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This article is about an older version of DF.


You can always get Dwarf Fortress as Toady One, the developer, released it from the Bay12 site (check the top of the page).

This particular version can be downloaded here:

Windows Main Small
Mac Main
SDL (40d19) Windows Linux Mac

Windows users: Use the "Main" version unless there's some reason not to.


Also see: System requirements


There is no installer for the game. Simply extract the archive file to a folder somewhere and run the game from within the folder.

Make sure to actually extract the archive; do not just open the archive and run the game from the window that appears. If you do this then it may appear to work, but your save game data will get discarded. This is the cause of many "my saved games keep getting deleted" complaints. The game also needs to be able to write to its own folder, so do not install it in C:\Program Files if you are running Windows Vista or later.

Mac (Non-SDL)[edit]

The non-SDL Mac version contains an application bundle, but the "data" and "raw" folders are outside of this bundle. This version works on both x86 and PowerPC versions of OSX. As with the Windows version, the game must be able to write to its own folder.

To start the game, launch the "Dwarf Fortress" app.

Mac (SDL)[edit]

The Mac version is not a single application bundle, but like the Windows version it consists of a folder containing the application along with data files and there is no installer. The entire folder can be dragged into the Applications folder or placed elsewhere. As with the Windows version, the game must be able to write to its own folder.

To start the game execute the launch script "df".

OS X 10.7 Lion[edit]

When first running Dwarf Fortress on 10.7 Lion, you may be startled to discover that Dwarf Fortress crashes without so much as a by-your-leave. Don't worry; Dwarf Fortress will still run on Lion. The issue lies in the libraries; they haven't changed from the ones in Snow Leopard, but their naming scheme has. The fix is a quick one. Open up the "df" launch script in a text editor of your choice (TextEdit is the default), and locate the following lines:


Change them to read as follows:

export DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH=${PWD}/libs

With the change, Dwarf Fortress should run normally.

Linux (SDL)[edit]

The Linux version of the game is shipped as a compiled 32-bit x86 (Intel/AMD) application. It will also run on a system with a 64-bit AMD or Intel processor and a 64-bit kernel, provided that you have the (32-bit) shared libraries available that the program needs.

Dwarf Fortress for Linux is meant to be run from a terminal (command-line) interface, and so the instructions here will assume you know how to login and get to a command prompt. At least in the default mode, however, Dwarf Fortress is an X client program, so you should be in a terminal inside an X session before starting the game. Dwarf Fortress will create a new X window outside of the terminal window, so don't worry about the size of the terminal.

  • Unpacking: Dwarf Fortress is shipped as a (bzip2) compressed tar archive. It will extract into a new directory called df_linux. So, cd to wherever you want the game to be unpacked, and then run tar xjf /path/to/df_XX_YY_linux.tar.bz2 (where df_XX_YY_linux.tar.bz2 is the filename). Then run cd df_linux to change into the new directory.
  • Running: Run ./df to execute the Dwarf Fortress wrapper script.
  • Troubleshooting: If you get an error like this:
./libs/Dwarf_Fortress: error while loading shared libraries: libSDL_image-1.2.so.0:
cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
it means that your system is missing one or more shared libraries. See below.
  • Upgrading: Since every new version of Dwarf Fortress unpacks in a directory named df_linux you have to manage upgrades yourself. You should not unpack a new version of DF on top of an old version's directory -- this will cause things to break, usually in subtle and mysterious ways. Instead, you should either delete or rename the old df_linux directory first, before extracting the new version.

32-bit vs. 64-bit systems[edit]

Modern desktop PCs (of the Intel/AMD persuasion) contain CPUs that can run in either 32-bit or 64-bit modes. When you install Linux, you choose one of these architectures. The programs on your system will then be compiled either for the 32-bit (i386, x86) arch, or the 64-bit (amd64, x86_64) arch. If you've forgotten which one you have, you can check:

$ file /bin/ls
/bin/ls: ELF 64-bit LSB executable, x86-64, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs),
for GNU/Linux 2.6.18, stripped

The above would indicate a 64-bit system. Here's one from a 32-bit system:

$ file /bin/ls
/bin/ls: ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs),
for GNU/Linux 2.6.18, stripped

Dwarf Fortress is compiled for 32-bit systems, so if you're on a 32-bit system, things will be slightly easier. If you are getting errors about missing SDL_image libraries (etc.) then you simply need to install them. Use your distribution's package manager for this -- details will be extremely distribution-specific. You don't need the development versions of the packages with the headers (although that won't hurt) -- you just need the runtime versions, with the actual shared libraries.

On Ubuntu:
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get install libsdl-image1.2 libsdl-ttf2.0-0

If you're on a 64-bit system, then things get a bit trickier. Since DF is a 32-bit application, it needs 32-bit versions of the shared libraries. Some Linux distributions provide these in one or more packages that you can download. For example, in Debian, the ia32-libs package contains most of the common 32-bit libraries, including libSDL. Unfortunately, it does not include the SDL add-on libraries such as libSDL_image and libSDL_ttf. In Ubuntu, these are included. If your distribution does not include these, then you may have to supply them manually.

If this is the case, then the first step is to figure out where you will be putting them. Check to see where your other 32-bit libraries are already installed; for example, on Debian, some are in /lib32 and others are in /usr/lib32. Since libSDL is in /usr/lib32 on a Debian system, that's where we'll want to put libSDL_image and libSDL_ttf. On other distributions, the path could be different.

The second step is to get the 32-bit libraries. You can typically do this by downloading them directly from your distribution's 32-bit package repository. Again using Debian as our example, we can perform a search at http://packages.debian.org/ for files containing the word libSDL_image for the Intel x86 architecture. This takes us to a results page from which we can proceed to the libsdl-image1.2 package page with a list of download links arranged by architecture. Grab the i386 package from here, and repeat this for the libSDL_ttf package, and whatever other library you are missing. Store these package files somewhere convenient.

The third step is to extract the libraries from the packages and get them in the proper location. You probably won't be able simply to install the packages using your package manager, because they are for the wrong architecture. Instead, you'll probably have to extract them by hand. The steps for doing this are distribution-specific, so when in doubt consult your distribution's help resources. I'll show the steps for a .deb package.

  • cd into some temporary working directory such as /tmp
  • Extract the files from the .deb archive, which is in ar(1) format:
 ar x /path/to/libsdl-image1.2*_i386.deb
This creates three files: debian-binary, control.tar.gz and data.tar.gz. We only care about data.tar.gz.
  • Extract data.tar.gz:
 tar xzf data.tar.gz
This creates a subdirectory named usr with various files inside it. We only care about usr/lib/libSDL_image-1.2.so.0.8.2 (or whatever precise version yours has).
  • Move the shared library into place:
 sudo mv usr/lib/libSDL_image-1.2.so.* /usr/lib32/
  • Create a symlink to it:
 cd /usr/lib32
 sudo ln -s libSDL_image-1.2.so.0.* libSDL_image-1.2.so.0
 cd -

Repeat this for libSDL_ttf and whatever other libraries are required.

NOTE: If you get the error that libsndfile.so is not found, you must use the following:

 find */libsndfile.so*

cd to the correct directory, then use ln as shown above.

Another common difficulty with 64bit systems is related to the art packs. When DF is run on most (?all) 64bit Unix systems, it generates error messages related to the PNG variants of the art files, errors which prevent the game from starting.

To solve this problem, you must first edit the /data/init/init.txt file and set the game to use the BMP variants of the art files, instead of the default PNG. This should solve all the error messages except for one: "Not found: data/art/mouse.png" since there is no setting in the init files to change it. The workaround for this is to edit the Dwarf_Fortress file found in the /your/path/df_linux/libs folder which contains the setting for the mouse cursor. If you don't know how to do that, you can try this:

  • cd to the /df_linux/libs folder
  • open Dwarf_Fortress in vi or any other editor of your choise:
 vi ./Dwarf_Fortress
This opens the file for editing (text mode). If you are not familiar with vi, it would be a good idea to follow these steps exactly and not press any other keys since they all activate specific commands. If you do press a key though, you can press the ESC key a few times to cancel the command.
  • With vi open, write the following string and press Enter:
This will search for all the strings that contain the word "mouse" and place the cursor on the first match. Pressing the n key will cycle through all the matches.
  • Press the n key until the cursor moves to the desired string, which is "data/art/mouse.png". If you accidentally move past the string, you can cycle back through the matched strings using the N key (shift + n).
  • Once you find the right string, you will have to move the cursor over the "p" in "[..]/mouse.png". You do that by pressing the l key which will move the cursor to the right. There is also the h key to move the cursor to the left, in case you move past it.
  • With the cursor in the right position press the following key sequence:
This will replace the .png extension with the .bmp one which solves the problem of the missing /data/art/mouse.png error.
  • All there is left to do is to save the modifications to the file and quit vi. For that, press the ESC key once or twice and then press the following key sequence after which you press Enter:
This saves the changes and quits 'vi'

Now the game should work properly. Have fun!


Fortunately the documentation on this wiki is very detailed and extensive. You may want to start out with:

Then move on to: