Flatpak is a universal packaging format for Linux. It’s a favorite among third-party vendors and proprietary software developers because it allows them to package their Linux programs once and distribute them across all distributions.
Recently, some creative developers decided to apply that philosophy to running Windows games on Linux with Wine. Every game needs its own unique configuration to run, and that excludes a lot of would-be users. With Flatpak, though, developers can pre-package that configuration, allowing you to install a Wine game like any other Linux application. They dubbed this process Winepak.
Of course, the first thing that you’ll need is Flatpak. It’s readily available, so install it with Apt.
Add the Repositories
Adding a repository in Flatpak isn’t the same as adding a regular Ubuntu repository or a PPA. Instead, they’re referred to as “remotes,” and you add them to Flatpak with a simple command. First, add the Flathub repo. Flathub is the largest remote for Flatpak, and you can think of it as the main one.
Next, add the Winepak one.
Search for a Game
The best way to find what you need with Winepak, or Flatpak in general, is to search. Flatpak comes with a fairly powerful search function that looks through all of your remotes for software that matches what you entered. Try it out to find a game. Keep in mind that Winepak is still in its infancy, so the amount of games available is limited. A fair amount of attention has been paid to the Blizzard games, so they’re a safe bet.
The search will take some time. Flatpak has to search through all of its remotes. When it’s done, it’ll print out a table of results. The most important things to pay attention to are the “Application ID” and the “Remotes.” That’s the information that you’ll need to install your application.
Install a Game
When you have a game that you want, you can install it with Flatpak. Like any other Linux application, it’s a single command that you need.
The format is pretty easy. It’s “install” followed by the name of the remote and the application ID. In the case of Overwatch, the installer launched the Battle.net app. If you’re following along, you would install Battle.net like you would on Windows. The installer will take over when you’re done.
Run Your Game
You’re ready to open your game and run it. It will be listed under your application launcher like your other Linux applications. It should have its own unique icon, too. Overwatch in this case didn’t, but that may change in an update.
The game will launch a lot like it would on Windows. Overwatch is a good example of the minor shortcomings of a system like this. There’s no real way to script the complete install so you get a working Wine configuration and the Battle.net App. It’s up to you to sign in to your Blizzard account and download Overwatch through the App. The good news is it’ll work well when you do launch it, thanks to the Wine configuration that the installer already did.
Winepak is still very new, but as you can see, it has a lot of potential for lowering the barrier to entry into Wine gaming. Stay tuned for updates from Winepak. There may just be a very promising future there.