Mod-ready Fallout 3 installation on Linux

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I know that there are a bunch of videos and tutorials mentioning how to run Fallout 3 on Linux using WINE/PlayOnLinux, but none of them explain how to maintain your load order or how to get the mod-required tools/programs/utilities to run in WINE.

And after seeing that people have problems making Fallout 3 capable of running mods effectively in WINE and/or PlayOnLinux (especially having troubles with FOSE), I thought I should post the way I managed to make everything work right. It's pretty simple, no hacking stuff or "super terminal skills" needed.

NOTE: While everything I'm about to explain below works perfectly for me, that does not mean it will work perfectly for you as well. Every Linux distribution is different and will this work depends on a bunch of factors. I only gave possible solutions I discovered working for me, not definite answers set in stone. Now that that's been said...

I'll be explaining the process for setting up the game and modding tools on Ubuntu 12.04 Precise with WINE 1.4. and PlayOnLinux 4.0.14, the process differs from distro to distro but it's basically the same thing with slight changes.


Before we begin you'll need to gather some stuff, so here's what you need:

- The obvious stuff:

- A Linux distribution (This should work for Mac too)
- Fallout 3 GFWL DVD (I don't have nor will I cover Steam FO3)
- WINE (PlayOnLinux will ease the installation process for some things but you don't have to use it if you don't want to)

- The less obvious stuff:

- Winetricks
- BOSS (for load order sorting):
- Fallout Mod Manager (For load order management):
- Fallout Script Extender (For mods that require it):
- GamesForWindows LIVE Disabler (To make everything work right):
- G.E.C.K. (for making mods, optional):
- FO3Edit (for making merged patches and cleaning mods):
- ATI/Nvidia graphics driver (I won't explain how to do this, it would take a lifetime)

Installing Fallout 3

I'll explain the process for installing Fallout 3 GOTY using PlayOnLinux, I don't like using WINE alone since it tends to be... quirky. I won't provide much info since there are plenty of videos showing this same thing. If you need better instructions, search for it on Google.

If you already installed the game, you can skip this part.

Start PlayOnLinux, wait until it refreshes, click the install button, search for Fallout 3, select it and click install. Now, here's the thing, when I tried to install from disc, installation failed (twice) so I had to create a DVD iso image, mount it and choose "Use setup file from my computer". That seems to be the easiest way too, so I'll explain it:

- Open K3b or Brasero or whatever it is you use for burning CDs
- Burn an iso image from both of your DVDs (or one if you don't have GOTY)
- issue the following commands which will create two directories in /mnt and mount the images in them (skip the part for image2/iso2 if you don't have GOTY):
sudo mkdir /mnt/iso1 /mnt/iso2
sudo mount -o loop /path_to_image/image1.iso /mnt/iso1
sudo mount -o loop /path_to_image/image2.iso /mnt/iso2
- Select "Use setup file on my PC"
- Navigate to Fallout 3 disc and select setup.exe
- Repeat the process for DLCs as well (if you have a GOTY game)

Now, while the PlayOnLinux says I don't need a 1.7 patch for a GOTY, I downloaded and installed it with PlayOnLinux anyway, just to be sure. You need a 1.7 patch otherwise you're in for a world of hurt. And now that you've got your game installed, it's time to do the rest of the things you need if you're going to run Fallout 3 with mods.

Before installing anything else

Before doing anything else, you have to actually run Fallout 3 Launcher and Fallout 3 in order to create the required inis (Fallout.ini and Fallout_Prefs.ini). If you already did this, look below.

If I recall correctly, FOMM requires .NET Framework 2, if you intend to have mods then you need FOMM, therefore you need .NET Framework 2. You can get it with the following command:
winetricks dotnet20
No need for .NET Framework 3 or higher. If you already have .Net Framework and have run FO3, skip this section.

Setting up FOMM

Now it's time to install FOMM, I used PlayOnLinux for that. Make sure to install it in Fallout 3's prefix and the following directory (drive_c/Program Files/Bethesda Softworks/Fallout 3/fomm) otherwise it fails to work, at least for me. Use PlayOnLinux to create a desktop shortcut for fomm.exe or do it yourself, name it "FOMM".

Note that you won't be able to run it using PlayOnLinux, it will crash without even opening. Instead, right-click fomm.exe in /<file_path>/Fallout3/fomm/ and select "Open with WINE Windows Program Loader". But since that's a nuisance, you can do the following:

- Open the terminal and execute this command:
gedit /home/<user>/Desktop/FOMM.desktop
Replace gedit with a text editor for your specific distribution (leafpad, nano, kate, vim, whatever).

- Change the Exec= line to this:
Exec=wine /home/<user>/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/Fallout3/drive_c/Program\ Files/Bethesda\ Softworks/Fallout\ 3/fomm/fomm.exe
The above location is for me, you might have it different so modify the file path accordingly.

And now you're able to run FOMM with a shortcut instead of launching it from it's location.

Setting up FOSE

And now that you have FOMM, it's time to get FOSE as well. Download it, extract and paste it into the Fallout 3 installation folder (where Fallout3.exe is).

But you didn't think it would be that easy, now did you? It won't work just like that, you need to get a fake xlive.dll first, FOSE won't execute without it (you can see that if you try to run FOSE through the terminal). There are two ways to do so - using the FOMM's fake xlive.dll or using GFWL Disabler. I personally prefer GFWL Disabler but I'll explain both ways.

- Using FOMM's fake xlive.dll: Open the Fallout 3/fomm/fomm/ folder and copy xlive.dll to Fallout 3 installation folder (/Bethesda Softworks/Fallout 3/).
- Using GFWL Disabler: Download and run with WINE, guide it to Fallout 3 installation folder and disable GFWL.

Once you've set things up right you'll be able to launch FOSE from FOMM, the "Launch Fallout 3" button will change automatically to "Launch FOSE".

Setting up FO3Edit

You need FO3Edit in order to make merged patches, the most important thing when running a lot of mods. So, go to the FO3Edit page and DO NOT download the latest version since it will fail to find a FO3 Registry key in /SYSTEM/something/Fallout 3, instead you need to get FO3Edit 3.0.15 from the "Old Versions" section. Don't worry, it may be older but it works like a charm.

So, download FO3Edit 3.0.15, extract it, then paste the FO3Edit.exe and that Harcoded thingy into Fallout 3 install folder (I mentioned that location a few times already, didn't I?). To set up a destop shortcut for it, use the following Exec:
Exec=wine /home/werne/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/Fallout3/drive_c/Program\ Files/Bethesda\ Softworks/Fallout\ 3/FO3Edit.exe
Again ,this is my file path, yours might differ. And now you've got FO3Edit to work too, nice eh?

Setting up BOSS

This one ain't that easy and it's tricky to get it working. First you need to download BOSS from it's page, the archive one and not the installer. Then you have to place it in Fallout 3 install folder so the folder architecture looks like this:
/<file_path>/Bethesda Softworks/Fallout 3/BOSS/BOSS.exe_and_the_rest_of_it's_files.
If you don't put it in that directory, it won't work.

Now, you won't be able to use the BOSS.exe cause it will just crash. Instead, use BOSS GUI.exe in the following manner (otherwise it won't work right):
- Open BOSS GUI.exe, go to Edit/Settings, uncheck "Check for BOSS updates on startup" option and press OK
- Make sure "Show BOSS Log On Completion" is checked
- Uncheck "Update Masterlist" from "Sort Plugins" function
- Before sorting plugins, check "Update Masterlist Only" function and click the Run BOSS button, it will open a log file which will show you that masterlist updated
- After the masterlist updates, check "Sort Plugins" function and run BOSS, it will open the log and show you your load order

Do anything differently and BOSS will fail to sort your load order. Once again, BOSS.exe doesn't work, BOSS GUI.exe works.

Setting up a desktop shortcut can't be done normally, BOSS will fail to detect Fallout 3 unless it's executable is launched from it's directory and not through a shortcut. Basically, you need to cd into the directory and execute with WINE from it, which shortcuts are unable to do, at least I haven't been able to find a way. So instead, create an empty document in the folder where BOSS GUI.exe resides, name it BOSS_Launcher, open it with gedit (or something else), put this single line into it and make the document executable as program:
cd /home/<user>/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/Fallout3/drive_c/Program\ Files/Bethesda\ Softworks/Fallout\ 3/BOSS/ && wine BOSS\ GUI.exe
This is my file path, yours might differ.

Now make a desktop shorcut, name it BOSS and change the Exec line with a text editor (I showed you how to do this before) to this:
Exec=/home/<user>/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/Fallout3/drive_c/Program\ Files/Bethesda\ Softworks/Fallout\ 3/BOSS/BOSS_Launcher
My file path, not necessarily yours. This will execute BOSS_Launcher through a shortcut which will in turn execute BOSS GUI.exe from it's directory, this way it will detect Fallout 3 and work perfectly. It's a nuisance, I know, but I can't seem to find another way to do this other than using the content of BOSS_Launcher as a bash alias.

Setting up G.E.C.K. (optional)

That's quite easy, actually the easiest part of everything. Just download it, open PlayOnLinux, click "Install" and select "Install a non-listed program", choose Fallout3 prefix, choose the G.E.C.K. installer and install it. Then do the same for 1.5 G.E.C.K. update.

Problems and advantages/disadvantages

Here's the deal, since Linux isn't Windows and FO3 along with all it's tools, utilities and programs isn't designed to work neither in Linux nor WINE, there are some things that won't work or will act strange. I'll list what I discovered that works or doesn't work below:

-What works:

- FOMM's game/FOSE launcher - Works perfectly
- FOMM's mod checking/launching - Works perfectly
- FOMM's BSA Unpacker/Creator - Works perfectly
- FOMM's TESSnip - Works perfectly
- FOMM's Critical Records Editor - Works perfectly
- FOMM's game settings - Works perfectly
- FO3Edit (3.0.15 only) - Works perfectly
- Creating a merged patch with FO3Edit - Works perfectly
- Fallout Script Extender - Works perfectly

- What "works":

- The Launcher - Works alright but freezes sometimes, it's useless anyway and needs to be run only once to create Fallout_prefs.ini
- The game - Sometimes you lose sound when loading a save right after launching the game, just restart the game and reload
- FOMM's ArchiveInvalidation - You may need to toggle it on and off a few times for it to work, or you can get AII from Fallout 3 Nexus
- FO3 reduces/increases desktop resolution unless it uses the same resolution as the desktop
- Exiting G.E.C.K. - It will sometimes fail to exit so you have to force-quit the application, happens rarely though
- BOSS with workarounds mentioned above - Any other change in usage and it will completely fail to work.

- What doesn't work:

- FOMM's Package Manager in 13.21 can't activate FOMods - It returns a "Method not found: Boolean System.Threading.WaitHandle.WaitOne(Int32)" error, works in 12.5
- FOMM's BOSS load order sorting tool - Doesn't work at all, can move them manually and sort with BOSS itself though
- FOMM's BOSS updater - Crashes FOMM
- FO3 console doesn't work on European keyboards - You need to use Console Key Binder from Fallout 3 Nexus

- Advantages:

- G.E.C.K. appears to be more responsive and stable in Linux, especially when editing cells using the render window
- Fallout 3 loads faster in Linux when using a lot of mods (tested with 217 active plugins + 173 merged)
- FO3Edit is more responsive in Linux
- FOMM loads faster in Linux when using a lot of mods
- FO3 can use more than 4GB RAM on a 32-bit system (with FO3 LAA and PAE kernel)
- Excelent debugging and mod-conflict detection if programs/game are ran from the terminal

- Disadvantages:

- Fallout 3 has lower framerate than on Windows (2-3FPS)
- Inability to install FOMods with 13.21 mod manager
- Complicated installation procedures for certain programs, some things need workarounds and/or tweaking
- Inability to use the console on a European keyboard without Console Key Binder

Notes and suggestions

- Avoid using cutting-edge Linux distributions for gaming, while they are newer they usually tend to be unstable
- AMD dropped Linux driver support for HD2xxx/HD3xxx/HD4xxx ATI graphics card series, if you have one you should use an older distro or legacy driver with patches
- Always create a new WINE prefix for each game you install, that way you can avoid problems and incompatibilities
- Disabling desktop effects improves in-game performance, disable them if they affect your framerate or use a lighter DE like LXDE/XFCE

The End

And that would be all. If you do everything right, you can both make and run mods without a problem. Of course, you'll have to adjust some things for different distros but it should be pretty much the same process. These can also work for Mac OS X if you know what to do, I never used Mac so I can't really say I know what needs to be done.

And don't forget to install ATI/Nvidia drivers as well, while Xorg is all nice and good, it's not designed for gaming and performance will be awful. I won't be explaining that at all since the process of installing graphics drivers differs a lot between two versions of the same OS, not to mention two different distributions.