Install Neverwinter Nights in Ubuntu

I don’t usually have much time to play games, unless you count Stone Soup, which is not one of those games that is overwhelmingly popular these days. With a new computer in the house I have taken a few brief passes at some of my favorite games, to include things like Warzone 2100, Gridwars and Neverwinter Nights.

In my humble and rather uninformed opinion, NWN is still one of the best games out there in the RPG bracket, although I don’t follow the curve of high-end games much any more. I am sure the graphics are better now, but for depth of play, flexibility and your ability to customize the game, NWN is still at the top for me … and has been for a while, as you can see.

Installing the Platinum or Diamond version from DVD can sometimes be a trick, although there is a dusty old howto on the Ubuntu Forums that offers an easy-as-pie script that will do the dirty work for you. That thread is almost four years old now though, so it might be worth revisiting how to get it going. (I’ll be honest up front and say I never bother with the movies, so I don’t have any advice for you there.)

I own the Platinum DVD, and aside from that you need four more files: version 1.69 of the English client for Linux (or the language you prefer), version 1.29 of the Linux client binaries, the Hordes of the Underdark client pack version 1.61, and the aforementioned script.

The script will download those files for you if you like. I keep them on an external drive along with an ISO of my DVD, just to speed things up. The 1.69 client is something like 480Mb anyway, so downloading it once is probably enough. If you do download them yourself (which will probably be faster), dump everything into your home directory and decompress the script.


Before you can run it though, we need to make a little adjustment. By default Ubuntu uses dash as a shell, but the script relies on bash to run properly. If you try to start the script as things are now, you’ll end up with a lot of scrambled crud on your screen, and not much in the way of progress.

Very quickly, we can reconfigure the shell to point back at bash: sudo dpkg-reconfigure dash.

At this screen, answer No. This isn’t a permanent change; in fact, if you’re concerned about speed at the command line, you can switch it back when we’re done here. But really, if you’re using a machine that can run a full-blown Ubuntu installation, speed at the console probably isn’t a big concern for you. 🙄

We also need a few small programs to decompress files from the DVD: unshield and cabextract. And while we’re at it, some of the Microsoft core fonts are called for in the game (I think … ?), so those are useful too: sudo aptitude install -y unshield cabextract ttf-mscorefonts-installer. Come to think of it, I don’t know if those fonts are really required, so if that bothers you to install those fonts, then you can probably skip them. If you get screwy characters in-game, it might be why though. …

Next we should mount the ISO to the system, so that the script can access the data files on there. Where you mount it is irrelevant; Lucid has /media/floppy0 as a possibility, so I’ll be using that. I usually do this old-school style, with sudo mount _DVD.iso /media/floppy0 -t iso9660 -o loop, but if you prefer not to soil your fingertips by touching the keyboard, there are graphical ISO mounting tools in the repositories. Of course, you’ll need sudo access to mount an ISO, but if you have the actual DVD lying around, you could just put it in the drive. 🙄 Slower, but no password necessary.

One last little thing before we get started: mkdir -p ~/games/nwn. This is a destination for your game files; you could dump them just about anywhere you wanted on your system. I happen to like to keep things like this in my home directory because I don’t need root access to run the script, and it’s easy to clean up if I just delete the one folder.

Okay, the DVD is mounted, the script is decompressed and our shell is reconfigured from dash. Let’s start the script: ./

And there it is. First question is fairly straightforward: Are you using the Platinum or Diamond release? It may be that Diamond DVD users need different files for setup; I am not going to go buy the Diamond edition just to find out. 😐 Punch the number for your answer, and press return.

Next is the test for unshield. Press return.

Now we need to tell it to use the DVD version. You can, I suppose, run the script with the CD version, but again, I haven’t had enough time or money to run out and test all of these different releases against a 15-cent shell script. Enter your answer, or just press return for the default (uppercased) DVD. Press enter again.

Next is the check for the client files. Press return.

This next part is a little tricky. This looks like an error message, but it’s not.

What’s happening here is that the script is only set to run up to version 1.67, and there was a late 1.69 release — the one you already downloaded. Luckily, the script can be fooled into finding the correct patch file, simply by inputting the number for it. First say no to the download prompt (because we don’t want the old patch, we already have the new one … right?) then enter 169 for the patch version. Then tell it your language, and press return at the directory prompt, because it’s in our home directory.

Press return and you should get a confirmation that the patch is there, and that it’s properly named. Press enter again to proceed.

Next is the path for the optical media. Mine is at /media/floppy0, so. …

For the install directory, I will enter /home/kmandla/games/nwn. Adjust yours to your liking, remembering that if you’re not root and enter a location outside your home directory, it’s altogether possible you’ll encounter permission errors. Press return and the script will test if you entered a directory or not, by trying to remove it.

An “rm: cannot remove” message here is a good thing, since it means that you entered a directory, and the script will continue. Press return.

Say no to the request to mount the DVD, since we technically did that already. If you just inserted the DVD into the drive, Ubuntu has probably already mounted it for you. Either way, you probably want to say no.

For the group, I always use “users”. You might have or want a “games” group; if that’s the case, I leave you to wander off through your own wilderness of groups, permissions, executable rights and so forth. Or you could just press enter for “users”. That was a hint.

And here is the last step before the actual installation process begins: A request to insert the DVD in the drive you supplied. Press enter and …

Away it goes. The actual copying and installation can take a little while, so be patient. Installing from an ISO takes a good deal less time than copying off a physical DVD; if you want you can always make an ISO with the dd command, and save that for times when you want to install.

If all goes well, and it’s pretty much a given that it will, you can expect a screen like this.


Press enter and after a little tidying up, your installation is complete. Follow the instructions on screen for information about how to start the game, and don’t forget the odd repeat behavior for entering your NWN CD keys — you’ll have to repeat the first one, but nobody seems to know why. (This is the part where I mention that I stash a copy of the nwncdkey.ini file on an external drive too, so I don’t have to keep typing the installation codes over and over again, each time I install it. 😈 )

As a brief final note, I know the trend among Windows users is to steal rather than purchase games; I say that because for a long time I was one of those people too. This isn’t a new game though, and it really is a fantastic ensemble with an amazing longevity. If you don’t actually own a copy of this game, I highly recommend buying one; at this late date you’ll probably be paying a bargain-basement price. The fact that it has a native Linux client should be reason enough — that and the fact that it’s a great game regardless of your OS.

I think that’s all. Enjoy. 🙂

P.S.: Yes, the buttons are on the right.

16 thoughts on “Install Neverwinter Nights in Ubuntu

  1. Nugnuts

    Thanks for bringing NWN up again. I may just have to dig up my disc and play around again for old time’s sake, if I get the chance. 🙂

  2. John Bohlke

    I’m rather curious why you don’t just keep a copy of the game directory backed-up? It is still self-contained, isn’t it?

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      You’re right; it is self-contained, and I think a long time ago I used to just shift the entire directory off the drive if I knew I was going to rebuild a system.

      I think it was an issue of space. The installed directory will take up 4.5Gb or so, and comparing that with the <3Gb it takes for the ISO and the patches … I think I got lazy and just started with a fresh build each time. 😐

  3. anticapitalista

    3 consecutive posts about doing something on Ubuntu!?

    Is Shuttleworth paying your hosting fees?

    How about posts like ‘How to watch tv on Ubuntu’ or ‘Install rox desktop on Ubuntu’

    Seriously, why the “Ubuntu’ turn?

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  5. Zoev

    Stone Soup is better in my opinion. Then again NetHack is lord of Roguelikes because of it’s puzzle-like nature. I just feel that once a GUI has been put into a game something is lost at the most basic level, our connection and imagination (Transcendence is the exception). NWN is pretty good though, it’s rare to hear of a Linux NWN player who didn’t download the .tar.gz’s and find a stolen cd-key online!

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  9. jeffrey

    The instructions worked great, however, I am having a problem getting the game to run. I have tried my cd keys (which are valid and used to work under windows way back when) and yet they will not take. I cannot get passed the first one! I have heard of this problem on other NWN forums but never found a fix. Any ideas?

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      I’m afraid not. I know you have to enter the first key twice for the Platinum edition, which is just a quirk in the Linux client. Is there any chance your key is being accepted, but you haven’t entered it the second time? Or is the key being rejected with a message?

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  12. RandyNose

    Cool. I’ve got to keep this one on my “To Do List” I don’t game often (other then Scrabble). If I see the game, on a discount rack somewhere, I no now I can install it on my Linux Mint machine. Also, the fact that it’s an older game should also mean that ought to run on older hardware well.


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