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Running in Linux and macOS

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Perfect Cherry Blossom running in Wine

For those of us who run Linux or macOS as our only operating system, finding functional alternatives to Windows programs can be an issue. When we need to run Windows programs, the Wine project has long been a great compatibility layer that lets us do just that. Basically, it translates Windows system calls into their Unix equivalents and runs programs in a Windows directory structure, so you can still play your Windows games, work in Photoshop, etc. under Linux and, to a certain extent, macOS.

Although Wine is not perfect, running official Touhou Project games on Wine will usually be fine, with some minor issues. This article will explain how Wine works and how to play Touhou games under Wine.

On Linux, it is recommended to use Lutris as well, since it makes it easier to set up your games by not needing to run commands. See the Lutris section after you install Wine.

Before we start, this does require a little familiarity with the shell (or command-line interface). This Linux guide has a nice introduction to using the shell.

Installing Wine


For many distributions, you will need to add the official WineHQ repository in order to install Wine. It can then be installed using your package manager. Alternatively, it can be installed from a GUI such as the Ubuntu Software Center.

It is recommended to use the Staging version of Wine, since the universal Touhou practice tool thprac will not work without it. This package is typically called winehq-staging or wine-staging. The Stable (standard) version is called winehq-stable or wine-stable. Installation instructions for Wine Staging are listed below.

Debian-based distributions

For Debian-based distributions, replace "focal" with "bionic".

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
wget -qO - https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/winehq.key | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-add-repository 'deb http://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/ubuntu/ focal main'
sudo apt update
sudo apt install winehq-staging


If you use an older version of Fedora, make sure to replace 34 with the correct version number.

sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/fedora/34/winehq.repo
sudo dnf install winehq-staging

It should be noted that the version in Fedora's official repository is usually "new enough". Thus, simply

sudo dnf install wine

should be enough. (For example, on a F36 box, the wine version is latest stable 7.0)

Arch Linux

Before installing Wine, enable multilib repository in /etc/pacman.conf and then update the repository with pacman -Syu.

sudo pacman -S wine-staging

Building from source

If you do not use one of the above distros, or you cannot reliably connect to the winehq server, you can also build wine from source.

Note that building wine takes at least three hours on a reasonable system.


Wine no longer works as of macOS Catalina (version 10.15), as that version ended support for 32-bit applications. The only way to play Touhou on the newest versions of macOS is to use a virtual machine.

Using MacPorts

If you already have MacPorts installed with all dependencies, simply run sudo port install wine to install with all dependencies.

If you have yet to install MacPorts, refer to this installation instructions.

Using Homebrew

Go here and install if needed, then run brew install wine in your terminal.

Using Wine

On its first run, Wine creates a hidden directory in your home folder, called .wine, which contains a full representation of a Windows folder hierarchy and miscellaneous library and system files. One such representation is called a prefix (see the Wine prefixes section for more information). The .wine folder is in your home directory (~/.wine). Inside is another folder called drive_c, which is your Wine install's C: drive folder. If you browse inside this folder (~/.wine/drive_c), you will probably recognize its contents from a standard Windows install.

Generally, with Wine installed, your Linux distribution will have assigned Windows executables to automatically invoke Wine, so double-clicking a Windows executable should work. If not, you will have to run Wine from your terminal. To do this, navigate to the folder that contains the executable and run it with Wine, like so:

cd .wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/RandomProgram
wine program.exe

Running Touhou games

Running a Touhou game is done the same way, either by double-clicking or using the terminal as shown above.

Assuming you have a Japanese font installed on your system, the in-game text should show just fine and you do not need to run the game in Japanese locale. For Embodiment of Scarlet Devil however, as well as the resolution setting dialogs when launching a game, Japanese locale is required. This can be set by adding LC_ALL="ja_JP.UTF-8", in front of your command to run Wine. The following example will navigate to a folder containing Double Spoiler and then launch it in Japanese locale:

cd .wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/上海アリス幻樂団/ダブルスポイラー
LC_ALL="ja_JP.UTF-8" wine th125.exe

Vpatch is not needed to run the games smoothly, unlike on Windows. See Minimizing input lag for how to prevent input lag on Linux.

Wine prefixes

A prefix, or colloquially 'bottle', is a folder containing the Windows directory structure, to which specific Wine settings can be assigned. This way, it is possible to run certain games with Wine set to Windows 7, but others Windows 98, for example. A new prefix can be created by running WINEPREFIX=<path> winecfg, which will launch Wine's configuration menu as well. Note that the path must be absolute, e.g. ~/.prefix_name to place it in your home directory. To create a 32-bit prefix, add WINEARCH=win32 in front of the aforementioned example.

For the official Touhou games, multiple prefixes are not needed and you can use any single prefix, such as the default .wine in your home directory. It can however be useful for other games, if they need Wine to run with different settings, such as a different Windows operating system, 32-bit instead of 64-bit, or different Windows libraries or components. If you need to run a game using a different prefix, specify it using WINEPREFIX=<path> <game>; not specifying any prefix will make Wine use the default one.

Installing missing native Windows components

Although most Touhou games should run out of the box with the recent development of Wine, some games might experience instant crashes when trying to run them through Wine. This is mostly because Wine does not include all Windows libraries by default and missing libraries can lead to a crash. Make sure that all necessary components to launch the game are installed. There are some ways to achieve this:

Using Winetricks

Winetricks is a program that is the primary method for installing Windows libraries (DLL) and other components. With winetricks, all of these installations can be done with merely a command, such as:

winetricks d3dx9_36

Start by installing winetricks and following the installation instruction provided here. Winetricks also has a GUI, which can be opened by executing winetricks in a terminal window. To run it on a specific prefix, specify the prefix like so: WINEPREFIX=<path> winetricks.

Note: Some libraries such as dotnet40 have limited 64-bit support and may or may not be fully functional.

Copy the .dll file from the Windows installation folder

Another way to temporarily fix a partially-functioning DLL is to replace it with the original file from a Windows install. Here is the way to do it.

Note: This was done on a 32-bit Vista installation mounted at /mnt/vista32.

First off, to copy the file. Wine's Windows folder is in .wine/drive_c/windows.

cp /mnt/vista32/Windows/System32/d3dx9_36.dll .wine/drive_c/windows/system32/

This might be all you need for the new DLL to work. To make sure programs see it, we'll configure it within Wine. Wine has a configuration utility called winecfg; run it from your terminal, then click the "Libraries" tab and under "New override for library", type d3dx9_36, click "Add" followed by "Apply", and now you can click "OK" to exit the utility or peruse around the other tabs and settings. One issue with loading native Windows DLLs is that they may require original low-level Windows DLLs (e.g. ntdll.dll) that Wine is emulating and might not work. These are the core DLLs that Wine is emulating and cannot be replaced with native Windows DLLs; you will break your Wine prefix by doing so.

Wine on macOS

Wine on macOS is very similar to Linux. One issue that macOS users may encounter is incredibly slow 3D graphics performance; this is due to Apple's X11 implementation not supporting hardware OpenGL in older versions of macOS (Tiger and below). If you encounter this, you may want to bite the bullet and upgrade.


Lutris is a Linux game manager, which makes it relatively easy to run all sorts of different games under different settings. It essentially provides a graphical interface to help streamline the process, so you do not need to run commands or shell scripts in order to play your games.

To install Lutris, follow the instructions for your distro as listed on the official Lutris website. Assuming you have installed Wine Staging from the previous instructions, Wine will be usable as a "runner" in Lutris, that is, a program that can run games. Lutris can also launch a large variety of emulators, as well as native Linux games.

Adding Games

To add a game, click the large '+' button in the top left, and choose Wine as the runner. In the Game options tab, provide the path to the executable and the game directory. Leave the Runner options and System options tabs unchanged. For an example, see the screenshots below.

You can go back to game settings by right clicking a game and then clicking Configure. It is also possible to change the icon and banner by clicking them from the settings window. If you want to make a desktop or application menu shortcut to your game, right click the game on the main screen after it is added, and click 'Create desktop shortcut' or 'Create application menu shortcut'.

Lutris main menu
Game info tab
Game options tab
Game added
Ten Desires being added into Lutris

Minimizing input lag

To reduce input lag, you need to disable vsync and desktop compositing. Click the gear icon next to Wine under Runners. In the window that opens, navigate to the System options tab an add the following environment variables: dxgi.syncInterval and d3d9.presentInterval, both set to 0. This will disable vsync. Additionally, check 'Show advanced options' and enable 'Disable desktop effects' in the same tab, which will disable the compositor.

This can also be applied only to an individual game, rather than all Wine games. To do this, use the System options tab of a single game instead (Right click game -> Configure).

Wine gear icon
Wine system options
Wine system options
How to reduce input lag

If you use an NVIDIA graphics card, you also want to set the kernel parameter nvidia-drm.modeset=1 to enable Kernel Mode Setting (KMS). AMD and Intel integrated graphics enable this by default. Assuming you use GRUB as your bootloader, edit /etc/default/grub and add it at the end of the value for GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT. Add GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="nvidia-drm.modeset=1" if it is not present. Update grub with sudo update-grub, or sudo grub-mkconfig <your_grub_path>, and reboot for the change to apply. See ArchWiki for other bootloaders.

PC-98 Games

The multi-system emulator RetroArch provides Neko Project II, which can be used to play the PC-98 games, and runs on both macOS and Linux. Do note that the clock multiplier is set too low by default; it should be set to 16 in the emulator settings (accessed by pressing F1 while in-game).

DOSBox-X also supports running PC-98 software and has native macOS and Linux versions.

Various emulators such as the Windows version of Neko Project II, T98-Next, and Anex86 all work pretty well under Wine in order to play the PC-98 Touhou games. For playing with a gamepad, JoyToKey also works under Wine. There is also a native port of Neko Project II for Linux and macOS called Xnp2; however, there are currently some sound problems that need to be investigated[citation needed]. The regular Neko Project II is generally the best option.


Attention: This section is a stub and it needs expanding with more information related to the section's topic. If you can add to it in any way, please do so.


  • There are issues with joysticks. If you plug in your joystick while your Touhou game is running, it probably won't notice it. Make sure it's plugged in and working before running your Touhou game.
  • For Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and Touhou Hisoutensoku, see here (SWR/HSTS Wiki).

The Wine developers are constantly adding and fixing functionality, so while things are still iffy with certain Touhou games, they are definitely improving. See the main article linked above for a list of current Touhou bugs in Wine.

Playing Steam Games on Linux

With the release of some titles such as Hidden Star in Four Seasons or Antinomy of Common Flowers on Steam and the support of Proton, playing Touhou games on Steam has become easier for Linux users, since you can now use the built-in compatibility layers that Steam provides. Proton used to be quite buggy when it was new, but nowadays, if any game runs on Wine, you can typically expect it to run on Proton as well.

Installation and setup

To enable Proton for all games, go to Steam -> Settings, where a section called Steam Play will appear in the bottom of the sections list; navigate to the section and check Enable Steam Play for all titles, after which Steam will have to be restarted. Following that, all of your games that don't run on Linux natively will automatically use Proton. This includes Non-Steam games that you manually add into your library.

The current game compatibility can be found on the ProtonDB website. Proton will automatically use the correct aspect ratio in fullscreen mode.


  • Some user might experience game crashing with Proton right when starting up without it prompting to install any drivers (e.g. Proton needing to install DirectX if you are running HSiFS for the first time). If that is the case, consider using the flatpak version of Steam.
  • There is also some problem regarding launching games that reside on NTFS partitions. This is a confirmed bug; a workaround for this is to mount the partition using ntfs-3g rather than ntfs. Make sure that you are the owner of the partition in question; set the options defaults,uid=1000,gid=1000 for your NTFS partition in your /etc/fstab file.
  • If a game runs very slowly, try disabling DXVK. This can be done by setting PROTON_USE_WINED3D11=1 as a game-specific launch option for Proton.
  • If the audio is not working, try to install the following packages: lib32-alsa-plugins lib32-libpulse lib32-openal.
  • If you encounter an issue regarding a failure with Direct3D while running inside of Steam, try to add PROTON_USE_WINED3D=1 %command% in the textbox located at the game's properties > General > Launch Options.

Using Virtual Machines

Note: it is not recommended to play Touhou games this way on macOS or Linux, as it is very slow and memory-consuming to start an entire operating system just to play Touhou; only do this as a last resort!

It is possible to use virtualization software such as Oracle VirtualBox and VMWare Player (both macOS and Linux) and Parallels Desktop (macOS) to run a virtual Windows operating system to play the Touhou games with. This virtual system is known as a virtual machine, or VM for short. You will be able to install and run them just as you would on Windows, as you are running Windows within your native operating system. You need Windows installation media (such as an ISO file) in order to install a Windows VM; for Windows 7 through Windows 10, see this Microsoft help page for information on creating installation media.

Normally a VM has limited graphics capability, due to using a virtual graphics driver rather than a dedicated graphics card. If you own more than one graphics card, however, it is possible to use PCI passthrough. With that set up, your VM uses the secondary graphics card while your host OS uses the primary one. This means that you can run more demanding games, as much as the graphics card allows. See this ArchWiki page for more information.

Parallels Desktop on macOS

Parallels Desktop version 5.0 runs the main series games very well: All of the Windows danmaku games except for Perfect Cherry Blossom run without slowdown on a MacBook Pro. PCB appears to suffer from slowdown for unknown reasons.

It is important to run the games in fullscreen, and it is better to use the zoom function to bring the game screen to fullscreen, at least on a MacBook Pro. Running the games in windowed mode often results in slowdown, and the computer appears to have real difficulties in displaying 640×480 natively (the games will run at 30fps). You can run them in 720×480 just fine, though.

Activate the zoom function through the "Trackpad" pane in System Preferences, and zoom in by putting the mouse in the middle of the screen and holding control and scrolling up with two fingers.

The fighting games (SWR and Soku) have no slowdown during matches, but do have a serious delay while loading for the match (close to a minute). It's been suggested, but not yet confirmed, that placing the games on the virtual C: drive, rather than on the OSX desktop or other location in OSX, may clear this out; Parallels treats the Mac's hard drive as a network drive, which may slow access. Netplay has yet to be tested for either the fighters or for Phantasmagoria of Flower View.

If your SWR/Soku display looks strange when run in full screen (usually, a bar at the bottom and right of the screen that displays the desktop), set the game to run in Windowed mode, exit out, and restart the game. Then change it back to full screen in the menu.

The PC-98 games can be run on emulators without difficulty (so yes, emulation within emulation virtualization). There's a PC-98 emulator for macOS, but it has not been updated for several years and does not appear to accept the Touhou games.

The following fan games have been confirmed to run fine under Parallels Desktop 5 using Windows XP on a MacBook Pro:

The following do not run under Parallels 5, have severe slowdown, or suffer from fatal glitches, although in some cases this may be due to the graphics card (apparently, some of the fangames don't communicate properly with NVIDIA cards.):

Using Winebottler on macOS

There is an easier way to run Touhou games on a Mac: Winebottler. To use this, you need macOS version 10.6.8 or later as well as X11. 11 is available at the iTunes Store, at a cheap price, or free if you get older versions.

You can download Winebottler here. Press the free download button, and a Disk Image should appear on your desktop after download. Drag the applications Wine and Winebottler into your applications folder.

Now, double-click the Touhou game .exe. A dialogue box should pop up that says "What would you like to do with the file?" Below that should be two options:

  1. Run directly in /Users/((Homefoldername))/Wine
  2. Convert to simple macOS application bundle.

Click on the first option. DO NOT CLICK THE SECOND ONE. The game will not run and your Wine will crash.

It should automatically open up X11 and run the game. No coding is required.

External links