I understand that playing Quake on Linux requires three things:

  1. An engine
  2. A launcher
  3. The data files (either shareware or registered)

The first two have GPL packages available and are as simple to install on Ubuntu as clicking a link in the Software Center. The third is usually obtained by downloading the shareware version or by taking the data files from an original CD.

Can the Steam version of Quake act as a substitute for a CD so that I can play the registered version? If so, is the process documented anywhere? Bonus points if your answer speaks to all of the games in the franchise available on Steam since I'd love to try them all at some point.

  • I don't own the Steam version of Quake, but I do believe that the PAK files downloaded by Steam are unencrypted and DRM-free. So if you could install Quake somehow (either via Wine, or the native Steam client, or in Windows via a VM or other PC) you could copy the PAK files to your Linux engine/launcher directory and play. It should be the same set of steps for Q2, and probably Q3A.
    – agent86
    Apr 27, 2014 at 0:14

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can; this post on the Steam community forums is a comprehensive overview of Q1 engines.

I don't know about Q2 or Q3A, but as far as I know they work the same way; you can just install one of the open-source engines on top of the data files provided by Steam.

The same goes for the Steam versions of Doom 1/2 and Duke3d, by the way.

However, you cannot install Windows-only games using your Linux steam client. To make this work, you'll need to either have a Wine install of Steam or have Steam installed on Windows (virtual or real hardware) in order to get the data files in first place.

  • 1
    Do you happen to know if Steam will allow me to install Quake, which only has Windows listed as the supported OS, on Linux? Or would I need to have a Windows install (virtual or otherwise) in order to install the files in the first place? Apr 27, 2014 at 1:37
  • Probably the latter, although I'm sure they're working on it. Apr 27, 2014 at 11:19
  • 1
    It won't; if the game is marked as "windows only" you can't even install it except from a windows-Steam install. This is actually really aggravating if you want to install windows or DOS games for use in wine or dosbox, because it means you need a wine install of Steam itself, too.
    – ToxicFrog
    Apr 27, 2014 at 21:45
  • I've suggested an edit that includes that info. For me, it's a deal breaker since I won't run Wine and don't run Windows. It seems I'll need to get an old CD. Apr 28, 2014 at 22:17
  • For what it's worth, running steam in wine is much easier than finding old Quake CDs, especially if you use PlayOnLinux (which automates the entire setup/install process).
    – ToxicFrog
    May 3, 2014 at 15:15

Yes, use the Epsilon build and copy the .pak files from your steam version of quake (in the id1 folder) to the id1 folder in epsilon.

Location of the steam quake folder will be steam\steamapps\common\quake\

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