Linux Games: Gridwars

Jack Wallen
Dec 8, 2010
Updated • Nov 24, 2012

As far as killing time with games is concerned, you will be hard pressed to find a better game than Gridwars. Gridwars is very much like the secret game Geometry Wars that was the secret bonus game tucked into Gotham Racing 2 for the XBox (Which then evolved into Geometry Wars: Retro, available for XBox Live). The game, in comparison to the likes of WoW, is only mildly addictive.

The gist of this game is simple: You are placed on a screen and you must control your ship as a never-ending horde of objects come at you. Although not up to the 3D graphics of today's games, the graphics for Gridwars are quite beautiful to behold. The colors and the never-ending onslaught of pixels will satisfy even the worst ADHD cases. Let's install it and play it.


Installation used to be very simple. But as of Ubuntu 10.04 the .deb is no longer included in any of the repositories. So you have to download a file as well as install a dependency. First, the dependency.

The dependency is libstdc++5. To install this, follow these steps:

  1. Open up a terminal window.
  2. Issue the command sudo apt-get install libstdc++5.
  3. Enter your sudo password.

Allow the installation to complete. Now you need to download the Gridwars file. From that page, click on the lin link to download the Linux file (You can also download a binary for Windows or Mac here as well).

Once you have that file downloaded (It will download to ~/Downloads), go back to your terminal and do the following:

  1. Change to the ~/Downloads directory with the command cd ~/Downloads.
  2. Unzip the file with the command unzip
  3. Change into the newly created ~/Downloads/gridwars_lin directory.
  4. Issue the command ./gridwars to start up the game.


Figure 1

When you start the game Gridwars will be in full-screen mode (I have shown the game in window'd mode in Figure 1). You can either control the game from the mouse or the keyboard. To set up all aspects of the game click Esc and then use your up/down arrows to move the cursor to Settings. Once on settings click enter and then navigate to what you want to change.

I set up Gridwars to use the keyboard. The default keyboard controls are:

  • a - left
  • w - up
  • s - down
  • d - right
  • Fire left - left arrow
  • Fire right - right arrow
  • Fire up - up arrow
  • Fire down - down arrow
  • Bomb - Space

Basically you must move around the window and shoot everything that comes at you. Every once in a while a circular object will float out. If you see one move to it and touch it to give your "ship" extra power. Allow the screen to fill up with as many objects as you can and then hit the Bomb button to blow everything up on the screen.

Final thoughts

Gridwars is one of the best ways I have found to kill time on a computer, while at the same time shutting off my brain. It's a fun game that will not get your adrenalin pumping or put your marriage at risk.

Update: The Gridwars website is no longer available.


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