Tweezer's Half-Life Health Club
Tweezer's Half-Life Health Club™

Updating Half-Life

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A brief tutorial about how to update your HL client and server. Includes some explanation of the protocol error issue.
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Other Resources
FilePlanet's Half-Life section includes all updates.

WON's FTP server allows anonymous logins, but may not have the latest update.
Where to Get Half-Life
Half-Life isn't free; you need to buy it. Internet play requires a CD Key number, which only comes with a Half-Life CD. You can't really share CD Keys because they are authenticated before you begin an internet game.

For "deathmatch" play you need either the Half-Life: Game of the Year Edition (now bundled with the Opposing Force expansion and sold as the Half-Life: Adrenaline Pack), or the new Half-Life Counter-Strike release (below).

If you are serious, you'll want both. You can save quite a bit of money by getting the complete set, newly bundled as the Half-Life Platinum Edition.

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Out of Date

Several times a year, when you start an internet game, your Half-Life client complains that it is "out of date".  This means that a new version has been released... [more]

News: Half-Life Update

June 30, 2002 -- OK, I'm two weeks late updating my server and client. The new update came out on June 11. As usual, your client should update itself automatically when you choose the "Internet Games" menu item. If you like, you can manually obtain the update from FilePlanet or Sierra using the following addresses:

Full Client Update from any old version to latest (currently (80MB)
Partial Client Update from previous to latest (from to (12MB)

FilePlanet is always saturated for a week or two when an update comes out. That's why, for the convenience of members, you can also download the partial update (i.e. from previous to latest version) from us. But please try FilePlanet or the Sierra/WON autoupdate first. This service is for members only.

Update Win Client from to
11091110.exe (12MB)
Update Linux Server from to
hlds_l_3110_upgrade.bin (6.6MB)

Updating Your Client

"Out of Date!"

Several times a year, when you start an internet game, your Half-Life client complains that it is "out of date".  This means that a new version has been released. Your client gets this information from WON, the internet game clearinghouse that Half-Life clients and servers use for authentication.

Half-Life will ask if you want to go ahead and update the game automatically.

"Protocol Error!"

You can go ahead and follow the automatic update procedure.  However, don't be surprised if, after you do, you get a protocol error when you try to connect to some of your favorite servers.  The problem is that many times the update includes a change in the protocol used between clients and servers.  When this happens, both client and server must be updated. 

This has happened with most of the recent updates. The,,, and releases have all required server updates as well.

If your favorite server has not yet been updated, then you may want to wait until it is.

If you are the server administrator, then you've got some work to do...

Updating a Server

Downloading from FilePlanet

If your server is on Windows, then you can use the automatic update service, or retrieve the update file yourself from FilePlanet and install it.  If your server is on Linux, then your only option is to retrieve the update file yourself and install it.

The most convenient place for most people to get updates is FilePlanet.  The link will take you to their special Half-Life section:

which should include all updates, as well as other neat stuff like maps.

When you get there, click on the Essential Files section for the most readable listing of available updates. Pick your update, download it, and go!

Installing the Update

The update format has changed from time to time. As of this writing (June 2002) the Linux server update files are self-extracting archive wrappers with names like hlds_l_3110_upgrade.bin. In order to extract the file on Linux, you'll need to make it executable (chmod +x). Then just run it. After you affirm you acceptance of the license, the actual compressed archive file will be created, e.g. hlds_l_3110_upgrade.tar.gz. At that point you can delete the .bin file, it is of no further use.

The compressed archive file should be unpacked in the parent directory of your hlds_l directory. In other words, if the path to your Half-Life server directory is /home/tweezerman/Games/Half-Life/hlds_l/, then you should place the archive in /home/tweezerman/Games/Half-Life/ before you unpack it.

Before you unpack the archive, be sure to kill any current HL server processes you have running. If you don't, the server executable file won't be updated. This is old news to Unix veterans like me, but it's still a mistake I've made recently.

Also, a few updates have been known to clobber system configuration files like hlds_l/valve/server.cfg, so make sure you have backup copies of yours just in case.

There are lots of ways to uncompress and extract the archive files. I use the following command:

tar xzvf xx.tar.gz

(where xx.tar.gz is the name of your compressed archive). That should do it. Now just restart your server(s) and look at the README.

More About Downloading Updates

Unfortunately FilePlanet uses an interactive html interface to downloading files.  When updating my Linux server, I need to use a command line program such as wget or ftp, and I haven't yet found a way to do this directly from FilePlanet. 

There is an ftp server at WON that supports anonymous logins, however it has not been updated since 1998!

So... to update my Linux server, for a year I was stuck using the FilePlanet interface to download to the NT box at my house, then FTP it right back up again to my Linux account on my ISP's server, and finally FTP'ing it yet again to our Half-Life server.

Finally I discovered some other download locations through the HLDS mail list (see next section).

HLDS Mail Lists

If you don't know already, "HLDS" stands for "Half-Life Dedicated Server".

Whenever a Half-Life update is released, there is an "inner circle" of server administrators that are informed early via Valve's email lists. The server updates are rapidly mirrored at various "top-secret" locations which are announced on the Valve mail lists. So if you want to be among those who know, you need to subscribe.

I'm not going to list these download sites here. But if you're desperate, check out the Half-Life discussion forums at Planet Half-Life, or the archived mail lists (see below).

Following is a quote from the linuxreadme.txt file which comes with the Linux server distribution:

5) Where can I get help? Subscribe to the one of the dedicated server mailing lists by sending mail to with subscribe <the name of the mailing list below you want to subscribe to> in the message body. - general dedicated server announcements - general dedicated server discussion - linux specific dedicated server discussion

In other words, send the following message to

subscribe hlds_announce
subscribe hlds
subscribe hlds_linux

Delete the lines you don't want.

Some of the messages from these lists turn up on the Half-Life newsgroups at

Members: Login

Not yet registered?

Click here

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Update Everyone...
If you mostly play LAN games, then be prepared to update all the other systems on your LAN. If this won't be practical, then you'd better WAIT before updating your system.
TweezerTip™: Manual Updates
Performing updates manually (as opposed to using the automatic update tool) makes sense if you want to want to update multiple machines. You only have to download the update file once. Then copy it to each machine and go!

The best place to download the updates is FilePlanet's Half-Life "Essential Files" section. It includes all updates, as well as other neat stuff like maps. Pick your update, download it, and go!
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Recent Half-Life Updates
For the terminally curious, here's a short list of recent Half-Life updates and when they came out.

Win Client/
Linux Srvr

Some minor updates are not shown.
Updated Thursday July 04, 2002 06:31:44 PDT
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