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Running Star Stable Online in Linux under Wine

My daughter is highly interested in Star Stable, an online MMO about...horses. And riding. In fact it's pretty child friendly all around. In any case - I also happen to be not very interested in cleaning out malware from a Windows installation. Solution? Running the game in Linux.

Now, there appears to be others our there that have tried - Some succeeding, some failing. This is the tall tail about how I managed to get it to work, flawlessly as far as I can tell, on my daughters computer. This blog entry is a similar story from a couple of years back, but the game has changed since then, as has Wine and the state of Linux drivers. Here we go...

Prerequisites


Well, obviously you'll need a computer to run the game on. I use an old Intel-based computer with an AMD Polaris based graphics card (an RX 560 actually). On top of this I run a fresh install of Fedora 26, a linux distribution that fits my needs well in that it offers a good trade-off between freshness and stability. Others will recommend other distros, but tastes vary.

For the technically inclined: With this hardware and OS choice, the driver stack will be the amdgpu kernelspace driver and the radeonsi userspace OpenGL driver. With other set-ups YMMV.

The game itself runs on OpenGL 2.1 on Windows - Star Stable left DirectX behind in October of 2016. This means that your hardware needs to be able to run this level of OpenGL. Basically, if you have a really old laptop, you might be out of luck. If you have a desktop computer, just slam a cheap but new graphics card in there and you'll be good to go.

Software


In order to run Windows software in Linux, you'll need Wine. To keep your sanity intact, you'll want to install the "Play on Linux" tool for managing your Wine installation.

If you happen to run Fedora, just go to the "Software" program, search for "playonlinux" and press the "Install" button. Easy peasy. On other distros you should of course also use your package manager, downloading binaries off random websites is not the Linux way.

Another small piece of software you might need - In the case of Fedora 26 I needed it when running a 1080p screen, but not when running a 3440x1440 screen, very mysterious - is libtxc_dxtn.so - This shared library is needed for compressed textures, which happens to be a feature that SSO uses. I found that enabling the "multimedia" repository at Negativo 17 and doing

dnf install libtxc_dxtn
dnf install libtxc_dxtn.i686

plus a restart of the computer would set me up the bomb. Before I did this, the game would install and start just fine, but almost all textures (surfaces with images on them) in the game would display as solid black. It's not a great play experience.

Getting the game


Now, you'll probably want to get the actual installer. But of course the starstable.com website is not terribly helpful. First you'll have to log in with a valid account (which you can make for free) and then you'll have to find the "Download" button. Where you'll be told that your OS is not supported so nyah-nyah. Ah, well. To actually get to download their precious installer, you just change your user-agent to anything-windows. I use this extension.

The download is really short, as the program is actually just the SSO launcher that will do the bulk of the job when you start it later.

Doing the Wine stuff


Now you should be all set up for doing the installation

The first thing to do is make sure you have a stable version of Wine available. Go to "Tools -> Manage Wine Versions" for this. I used v2.12.

Now for a long list of stuff - Each number is a new dialogue window. PlayOnLinux loves these:

  1. Check in the sidebar for "Install a program". Once clicked, chose the "Install a non-listed program", cunningly located at the bottom of the window.

  2. Once that is done, select "Install a program in a new virtual drive" so that your SSO installation gets its own "Windows" installation to run in and...

  3. name your drive something really inventive. Like "Starstable".

  4. Next, check "Use another version of Wine" and leave the other two unchecked.

  5. Now you'll get to select which Wine version you want to use - Select the stable (heh) version you installed earlier - in my case 2.12 and proceed.

  6. Select which version of Windows you want. I managed to get it to work with a 32-bit installation, but I'm unsure if this actually matters.

  7. And FINALLY press "Browse" to select the SSO installer file you downloaded an infinite number of dialogues ago.


Now comes the first bit of installation. You'll be led through a pretty standard Windows installation wizard that installs the SSO launcher software. At the end of it you'll get a selection if you want to run the program after you finish. In order not to confuse PlayOnLinux, unchecking the run option is best. And we are back in dialogue land again!

  1. You'll be prompted to create a shortcut. Select "StarStableOnlineLauncer" and press Next

  2. Another piece of UI excellence: You'll be right back at the shortcut creation dialogue. Now sans the shortcut you just created. Since we need no further shortcuts, press "Cancel".


You should now have a shortcut to the launcher in the PlayOnLinux window, and you're finally ready to...install Star Stable! Start the launcher and it'll pop a window where it downloads the ACTUAL game client and allows you to log in. After the download progress has reached 100% and you are logged in, you'll get a green "Play" button on the lower right corner. Press it and you should be golden!