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Please note that this HOWTO is not about running Doom 3. It is meant for the three id Software games Ultimate Doom, Doom II, and Final Doom, and/or the Freedoom IWAD. It may be possible, depending on the engine used, to play Heretic or other games based on the original Doom series, but that is not the intent of this HOWTO.


Obtaining Doom

Doom Collector's Edition, released 2003

Before Doom 3 was released, there was great renewed interest in the original series by both old players and new ones. id Software compiled a Doom "Collector's Edition" CD-ROM so that everyone has the chance to play the original series in all its glory (at a fraction of the price, $10-$20). It also contains a second Doom 3 Preview Content CD-ROM that's simply a bunch of Macromedia Flash videos giving glimpses of the not-yet-released Doom 3. You can buy this package at some retail stores (eg, Best Buy) or online at Activision's web site. Please note that the game is rated M (Mature), and you will need a legal guardian or parent's (age 18 and over) consent to purchase if under the age of 17.

Do not be discouraged when the box and manual both say that you will need Windows 95/NT4 or higher to install Doom(95), it is very easy to copy only the IWADs you need to play Doom on any operating system you please, including Gentoo Linux. For now, insert the first CD-ROM and copy these files into a temporary location (eg, ~/doom):

/mnt/cdrom/Setup/Ultimate Doom/doom.wad
/mnt/cdrom/Setup/Doom2/DOOM2.WAD (rename it to doom2.wad because most engines don't detect permutations of the captilization when no -iwad parameter is given)
/mnt/cdrom/Setup/Final Doom/plutonia.wad
/mnt/cdrom/Setup/Final Doom/tnt.wad

Original Floppy Disk Set

You can find an Original Floppy Disk set at local EB Games (Rarely) or on Ebay. I once found them at a garage sale while driving around town.

I suggest ebay however, or even putting an ad up in the paper.

Shareware Doom

There is also a shareware Doom that you can download. This is the original Doom's first episode only with a bunch of the E2/3/4 monsters not included (note to wannabe-crackers: there really is only one episode in the WAD, and they really did remove extra monsters). It can be fun, but you don't get the full Doom experience and most PWADs will not work with Doom Shareware (id Software asked WAD editor developers not to support the shareware one, since there was no legal obligation most editors do in fact support shareware Doom, but most people still don't use it). Or perhaps you just want to have the shareware Doom for your collection, in any case you can download the shareware version of Doom, but you'll need to install it on DOS or DOSBox to get the IWAD (doom1.wad): Put it into a temporary location right now, ~/doom might not be a bad choice.


Freedoom is a reimplementation of Doom2 (mainly, there's a lesser project to do "shareware" Freedoom) that is Free Software, under a BSD-like license. You can use it in conjunction to having the official IWADs installed, but you must not use Portage to do so. Plus, Portage's Freedoom ebuild is old, and you're better off doing it the manual way.

  1. Download Freedoom,
  2. For now, put it into a temporary location, ~/doom might not be a bad choice. Also if you have id Software's doom2.wad and wish to keep it, you should rename Freedoom to something else like fdoom2.wad (engines usually use doom2.wad by default, so you can also rename the id Software doom2.wad to something like dooom2.wad if you'd like Freedoom to be default)

Other mediums and information for old versions

I don't know if id Software ever released Doom in other mediums, if you know of any please add it.

Also, since inception, id Software released several binary patches (these are real patches, so wannabe-crackers can't get the full thing out of it). If you have original copies of the game, you might want to check out for downloading patches to your version in order to get the latest version of the IWADs (there's even one to update Registered Doom 1.9 to Ultimate Doom 1.9, which includes a fourth episode to play). These patches require some form of DOS (FreeDOS, DOSBox, MS-DOS), so beware!

Don't think for a second that you should get away with warez copies of the game, nobody likes people getting illegal copies of Doom, and the price today is so inexpensive you should be able to recover lose change in your couch and pay for the whole original series (Doom Collector's Edition).

Installing an Engine

There are many engines for Doom available, across a very wide variety of operating systems/platforms (ranging from DOS, MS Windows, Linux, Mac OS X to consoles like SuperNES, PlayStation, and Game Boy Advance). id Software released source code to their Linux port of Doom (lxdoom, ran with svgalib) in 1999 and many hackers contributed to it by porting it to other OSes/platforms, even back to DOS where it started; originally they had a questionable license (proprietary to many), but due to critism it was re-released under the GPL very quickly. Engines based off of the source release are typically called "source ports", even ones that haven't moved from Linux.


My prefered source port is PrBoom, it contains bug-for-bug emulation of the original DOS Doom (several of them were fixed in LxDoom and thus were already fixed in the source release). Some PWADs exploited bugs in the original Doom engine, either on purpose or not. It should be known, however, that PrBoom is configurable in that you can actually turn on and off the "bugs" if desired. Another great feature of PrBoom is that it plays and records demos that are compatible with DOS Doom 1.9, at about 98% accuracy, having this compatibility is necessary for showing others your demos without necessarily imposing a specific engine.

Installation: Luckily PrBoom is in portage and you need not worry about manual installation for this. There is only one USE flag, opengl. If you do not like the OpenGL look of Doom compared to the original bitmap rendering, you can add -opengl specifically for prboom (try it first with OpenGL if you can, PrBoom takes only two minutes to compile):

echo "games-fps/prboom -opengl" >> /etc/portage/package.use

And installing PrBoom is as simple as:

emerge prboom

Music Support

You will need two packages - timidity++ and timidity-eawpatches

emerge timidity++ timidity-eawpatches

Ok, now that you have that built, you have to select the eaw patchset with the following one-liner

timidity-update -g -s eawpatches

In new version of timidity++, timidity-update script was removed.

eselect timidity set eawpatches

You may need to add timidity to your list of services for boot-time loading, and start it now

rc-update add timidity default
/etc/init.d/timidity start

Data Files

Now it's time to move Doom IWADs into the data directory that PrBoom uses, /usr/share/games/doom-data. Before you go moving them like crazy, take a look at the space requirements. Just having Ultimate Doom, Doom II, and Final Doom takes up 60MB. It is easy to have several hundred megabytes for alternate IWADs and PWADs. If this seems too much for the partition that /usr resides on, you could move it onto another filesystem, say /home if that has several gigabytes free in which you can give away. Here's an example of how to do that (as root, of course):

mv /usr/share/games/doom-data /home
ln -s /home/doom-data /usr/share/games/doom-data

There is a prboom.wad file in there required, thus why I didn't simply delete the doom-data directory while moving. Also notice how easy that was, eh?

Now it's the time to copy over the proper WAD files. The easiest way is when you have a directory already (as exampled above) dedicated only to WADs, because wildcards are so easy. You will need to be root in order to do this, so remember that:

mv ~user/doom/* /usr/share/games/doom-data

Starting PrBoom

The easiest way to start PrBoom is to just type 'prboom'. It first tries to load doom2.wad, if it exists. If doom2.wad doesn't exist, it works its way down the few official names of id Software's WADs, I forget the exact order but it includes plutonia.wad, tnt.wad, doom.wad, and doom1.wad. If it can't find any of those it will fail to start.

In order to start an IWAD that is not the default, type 'prboom -iwad iwad.wad'. You do not actually need a .wad extension, nor does it have to be in /usr/share/games/doom-data, but both conventions are recommended for convienence.

The default resolution is 640x480, but you can also change that. For example, 1024x768 would be 'prboom -width 1024 -height 768'.

To load a PWAD (WADs that contain other resources like levels, music, graphics, etc; used for hacks), type 'prboom -file hack.wad'.

Troubleshooting PrBoom

Some 3D drivers (ATi, nVidia, etc) make it so an OpenGL-enabled PrBoom cannot start, I also do not know why.

Another odd conflict is that Doom will not run while a Quake server is running on the same network. Another odd problem ID Games hasn't patched. A way around this is to make sure you are not connected on the same router. An easy fix, if you have a spare around.

Other engines

This HOWTO is very new, and I'd appreciate it if you can add help for other engines like Doomsday or PsDoom.

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Last modified: Sun, 04 May 2008 05:47:00 +0000 Hits: 21,054