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(1) Installing COW using the APT tools

If you're running any recent version of Debian or Ubuntu, you have it easy; all you need to do is pick "netrek-client-cow" from the package list in your system's package manager. Your system will probably even add the package to a Games menu on your desktop for you. In case you're having trouble, you can simply do the following:

  1. get to a root shell prompt
  2. enter "apt-get install -f netrek-client-cow"
  3. or "apt install netrek-client-cow"

(2) Installing the COW .deb package from

This has been tested on Debian Etch, Debian Lenny, and Ubuntu Hardy. It should also work on Ubuntu Intrepid. These binaries are provided only for intel processor architectures.

  1. Download the .deb package for your platform and Debian version from
  2. If you are not already, become root, using either "su" or "sudo bash"
  3. Issue the command "dpkg --force-depends -i netrek-client-cow__.deb"
  4. Issue the command "apt-get install -f netrek-client-cow"
  5. You should now be able to play by simply typing "netrek-client-cow"

(3) COW 3.2.7 binary tarball - AVOID unless you really can't install the .deb

This binary has been reported to work on some versions of Linux and not others. Also, it includes its own libraries, which means that changes, including security updates, to your operating system's libraries won't apply to Netrek. If it doesn't work for you, try building from source code instead.

  1. Download
  2. Unpack using the command "tar -xzf netrek-client-cow-3.2.7-i386-portable-0.tar.gz"
  3. There should now be a directory called "netrek-client-cow-3.2.7-i386-portable-0"
  4. Issue the command "cd netrek-client-cow-3.2.7-i386-portable-0"
  5. Issue the command "./netrek-client-cow" and you should be playing.

(4) Building COW from source code

The wonder that is free software means that if a package that suits your system doesn't already exist, you can download the source code and compile one yourself in a few easy steps.

  1. Download the COW tarball or clone the git repository.
  2. Follow the INSTALL instructions.
  3. If all goes well, your system will produce a playable binary for you and you can play by issuing the command "netrek-client-cow".

For the above to work, your system will need to have certain tools and libraries already installed, but most linux distributions provide these. You'll need a compiler such as gcc, the make utility, and the following libraries, including their header files:

When you're having problems

If none of the above works for you, you have two simple choices (besides giving up or switching platforms). You can either ask for help, or you can try a client besides COW.

Getting Help

See the Communicate section for the most up-to-date options. These will probably include:

Other clients

There's a whole bunch of other Linux Netrek clients besides COW. So many, in fact, that we wrote a page about them

You can also see all the available downloads at the full client software page and, for the morbidly curious, there are always the archives of ancient client code, old server code, and code for various utilities sitting around on and