X-COM: UFO Defense, Steam, and DOSBox

I recently purchased the X-COM: Complete Pack during the Steam Perils of Summer sale, and of course I wanted to run the game in my Ubuntu (10.04) partition. Turns out it’s really easy. Steam runs the game in DOSBox, and DOSBox is available natively in Ubuntu.

First, I’ll assume you’ve already got access to the Steam-installed version of the game (either through Steam running in Wine or Steam on a Windows partition). I copied the XCOM game directory to a convenient location. You can find the XCOM directory at wherever your Steam install is…

Steam/steamapps/common/xcom ufo defense/XCOM

and I copied that to


You can do the same from the command line, assuming you have a Wine-installed version of Steam, by copying the entire block below and pasting it into a console. Don’t mind if the text runs further than this window allows. The entire command should copy when selected.

cp -r \
/home/myaccount/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/Steam/steamapps/common/xcom\ ufo\ defense/XCOM/ \

Now install DOSBox. From the command line,

sudo aptitude install dosbox

When that’s done, run dosbox from the command line.


Or from the Applications bar.

Applications > Games > DOSBox Emulator

This will open the DOSBox window. You’ll notice it mounts the ‘z’ drive by default. We want to mount the ‘c’ drive, which as you’ll recall we created in /home/myaccount/Games/dos/c/

In DOSBox type

mount c /home/myaccount/Games/dos/c/

And change the focus to the c drive by typing


Now we just navigate to the XCOM directory.


and run the game


And that’s it! Just don’t ask me how to play the game because I’ve got no idea. (It drops you onto the globe and doesn’t give you any hint what you’re supposed to do next).

In a similar case, you could use the same method to run the original DOOM when purchased in Steam, or even Commander Keen.

4 Responses to “X-COM: UFO Defense, Steam, and DOSBox”

  1. l33tspock says:

    Steam runs x-com too slow, the game is extremely laggy under their emulation and there is no way to change the settings, frankly I’m quite dissapointed.

  2. Dillon says:

    Epic. Win.

    🙂 Thanks for the walkthrough! I had no trouble getting it to work as described.

  3. thesglife says:

    I’m using Ubuntu 12 on a chromebook. I have XCOM working in DOSBOX but no sound. Any suggestions?

  4. kyle says:

    No suggestions, sorry. I only got so far as installing XCOM and writing the tutorial. I found the game just dropped me into a situation and I had no idea what to do.

    Best of luck.

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