Installing Quake 3 in Linux Mint

2014-12-06 tech games

I had a bit of a hard time installing and running Quake 3 Arena with ioquake3 under Linux. The root of the problem was probably that I was trying to use the promising-looking packages in the Ubuntu package repositories (quake3, ioquake3). Unfortunately, those packages seemed to be a dead end.

Since I eventually got it working, I wanted to document it to save others the headache. I’m running Linux Mint 17.1, but these instructions probably work equally well on Ubuntu and possibly other distributions.

One thing you should know up front is that you need to somehow get a copy of the file pak0.pk3. You can find it on a Quake 3 CD or you can get it by some less legitimate means. That one (~450 megabyte) file contains the copyrighted Quake 3 Arena game assets and is all-important for playing the game (whereas pak1.pk3, etc. are provided by the ioquake3 project, freely available online). If you can’t or don’t want to find the Q3A pak0.pk3, you can explore other games running on the Quake 3 engine.

Step 1

From the ioquake3 download page, download both the “engine” and the “data” installers. These are two GUI applications which do not need to be run with root privileges. In my case, the two files were (engine) and (data). Now I run:

$ chmod +x ioquake3*
$ ./

In this screenshot you can see the options I chose. Afterwards, I manually set up a symlink so the ioquake3 executable is in my global path:

$ sudo ln -s ~/Games/ioquake3/ioquake3 /usr/local/games

Step 2

Now I run the data installer which will install the freely available pak1.pk3, etc. in the ~/Games/ioquake3/baseq3/ directory:

$ ./

Again, here’s a screenshot with my options. Note that, because you’ve performed this step, it is not necessary to separately install any of the official Q3A point release updates.

Step 3

Copy pak0.pk3 into your baseq3/ directory; in my case, this is ~/Games/ioquake3/baseq3/.


Now if you run ioquake3 the game should start. You can leave the CD key blank when the game prompts for it.

Because this wasn’t installed through a package manager, there isn’t an automated way to uninstall. It seems that all of the game files are in (1) the directory you chose during installation, and (2) ~/.q3a. In order to uninstall, remove those two directories.

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