Saturday, February 15, 2014

How To Organize Your Steam Games with PlayOnLinux

Are you tired of installing Steam multiple times using PlayOnLinux? Do you want to organize all your Steam games in one giant library (e.g Steam Library), then this guide is for you.

Installing multiple Steam client always drove me crazy with PlayOnLinux, when you see the big picture (no pun intended) you realize that you have over 100+ steam games and that you need to create a new virtual for each, and it's not even rare. Why one virtual drive for each game? There's something called regression, sometimes games break in new WINE releases, so people have to use the WINE version that works for that game. 

Before we start:

  • By configuring it this way you will have to create the shortcuts for each single steam game. This might sound “bad”, but it's really easy.
  • We don't use the terminal as much in this guide, so rest at ease.
  • Please read through the notes and comments I leave. Skipping the registry steps could make Steam unstable.
  • (Optional) Users are required to have a very basic understanding of what is a WINEPREFIX, this helps a lot.
    The guide may seem really long, but it isn't. Most of the time it's just me explaining stuff.

The Idea

The main idea or scope of this guide is to teach you how to have ONE steam installation and be able to manage multiple Steam Libraries in different drives.

Side note
Symlinks (Symbolic Links) plays a big role in this guide. PlayOnLinux as of 4.2.3 and older version has a bug that doesn't know how to handle symlinks. This is not important, WINE knows how to handle them just fine. If you create a drive_c symlink from a NFS mount, it will run the application just fine.


  • By having only one Steam installation you can manage/download your Steam games in one central point
  • You will also save space from all the tedious redundant Steam installations done by PoL
  • Your credentials are saved in the main Steam installation, meaning that re-using it will keep you logged in for as long as is takes.
  • Settings are never forgotten, this is a plus if you want specific games to have overlay.
  • Easy management and updates.
  • If you are a GamersOnLinux user, the Steam game installations will be done in a slight different way. I will do a follow up after this guide on how to know what to do, however, there's a high possibility that you'll know how to do it at the end of this guide.


  • To make this work, you will have to create shortcuts manually in PoL folder for both Steam and games.
  • Import registry for every new virtual drive.
  • Not exactly a drawback, using the terminal is awesome but yea, you have to use the terminal to create the symlinks. I'm not going to do screenshot examples because everyone has different Desktop Environments.

If you notice, they drawbacks are really.... silly, compared to what we will be gaining.

Wait a moment, if I have all Steam games in one location, won't it mess up wine prefixes done by PlayOnLinux?

Not at all. Remember that PoL is pretty much a wrapper around WINE. When you create a virtual drive, you do it for the purpose of making that game work. After you finish the guide, you will see the bigger picture.

So why do I need to create a shortcut of Steam in every virtual drive?

Steam games requires it to be running, if you are new to Steam don't let that take you by surprise, a lot of windows gamers are used to it. When you create the shortcut and launch it using that virtual drive, you are telling WINE “launch Steam, using version 1.7.8”, once Steam is running, within the same virtual drive you'll launch the Steam game you want.

In a nutshell, you run Steam on the virtual drive (wine prefix), when you launch a steam game within the same virtual drive, the game will recognize that steam is running and steam will know that a steam game is launching.

Alright, enough talk, let's get our hands dirty.

Side Note

I'm going to make this guide as uniform as possible. I'll be taking decisions for you, however, you can set up the folders HOWEVER you want.

Step 1) Choose a main location for your Steam installation.

I chose mine to be in /home/david/WINEApps/Steam

Open up your terminal and write:

mkdir ~/WINEApps

Step 2) Choose a main location for your Steam Library. Remember, I said Steam Library. I'm not going to explain what are Steam libraries, please search the web.

I chose mine to be in /media/david/Usagi/Library/Games, however to keep this guide uniform. I will create it in your user directory.

mkdir ~/Library/Games

Step 3)

Side Note

For the sake of getting a fresh install of Steam (one last time – Dream Theater), let's install Steam. If you are following this guide, by now you should know how to do this. Experienced users can skip to step 4

Open your PlayOnLinux, click Install

Click on Install a non-listed program

Create a virtual drive called Steam. (as shown in the screenshots)

Click on “Use another version of WINE” choose any from 1.7.8 and up. I used a 32 bits installation.

Then choose the Steam installer you downloaded. 

It will probably appear without these letters, but yea. close it.

Let Steam finish installing then close it after the Steam login popup appears.

If PlayOnLinux window thinks it's still installing Steam after you closed it, just press cancel, no harm done.

Step 4)

Awesome, you got a fresh Steam installation.

First, Downloadthis registry file. You can look at it, it just has basic Steam registry. KEEP THIS FILE BECAUSE YOU WILL CONTINUE USING IT.

Side Note

In truth I don't know if the registry import is completely required. Do note that not choosing to import the registry could make Steam crash or become unstable.

Open your terminal and type

cd ~/WINEApps

mv ~/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/Steam/drive_c/Program\ Files/Steam ./

Alright, we got the Steam installation in our WINEApps folder if no error message appeared. You can check by typing ls in the terminal, like this


david@david-mate:~/WINEApps > ls

Side Note: Why not leave the Steam installation there?

Commodity, /home/david/WINEApps/Steam can be easily memorized and less error-prone than /home/david/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/Steam/drive_c/Program\ Files/Steam

After you are done moving Steam, remove the virtual drive you created to download it.

Step 5) Let's create a new virtual drive!

Call it Steam4All (or whatever you want, just no spaces, and please remember the name you use, we'll keep using it)

(32 bit WINE, 1.7.8 or above)

When it asks you to browse the file to install, press cancel.

Step 6) Let's create a symbolic link now.


For every virtual drive you create to run a Steam game, you have to create a symlink for each of them. In this case. We are going to do a symlink of our Steam folder in ~/WINEApps/Steam in the Steam4All virtual drive.

For example: If you want to run Skyrim, then create the virtual drive for skyrim THEN create the symlink of the steam folder.

Open your terminal:

ln -s ~/WINEApps/Steam ~/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/Steam4All/drive_c/Program\

Side Note – Complimenting my Skyrim comment –

THIS IS JUST AN EXAMPLE. If it was a Skyrim installation, after the virtual drive creation, supposing it's called Skyrim

ln -s ~/WINEApps/Steam ~/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/Skyrim/drive_c/Program\

Step 7) Let's create the shortcut manually

I'm going to get visual so you get an idea of what I'm doing. Usually this is a PlayOnLinux shortcut:

Let's go to ~/.PlayOnLinux/shortcuts folder here are some screenshots

We are going to create a new file called “Steam4All” and paste this

[ "$PLAYONLINUX" = "" ] && exit 0
source "$PLAYONLINUX/lib/sources"
# Always remember to change the WINEPREFIX path
export WINEPREFIX="/home/USERNAME/.PlayOnLinux//wineprefix/Steam4All"
export WINEDEBUG="-all"
# Important part
cd "/home/USERNAME/WINEApps/Steam"
POL_Wine Steam.exe "$@"


Side Note

If you take a look at PlayOnLinux picked it up instantly. DO NOT RUN IT YET

Step 8) Import the registry!

If you haven't downloaded the file, click here. (If you wanted you could do Step 8 before 7, it doesn't matter, but never forget the registry)

Press Configure in your POL.

Go to the Wine tab and press Registry Editor

Click on the Registry label in the menu bar.

Click on Import Registry, find the registry you downloaded and load it. No messages will be given. Once you load it, close the registry editor.


You don't have to write -no-dwrite anymore. I disabled dwrite in the registry you loaded. Hurrah? HURRAH

Step 9) Friends, mates, aliens. We are done. Let's run this.  If you really need to know what to do .... just click on Steam4All and run it.

Step 10) Let's create a Steam Library.

Go to View-> Settings

Go to Downloads

Click on Steam Library Folder

Click on Add Steam Library

Add the path we created, it should be in /home/USERNAME/Library/Games and you are done.

This is it people, We finished configuring our main Steam installation. You can add as many steam libraries you want.

COMPLEMENTARY GUIDE – How to install games with this setup

Okay, I'm not going to walk you through a whole game installation guide. I will however explain how to compliment our new steam setup with your steam game installations. I'm going to install Skyrim.

Here's what I will do, if you need help on installing Skyrim, read GamersOnLinux Skyrim Guide. However, you DON'T NEED TO install Steam. Also, please remember to choose the right Steam Library.

With the new Steam installation, download Skyrim. (Please note that this is an example) 

Step 1) Once Skyrim finishes downloading go to PlayOnLinux and create a virtual drive for Skyrim. I'm using WINE 1.7.10-CSMT. Remember to use GamersOnLinux guide to know what libraries to install for your virtual drive (e.g .NET Framework, dxfullsetup, etc)

Step 2) Once you create the virtual drive, we are going to create two shortcuts (three if you are using SKSE)

Create these shortcuts in ~/.PlayOnLinux/shorcuts

Create the file and call it: Steam (for Skyrim)

(the letters in italic is the filename)

[ "$PLAYONLINUX" = "" ] && exit 0
source "$PLAYONLINUX/lib/sources"
# Always remember to change the WINEPREFIX path
export WINEPREFIX="/home/USERNAME/.PlayOnLinux//wineprefix/Skyrim"
export WINEDEBUG="-all"
# Important part
cd "/home/USERNAME/WINEApps/Steam"
POL_Wine Steam.exe "$@"

Create another file and call it Skyrim

[ "$PLAYONLINUX" = "" ] && exit 0
source "$PLAYONLINUX/lib/sources"
export WINEPREFIX="/home/USERNAME/.PlayOnLinux//wineprefix/Skyrim"
export WINEDEBUG="-all"
cd "/home/USERNAME/Library/Games/SteamApps/common/Skyrim"
POL_Wine Skyrim.exe "$@"

Create another file and call it Skyrim SKSE

[ "$PLAYONLINUX" = "" ] && exit 0
source "$PLAYONLINUX/lib/sources"
export WINEPREFIX="/home/USERNAME/.PlayOnLinux//wineprefix/Skyrim"
export WINEDEBUG="-all"
cd "/home/USERNAME/Library/Games/SteamApps/common/Skyrim"
POL_Wine skse_loader.exe "$@"

That's all. Go to your PlayOnLinux and launch the game. :)

Side Note

This is a RINSE AND REPEAT process. Now whenever you create new virtual drives, just change the path in WINEPREFIX and make sure the change directory path is pointed to the game folder.

Later on I'll try to do a Borderlands 2 installation setup with this, you'll see how easy it is.


Q: If I change WINE versions, will the files in my Steam folder be affected?

A: No. That WINE version will get updated, the registry will remain intact.

Q: How does Steam works when the physical files are not in drive_c/Program Files?

A: WINE knows how to distinguish a symlink, you could create a symlink of drive_c and store all the files in Dropbox if you wanted. (not recommended, don't get any weird ideas...)

Q: What happens if I launch the games in my main Steam virtual drives?

A: If you don't prepare a virtual drive for each game properly. The obvious scenario is that the game won't run. The libraries are not installed, the game will crash. It's important to always create a virtual drive for each game, regardless if this Steam installation is being used for all of them.

Q: Can I organize all my previous Steam game installations?

A: Yes, and please don't panic right away. Please read carefully.

Go to your previous installations through PlayOnLinux's Virtual Drives

All Steam games are installed in Steam/SteamApps/common

You will see all games folder with their proper name.

If you followed the guide, just drag and drop the folder to /home/USERNAME/Library/Games/SteamApps/common

Open your Steam4All installation, the game won't be recognized on the fly. Proceed to install the game, Steam will say “Discovering Borderlands 2 files” then “Verifying files”. When it completes, you are done. You have successfully ported the game.

Like this: 

Please ask in the forums if you have doubts.

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