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Welcome to Tux Racer! On these pages you will find a description of in-game controls as well as an explanation of how to use the Tux Racer interface. For any questions you have that are not answered in this section feel free to check out our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section or email us at

The main goal in Tux Racer is to have fun! Race down mountainous terrain as quickly as possible, while collecting herring to increase your score!

Table of Contents

  1. Installing Tux Racer
    1. Linux
    2. Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000
  2. Starting Tux Racer
    1. Linux
    2. Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000
  3. The Main Menu
    1. Navigating Menus
    2. Main Menu Options
  4. Controls
    1. Turning
    2. Paddling/Flapping
    3. Braking
    4. Jumping
    5. Hard Turning
    6. Reset
    7. Quit
  5. Racing Screen
    1. Speedometer
    2. Energometer
    3. Time Elapsed
    4. Herring Collected
  6. Cup Racing
    1. Cup Selection Menu
    2. Cup Race Selection Menu
      1. Required Time/Herring/Score
      2. Lives
  7. Practice Racing
    1. Practice Menu
    2. Race Options
      1. Lighting Conditions
      2. Wind
      3. Snow
      4. Mirror
    3. Scoring
  8. Game Options
    1. Options File
  9. Credits

1. Installing Tux Racer

1.1 Linux

From Source

  1. Make sure you have (and have correctly installed) the following libraries:

    • An implementation of the OpenGL API version 1.1 or greater (Mesa versions >= 3.2 work; see Note that you will need a hardware-accelerated implementation of OpenGL in order for Tux Racer to be playable.
    • The GLUT library, version 3.7 beta or greater. This is distributed in the MesaDemos package, so if you have installed Mesa you probably also have GLUT. Otherwise, see
    • Tcl Version 8.0 or greater.
    • (Optional) Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) Version 1.1.1 or greater. This is required for joystick support.
    • (Optional) SDL_mixer Version 1.0 or greater. This is required for sound and music support.

  2. Obtain the tuxracer-<version>.tar.gz and tuxracer-data-<version>.tar.gz files from the Downloads page.

  3. Unpack the code tarball:

    shell$ tar xvfz tuxracer-<version>.tar.gz
    shell$ cd tuxracer-<version>

  4. Configure for your system:

    shell$ ./configure <configure options>

    Many people will be able to run configure without passing any options. The more commonly-used configure options are:

    • --prefix=DIR: Specify where to install tuxracer. (The tuxracer binary will be placed in DIR/bin)
    • --with-tcl-libs=DIR: Specify Tcl library location
    • --with-tcl-inc=DIR: Specify Tcl header file location
    • --with-tcl-lib-name=NAME: Specify Tcl library base name
    • --with-gl-libs=DIR: Specify OpenGL library location
    • --with-gl-inc=DIR: Specify OpenGL header file location
    • --with-glut-libs=DIR: Specify GLUT library location
    • --with-glut-inc=DIR: Specify GLUT header file location
    • --enable-stencil-buffer: Use if your hardware has a stencil buffer
    • --with-data-dir=PATH: Location of tuxracer data directory (can be also configured in options file later)

    Run ./configure --help for a complete list of options.

  5. Compile:

    shell$ make

    Tux Racer should compile cleanly, with few (if any) warnings. Please see the FAQ or our Support page if Tux Racer fails to compile.

  6. Install the tuxracer binary:

    shell$ make install

    Unless you specified the --prefix option when you ran configure, this command will install the tuxracer binary in /usr/local/bin

  7. Install the data files:

    shell$ cd /usr/local/share
    shell$ tar xvfz /path/to/tuxracer-data-<version>.tar.gz
    shell$ mv tuxracer-data-<version> tuxracer

    You may install the data files anywhere you wish, but tuxracer looks in /usr/local/share/tuxracer by default.

  8. You're done!

From RPMs

  1. Obtain tuxracer-<version>.rpm and tuxracer-data-<version>.rpm from your distribution vendor (Sunspire Studios is not providing RPMs at this time).

  2. As root, run:

    shell$ rpm -Uvh tuxracer-data-<version>.rpm
    shell$ rpm -Uvh tuxracer-<version>.rpm

  3. You're done!

1.2 Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000

  1. Obtain the tuxracer-win32-<version>.zip file from the Downloads page.

  2. Unzip this file to your hard drive. You will need a program like Winzip to do this.

  3. You're done!

2. Starting Tux Racer

2.1 Linux

Assuming you installed the tuxracer binary to somewhere that is in your PATH, Tux Racer can be started as follows:

shell$ tuxracer

If you get a message like this:

*** tuxracer error: Can't find the tuxracer data directory.  Please check the
value of `data_dir' in ~/.tuxracer/options and set it to the location where you
installed the tuxracer-data files.

then you need to follow the instructions in this message.

2.2 Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000

To run Tux Racer, simply open the tuxracer-win32-<version> folder that was created when you installed the game, and double-click on tuxracer.exe.

3. The Main Menu

3.1 Navigating Menus

Below are some descriptions of the various menus you will use to navigate through Tux Racer.

Start Screen

This is the first screen you see once Tux Racer is started. You can hit any key or click the mouse to move on to the Main Menu.

3.2 Main Menu Options

Main Menu

This is the Main Menu in Tux Racer. Note that if you hit the Esc key while in this window it will exit the game.

- Clicking on this will take you to the Cup Selection Menu. You can also press the Enter or E keys.
- Clicking on this will take you to the Practice Selection Menu. You can also press the P key.
- Clicking on this will show you the Credits. You can also press the C key.
- Clicking on this will exit Tux Racer. You can also press the Esc key.

4. Controls

Tux Racer has been designed to make controlling Tux easy and fun. The menus can be navigated with mouse and keyboard, and Tux is controlled using the keyboard.

Please note: instead of using the Arrow keys for movement controls, you can also use I, J, K, L. These alternate mappings have been provided for your convenience.

4.1 Turning

Use the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys to turn. The longer you hold down the key, the farther Tux will turn in that direction.

4.2 Paddling/Flapping

Use the Up Arrow key to make Tux paddle when on the ground and make Tux flap his wings when in the air. This will help you gain speed, especially at the start of the race. Once Tux's speed is in the yellow area of the Speedometer, paddling will no longer increase his speed, but instead start to slow him down.

When Tux becomes airborne, flapping his wings will help him stay in the air longer. Use the turn keys while flapping to adjust Tux's direction while in the air.

4.3 Braking

Use the Down Key to make Tux brake. This will slow him down, which is useful in getting through some tricky spots on the courses. Remember that Tux can turn tighter when raveling at slower speeds.

4.4 Jumping

Use the E key for jumping. To jump, you must first press and hold the E key to first charge energy. This will cause the Energometer level to increase. The fuller the Energometer, the bigger the jump. Releasing the E key will use the charged energy to make Tux jump.

Tux can start charging for the next jump (by pressing E) while still in the air.

4.5 Hard Turning

To do a hard turn, hold down the brake key (Down Arrow) and then press one of the turn keys (Left Arrow or Right Arrow). This will cause Tux to do a sharp turn, but will also slow him down.

4.6 Reset

The Backspace key is used to reset Tux's position. If you get stuck on a course, press this key.

4.7 Quit

Pressing the Q key while racing will end the current board.


5. Racing Screen

Once you are racing, you will have a number of displays. This section describes what each of these are.

- Speedometer tells you how fast you are going.

- Energometer tells you how much energy you have charged.

- Elapsed Time tells you how long you have been racing in the race.

- Herring Collected tells you how many herring you have collected so far in the race.

5.1 Speedometer

The Speedometer shows the current speed of Tux. The speed is displayed in graphic form around the outside of the Energometer, and also in numeric form over the Energometer. As Tux's speed increases, the colour of the Speedometer changes from green to yellow and then to red. When in the yellow, paddling will no longer increase Tux's speed, but instead will beginning to slow him down. Once in the red zone you will find steering difficult.

5.2 Energometer

The Energometer displays Tux's current energy level. As the circle fills with blue, Tux's energy increases until the circle is full. The Energometer decides how far and high Tux can jump. See the Jumping section for more information.

5.3 Elapsed Time

The number in the top left of the screen shows the elapsed time for the current race.

5.4 Herring Collected

The number in the top right of the screen shows how many herring Tux has collected in the current race.

6. Cup Racing

The races in Tux Racer are grouped into events. Currently, there is only one Event in Tux Racer, the Herring Run, in which you must collect a certain number of herring within a specified time.

6.1 Cup Selection Menu

The races in each event are grouped into cups - each cup consists of a series of races that you must complete, in sequence, before you may advance to the next cup. You are given four lives to complete each cup and lose one for each time you fail to win a race. Once you run out of lives, you must restart the cup from the beginning.

In the Cup Racing Menu you can select the event and cup in which you will compete. This section describes the menus that are used on the Cup Selection Menu.

Cup Selection Menu

- The name of the currently selected cup class. You can cycle through the classes by clicking on the arrow buttons. You can also use the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys to cycle through the events.
- The name of the cup inside the currently selected cup class. You can select the cups by clicking on the arrow buttons. You can also use the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to cycle through the cups.
- Display message informing you whether or not you are eligible to play this cup
- Back to the Main Menu
- Go to the Cup Race Selection Menu.

6.2 Cup Race Selection Menu

When competing in a cup that you have not yet completed, this menu guides you through the races in the cup. You must complete the races in order. For example, you must win the first race in a cup before you can enter the second race. You are given four lives in which to complete all of the races in a cup. If you run out of lives, you will have to reenter the cup and start over from the first race.

This section describes the menus that are used on the Cup Race Selection Menu.

Cup Race Menu

- The name of the currently selected course. You can cycle through the course by clicking the arrow buttons. You can also use the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to cycle through the courses.
- The required criteria for completing the course. You must beat each of the 3 possible criteria in order to move onto the next course in the cup.
- A description of the course
- Number of lives remaining.
- A preview of the course.
- Back to the Cup Selection Menu .
- Start the race.

Once you have completed a cup, this menu can be used to replay any of the races in a cup so that you can life to improve your score.

6.2.1 Required Time/Herring/Score

Below the name of the course is a listing of the requirements to beat it. The course may have requirements for maximum time, herring collected, overall score, or any combination of these. To progress to the next course you must beat these requirements. The time listed is the time to beat, the herring listed is the minimum number of herring you must collect, and the score is the minimum score you need to get.

If any of the requirements are listed as 0, then there is no requirement in that category.

6.2.2 Lives

To complete each cup, you only have a set number of lives to beat all of the courses. If you beat a course, you don't lose any lives, and proceed to the next course. If you do not beat the course, then you use up on of your lives (one Tux will disappear from the row) and you can life the same course again. When all your lives are exhausted (no more Tux's in the row) then you can not continue the cup, and must reenter the cup and start over from the first race.

If you quit a course during a race (by pressing Esc) then you lose one life.

7. Practice Racing

Tux Racer has a Practice mode in which you can hone your racing skills. In Practice mode there is no lives counter, so you can play any course as often as you like. You can also customize the race options for more challenge.

7.1 Practice Menu

The Practice Menu lets you choose a course on which to race, and allows you to customize the race options.

Practice Menu


- The name of the currently selected course. You can cycle through the course by clicking the arrow buttons. You can also use the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to cycle through the courses.
- The best score achieved on this course. If this area is blank it means you have not tried the course yet.
- A description of the course.
- Options of the race. See Race Options below.
- A preview of the course.
- Back to the Main Menu.
- Start the race.

Note: All user-created or downloaded courses are only available through the Practice Menu.

7.2 Race Options

A number of options can be set for the current race on the Practice Menu.

7.2.1 Lighting Conditions

Clicking on the Lighting Conditions button will change the time/weather on the course. The options are Sunny, Foggy, and Night.

7.2.2 Wind

Clicking on the Wind button will toggle wind on or off. Wind gusts across the course and makes things more challenging for Tux when he is in the air.

7.2.3 Snow

Snow is currently not implemented.

7.2.4 Mirror

Clicking on the Mirror button will flip the course so the left is right and right is left.

7.3 Scoring

Points can be obtained in two ways, by beating the Par Time for the course, and by collecting herring. Move quickly and grab as many herring as possible to get the highest score. Each herring collected will give you the same number of points as beating the par time by two seconds.

8. Game Options

8.1 Options File

Under Linux the options file is located in the ~/.tuxracer directory. Under Windows the options file is located in the config directory, which can be found in the directory in which you installed Tux Racer. This file is plain text, and is editable with any text editor, such as vi or Notepad.

9. Credits

Director/Lead Programmer

Jasmin Patry

Programming Team

Patrick Gilhuly

Eric Hall

Vincent Ma

Art Team

Richard Knowles

Mark Riddell