Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Starcraft 2 and a bit of Wine - Linux Performance

EDIT: If you stumbled upon this page looking for a HOWTO for getting Starcraft 2 working under Wine check here.

I mentioned earlier this month that I was enjoying the Starcraft 2 beta on Ubuntu 10.04 thanks to Wine software. In my previous posting I had simply stated that SC2 was "playable" under Wine. I have a fairly powerful gaming laptop that sports an nVidia 260m GTX and a 1680x1050 resolution panel. SC2 defaulted itself under Wine to "ultra" settings on my system - after playing one game at these settings (well it was really more like playing a slide-show). I promptly lowered the details and textures to low (while leaving the resolution the same).

With these settings I average around 40 FPS at the main menu and in game. At the high end I see just over 50 FPS while playing and at the low end it bottoms out around 20 FPS in combat. (For those wondering how I obtained these numbers press control+alt+f to put an FPS counter in the upper left hand corner of the screen while in SC2). These numbers come from the latest SC2 patch as of today (05/25/10).

Now for a bit of an ironic story regarding SC2. Late last night I dual booted my system with Windows 7 Ultimate again due to the need for an embedded youtube video to work in an Office 2007 power point presentation (it failed to work under Crossover and youtube plays poorly in VMs, thus native install was my only option left). Back on topic - since I had Windows installed anyways I figured I would copy over my SC2 files (god bless Blizzard and their portable installs) and see how comparable the performance was on the native operating system.

Needless to say it performs better, in fact the FPS I see under low settings on Wine is about equal to the same FPS I was seeing under high settings on Windows. That is about where the things that worked better under Windows ended for SC2 on my computer.

I would like to prefix my following statement with the fact that my network drivers are installed, working, and I had used several other applications online just fine.

When I joined my first SC2 game on Windows I had just selected my workers to start mining when the lag started, around two minutes later I was dropped from the game and it counted as a loss in my ladder league. I figured it was just something funky with my internet line, even though I had not had any issues in SC2 under Wine in the last three weeks, as such I promptly selected "find match" to start another game. Two minutes later I had "lost" another ladder game due to "connection" issues.


Just out of curiosity I decided to boot in Linux to see if the issue existed there as well (I'm hoping the irony of rebooting into Linux to play a game isn't lost on anyone). Needless to say the problem was not present there, after sweeping two ladder games without any connection issues on Ubuntu I can indeed confirm that it was a "connection" issue with the SC2 was only happening under Windows.

Yes: I know this game is still in beta.
Yes: I know odds are this issue is limited to my system.

Is it still annoying? Yep. It is ridiculously ironic? You bet.

Anyone else have fun story they would like to share about an application working better under Wine than it does on Windows itself?

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. I find that Internet Explorer 6 works better under Wine for me than in a native install. I suspect it is because my windows IE6 install was corrupted somehow, but my Linux version keeps chugging along.

    I use PlayOnLinux to have separate wineprefixes for every application, and separate settings. Right now I have the following Wine apps installed: Theme Hospital, Google Sketchup, IE6, Microsoft Office, Steam, Stronghold, The Elder Scrolls - Oblivion, and The Sims 3.

  2. I have seen the same thing several times. Not all games work under Wine but when they do they tend to be more stable than the same game in Windows itself.

  3. Now I can finally play Yofrankie on my Linux Computer.
    The native version has plenty of display problems on my GeForce4 MX-440, while the windows version under wine works perfectly. -THIS- is irony!

  4. Sounds like you may have had a bad driver for the ethernet. Built-in windows drivers can be like that.

    Windows 7 is a very quick, sleek, beautiful system but in the end, it's still windows.

  5. I use Linux to enter notes into Finale 2008 (under WINE) because Finale's MIDI input lags under my Windows XP install and gets increasingly out of time with my playing. Entering notes under WINE has no lag, although I still have to boot into Windows to print my final projects, due to some glitches that appear under WINE.

  6. Back in 2004 I installed photoshop on windows 2000 and on a 2.6 based gentoo installation.

    * displaying the app was smoother in windows
    * effect calculation was actually faster in linux

    This is quite strange, as it looks like the the wine layer is faster in mapping than native windows

  7. My own experience with the Half-Life 2 series under WINE is similar. It performs better, and at higher video settings under WINE (running on a debian box) than it does under XP, Vista, and Vista-7.

  8. I have found my playstation emulator to work flawlessly under wine and with subpar quality in windows.

  9. I play on Wine since 2005 and the credits goes to playonlinux for that.
    I enjoy Red Alert 3, Half life 2, Call of duty series and many RTS....
    About performance, i would say that typically Wine is performing with 50% less Framepersecond than running the game in Windows.
    But nowadays, and provided you have a decent Nvidia card, you can enjoy 50fps in almost all working titles...(no so bad !)
    A few titles works better in Wine : IL46, Company of heroes (rock stable even online) , COD 2.

  10. What is lacking is benchmarks results or at least comments about Wine performance !
    I think the best place should be winehqdb for that

  11. Good, in Linux we can build an entire reimplementation of windows in 15 years to run windows games, in some cases even better than the Linux native ones.

    And the irony is that in Linux land it seems impossible to achieve decent video performance due to the graphics stack mess. Sad but true.

    Each new X.org incarnation keeps the crappy performance, includes new bugs that never get solved, and breaks working video drivers.

    I hope the Wine guys implement terminal services under Wine so I can have at last a decent remote control system on Linux that doesn't run slow as hell.

  12. One of my friends in college had a quad-os setup on his fairly old laptop--XP, Vista, Ubuntu, and Mac OS. One day, we decided to take FPS measurements in one of our favorite games, City of Heroes, using the three operating systems which could run it (XP, Vista and Ubuntu in wine). We went to an area with known bad FPS issues, and took measurements; XP got 14 FPS, Wine got 13, and Vista got 3. We suspect the frame rate under vista was tanking due to massive page faulting, since there was only 1 gb of RAM on that computer; the game needed 800 megs or so, and both XP and linux were ok on the remaining 200. Not so much for vista.

    Also, Sim Tower doesn't work easily in vista, even when trying to run in compatibility mode. After fiddling with it for a few minutes, I rebooted in linux, installed on wine, set to win95 and away I went.

  13. did you have to do anything extra to get the beta to work or did you merely install the game and run under wine

  14. There is a patch you need to build the Wine source with, I talked about that a small bit here - http://jeffhoogland.blogspot.com/2010/05/some-wine-with-your-starcraft-2.html

  15. Left 4 Dead 2 is entirely unreliable under windows 7. Sometimes does not start, sometimes hangs, sometimes it takes down the whole windows sound on exit and other weird things.

    I runs flawlessly on wine and since it is a bit plain on the graphic side, FPS is not a serious issue.

  16. I've similar experience with StarCraft 2 on my (K)Ubuntu / ThinkPad + Nvidia and Wine 1.2... See: http://bit.ly/93zxVd (German)

  17. sorry i keep posting here but I keep running into things with starcraft 2. It installed fine and went through the entire intro videe, then the screen went black and never comes back, and whats worse i cant exit the full screen of black and have to force my tower to shutdown. any ideas? I really appreciate your help.

  18. @Joshua:
    This is a little late and not a solution to the problem, but if you want to stop having the problem of not being able to leave the black screen then you need to have wine emulate a desktop for you. run


    in a terminal, select the "Graphics" tab, and click on the "Emulate a virtual desktop" checkbox.

  19. I am a happy owner of SC II Retail version. So I started to play with my Vista with and old misconception that Win is 4 gaming and Linux is 4 "serious stuff" like everyday usage :)

    It occured to me that while playing under windows my Starcraft had a load of "lags" or "spikes", not possible to explain in any way other than winsucks. Seriously. I ran FurMark, Prime95, memtest86. I ran SMART tests on my hard drives - thinking "it must be my laptop". Well, it ain't.

    Back to my weathered customized Gentoo - with compiz disabled (under openbox) Starcarft II works as a charm. No lags, no spikes, no problems and decend graphics.

  20. On my system, GoldenEye 007 via Project64 on both XP and Vista has a frequent audio stutter. Tried it in Ubuntu through Wine and the problem's gone :P

  21. Instead of qqing your little bronze brains out, why don't you try playing some custom games instead of laddering? VoilĂ , no losses! Every map tyT you play in ladder is available on custom.

    And if you can't bear the thought of losing a few ranks in bronze then I suggest you stop playing sc2 and go play some WoW, where rank actually matters.

  22. I have a dual-boot setup win7 ubuntu 10.10, StarCraft II works like a charm in wine, reun same client from windows (thanks to blizzard portable installs) even with compiz activated, no bugs(well maybe exept that moving my mouse so the corners still triggers compiz actions), video performance droped to about 70% but still 50 fps average in low, completly playable, It is ok considering Im still multitasking the laptop...,