How to install Quake 3 on a Raspberry Pi?

We often present the Raspberry Pi as an ideal machine for retro gaming, and if there is a game that I associate with retrogaming, it’s Quake 3.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find a complete step by step tutorial to install it, so I decided to make one now.

How to play Quake3 on a Raspberry Pi?
Quake 3 is a famous shooting game, which you can install quite easily on Raspberry PI by searching quake3 in the package manager, or via apt-get or finally compiling it yourself from the sources of the game

I will now explain a little more in detail:

  • What is Quake 3 and what can you expect on Raspberry Pi
  • How to install it using three different methods
  • Some tips to start playing

What is Quake 3?


Quake 3 Arena is a first-person shooter that was one of the first to introduce bots in play, controlled by artificial intelligence.
This technology made the games much more interesting
The game takes place in a sci-fi universe with arenas up to 16 players per map, where everyone chooses a character
All players start with the same weapons (machine gun and gauntlet) but can find new weapons by moving on the map

Quake 3 offers several game modes: Solo vs. Bots, Local Gaming, and even multiplayer online
In addition to the death arena and single-player campaign, there are also game modes such as flag capture or team deathmatch.


Quake 3 is a mythical 2000s game, released in 1999 on PC, Dreamcast, and PS2. Most importantly, it had delighted video game critics and satisfied a large number of players, who continued to play it for years

This game has always been an icon for players. Therefore many projects have then allowed playing it on other platforms
Later it was possible to play Quake 3 on Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, PSP and even iPhone
It makes sense that Quake 3 is also available on Raspberry Pi

On Raspberry Pi

In August 2011, a post appeared on the blog of Raspberry Pi showing this video, where we see Quake 3 running for the first time on Raspberry Pi

Since then, things have evolved and installing Quake 3 is no longer a scientific experiment
It has become relatively simple over time. As a result, we will see how to install it on your Raspberry Pi

Don’t expect something amazing, as the Raspberry Pi remains a miniature PC, and therefore its primary goal isn’t necessarily to run video games in 3D
But it’s a small project we’re proud to do on such a small pc, and I’m going to explain how you can do it

How to install Quake 3 on a Raspberry Pi?

From the desktop

The installation from the desktop could have been straightforward, but there’s a little tip I must certainly give you

Start by following a typical software installation :

  • Go to Preferences > Add/Remove Software
  • Type “quake3” in the search engine
  • Tick the “Quake 3 Arena menu entry and launcher scripts” in the list
  • Install it by clicking Ok at the bottom of the window

Quake 3 is now available in the start menu :

But if you run it now, it will not work due to the following error:

Required data files are missing, Please use game-data-packager to build and install the data packages for Quake 3 Arena

What you need to do to fix this error, and that is explained nowhere else, is to run the following command:

game-data-packager quake3 -i

This command will download and build the missing files for Quake 3
It will take a few minutes to compile, but then the game will run properly
At the end of this command, return to the start menu, launch Quake 3, and you’ll get the menu:

From the raspbian repository

If you are more comfortable with the command line, it’s possible to follow almost the same procedure thanks to apt-get

First, make sure your deposit and machine are entirely up-to-date :

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Then install the quake3 package by typing the following command :

sudo apt-get install quake3

All dependencies, like the game-data-packager package, will be installed automatically by apt

As in the case of an installation from the package manager, this is not enough, and if you try to run the game now it will not work
So you have to use the game-data-packager to download and compile the game’s files, using the following command:

game-data-packager quake3 -i

Let it run a few minutes, and you can finally start the game through the Start menu or with the command :


From GitHub

The last method I propose (not the quickest) is to directly recover the source code of Quake 3 on the GitHub repository of the Raspberry Pi foundation
The link can be found here:

To complete this installation, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your system is up to date
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
  2. Install the packages required for compilation
    sudo apt-get install git gcc build-essential libsdl2-2.0-0 libsdl2-dev
  3. Create a folder where to download the source code
    mkdir ~/quake3 && cd ~/quake3
  4. Get the source code with this git command
    git clone ./
  5. You will now have to modify the file, there are three changes to make:
    1. Line 8: replace the current line by :
    2. Line 16: replace the current line by :
      INCLUDES="-I/opt/vc/include -I/opt/vc/include/interface/vcos/pthreads"
    3. Line 19: comment this line :
    4. Line 31: remove this option :
  6. Save the file (CTRL+X followed by Y) and run the build process :

    It will take about 30 minutes

  7. Then you will need to get PAK files for the game, and the easiest way is to use this website:
  8. Download the compressed data and extract it in ~/quake3/build/release-Linux-arm/baseq3
  9. And now you will be able to start the game:
    cd ~/quake3/build/release-linux-arm
    sudo ./ioquake3.arm

Woo, that was not so easy 🙂

How to play Quake 3?

Now that you’ve successfully installed Quake 3 by using any of these methods let me show you a few tips to get you started.

The first thing you need to know is that like any shooting game; you will need speed and accuracy. Often, with Raspberry Pi, we do not necessarily have the required equipment
I strongly recommend you to have a controller or at least a correct keyboard and mouse. It’s useless to play without the proper equipment; you will not take any pleasure.

Second thing, take a first look at the options to configure the game to match what you want
From the main menu, choose “Setup”, and you will then have several options:

  • Player
    • Here you will find everything to customize your character
  • Controls
    • To configure the keys corresponding to the actions of the game (take a look if you have a specific controller)
  • System
    • To manage graphics, display, sound and network options
  • Game options
    • Various game settings, not very useful for the first time you play
  • CD keys
    • If you have a valid license key, you can activate it here
  • Default
    • To reset all options to default

I recommend you at least to check the commands and configure the graphics options to have a correct but fluid display

Then start a single player game with the lowest difficulty mode, see how it works, and return to the options if needed
Remember that the Raspberry Pi is not a video game pc, so it may be necessary to review your ambitions and reduce the level of graphics to play optimally

Conclusion :

You now know more about Quake 3, how to install it on a Raspberry Pi using three different ways (choose the first or the second ^ ^), and how to configure it before having fun playing it

There are many old games available on Raspberry Pi (from different game consoles), which allow you to turn your Raspberry into a retro gaming console
We will see in other articles how to install and play them



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