How to install and run Wolf4SDL in Linux or Windows

Addendum (7/13/2016): Instead of bothering with trying to make Wolf4SDL work, I recommend just using ECWolf instead.

Addendum the second (2/28/2018): Seriously, don't even bother reading the rest of this post. Use ECWolf. Forget about Wolf4SDL. Wolf4SDL is dead. I'm not even going to allow any further comments or questions about it on this post.

If you've stumbled across this post, you're probably looking for help with the same problem I once had: You want to play your copy of Wolfenstein 3-D and/or Spear of Destiny using the source port Wolf4SDL instead of the somewhat unreliable emulation of DOSBox, but you've found that the Wolf4SDL developer's website seems to be down and the documentation telling you how to actually get your game running seems to be nonexistent.

I'm here to help.

I'm going to talk about how to run Wolf4SDL under Linux first, because that's probably the version most people have had trouble with. If you're using Windows, just scroll down this post until you see "FOR WINDOWS USERS" in bold capital letters.


The game files need to be in the directory /usr/share/games/wolf3d and the filenames need to be written in all lowercase characters.

Some people won't need to read any more than the above sentence to grasp the solution to all their problems, but if you need me to start from the ground up, just keep reading.

I'm using Ubuntu to explain the process here because I haven't tried it with any other distributions; your distribution may require different commands to accomplish some of these steps.

Step One:

I'm going to assume here that you've already installed Wolf4SDL via Ubuntu Software Center or Synaptic. That's the easy part. Now find your Wolfenstein 3-D game files and copy all the files with the extension .WL6 to their own directory on your hard drive. Copy only the .WL6 files; none of the others are needed. If you see a different extension, like .WL4 or .WL1, you have an early version; this shouldn't cause a problem but it will require a different command to run later. For the purposes of this post, I'm assuming the .WL6 files are in a directory named wolf3d inside your home directory.

For Spear of Destiny, the relevant file extensions for the above step are .SOD, .SD1, .SD2, and .SD3. Yes, you actually need to copy all of those.

Step Two:

Now you need to ensure all your Wolfenstein 3-D game files are in lower case. For some reason, Wolf4SDL requires the filenames to be all lower case, even though they're upper case as installed with every version of Wolfenstein 3-D I can think of. Look in the wolf3d directory in your file manager, and manually rename each .WL6 file with lower case characters (AUDIOHED.WL6 will become audiohed.wl6, and so on).

For Spear of Destiny, do this with all .SOD, .SD1, .SD2, and .SD3 files.

Now back up your newly-lowercased files somewhere so you won't ever have to do this step again.

Step Three:

Wolf4SDL will look for the Wolfenstein 3-D game files under the directory


As far as I can tell, Wolf4SDL cannot be directed to look for the files anywhere else. If there's a command to do this, it's been lost along with all the rest of the documentation.

Thus, open a terminal and type the command

sudo mkdir /usr/share/games

followed by

sudo mkdir /usr/share/games/wolf3d

Having created this directory, all that remains is to copy your game files into it:

sudo cp wolf3d/* /usr/share/games/wolf3d/

Now just type wolf4sdl-wl6 and press Enter; you should be up and running.

If you're using a different version in which the game file extension is not .wl6, consult the man page to determine which command to run by typing man wolf4sdl (this is the only thing the man page is useful for). You'll probably need to run either wolf4sdl-wl1 or wolf4sdl-wl4.

For Spear of Destiny, you will need to run wolf4sdl-sod and specify which mission to start at the command line thusly:

wolf4sdl-sod --mission 1

for mission 1,

wolf4sdl-sod --mission 2

for mission 2, and

wolf4sdl-sod --mission 3

for mission 3, obviously enough.

I don't believe this vital command line argument is mentioned in the man page. Bad developer, no biscuit.


Step One:

Download Wolf4SDL and, if you want to play Spear of Destiny, make sure you also get Spear4SDL (may also be called Sod4SDL).

Step Two:

Unzip the files Wolf4SDL.exe, SDL.dll, and SDL_mixer.dll to the same folder as the game files with the extension .WL6. In my case, this folder is C:\Games\wolf3d\base.

For Spear of Destiny, put Sod4SDL.exe, SDL.dll, and SDL_mixer.dll in the same folder as your .SOD, .SD1, .SD2, and .SD3 files. In my case, this folder is C:\Games\sod\base.

Step Three:

For Wolfenstein 3-D, just run Wolf4SDL.exe and you should be up and playing.

For Spear of Destiny, you're going to need to add a couple of command line arguments. The quick way to do this is to create a shortcut to Sod4SDL.exe, right-click the shortcut and select Properties, and inside the Target: field add --mission 1 and --goodtimes. Your Target: field should then read something like

C:\Games\sod\base\Sod4SDL.exe --mission 1 --goodtimes

Click the OK button to save changes, and repeat for missions 2 and 3.

Now you can play Sod4SDL using one of your created shortcuts.

Another way to add command line arguments is to create a new text document, type in the text

C:\Games\sod\base\Sod4SDL.exe --mission 1 --goodtimes

then save the text document, giving it a nice descriptive name like sod4sdlmission1.txt.

Now rename the text file you just created to change the .txt extension to .cmd, thus sod4sdlmission1.txt will become sod4sdlmission1.cmd. You'll get a warning message saying "If you change a file name extension, the file may become unusable. Are you sure you want to change it?" click Yes.

Now you can run Sod4SDL by double-clicking the .cmd file.

I hope this post will be useful to someone out there who's had trouble figuring out how to get Wolf4SDL to start. If it has been, feel free to leave a comment to thank me. Or don't; that's fine. Either way, you're welcome.


  1. Hey, I hope this blog is still active. First, thanks for writing this. However I still have some problems playing Wolf4SDL. I had XP on my laptop and I could play everything on it, but now I'm having Windows 7 and SDL games don't run. If I try to run it, it says unable to init SDL: no avalaible video device. Then I tried to run it in compatibility mode, it says no wolf3d data files to be found. I already unzipped the wolf4sdl.exe and the .dll files to the wolf3d .wla files. I don't understand why it doesn't run. I hope it' s ok for me to comment here and also that you can help me. Thanks in advance!

    1. Unfortunately, I haven't been active on this blog since I wrote this post, so you probably won't even read this, but in any case I'm afraid I have no idea as to the cause or solution of your issue, sorry. I'd suggest trying ECWolf instead of Wolf4SDL and seeing if that works.

  2. Thanks for the post. Fairly new to Linux so this helped me actually get Spear of Destiny and Wolf3d running. I threw all the files for both in the same folder and am able to use them with 2 links I created that launch wolf4sdl-wl6 and wolf4sdl-sod. I realize they are outdated games but it is nostalgia for me. They bring back memories.

    Thanks again,

  3. Thank you!!!!
    rename all files to lowercase in Linux
    ls | while read upName; do loName=`echo "${upName}" | tr '[:upper:]' '[:lower:]'`; mv "$upName" "$loName"; done

    1. You're welcome, and thanks for the tip! As I'm mainly a Windows user and currently don't even have a working Linux system, there's a lot I have yet to learn about the command line.

  4. Hi sorry to trouble you, I've followed the above instructions but still can't get it to run, any ideas? here is a copy of my workings but I'm still baffled. Thanks a lot.

    philip@philip-A780L3B:~/wolf3d$ pwd
    philip@philip-A780L3B:~/wolf3d$ ls
    doom2-masterlevels gnome-mahjongg sol wolf4sdl-sod wolf4sdl-wl6a
    espdiff gnome-mines wolf4sdl wolf4sdl-wl1 wolf4sdl-wl6a1
    game-data-packager gnome-sudoku wolf4sdl-sdm wolf4sdl-wl6
    philip@philip-A780L3B:~/wolf3d$ wolf4sdl-wl6
    NO WOLFENSTEIN 3-D DATA FILES to be found!

    As you can see I copied all the files to the correct directory hmm??

    1. I can see your Wolf4SDL files, but I don't see your game data files. Did you make sure all the following files are in /usr/share/games/wolf3d?

      audiohed.wl6 audiot.wl6 gamemaps.wl6 maphead.wl6 vgadict.wl6 vgagraph.wl6 vgahead.wl6 vswap.wl6

      If all those files are there, I'm afraid I have no idea why it isn't working. Which Linux distribution are you using? If it's Ubuntu or based on Ubuntu, I'd suggest trying ECWolf to see if it works any better than Wolf4SDL.

    2. Hi and thanks for your speedy reply, I can see what I have done wrong now (not installed any packages) doh! Seems I have a lot to learn here.

  5. Thank you. I had to run chmod 755 on the files also to get them to work. Thanks to Al Haines for the command to convert to lower case also!


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