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Return to Castle Wolfenstein for Modern Linux

Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a first-person shooter originally released on November 19, 2001. The game, like many other classic games, is available at and costs only US$5.99.

iortcw for Linux
Don't bother with old and crusty Linux binaries offered by idsoft; they are problematic and it's painful to use them on a modern Linux. Fortunately for us, there are more modern GPL-licensed Linux binaries available for 32- and 64-bit systems as well as high resolution textures packages. The project at GitHub provides source code that can also be compiled for MS Windows using MinGW.

iortcw for Windows and Mac
You can download pre-compiled binaries for 32- and 64-bit Linux, MS Windows and Mac from here. Let's put our files in /usr/local/games/rtcw. As root, extract the downloaded .ZIP file for your architecture to /usr/local/games/rtcw. All we are missing are the game data files. I purchased them from

The game installer downloaded from can be unpacked using innoextract, as can most any GOG game. The innoextract website has more details on extracting GOG installers. The only things you will need from the Windows version of the game are the are the *.pk3 files that contain the the game data, plus the autoexec.cfg file and the /scripts sub-directory. They will go in the /main directory of the game. Create BASH scripts to the mp and sp binaries from the game directory to /usr/local/bin. I keep the standard names, wolfsp and wolfmp. For example:

cd /usr/local/games/rtcw

/usr/local/games/rtcw/iowolfsp.x86_64 + set sv_cheats 1

Adjust as needed for multiplayer or server and 32-bit architectures. The trailing "+ set sv_cheats 1" enables cheats.

If you are going the WINE route, you'll need that game installer from GOG. The game runs well using the GOG installer with WINE, PlayOnLinux and Crossover. HOWEVER, you should install the unofficial patch from Knightmare, aka patch 1.42d since you will have crashes on startup.

It is also possible to use the iortcw binaries for Windows to avoid this, especially if you want to use a 64-bit binary.

The Venom Mod
The Venom Mod provides an improved game look and feel, greatly improving the look and feel of the game. Also, I have been unable to play the GOG version of the game using Crossover unless I install this mod. Other than the Win32 binaries, copy all to ~./wolf for Linux.

Just download the archived files and simply unpack and copy them to your rtcw directory. You need to select an appropriate autoexec.cfg file for your system. Please read all the Readme!!!!.txt files as they will answer all your questions.

Hi-Res Textures
If all you want are high resolution textures, they are available at the website. They provide installation instructions.

Saved Games
If you have already played through the game (or not), you can download a saved game that will unlock all the levels.

Video Mode Set to Desktop Default
Edit wolfconfig.cfg to include
seta r_mode -2

 "Could not load OpenGL subsystems" Error
This appears to be a problem with screen resolutions. The fix is to change specific values in wolfconfig.cfg. To set a custom resolution, use:

seta r_mode "-1"
seta r_fullscreen "1"
seta r_customwidth "19200"
seta r_customheight "1080"
seta r_customaspect "2"

If you have SMP, set this value:
seta r_smp "1"

Enable Cheat Codes
Much fun can be had by enabling cheat codes. You can become invulnerable and wield all weapons with unlimited ammo, fly around, walk through walls and be up to all kinds of mischief including visiting all the maps.

Enabling the use of the codes is done by passing +set sv_cheats 1 on the command line as detailed here for MS Windows. The codes themselves are entered after pressing the ~ key and a list can be found here.


Index of Games for Modern Linux


Return to Castle Wolfenstein at Wikipedia

"Could Not Load OpenGL Subsystem" ERROR

RtCW Troubleshooting Guide (at STEAM)

RTCW installing iortcw at

RtCW Troubleshooting Guide

iortcw Linux binaries Download

Release iortcw 1.51C

RTCW hi-res textures

RTCW Cheat Guide

Does this run in WINE?


Saved Games Downloads

2010 DirectX Runtime Package

DirectX Web installer

Control/Input Lag? Change VSYNC setting in video driver

Missing DLL Files

GameFront Mods and Files for RTCW

FritzBot for RTCW

Missing Linux Libraries (

Resolution Change

PC Gaming Wiki for RTCW

The sound doesn't work / sound crashes


Unknown said…
I play this game all the time with my nephews. It's good to know that I can still play it with Linux. Thank you for the article!

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