Aleph One is an Open Source 3D first-person shooter game, based on the game Marathon 2

alephone_logoAleph One is an Open Source 3D first-person shooter game, based on the game Marathon 2 by Bungie Software. It supports, but doesn't require, OpenGL for rendering. Aleph One was originally a Mac-only game, but there is now a cross-platform version based on the Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL) library, that should in theory run on all systems supported by SDL (Linux, BeOS, Windows, Mac OS, Solaris, IRIX, *BSD, and others). Except for a few minor things, the port is complete and playable.

One of the most important aspects of Marathon to many players across time has been the multiplayer game. Aleph One has expanded the technologies of this mode in many ways. A 2003 build of Aleph One allowed players to host multiplayer games of Marathon Infinity over an IP address as opposed to just a LAN network. While it was technically already the case, in 2004 a server browser was added to Aleph One and allowed players to play Marathon over the Internet for the first time.

Despite this achievement, many players have claimed that hosting and joining a network game played online is a difficult process. Since this aspect of Aleph One is still in its infancy, firewalls have prevented players from being able to host, or in rare cases, join games. Overcoming this involves opening a port for data to come through and doing so has been a difficult procedure. The most recent build of Aleph One eased this problem with built-in software bypassing the firewalls, but many users still report difficulties. It is possible that the software is incomplete. Another major difficulty many users claim to have with online play is that different router speeds of participants in a game have caused latency in data transfer, as well as poor synchronization in some cases. In December 2006 a version was released with specific fixes to latency issues.

Aleph One has added three new multiplayer gametypes to Marathon[1]. These three gametypes are not played as much as the gametypes Bungie designed due to the relatively small number of compatible maps and tools with which to create them as well as the often lack of a sufficient number of players.

They are:
Defense: The "Slate" team defends a Hill from the other teams, who must stay on the Hill for half of the duration of the game to win.

Capture the Flag: Players steal flags (which are actually skulls) of other teams and take them to their own bases to score points.

Rugby: In this game, players must take the red skull to another team's base to score points.


Aleph One/SDL program

Aleph One data files

These are freely distributable but not Open Source. See here for details.

Marathon scenario files

The original Marathon 1 data files are not compatible with Aleph One, but Raul Bonilla and the M1A1 team have made an excellent conversion calledM1A1:

Marathon 2 scenario files

Marathon Infinity scenario files


Required libraries


Installing And Playing Aleph One/SDL

The installation of Aleph One/SDL consists of two steps:

  1. Installing the Aleph One/SDL program

  2. Installing Marathon data files

1. Installing the program

From a binary package

  • Unix: If you are running Linux/i386 with XFree86 4.0 and OpenGL you can download and install the binary RPM (you will also need to install at least one of the AlephOne-M1A1, AlephOne-Marathon2 or AlephOne-Infinity RPMs). Otherwise, you have to compile Aleph One/SDL from the source (see the next section). In both cases, you have to have SDL >= 1.2.0 installed.

    Note: If you are getting a message like

    error: Failed dependencies: is needed by AlephOne-20040417-1

    while installing the RPM, try installing again with the --nodeps option. If this is the only failed dependency and you have OpenGL installed, the program should work.

Compiling from source

  1. You will need to have the SDL library installed. Aleph One requires at least SDL 1.2.0. Note that if you didn't install SDL from source, you will also have to install the SDL-devel package.

  2. Download the Aleph One/SDL source tarball, or get the source via SVN.

  3. Under Unix, install Aleph One as follows:

    $ ./configure
    $ make
    [become root]
    # make install

    Under BeOS, do this instead:

    $ make -f Makefile.BeOS install

    This will compile the source and create a directory AlephOne in your home directory that contains the AlephOne application and some data files.

2. Installing the data files

To play Aleph One, you will also need Marathon scenario (graphics, sound and map) data files. For your convenience, I've created archives containing the data files from the now freely available Marathon (M1A1), Marathon 2 and Marathon Infinity scenarios, converted to the formats needed by the SDL version of Aleph One.

  • Unix: Either download and install at least one of the AlephOne-M1A1, AlephOne-Marathon2 or AlephOne-Infinity RPM packages, or download one of the AlephOne-M1A1-1.0.tar.gz, AlephOne-Marathon2-1.0.tar.gz or AlephOne-Infinity-1.0.tar.gz tarballs and unexpand it to /usr/local/share/AlephOne/.

  • BeOS: Download one of the AlephOne-M1A1-1.0.tar.gz, AlephOne-Marathon2-1.0.tar.gz or AlephOne-Infinity-1.0.tar.gztarballs and unexpand it to the same directory as the AlephOne application.

The packages contain the files Images, Map, Map.resources, Music, Shapes, Sounds, some scripts, and the respective instruction manual in PDF format (from the original Mac version).

Playing Aleph One

First, be sure to read the README file that comes with Aleph One/SDL.

  • Unix: If you have installed the Marathon, Marathon 2, or Marathon Infinity scenario, type

    $ alephone-m1a1

    for M1A1, or

    $ alephone-marathon2

    for Marathon 2, or

    $ alephone-infinity

    for Marathon Infinity, to start the game. If you don't have hardware-accelerated OpenGL, you will get better performance by specifying the -goption. If this causes corrupted graphics (red screen), you should also specify the -m option.

  • BeOS: Double-click the AlephOne application.


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About Giampaolo Rossi.

Fond of computer and video games. Stay informed of the latest news on games for Linux and Android. The future of gaming is in Linux. All you need to know about How to play Windows games on Linux.
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