Linux at Home - Doom

Linux at Home – Take a break with rapid gameplay

In this series, we look at a range of home activities where Linux can make the most of our time at home, keeping active and engaged. The change of lifestyle enforced by Covid-19 is an opportunity to expand our horizons, and spend more time on activities we have neglected in the past.

We’ve seen welcome relief in the past few weeks in European countries, with marked declines in Covid-19 associated deaths. Sadly, the pandemic is rampant in many countries including Mexico, USA, Brazil, and India.

Given that working from home is likely to remain popular, it’s essential we strike a balance. When working from home, it’s very easy to lose track of time. It’s important to take regular breaks. Playing video games offers one avenue. There are many benefits of playing video games. Examples include improved coordination, problem-solving skills, it improves attention and concentration, and much more.

First-person shooter (FPS) is a video game genre centered on gun and other weapon-based combat in a first-person perspective. Together with its predecessor Wolfenstein 3D, Doom helped shape the FPS genre and inspired many similar games, known as “Doom clones”. It’s one of the most important games in video game history.

Doom was released in 1993, but in 1997 the source code was released by its creators under the GNU General Public License. By making the code open source, hobbyist developers were able to create source ports. Apart from its engaging gunplay, the reason the original Doom continues to survive is this modding community, which has been continuously improving the Doom source code.

The software featured here represent only the engine — the ability to load Doom. To actually play the game, you’ll need to have the game files (WADs), either from the commercial Doom package, or from free-to-play games such as the Freedom project, Chex Quest 3, Harmony, Hacz and others. There’s a huge decades-long back catalog containing thousands of Doom levels and other “mods” made by fans of the original game.


GZDoom is a modder-friendly OpenGL port of the Doom engine. It’s a 3D-accelerated Doom source port based on ZDoom. GZDoom uses the OpenGL API, hugely expanding Doom’s technical possibilities.

In addition to Doom, it supports Heretic, Hexen, Strife, Chex Quest, and fan-created games like Harmony and Hacx.

What makes GZDoom stand out from the crowd is top-notch Boom, Action Code Script (ACS), and ZScript support. This lets us play lots of third-party and fan-based Doom mods and levels which brings a new lease of life. ACS is the scripting language that was originally created for Hexen by Raven Software and has been greatly expanded by ZDoom. ACS enables level makers to script events during gameplay, making creating interactive environments even in Doom’s archaic engine infinitely more open-ended.

Read more about GZDoom


Eternity runs GZDoom very close. It’s designed to be a versatile feature port which keeps gameplay compatibility with its roots (DOOM, BOOM, MBF and so on) while sporting powerful features such as new ways to design levels (linked portals, 3DMidTex, polyobjects etc) and modding capabilities (using the EDF definition language). Like GZDoom, it supports ACS scripts.

If you’re curious, linked portals are surfaces that, like regular portals, connect different areas of the map, but in addition can be walked through. This enables multistory maps to be designed in Doom.

Read more about Eternity


Odamex is another of my favourites. It supports the traditional old-school style of Deathmatch and a Cooperative mode, as well as other game modes such as Teamplay and Capture the Flag. It also supports an array of editing features, including the BOOM map format, DeHackEd and BEX patch support and support for several additional music formats, such as MOD and OGG.

Odamex uses a client/server based architecture inherited from csDoom.

Read more about Odamex


Zandronum is a multiplayer oriented port which excels in online play, supporting up to 64 players. It support a lot of ZDoom and GZDoom mods, as well as Skulltag mods.

Read more about Zandronum

DOOM Retro

DOOM Retro is worthy of mention. It’s intentionally minimalistic. It does some things differently to other source ports. It supports vanilla, limit removing, BOOM and MBF-compatible maps and mods.

DOOM Retro is single-player only.

Read more about DOOM Retro

Like so often found in Linux, there’s lots of alternatives to the 5 game engines detailed above, but they’re the best available in my opinion. If you want to check out others, you might want to look at Chocolate Doom, Crispy Doom, Doomsday, and the Freedoom project.

All articles in this series:

Linux at Home
AstronomyExplore the universe from your garden
Brew BeerWeave malt and hops and yeast together in unique combinations
Circuit DesignLearn to design electronic circuits
CollaboratingEdit documents collaboratively in real-time
CookingHome cooking is an activity that’s great for individuals and families
Creative WritingPen a classic novel or screenplay
Cross-stitchingA form of sewing and a popular form of counted-thread embroidery
Digital ArtPaint and draw directly onto a computer
Digital Music ProductionDigital Audio Workstations
DOOM GamingTake a break and play classic DOOM
EmbroideryCraft of decorating fabric or other materials using a needle
ExercisingKeeping fit can be a challenge with lockdown
GardeningPlan your perfect garden with these great tools
GenealogyResearch your family tree
Home SecurityCCTV solutions to protect your home
Musical InstrumentLearn to play an instrument
RSIReduce and prevent repetitive strain injury
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