• Note: This FAQ is frozen for version 2.0. For a continuously updated version, see FAQ.



OK, so I installed Freeciv. How do I play?[]

Freeciv is a client/server system. But in most cases you don't have to worry about this; the server is run automatically for you when you start a new game. So unless you're using one of the older Freeciv client programs all you have to do is run the client. Do this by double-clicking on the civclient executable program or by typing civclient in a terminal.

Once the client starts, select start new game. Now edit your game settings (the defaults should be fine for a beginner-level single-player game) and press the start button.

Once the game is started you can find information in its Help menu. If you've never played a Civilization-style game before you may want to look at the help on Playing.

You can continue to change the game settings through the Server Options menu item in the Game menu. Type /help in the chatline (or server command line) to get more information about server commands.

Detailed explanations of how to play Freeciv are also in the ./doc/README file distributed with the source code, and in the online manual available on this site. The manual covers both the client and the server, but it may not completely match the version you are playing. It is available in several languages and it can be downloaded for offline use.

How do I play multiplayer?[]

There are two sorts of multiplayer games to play: local games and global games. The below directions are for the gtk client. Other clients behave similarly.

To play a local game, simply start up a new game the way you normally would. When you get to the pre-game screen hold on and wait for other players to connect. Now your fellow players (on the same LAN) should launch their clients, choose Connect to Network Game and then Local Area Network. You should see the existing server listed; double-click on it to join.

To play a global game, you do not start the game yourself but connect to a server already running on the internet. Choose Connect to Network Game and then Internet Metaserver. A list of active servers should come up; double-click one to join it.

You can also choose to directly connect to a specific server, provided you know the IP address and port of the server you're connecting to. This server will then show up under Local Area Network. You may want to start up the server by hand (with civserver in a terminal or by double-clicking on the executable) and connect to it directly from all clients. You may also start up the server with the -m command-line option, and it will show up on the list of global games (, and show up in other people's metaserver list?)).

Where is the chatline you are talking about, how do I chat?[]

The chatline is located at the bottom of the window. Sometimes you have to activate a Chat tab to see it. The chatline can be used for normal chatting or for issuing server commands by typing:


Why can't I attack another player's units?[]

You have to declare war first. F3, Cancel treaty. See below.

(In earlier versions, sometimes you would start out at war with some or all players. But in Freeciv 2.0 you are initially neutral with everyone and must always declare war before attacking.)

How do I declare war on another player?[]

Go to the players dialog, select the player, and choose Cancel treaty from the Players menu. This drops you from a "neutral state" into "war". If you've already signed a treaty with the player you may have to do it more than once.

How do I do diplomatic meetings?[]

Open players report. Select a player. Select Player->Meeting from the menu. There is a double right mouse click shortcut for that. But remember that you have to either have contact with the player or embassy established in one of his cities. Before version 2.0 AI players couldn't negotiate treaties thus you couldn't meet with them.
If you want to make a monetary exchange, you can enter it in the gold text box of the two players and then press Enter to insert the clause in the treaty.

How can I change the way a Freeciv game is ended?[]

A standard Freeciv game ends when only one player/team is left alive, when a player manages to send a spaceship to Alpha Centauri, or in year 2000 - whichever comes first.

You can change the default ending year by changing the endyear setting. You can do this through the Server Options (see Server options) menu choice in the Game menu or by typing something like

/set endyear 3000

into the chatline.

You can end a running game immediately with the


command typed into the chatline. Type /help endgame for more information.

If you want to avoid the game ending by space race, you can change the spacerace setting - again either through the Server Options dialog or through the chatline by

/set spacerace 0


You cannot change the conquest victory condition. A player who defeats all enemies will always win the game.

My irrigated grassland produces only 2 food. Is this a bug?[]

No, it isn't. It's a feature. Your government is probably despotism, which has a -1 penalty whenever a tile produces more than 2 units of food/production/trade. You should change your government (See Government) to get rid of this penalty.

How do I play against computer players?[]

See also How do I create teams of AI or human players?

In most cases when you start a single-player game you can change the number of players, and their difficulty, directly through the spinbutton. Note the number of players here includes human players (an ai fill of 5 adds AI players until the total number of players becomes 5).

If you are playing on a remote server, you'll have to do this manually. Change the aifill server option through the Server Options dialog, or do it on the chatline with something like

/set aifill 30

Difficulty levels are set with the /hard, /normal, /easy, and /novice commands.

You may also create AI players individually.
For instance

/create ai1
/hard ai1
/create ai2
/easy ai2

will create one hard and one easy AI player.

More details are in the ./doc/README file supplied with Freeciv and the online manual on this site.

Can I build up the palace or throne room as in the commercial Civilization games?[]

No. This feature is not present in Freeciv, and will not be until someone draws the graphics for it.

Can I build land over sea/transform ocean to land?[]

Yes. You can do that by placing engineer units on a transport and going to the ocean tile you want to build land on (this must be in a land corner). Click the transport to display a list of the transported engineers and activate them. Then give them the order of transforming this tile to swamp. This will take a very long time though, so you'd better try with 6 engineers at a time.

Can I change settings or rules to get different types of games?[]

Of course.

Before the game is started, you may change settings through the server options dialog (available in the pregame screen). You may also change these settings or use server commands through the chatline. If you use the chatline, use the


command to display the most commonly-changed settings (see show), or

/help <setting>

to get help on a particular setting, or

/set <setting> <value>

to change a setting to a particular value. After the game begins you may still change some settings (but not others).

World maps can be created using the CivWorld map editor (available separately). It is also possible to edit savefiles from running games: save the game and open it with civworld (or with a text editor, if you're ambitious).

You can create rulesets or "modpacks" - alternative sets of units, buildings, and technologies. Several different rulesets come with the Freeciv distribution, including a civ1 (Civilization 1 compatibility mode), civ2 (Civilization 2 compatibility mode), and history (more historically accurate) rulesets. Use the rulesetdir command (see rulesetdir) to change the ruleset (as in /rulesetdir civ2). Note the ruleset mechanism is still being refined from version to version; in 2.1 you will be able to choose the ruleset directly through the pregame screen.

Finally, upgrade! Freeciv continues to improve from version to version: a rule may change when the mailing list agrees it is 'wrong'. See, for instance, the NEWS.

How compatible is Freeciv with the commercial Civilization games?[]

Freeciv was created as a multiplayer version of Civilization™ with players moving simultaneously. Rules and elements of Civilization II, and features required for single-player use, such as AI players, were added later. It is still a stated goal to let Freeciv's game engine be 100% compatible with Civilization™ I and II, but only as an option.

This is why Freeciv comes with three game configurations (rulesets): the civ1 and civ2 modpacks implement game rules, elements and features that bring it as close as possible to Civilization I and Civilization II respectively, while the default modpack tries to reflect the most popular settings among Freeciv players. Unimplemented Civilization I and II features are mainly those that would have little or no benefit in multiplayer mode, and nobody is working on closing this gap.

Relevant discussions on the freeciv-dev mailing list:

Little or no work is being done on implementing features from other similar games, such as SMAC, CTP or Civilization III. See Mike Jing's list of differences and two discussion threads in July, 2002.

So the goal of compatibility is mainly used as a limiting factor in development: when a new feature is added to Freeciv that makes gameplay different, it is always implemented in such a way that the "transitional" behaviour remains available as an option.

See also Projects.

My opponents seem to be able to play two moves at once![]

Freeciv's multiplayer facilities are asynchronous: during a turn, moves from connected clients are processed in the order they are received. Server managed movement is executed in between turns. This allows human players to surprise their opponents by clever use of goto or quick fingers.

In some older versions, bugs in the game engine would sometimes allow AI players to move twice in a row against humans. As of Freeciv 2.0 this should no longer happen.

In Freeciv 2.1 an alternating movement option will be available, in which only one player can move their units at a time.

I am far superiour to my opponent but his last city is on a 1x1 island so I cannot conquer it, and he won't give up. What can I do?[]

Research amphibious warfare, build a marine, and get him.

Why are the AI players so good on 'easy'?[]

You are not expanding fast enough. See a discussion on freeciv-dev.

Also, for version 2.0 and later, try the 'novice' difficulty level.

See also a thread from Freeciv Forum.

Be aware that Freeciv 2.0.0 has a bug that makes the easy AI players as good as the hard AIs on expansion. Upgrade to Freeciv 2.0.1 or higher version if its your case.

You can also turn off Fog of War. That way, you will see the attacks of the AI. Just type /set fogofwar 0' on the chat line.

Why are the AI players so easy on 'hard'?[]

Several reasons. For example, the AI is heavily playtested under and customized to the default ruleset and server settings. Although there are several provisions in the code to adapt to changing rules, playing under different conditions is quite a handicap for it. Though mostly the AI simply doesn't have a good, all encompassing strategy besides "eliminate nation x". For further details, see AI.

To make the game harder, you could try putting some or all of the AI into a team. This will ensure that they will waste no time and resources negotiating with each other and spend them trying to eliminate you. They will also help each other by trading techs. You can use the team command to set teams before the game starts. For AI teams you have to create the AI players first using the create command. For example

/create ai1
/create ai2
/team ai1 aiteam
/team ai2 aiteam

Note that "aiteam" is just the name of the team of the AI players. You can also form more than one AI teams by using different team names, or put some AI players teamed with you.

What distinguishes AI players from humans? What do the skill levels mean?[]

AI players in Freeciv operate in the server, partly before all clients move, partly afterwards. Unlike the clients, they can observe the full state of the game, including everything about other players. Additionally, Hard AI players can see every game unit even through fog of war.

AI players can change production without penalty and switch governments without going through anarchy. Additionally, Hard AI players can set their research, tax or luxury to 100% regardless of their governments.

Other than this, the AI players are not known to cheat.

Further, the easy AI are less eager to build cities, and at easy and normal, the AI 'forget' where huts are and cannot plan attacks against enemy units they shouldn't be aware of.

How do I play on a hexagonal grid?[]

In 2.0, it is possible to play with hexagonal instead of rectangular tiles. To do this you need to set your topology before the game starts

/set topology 13

and switch to a hexagonal tileset (isophex is included in 2.0). Note if you do it wrong, you may end up playing with a rectangular tileset on a "true" hexagonal grid or to play with a hexagonal tileset on a rectangular grid - this is probably not what you want.

If you start a new game the grid (topology) will automatically be set to match your tileset. However since you can't change the tileset in pre-game this may not be helpful. You can try running the client as

civclient -t isophex

to set the tileset immediately on startup.

How do I create teams of AI or human players?[]

See also How do I play against computer players?.

In 2.0 teams are not 100% stable, but they are quite playable. Unfortunately you have to use the command-line interface (through the chatline) to set up teams.

First of all try the /list command. This will show you all players created, including human players and created AI players. AI players created through aifill will not show up here (they aren't created until the game starts) so you can't assign those players to teams. To assign AI players to teams you have to create them first, as in /create ai1 to create an AI player named "ai1".

Now, you're ready to assign players to teams. To do this you use the team command. For example, to create two AI players and put them on the same team you can do

/create ai1
/create ai2
/team ai1 team1
/team ai2 team1

You may also assign teams for human players, of course. If in doubt use the /list command again; it will show you the name of the team each player is on. Make sure you double-check the teams before starting the game; you can't change teams after you start and a typo here (like misspelling "team1" as "taem1") will give you the wrong teams.

I want more action.[]

In Freeciv, expansion is everything, even more so than in the single-player commercial Civilization games. Some players find it very tedious to build on an empire for hours and hours without even meeting an enemy.

See some techniques to speed up the game. The basic idea is to reduce the time and space allowed for expansion as much as possible. One idea for multiplayer mode is to add AI players: they reduce the space per player further, and you can toy around with them early on without other humans being aware of it. This only works after you can beat the AI, of course.

Another idea is to create starting situations in which the players are already fully developed. There is no automated support for this yet, but you can create populated maps with CivWorld.

Technical Stuff[]

I've found a bug, what should I do ?[]

See Bug Reporting.

I've started a server but the client cannot find it![]

By default, your server will be available on host localhost (your own machine), port 5555; these are the default values your client uses when asking which game you want to connect to.

So if you don't get a connection with these values, your server isn't running, or you used -p to start it on a different port, or your system's network configuration is broken.

To start your local server, go to /usr/local/bin/ and run civserver. Then type start to begin!

mike@localhost:/usr/local/bin$ ./civserver
This is the server for Freeciv version 2.0.8
You can learn a lot about Freeciv at
2: Now accepting new client connections.

> start
Starting game.
2: Loading rulesets

If the server is not running, you will NOT be able to connect to your local server.

If you can't connect to any of the other games listed, e.g. those on pubserver, a firewall in your organisation/ISP is probably blocking the connection.

I can play on my own server, but the metaserver doesn't seem to work.[]

We have dedicated gameservers now ( and, so if your metaserver button turns up an empty list, there's probably something wrong with your setup.

First, check your Freeciv version. Freeciv 1.8.1 and below connect to [ the really old metaserver]; 1.9.0 up to and including 1.14.2 use the old metaserver, 2.0 and higher use the new metaserver; if you're mixing versions, you may be getting the wrong list.

If you can view the metaserver page with your WWW browser, and servers are listed, but the client's Metaserver button still fails to list them, you may be behind a non-transparent WWW proxy. See proxy settings for a detailed explanation.

How do I change the metaserver info string?[]

Use the /metamessage or /metatopic commands. See /help metamessage.

Am I using the latest version? Do I need to upgrade?[]

The current stable Freeciv version is 2.6.5. For an overview of changes that went into this release, see the NEWS file (see NEWS as well).

The NEWS-#.#.# file is only updated for a new release; updates to Subversion are listed in the freeciv-commits archives (see Mailing Lists) and the actual code changes can be reviewed using our online source code browser.

If you decide to upgrade, see the Download page for source code or contributed binaries.

Not all precompiled binaries and ports have been updated to 2.6.5 yet. If you can contribute, please do! Prepare a package and announce it to

Clients and servers of different versions are often incompatible due to changes in the client/server protocol. You will see incompatibilities as a 'mismatching capabilities' error. For example, 1.14.0 and 1.14.1 are compatible; 1.13.0 and 1.14.0 are not.

"cannot open display :0"[]

The Freeciv client is unable to open a window on your local X display. Are you running an X server at all? Maybe you need to install and run one, or switch to a Freeciv that doesn't need X; see the previous question.

HOME directory not set?[]

The Freeciv client wants to write a configuration file named .civclientrc in your $HOME directory. On MS Windows, the $HOME variable is not always set. This can be done from the DOS prompt or a .bat file, for example:

set home=C:\freeciv

You can still play if this error message appears, but your client options won't be saved.

How do I start the next game?[]

A running civserver can only run a single game. Once the game has been started with the /start command, restarting is impossible.

To start a new game, /quit the server and start a new one, then reconnect the client to it. On we run additional software that restarts servers automatically once nobody is connected anymore.

How do I restart a saved game?[]

If for some reason you can't use the start-screen interface for loading a game, you can load one directly through the server command line (see Command-line_options). You can start civserver with the -f option, for example

civserver -f civgame1150.sav

. Or you can use the /load command inside the server before starting the game. Make sure you saved the game manually, because the server only autosaves every ten turns per default.

The server cannot save games![]

In a local game the games will be saved into the default Freeciv save directory (typically ~/.freeciv/saves/). If you are running the server from the command line, however, any savegames will be stored in the current directory. If the saveturns server variable is set, the server will periodically save the game automatically (which can take a lot of disk space in some cases). In any case, you should check the ownership, permissions, and disk space/quota for the directory or partition you're trying to save to.

Why are some of the menus in the Freeciv client disabled?[]

Menus that cannot be used will be disabled. This means some menus are disabled during pregame, or unless you select a unit, or if the game has ended.

It's also possible that you're not connected to a game server at all. If you start the client it should allow you to create a new game automatically (by pressing the Start New Game button). You may also try running the server from the command line (as civserver) then connecting to it manually with the client (connect to localhost). Use the /start command to begin the game once you have connected. The server will now load some configuration files that some of the menus depend on.

How do I find out about the available units, improvements, terrain types, and technologies?[]

There is extensive help on this in the Help menu, but only once the game has been started - this is because all of these things are configurable up to that point; see also #Why are some of the menus in the Freeciv client disabled? (Some work needs to be done to make this more intuitive.)

Outside the Freeciv client, we have some online tutorials, but they are not entirely up to date. A graph of the (default) technology tree is available from David Pfitzner: see [1] .

My diagonal arrow keys do not work on Solaris.[]

Why exactly, I don't know, but you have to xmodmap a few keys around. From my .xinitrc:

xmodmap -e 'keycode 27 = Up' \
        -e 'keycode 31 = Left' \
        -e 'keycode 34 = Down' \
        -e 'keycode 35 = Right' \
        -e 'keycode 76 = Up' \                                                  
        -e 'keycode 98 = Left' \                                                
        -e 'keycode 120 = Down' \                                               
        -e 'keycode 100 = Right'                                                

See also the April, 2000 thread on this subject.

Menu items do not work under KDE.[]

Deactivate NumLock.

Popup windows are sent to the back in KDE and pile up there.[]

When opening popups in the Xaw client activated from other popups, eg. the Change production dialog in the city window, the popup that was previously open gets sent to the back. After a while the client slows down due to the number of open city windows, and they have to be closed one by one. The same thing may happen to report windows.

This problem (PR#866; see maintainer's comment) is specific to the KDE window manager. If you know a way around it, please let us know.

The client complains it can't read the .civclientrc file.[]

This is harmless: the file will be created to store your client options, as soon as you save them; but it isn't supplied initially.

My Freeciv client dumps core when I start it![]

Read on if you are using the Xaw client under certain Linux distributions or IRIX.

In all likelihood, the problem is an enhanced version of the Xaw library, (Xaw3d, Xaw95,or neXtaw). A Freeciv binary compiled against the 'plain' Xaw library will segfault upon startup when used with these.


  • Freeciv can be recompiled to use Xaw3d, if you have it: use
configure --with-xaw3d
  • Make sure the Freeciv is seeing is an unenhanced version (by installing the appropriate package, pointing to the right version using environment variables, or whatever; details depend on platform)
  • If for some reason you can't, but there is a 'plain' libXaw.a somewhere: hunt through the Makefiles and change lines which contain -lXaw to /usr/X11/lib/libXaw.a, or wherever libXaw.a is stored on your machine, then recompile (this was suggested by <dva AT>
  • Install GTK+ (if not installed already), compile and use the GTK+ client instead of the Xaw one.

This problem used to be documented in the SuSE Linux support database.

If your SEGV at startup is due to a different problem, please report it to the developers' bug reporting system, by sending it to

Freeciv fails to compile due to the Xaw libraries.[]

As reported with Debian 2.1:

> make[2]: Entering directory `/usr/src/freeciv/client'
> Making all in gui-xaw
> make[3]: Entering directory `/usr/src/freeciv/client/gui-xaw'
> gcc -DHAVE_CONFIG_H -I. -I. -I../.. -I. -I./.. -I./../include
> -I../../common -I../../intl  -I/usr/X11R6/include    -g -O2 -Wall -c
> pixcomm.c
> In file included from pixcomm.c:54:
> pixcommp.h:54: X11/Xaw3d/CommandP.h: No such file or directory
> make[3]: *** [pixcomm.o] Error 1

This is, again, an Xaw/Xaw3d confusion problem. In this particular case, the Debian xaw3dg package is not installed on the system.

To select plain Xaw or Xaw3d explicitly, use:

./configure --with-xaw [...]
./configure --with-xaw3d [...]

When compiling Freeciv from source, the no command cannot be found.[]

This silly error message, and possibly others, may arise if you ./configure --with-included-gettext to use the [internationalization multilingual support] library (GNU gettext) distributed with Freeciv, but change your mind later. The problem is the creation of a libintl.h -> intl/libgettext.h that should be removed upon reconfiguration, but isn't. See this question asked on freeciv-dev and the answer given there.

The same error message may arise if you have no gettext on your system and forget to use --with-included-gettext.

How do I compile Freeciv under Solaris?[]

Solaris (2.5 and up) has its own version of X in /usr/openwin, its own version of make in /usr/ccs/bin/make, and its own compiler (to be purchased separately) which, if you have it, is available in /opt/SUNWspro/bin. Solaris does not provide the XPM library, which is required for the Xaw client; it doesn't provide any of the stuff required for imlib, gdk and gtk, either, which is required to build the GTK+ client. (This stuff can be compiled however, and is now more readily installable with the Ximian GNOME distribution.)

To confuse matters further, many local systems administrators add MIT X (usually, in /usr/X11), GNU make, and the gcc compiler. If you're unlucky, the

./configure && make

procedure will get confused about these different versions of tools.

However, with some patience, everything can be compiled without problems. Details are provided in the Freeciv INSTALL document.

How do I compile Freeciv under Solaris or FreeBSD?[]

On Solaris, FreeBSD, and some other systems, the default make isn't GNU make. In order to compile you must either

./configure --disable-cvs-deps --disable-nls

in order to disable the GNU make specific parts of the Makefile, or simply use GNU make.

I hate isometric view! How do I play with Civilization I style graphics?[]

Start the client as

civclient --tiles trident

There is also now a client option in the Local Settings menu.

What other GUI options do I have for the Freeciv client?[]

The look and feel of your GUI is mainly determined by the Freeciv client you use.

The original client is based on the Athena widget set (Xaw), which is fast and very widely available, but many users find it old-fashioned. The client can also be compiled to use Xaw3d. New features are sometimes implemented in the GTK+ 2 version only, but the Xaw one still has a speed advantage.

Both xaw and gtk clients compile and run on any Unix variant we are aware of, not just the ones for which our download section provides native installation support.

For Amiga and MS Windows, clients exist that use the native windowing system rather than X11. They are both in under active maintenance and in the main Subversion tree.

Some details of the GUI can be configured from the running client.

A larger impact is made by the tileset used to display terrain, cities, units, etcetera. A tileset can be specified when the client is started up.

Other tilesets in both categories are separately available from our download page.

We do not distribute commercial Civilization™ game tiles for obvious copyright reasons.

How do I enable/disable sound support?[]

The client can be started without sound by supplying the commandline arguments: -P none

Further instructions are in ./doc/README.sound in the source tarball.

Please note that the stdsounds are extracted to data/stdsounds with soundspec file data/stdsounds.soundspec. For a system-wide installation you can extract that into /usr/local/share/freeciv, such that a directory /usr/local/share/freeciv/data/stdsounds will exist.

You can then start the client as follows:

civclient -P <plugin> -S stdsounds

If that does not work, try:

civclient -d 3 -P <plugin -S stdsounds

This will help you get some debug information (e.g. why the sound does not work).

Where can I find more information on the *.ruleset files?[]

There is some documentation in the ./doc/ directory, such as ./doc/README.effects. The default ruleset also has a minimal explanation of what all the fields mean, so default/buildings.ruleset would for instance list the meaning of the fields in the buildings.ruleset. Also of interest might be the rulesets page on; currently it contains little in the way of documentation but you may help change this by contributing some.

How can I add add additional civilizations in the nation/ subdirectory, or add cities to the list for an existing nation?[]

See Nations.

How do I change the font?[]

For the GTK+ 1.2 client, you can specify fonts in $HOME/freeciv.rc, which can be copied from the freeciv.rc that comes with Freeciv and edited with a text editor. Use regular X font names such as displayed by a tool like xfontsel.

For example,

 style "help_text"
font = "-*-courier-medium-r-*-*-14-*-*-*-*-*-iso8859-*"

For the GTK+ 2.0 client, you can specify fonts in $HOME/.freeciv.rc-2.0, which can be copied from the freeciv.rc-2.0 that comes with Freeciv and edited with a text editor. Use Pango font names such as displayed by a tool like then Gnome Font Preferences.

For example,

style "help_text"
font_name = "Monospace 9"

For the Xaw client, you can change the font with X resources. You can specify them on the command line with the -xrm command-line option, or put them in your .Xdefaults file or the Freeciv app-defaults file.

To change the main font, try something like:

civclient -- -xrm "Freeciv*.font: 8x16"

If the font isn't fixed width, some on the dialogs won't look right, but they'll still work.

Note that on Microsoft Windows systems the $HOME environment variable usually isn't set by default, so you have to set it. In that case, create a directory for Freeciv settings somewhere (an obvious place would be

C:\Documents And Settings\(your username goes here)\Application Data

), then open a command shell and typing something like:

set HOME="C:\Documents And Settings\(your username goes here)\Application Data"

If $HOME is already in use by other applications, just use that directory.

Now copy the settings file to it as instructed above (note the . at the start of the resulting filename) and change some font settings ((e.g. replace Sans with Utopia here and there) and you should notice the effect.

(See also this forum thread.)

I am having problems with accented characters. What gives?[]

The problem is that Freeciv (the server or client) simply cannot display the characters properly in the character encoding it is set to use. This is particularly a problem in older clients like the XAW client and the GTK+ 1.2 client.

  • In the server, this can be fixed by changing your locale to use UTF-8. Normally this is done by changing the $LANG environment variable (you can see your current $LANG with echo $LANG). A full explanation is beyond the scope of this document, but here are a few common examples. If your $LANG is empty, try setting it to en_US.UTF-8 (for US English). If it is ru_RU.KOI8-R, try setting it to ru_RU.UTF-8. Note that the $LANG of the server only affects terminal input and output of the server, and will not have any effect on client behavior.
  • In the XAW or GTK+ 1.2 client, the problem occurrs for the exact same reason as in the server. The solution is the same: change your locale to use UTF-8. If this isn't possible you may improve things by installing GNU libiconv. GNU's iconv library has better transliteration support than the iconv that comes on most unix-like systems.
  • There is no fix available for the Win32 (windows native) client. However with transliteration there shouldn't be much problem.
  • The GTK+ 2 client should not have any character problems. If you do it is probably a font issue.

(Note: the above applies to Freeciv 2.0 and later. Earlier versions of Freeciv had much poorer support for different character sets. You are better off upgrading your Freeciv instead of trying to get things to work in an older Freeciv.)

How can i change the language of my client/server?[]

On Linux, simply change into your freeciv-directory and type (e.g.)

LANG=en_US civ

For a server in another language go to freeciv-directory/server and type

LANG=de_DE civserver

On Windows create a simple batch file (e.g. freeciv.bat, in the same directory, where you have installed the package) and then run this file instead of civclient.exe (do not forget to change the target of all shortcuts pointing to this new file). The batch consists of 2 lines:


How do I get the latest development code?[]

A snapshot of the development code is made every day; simply retrieve the latest version with your browser.

This is development code; it may contain new features, bugs, and incompatibilities with older versions.

An alternative is to use Subversion (SVN) directly:

  1. Obtain and install SVN on your Unix machine. On modern distributions it is already there; look for the svn command. You can get SVN from Tigris.
  2. Grab the source:
    $ svn co svn:// freeciv

Once you're retrieved the source, to update it, cd into the freeciv directory and issue svn update.

Another useful svn command is svn diff.

This shows the changes between the version you have on disk and the current development code.

See also How to Contribute to Freeciv development.

If you'd like to know more about SVN, try here.

Does Freeciv violate any rights of the makers of Civilization I or II?[]

There have been debates on this and the honest answer seems to be: we don't know.

Freeciv doesn't contain any actual material from the commercial Civilization games. (The Freeciv maintainers have always been very strict in ensuring that materials contributed to the Freeciv distribution or website do not violate anyone's copyright.) The name of Freeciv is probably not a trademark infringement. The user interface is similar, but with many (deliberate) differences. The game itself can be configured to be practically identical to Civilization I or II, so if the rules of a game are patentable, and those of the said games are patented, then Freeciv may infringe on that patent, but we don't believe this to be the case.

Incidentally, there are good reasons to assume that Freeciv doesn't harm the sales of any of the commercial Civilization games in any way.

How do I wake up in the morning?[]

We're open to suggestions on this one.

You can try to give Freeciv to your boss. There is no guarantee, but he may wake up later than you. Remind yourself that if you run into him at Civilization Anonymous, it's time to change jobs.

Where can I ask questions or send improvements?[]

Please ask questions about the game, its installation, or the rest of this site at the Freeciv Forums.

Patches and bug reports are best reported to the Freeciv bug tracking system at

Copies of submissions to are automatically sent to , with a ID in the subject; replies to that preserve the bug ID will be threaded properly in the bug tracking system, so this method is preferable to using directly.

How do I disable full screen mode?[]

In the client menu go to Game->Local Options and unclick [ ] Fullscreen Mode.

Then, go to Game->Save Settings.

It won't take effect until the next time you start the client.

What are the system requirements ?[]


In a usuall game the server takes about 15MB of memory and the client needs about 25MB. These values may change with larger maps. For a single player game you need to run both the client and the server.


We recomend at least 100Mhz processor. If you find your game running to slow these may be the reasons:

  • Not enough memory
    Swapping memory pages on disc (virtual memory) is really slow. Look at the memory requirements above.
  • Large map
    A larger map doesn't necessarily mean a harder or more fun game. You may try smaller map.
  • Many AI players
    Again, having more players doesn't necessarily mean harder or more fun.
  • City Governor (CMA)
    This is a really usefull client side agent which helps you to organize our citizens. However, it consumes many CPU cycles.

Graphic display[]

The gtk2 client works good on 1024x800 or higher resolutions. On smaller screens some dialogs may not fit on the screen.


56Kb modem should be enough to play a usuall pubserver game. However, many players suggest that large ping is a big disadvantage. Your ISP shouldn't block ports 5555 - 5600, because these are the ports which pubserver's servers are run on.


How do I use Freeciv under MS Windows 95/98/NT ?[]

Precompiled binaries can be downloaded and used from

If you want to compile, you will need mingw or cygwin.

Retrieving the Native Windows Freeciv[]

The Native Windows packages now come as self-extracting files. (A .ZIP is still available if you desire it, see the Download page for more information.)

The steps to take to download, unpack, and run the native Windows Freeciv are:

  • Download one of the .EXE files. There are two different .EXE files available, one with sound support and one without.
    The file with sound support is available here (5,415,774 bytes). Save it in a directory and remember where that is (for example, C:\WINDOWS\TEMP)
    The file without sound support is available here (4,196,090 bytes). Save it in a directory and remember where that is (for example, C:\WINDOWS\TEMP)
  • Extract the file by running it (double click it from Windows Explorer, for example.)
  • Read and accept the GPL (if you accept it and want to install Freeciv.)
  • Indicate what directory it should be installed in. Please note that if you've previously installed a Freeciv self-installation package that it will default to that directory. Otherwise it will default to %SYSTEMROOT%\Program Files\Freeciv-1.14.0 (for example, C:\Program Files\Freeciv-1.14.0.)
  • Indicate what program group it should use. As with the directory, if you've installed a Freeciv self-installation package previously it will default to that, otherwise it will default to Freeciv.

That's it! You've downloaded and installed Freeciv for Windows!

Please note: your virus checker may inform you that Freeciv contains a Trojan. This is probably wrong (read the full explanation before posting about it on the forums).

OK, I've downloaded and installed it, how do I run it?[]

If you used one of the self installer versions then there's a program group with the name chosen at installation time (for example, Freeciv-1.14.0.) Just go to click on Start→Programs→Freeciv-1.14.0→Freeciv

That's it! You should be up and running.

I didn't use the self-installer, how do I run it?[]

If you installed the .ZIP then just use Windows Explorer and change to the directory you unzipped into (C:\FREECIV-1.14.0 in my case). Windows Explorer is usually located in Start→Programs→Accessories. Then double click on civclient.exe.

I've started civclient, but don't know what to do next?[]

The following steps should get you started:

  1. The Freeciv client will pop up and after a second the Start a game dialog box will pop up on top.
  2. If you want to play against other humans (I think they're human anyway :-) then click on the Join Game button in the Start a game dialog box that popped up. Then either type in the IP address of the server or select the Metaserver tab to play on the server. Then select an available game and click the Connect button. (You may need to click the Update button to get the list of servers initially and to update it after a while.)
  3. If you want to play on your local machine against the AI (all other players are AI controlled) then click on the New Game button.
  4. Then select your difficulty level and the Total players (it includes yourself, so if you wanted to play against four AI players, you'd select 5).
    You can change the name here as well.
  5. A popup from the client window will allow you to choose your nation, leader name, sex, and city style.

That's it! Enjoy!

Native client: How do I save and restart a saved game?[]

You save the game by clicking the Save Game button at the bottom right of the client window.

To load the saved game, click the Load Game button in step three or four above. (The name you saved under will have a .gz added to the end of it when you look in the file list.)

How do I use a different tileset?[]

The first thing to do is to download the tileset you want to use from More_downloads#Tilesets. Ensure that you download the *.tar.gz version (you'll have to go to the dir link for the tileset you're intersted in to locate the *-png.tar.gz file.)

Then you have to unpack the tileset into the DATA directory in your Freeciv directory (so if your Freeciv directory is C:\FREECIV-1.14.0, then you'd tell WinZip to extract to C:\FREECIV-1.14.0\DATA.) Make sure you tell your extraction program to extract into the subdirectories in the file.

Once that's done you can start using the new tileset (FINALLY!) You have to pass an argument to CIVCLIENT.EXE so the easiest way to do that is to open a Command Prompt (from Start→Programs→Accessories→Command Prompt in my case, sometimes called an MS-DOS Window). Change to the Freeciv directory (for example, cd \FREECIV-1.14.0) and start the client with the -tiles tilesetname option. For example,

CIVCLIENT -tiles ft

You should be good to go then!

How come there's a *-png.tar.gz and *.tar.gz for each tileset?[]

Some older tilesets may be available in multiple formats because different versions of freeciv used to use different image formats. With Freeciv 1.14 or newer this is a non-issue and you should just use the PNG version if you have a choice.

How do I use a different ruleset?[]

A different ruleset can be used by downloading the ruleset and extracting it in the Freeciv data directory (C:\FREECIV-1.14.0\DATA, for example). This should create a subdirectory with the ruleset name (ancients, for example.)

Currently (due to an issue in the Freeciv code), you need to create a regular file in the SHARE directory (C:\FREECIV-1.14.0\SHARE for example) with the same name as the ruleset directory (ancients, for example.) You can create this with NOTEPAD.EXE (or any other editor, or even COPY CON: ANCIENTS followed by a ^Z.) The contents of the file doesn't matter.

Then you need to tell the server to use it. This is done by typing

/rulesetdir ''ruleset directory''

in the chat line of the client before pressing the Start Game button.

I opened a ruleset file in Notepad and it is very hard to read[]

The ruleset files (and other configuration files) are stored with UNIX line endings which Notepad doesn't handle correctly. Please use WordPad or an alternative editor like notepad2 or notepad++ instead.

How can I convert tilesets on a LINUX machine for use on a Windows machine?[]

(This is only relevant for versions prior to 2.0, which used the XPM graphics format on Unix. In 2.0 all versions use PNG, and in 2.1 these PNG can be full colour RGBA.)

Andreas Kemnade (<akemnade AT>) posted the following method that he uses to do this on a LINUX system:

for name in *.xpm ; do convert $name $(echo $name | sed 's|xpm$|png|') ; done ;

and then I tried

file *.png

and looked for files which do not show up as RGBA. I have opened the ones, which are not converted correctly, with gimp and saved them as pngs. Then again file *.png. And finally

for name in *.png ; do mv $name $name.bak ; pngquant 256 <$name.bak >$name ;

And a final look at them (with freeciv). Cleanup:

rm *.xpm 
rm *.bak

Then I have created the tarball.

Mac OS X[]

Freeciv won't start on my machine[]

There can be many reasons for this. Here are a few tips:

  • You need Apple X11 installed to run the official release. Install from your system DVD/CDs (10.4 Tiger) or download and install from Apple's developer website (10.3 Panther).
  • Freeciv won't start if you are logged in as superuser. Log in as a normal user and try again.
  • Official releases later than 2.0.3 are built to run on OS X Tiger or later and won't start on earlier versions of OS X.