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Portable NetHack

Rob Loach's picture
Submitted by Rob Loach on April 16, 2006 - 2:43am

NetHack has always been considered the longest running open-source game around. Its rouge-like gameplay keeps players and fans coming back for more. It goes back to the classics, bringing back the classic turn-based RPG genre.

Well, ddcc requested a portable version of it, so I decided to take a look. The result is Portable NetHack. With this you can play NetHack directly from your USB drive without having to worry about leaving anything behind in the registry. All settings are saved locally so you don't have to worry about loosing any saved data.


  • Portable. Run NetHack from your USP drive while keeping your settings stored locally.
  • Smaller file sizes. Using UPX compressor, the size of NetHack went from 4.7 MB to 2.3 MB.
  • Easy to use. Just run one executable to use Portable NetHack.
  • Open-Source. All source code for creating Portable NetHack is available.



Please feel free to get back to me if you find any problems with Portable NetHack. I'm always open to new ideas and suggestions. Also please make sure to tell me whether you use Portable NetHack as it's you guys that help keep me motivated!

Developer Notes

In order to make NetHack portable, I did a couple of things:

  1. Wrapped the windows registry keys. These include windows positioning and minor settings. The keys are loaded and saved in the settings directory of Portable NetHack.
  2. Ran UPX on all binary files. The UPX settings I used are saved in upx.bat.
  3. Made a splash screen graphic.
  4. Extracted the NetHack icon for use with PortableNetHack.
  5. Wrote up documentation.
  6. Celebrated by playing NetHack from my USB key.


Ryan McCue's picture

Head over to PortaSoft and we'll host it for you.
R McCue

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."

Ryan McCue's picture

Not yet. John (PortableApps guy) is busy.
Not for a while me thinks.
R McCue

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate."

Nethack seems to write to the disk drive an awful lot, including each time you move between floors. Is it possible to change this so that the data resides in memory until the program exits?

You realize the proper term is "roguelike", don't you? There's no such thing as "rouge-like gameplay." "Rouge" is makeup. "Rogue" refers to a game. Two different things. I'll let it slide, though--it's a common typo. Smile

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John T. Haller's picture

Say you were playing a first person shooter... and the blood and guts of your many frags happened to splatter about... and some of it wound up on your character's face... and, say, it just happened to bring out your character's cheek bones... that would be rouge-like, right? Smile

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