IW4x Server Install Guide (Linux)

You will need the following:

  • Computer or VPS that is online 24/7 with a decent connection that has average or above specs (We strongly advise a VPS).
  • Strong technical knowledge/background knowledge of computers and Linux Operating Systems.
  • An original copy of the game. You can buy it on Steam @ Save 25% on Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 2 (2009) on Steam


Dear reader,

In the Linux world, when you rent a VPS from a cloud provider, it usually arrives as a “bare” installation lacking most things, including a desktop environment. This means that the initial interaction with your VPS is typically through the terminal via SSH. Before proceeding with this guide, in most cases, you’ll want to install a desktop environment or some other essential programs such as Vim for text editing. Additionally, due to lack of time, I only tested this tutorial on Debian and Ubuntu therefore I will show commands using the apt package manager. On other Linux distributions or the FreeBSD OS, you might have a different package manager. Refer to the official documentation for your Operating System.

The first attempt may not be easy, especially if you have no prior experience with Linux. Seriously consider hosting on Windows, if you prefer a more familiar environment. if you are going to be using Linux for the first time and you attempt to follow this guide you might encounter issues that are very hard to overcome without good general knowledge of your Linux OS.

The way I usually install a desktop environment on my Linux VPS is with the following commands which I include for reference.

sudo apt-get install xfce4
sudo apt-get install xfce4-goodies
echo xfce4-session >~/.xsession

If you installed UFW on your system make sure to reference the official documentation to allow traffic through the net_port. If you do not have it, I still recommend you check your IP tables’ rules to make sure they do not conflict with your IW4x servers. Each server needs an open or forwarded port with at least UDP traffic enabled which we refer to as the net_port. TCP traffic is optional and needed in case you want to serve content such as mods or user maps to players through the built web server (Mongoose) or if you want to use the game server status page/API.

You may want to check out this other guide I made which shows how to harden the security of your IW4x server with Fail2Ban.


I recommend using steamcmd to download the game files from the terminal. The following commands will download the Modern Warfare 2 game files from the Steam CDN; ownership of these games is required.

  1. Install steamcmd with the following commands
    sudo add-apt-repository multiverse; sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386; sudo apt update
    sudo apt install steamcmd

  1. Download the SP game files using this steamcmd +@sSteamCmdForcePlatformType windows +login <STEAMUSERNAME> +force_install_dir ~/server +app_update 10180 validate +quit

  1. Download MP (Unknown if it is required) files using this (this download may only download a few megabytes) steamcmd +@sSteamCmdForcePlatformType windows +login <STEAMUSERNAME> +force_install_dir ~/server +app_update 10190 validate +quit

By using the commands displayed above you will download the “game files” to a folder called “server”, the folder can be referenced as your game folder throughout this tutorial.


Wine (originally an acronym for “Wine Is Not an Emulator”) is a compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications on several POSIX-compliant operating systems, such as Linux, macOS, & BSD.
You can install wine on Debian/Ubuntu with apt-get install wine (After the installation, you may need to also run in the terminal winecfg command to tweak some wine settings). If you are using another operating system or a Linux distro without the apt package manager I suggest you do some Googling to find out how you can install and configure Wine. For IW4x, I recommend also exporting WINEARCH to win32 although I encountered no issue when this environment variable was left untouched or I just set it to win64. IW4x should work either way, but if it does not make sure to do this step.

## Add Variables to the environment at the end of ~/.bashrc
echo -e 'export WINEPREFIX=~/.wine\nexport WINEDEBUG=fixme-all\nexport WINEARCH=win32' >> ~/.bashrc

## Update our session
source ~/.bashrc

## Configure our wine environment


  1. Install the IW4x client distributed by the launcher. Download it and place it into your game folder.

    cd /tmp
    wget -q https://github.com/mxve/alterware-launcher/releases/latest/download/alterware-launcher-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu.tar.gz
    tar -xf alterware-launcher-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu.tar.gz -C ~/server
    rm alterware-launcher-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu.tar.gz
    chmod +x ~/server/alterware-launcher

    Then run it so it automatically downloads the client files. Pro tip: use the terminal to run the launcher with the --update command line argument.

  1. Download the server configurations from our Git, and place the files in the game folder.

    cd /tmp
    wget -q https://git.alterware.dev/alterware/IW4ServerConfigsLinux/archive/main.zip
    unzip main.zip
    mv iw4serverconfigslinux/* ~/server/
    rmdir iw4serverconfigslinux
    rm main.zip
    rm ~/server/LICENSE
    rm ~/server/README.md

  1. Carefully review and edit the configuration settings file to your liking. Give it a hostname, gametype, and remove or add the maps you want, etc. Remember to save the file after you have edited it. If you use the GNU nano text editor you can consult the manual page to see all the key binds to efficiently use the program.

  1. Forward the net_port (default value: 28960) which is defined in the “start” shell scripts. If you changed the default port or are adding another server, you may need to open the following additional ports. This step is not required on a dedicated server or VPS. If you enabled the firewall make sure to open the net_port for both UDP and TCP traffic. Consult the documentation for IP Tables or UFW

  1. Run the “start” shell script file for the type of server you want and it shall open. You will probably need to give the shell script executable permissions before you run it with chmod +x <file name>

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