Solution to PunkBuster Client Errors on Linux

Alexander Winston alexander.winston at
Tue Sep 2 00:43:51 EDT 2003

For now, the only solution that I have found to the PunkBuster errors is
to run America’s Army: Operations as root, allowing the PunkBuster files
to update themselves “properly”.

PunkBuster assumes a lot of things about its environment and some are
wrong. For one, it assumes that an arbitary user (read: America’s Army:
Operations player) has write access to the directory where the game
files are stored. This is unsafe.

On most systems, the files will be installed in /usr, so that all users
of system can play AA:O. Even on Windows systems, this will be
C:/Program Files, another place where it isn't safe to allow arbitrary
users to play around. /usr being read-write is not required by the
Filesystem [sic] Hierarchy Standard.

I hope somebody will be able to wake up PunkBuster and enlighten them.
While they seem interested in keeping online games nice and safe, they
don’t seem very concerned about the users of those games and their
privacy. The following text is from the PunkBuster license agreement.

"Licensee understands that PunkBuster software inspects and reports
information about the computer on which it is installed to other
connected computers and Licensee agrees to allow PunkBuster software to
inspect and report such information about the computer on which Licensee
installs PunkBuster software.

"Licensee understands and agrees that the information that may be
inspected and reported by PunkBuster software includes, but is not
limited to, devices and any files residing on the hard-drive and in the
memory of the computer on which PunkBuster software is installed.

"Further, Licensee consents to allow PunkBuster software to transfer
actual screenshots taken of Licensee’s computer during the operation of
PunkBuster software for possible publication.

"[...] Licensee agrees that any harm or lack of privacy resulting from
the installation and use of PunkBuster software is not as valuable to
Licensee as the potential ability to play interactive online games with
the benefits afforded by using PunkBuster software."

Kids, remember to read software licenses. So far, PunkBuster’s license
has explained that it is free to report your computer’s statistics and
snoop around your hard drive looking for files of any kind. It has also
said that it is free to take screenshots while you’re running the game.
Note that it does not specify if it is taking screenshots of your
America’s Army: Operations session or screenshots of your e-mail client
or possibly even your banking software. The most important part is the
last paragraph/sentence, where PunkBuster states that playing a game
without cheaters is more important than losing basically all of one’s

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