanks Steelclaw. You beat me to it. But my How-To gets a little bit more specific about how to install and use Linux, and it includes a few other handy tricks, so it should still be useful to someone.

    Disclaimer: It is unlikely that you would irreperably damage your operating system using this tutorial, but I am not responsible if you do. Try this at your own risk. And always back up your important files.

    My Setup

    If you have a different setup than mine, some of the steps may be different for you. I'll try to mention those places in the how-to when I run across them, but here's what I used.

    Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 (I use one of the slower X2s, so any of the specific models should do).
    Graphics Card: ATI Radeon X1650 (Yes, I used one of the dreaded ATI cards that have historically had poor linux support. So even if you have one of these, you can make it work!)
    Operating System: Ubuntu Linux 8.04 LTS "Hardy Heron" (The steps should be similar or identical for any of the Ubuntu variants such as Gobuntu or Edubuntu. In particular, if you have a slower machine, I recommend trying this with Xubuntu. These steps may also work with the previous version, 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon", though I make no promises.)

    This how-to also requires a CD burner and (obviously) an internet connection. It is possible over dial-up, but it will take you a while. Find a good book.


    I. Print These Instructions!

    This procedure will require restarting your machine at least twice and possibly more. You'll definitely need a printout of these instructions. I'm attaching a file that you can print rather than printing from the web page.

    Istaria on Linux.doc

    If you already know how to install and run Linux, you may do so and skip section II.

    II. Install Ubuntu

    I prefer Ubuntu linux for three reasons: it is very usable even for those who are less familiar than linux, it has a huge helpful community of followers, and it has a handy application installer (called apt) that will automatically download and install software with just a couple of clicks.

    Ubuntu will also install itself alongside Microsoft Windows, so if you can't get it working, Windows will remain untouched.

    I'll give you the basic rundown here, but more thorough Ubuntu installation instructions are available at

    1. Download Ubuntu
    Do this from the website Choose the desktop edition.

    For standard vs. 64 bit, most new computers are 64 bit, while older ones are standard. If your computer came with any 64-bit version of windows, choose 64 bit. Also, most (but not all) computers with dual-core processors are 64 bit. If your computer has a sticker that says 'Core 2 Duo', choose 64 bit. If your computer has a sticker that says 'Pentium' or 'Celeron', choose standard. Choose standard if you're in doubt.

    Leave the alternate CD option unchecked. If your install fails, come back to this point and choose the alternate CD. It's slightly more difficult to install from the alternate CD, but it often works if the standard CD fails. Choose a location and download Ubuntu.

    2. Burn an Ubuntu CD

    After downloading Ubuntu, you will have a standard ISO file. If you don't have any CD-burning software that will burn ISOs (sometimes called Disk Images), I recommend the free software InfraRecorder which you can download here: After installing this software, open it, click the 'Actions' menu, and click 'Burn Image...'. Find the Ubuntu ISO file you downloaded, and burn it. I recommend burning at 4x speed, as I have had some difficulty with InfraRecorder at higher speeds.

    3. Install Ubuntu

    • Boot from the CD
      Insert the newly-installed disk into your CD drive and restart your computer. Depending on your computer, you may get a message that says something like 'Press any key to boot from CD'. Do so. If your computer boots right back into windows, restart again and play close attention to the initial screens. It will usially give you an option to press a key to go into the 'Boot Menu' or to 'Choose Boot Disk'. For me, this key is F12. For others, it's F10. Press that key several times just to make sure, and when you get into the boot menu, choose your CD drive.

    • Begin the Install
      You will first get a language screen. Hit enter to choose English, or move around with your arrow keys to choose something else.
      You should now see a screen with a fancy orange wheel and several options. If you want to try Ubuntu out before installing it, choose that option, which will boot you into Ubuntu without installing it. Otherwise, just choose to install Ubuntu.

    • Basic Options
      It will then make you wait for a few minutes as it loads files. When prompted, select your options for nearest city, time and keyboard layout. Then go to the next screen (partitioning).

    • Partitioning
      If you're installing on a computer with a windows installation, and want to keep Windows intact, keep the default partitioning scheme, and click next. If you're installing on a blank hard drive, or want to completely delete Windows and all of your files, choose the option to use the entire disk, and click next. I don't recommend the advanced partitioning options for beginners, but if you want to know more about it, there is documentation at

    • Transferring Settings
      The next screen will allow you to transfer some of your settings from a Windows installation (such as user accounts, web bookmarks, etc). It won't always detect your old settings, but if you're installing alongside Windows, you can always log back into Windows anyway. These options are completely up to you. When you're finished, click next.

    • Verify Your Settings and Install
      This step will allow you to verify your settings, and go back if you need to. There is also a button for advanced options, but they are not necessary, and I don't recommend them for beginners. When you are satisfied, begin the installation. Depending on your computer, this could take up to an hour. Sit back, eat some lunch, read a book, whatever.

    III. Update Ubuntu

    Yep, just like in Windows, the first thing you need to do after installing is updating. Luckily, this is a fairly painless process. If you're using a variant of Linux not based on Ubuntu, you'll need to use a different procedure. Check the documentation for your variant.

    When you first log into Ubuntu, a few pop-up bubbles will appear at the top-right of your screen. One of these will be telling you to install Ubuntu updates. Do this first. It's a fairly self-explanitory process, but it will take up to a half hour (longer if you're using a slower internet connection). Just follow its steps for the downloads and updates, and don't touch anything else till it completes.

    Another one of these bubbles will (usually) inform you that restricted drivers are available. This will usually refer to your video card driver, so you'll definitely need it. Click on the bubble to proceed. It may ask you to enable use of unsupported software; do so. Don't worry about the scary 'Restricted' and 'Unsupported' parts; those just mean you may need to agree to one of those long-winded license agreements and that it's not supported by the Ubuntu people. Go ahead and download and install those. It uses a procedure similar to downloading the Ubuntu updates. If you don't get this bubble (and you might not if you're using on-board graphics), don't worry about it.

    IV. Install WINE

    WINE is a Windows compatibility layer for Linux. This is what will allow you to play Istaria (a Windows program) on Linux. I won't go into the details, but it works by launching exe files much like Windows does and providing Windows programs with responses to queries similar to those that Windows itself would provide.

    If you're using a non-Ubuntu variant of linux, you'll need to visit the WINE website and follow the procedure applicable to you. If you are using Ubuntu or one of its variants, follow the procedure below.

    1. Update the Software Repositories

    WINE is available among the software you can automatically download and install to Ubuntu. However, the version that is provided by the Ubuntu software repositories is the 1.0 "stable" version, which will not run Istaria properly. You'll need to enable a new repository to download the 1.1.4 (or later) "development" version, which does run Istaria.

    • Add the WINE repository's key to your list of trusted keys
      I won't get in to why you need to do this; just know that it prevents nasties from invading your computer while allowing WINE in. First, click the 'Applications' menu, then 'Accessories', then 'Terminal'. Paste the following into the scary white box:

      wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
      and hit enter. It will ask you for a password; type the one that you use to log into Ubuntu and hit enter.
    • Add the WINE repository
      While you happen to have the scary white box open, you can use it to add the repository a bit faster by pasting the following line into it:

      sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/winehq.list
      and hit enter.
    • Update the apt Installer
      You'll need to update the apt installer to see files from the new repository. To do this, paste the following into the scary box:

      sudo apt-get update
      and hit enter. Move on to the next step, but don't close the scary box. We're not done with it yet.

    2. Install WINE

    • Download and install WINE
      Go to the 'Applications' menu, and click 'Add or Remove' Type 'wine' into the search; it should come up with an obvious WINE entry, and maybe a few more less obvious entries. Install the WINE entry. Depending on your computer and your connection speed, this could take up to a half hour.
    • Install WINE Gecko
      For some of the following steps, we will need to give WINE access to the web using Gecko. To do this, type the following into the scary white box:

      wine iexplore
      An install will commence, and when that completes, a blank window will open. Close the blank window and move on to the next step, but keep the scary box open.

    V. Install DirectX 9

    WINE comes with an implementation of DirectX, but it is incomplete, and it isn't sufficient to run Istaria. So we're going to have to install Microsoft's version. Fortunately, there is now an easy way to do this, but it takes a little setup.

    1. Install winetricks

    A very kind soul has created a script called winetricks that allows you to easily install parts of the Windows operating system that WINE hasn't quite gotten right yet.

    • Download winetricks
      If you've closed the scary white box, open it again by going to your 'Applications' menu, then 'Accessories' then 'Terminal'. Paste the following into the box:

      and hit enter. Then make it executable using the following command:

      chmod +x winetricks
    • Install cabextract
      winetricks will need the cabextract package to properly install Windows files. Get it by pasting the following command in the scary box:

      sudo apt-get install cabextract
      then follow the prompts to allow it to install If you're using a non-Ubuntu variant of Linux, get cabextract at

    2. Run winetricks and install DirectX 9

    First, type the following in the scary box:

    A window will open up giving you a series of options. Check the option for DirectX 9, and then install it. If we've done our jobs right, your screen will go a little nuts for a few moments, and the scary white box will start speaking in tongues, and then just as quick, everything will stop. If there aren't any error messages at the bottom of the white box, we've gotten it right, and you can close it.

    VI. Install the Istaria Launcher

    The launcher that comes with Istaria doesn't work under linux. Fortunately, there is a modified Java launcher and updater available that we can make work.

    1. Disable Visual Effects

    While Ubuntu's visual effects are very slick, and I'm sure you've been enjoying them so far, they interfere with Istaria and the launcher we'll be using (causing a nasty screen flicker), so you will need to turn them off. Go to your 'System' menu, then 'Preferences', then 'Appearance'. Click the 'Visual Effects' tab, then click 'None', and 'Close'.

    2. Install Windows Java

    Yes, that's right, we've ditched Windows to install Linux, installed a Windows compatibility layer on top of that, then install the Java virtual machine made for Windows on top of that. Try not to think about it much; it may make your head hurt. open Firefox (the orange and blue circle in your menu bar), and go to the website Download the Windows version; either the online or offline installer will work. Once you have downloaded it, run the installer (it should automatically use WINE to open it when you double-click).

    3. Download the Modified Launcher

    Go back to Firefox and download the modified Istaria launcher from The launcher was made specifically for use with Linux (thank you to the kind sould who whipped it up). Note that this implies people have gotten Istaria to work on Linux before me; I am not the first. But I hope this How-To will mean I'm not the last. Just save the launcher to your desktop for now; we won't be using it until Istaria is installed. Which brings me to...

    VII. Install Istaria

    Yes, we've made it to the home stretch! But don't get too excited yet, and keep following the instructions closely. This is the part where you need to be the most careful to get it right.

    1. Configure WINE

    • Adjust WINE's Windows Version Settings
      We'll need to adjust WINE's settings to get it to work with Istaria. Go to your 'Applications' menu, then 'WINE', then 'Configure Wine'. Click the 'Applications Settings' tab, then choose 'Windows 98' for your default Windows version in the list at the bottom. Istaria works best with this setting, and doesn't work at all with most of the other settings.
    • Adjust WINE's Graphics Settings
      Go to your 'Graphics Settings' tab. The 'Emulate Virtual Desktop' check box will allow you to run Istaria in windowed mode instead of full screen. I recommend using this at first, as it will allow you to get back to your desktop easier if something goes wrong. The resolution setting doesn't matter much; the Istaria settings will override this.

    2. Install Istaria

    There are two methods of doing this. Most people will want to use method one. However, if you don't have a fast internet connection and you have the original install CDs, you can use method two and save yourself a LOT of time.

    • Method One: Download the Installer
      Go back to Firefox and download the installer from this website: It's a massive installer, and will take a while even with a fast internet connection. Take a nap. Watch the game. When it's done, open it, and it should install as normal.
    • Method Two: Install From the original CDs
      If you have the original Horizons install CDs (and the mark of a long-time Istaria loyalist is if they have their installation in an 'Artifact Entertainment' folder), you can use these to install the game and save a little time. Insert the first CD, and the contents should appear in a new window. Double-click 'Setup.exe', follow the instructions, and Horizons will install.
    • Restart
      After either method completes, I recommend you restart your computer. It's probably not required, but we've done a lot of tinkering and fiddling, and better safe than sorry, right?
    • Setup and Run the Java Launcher
      Once your computer is back up, find the HorizonsLauncher-1.6.jar file you downloaded to your desktop earlier. Right-click it and click 'Run with other application', then scroll down until you see the entry for WINE (it has no icon). It will take a few moments to open, so be patient. When it opens, go to the 'File' menu, and click 'Preferences'. Click the 'Browse...' button, and navigate to your WINE c: drive, 'Program Files', either your 'Artifact Entertainment' or your 'Vitrium' folder depending on which install method you used, 'Horizons', then click 'Open'. For e-mail address, type the address associated with your account (you can check this on the Istaria website). Put in your Istaria password and click OK. After a few moments, a list of your characters will appear. Choose your character and click 'Start Horizons'.
    • That's it! You're now playing Istaria on Linux! Congratulations!

    VIII. Problems?

    If you run into problems (and more likely than not, you will), there are several places you can get help.

    For Ubuntu install and update issues: I recommend the Ubuntu forums at Search there for your issue, because someone else has doubtlessly found and solved it. In the off chance that you've found a new issue, go ahead and post it. The community is huge and typically very friendly and helpful.

    For WINE install issues:
    check the WINE documentation here:, and the Ubuntu-specific instructions for installing the development version here:

    For winetricks install and operation issues: there isn't much documentation on this, but the little that there is you can find here:

    For just about anything: If you get an error message, Google it! Google is a great resource for things like that.

    And of course, you can always ask me. I'll keep track of this thread and try to answer questions, though I don't have much experience outside my own setup, so I can't guarantee that I'll be able to help. I'll start a FAQ on this post to answer any questions that I get and can actually help with.

    Thank you and good luck!

    -Your friendly neighborhood stripey dragon
    Last edited by Kepesk; September 18th, 2008 at 11:22 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Frankfurt, Germany

    Thumbs up Re: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

    Kepesk, thank you very much for this excellent post!

    I am now available as living proof that your method and description are foolproof

    I happen to have Ubuntu 8.04 installed, so I was able to follow your instructions to the letter. Almost everything went very smoothly. I have some notes and comments, though, that may help other people be successful.

    • When the Horizons installer installs .NET , there is an error message about an unsupported VXD. Happily, this seems not to cause problems down the line.
    • Rebooting the system after installation seems to be unnecessary. After all, Linux itself is mostly untouched; all the action is happening inside the "fake" Windows environment of Wine, and that is essentially "rebooted" every time you run a program under it.
    • As mentioned above, I ran the Istaria installer (setup-*.exe) downloaded from the net. It installs pretty much the whole game in ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Virtrium/Horizons. Nevertheless, the first time I ran the launcher it insisted on downloading the whole works all over again - about 500 MB. Depending on your line speed, this is a bit annoying, but on the bright side, it only happens once.
    • I was anxious to fill as much of my screen as possible with the game, yet still maintain the ability to ALT-TAB out or start other programs. What works for me is this:
      • In the Wine config, Graphics tab:
        • DON'T allow DirectX apps to stop the mouse leaving their window
        • DON'T allow the window manager to decorate the windows (decoration means a title bar and borders - the problem here is not that a few pixels are wasted, but that there won't be enough space inside that frame to run Istaria in one of its fullscreen resolutions. The result is that the image inside needs to be interpolated, which ends up making text illegible.
        • ALLOW the window manager to control the windows
        • EMULATE virtual desktop.
      • In Istaria's Options|Video, check the Full Screen box and select the largest screen size
      • There are panels at the top and bottom of your Linux desktop. Right-clicking into "Properties" on these allows you to set them to "auto hide" - they slide out of view when not used, saving more screen pixels, and re-appear when you move your mouse to the top or bottom edge of the screen.
    • Make sure to locate the blue "options" orb to the top left of the game screen! If you don't have enough vertical pixels while trying things out, the options button will be off the screen and unreachable. I'm sure it's possible to recover from this, but much less painful to avoid the problem in the first place.
    • I built a shell file to fire up the launcher and placed a shortcut to it on the desktop. The shell file looks like this:
      wine java -jar $HOME/Horizons/HorizonsLauncher-1.6.jar

    Using /window lagwindow, I was able to measure performance at around 16 FPS, which is good enough for me. I temporarily had it at around 36 FPS when I ran the game fullscreen without emulating a desktop, but I found task switching a lot harder (and unstable) then.

    The advantage, to me, of running this game under Linux is that I'm almost perfectly safe from viruses, trojans, keyloggers and other nasties. That, and I don't need to bend my knee to Microsoft.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

    Awesome! I'm glad to hear it worked well for you! Actually, 36 FPS is more than I've been able to get, but I don't exactly have the latest greatest hardware. It sounds like you ran into some speed bumps that I didn't, but it's good to hear that you got it running anyway.

    -Your friendly neighborhood stripey dragon

  4. #4

    Default Re: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

    Since this is almost a year old now, and Istaria has had some face lifts here and there, I'd like to point out another issue that I had and how to fix it.

    I did all your steps, got the Java applet to run under wine, but upon leaving the patcher to start the game, the game never ran! I opened up a terminal and started the applet under there and got about 50 error messages.

    It needs to be added that during the install of DirectX 9 under winetricks, to also scroll down and install the MS Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable librairies as well.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

    Thanks for the update!

    Has anyone who has tried this had problems with their user interface staying put? Mine resets to default every time I log in; I'm working on the problem, but haven't found the solution. It's not reading from the file at start up or writing to it at shut down. It doesn't even create a prefs folder for my character. I'm not sure I want to send a ticket though because I have no idea whether this is an Istaria bug or a bug related to my playing it on Linux.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

    All I'm getting is an error message trying to install the istaria downloader, I got direct9x to install as well as windows java, no go.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

    What error message are you getting?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kepesk View Post
    What error message are you getting?
    Can't recalll now but the splash screen comes up for a second then disappears followed by the error message, ok just tried again it doesn't say anything specific just that the program encountered an error. Is there a way to just point wine to run the game from my windows program files?
    Last edited by Kumae; April 30th, 2010 at 07:12 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!


    installation was successfull, could also download chars into the jave launcher, but login fails:

    Of cause, with windows, everything just works... ;-)

  10. #10

    Default Re: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

    You have to enter your E-Mail address of the account as login in the preferences of the java launcher. It will not work with your account name.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

    Thanks, that did it!

  12. #12

    Default Re: Istaria on Linux? Here's how!

    Here's a couple of problems I encountered, and eventually figured out, when using the Java launcher, v. 1.6:

    1. My hotkey icons were missing. I could drag spells and abilities to the hotkey bar, and use them normally, just no icons.

    2. Whenever I logged in, I had to redo every custom keybinding and define every hotkey again. No settings would be saved, apart from graphics settings.

    Both of these issues are caused by a bug in the java launcher settings that affects every character with a surname. Basically, if there's a surname, settings will be ignored.

    To fix this, locate the file /home/user/.wine/drive_c/users/user/HZLauncherConfiguration.xml

    (replace 'user' with your linux username)
    (but NOT 'users' )

    Edit said file, and find something similar to this:

          <void property="characterName"> 
           <string>Arkil Kormian</string> 
    Remove the surname. Do this for all your characters that have a surname.
    Save the file.

    Your settings should now work.

    I emailed the Java launcher developer, and he said he'd look into fixing it.


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