[Linux] Install and run Windows programs on Linux with Wine

wine1Even the most independent of Windows user needs to use Windows software at one point or another. Yesterday we covered PlayOnLinux, which helps you use Windows games on Linux. Today it is the turn of Wine, a program that allows users to run Windows software on Linux. It’s a Microsoft Windows compatibility layer for Linux, Mac OS X, BSD, and Solaris.

WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DOES IT DO

Main Functionality

Wine is a Microsoft Windows compatibility layer for Linux. In simply terms, it allows users to install and run Windows software on Linux.

Wine is actually available on Mac OS X, BSD, and Solaris, too. However, we specifically looked at the Linux version for this review.

Pros

  • Allows users to install and run almost any Windows program, which helps Linux users be less dependent on having to dual boot with Windows. As long as you have the installable for a program, Wine can probably help you run it on Linux. In fact, sometimes software in Wine runs better than software in Windows
  • Each window from a Wine program is its own window within your Window Manger, and receives the same treatment any other application would within your window manager of choice. In other words, running a program in Wine is almost the same as running a regular Linux program
  • Excellent backwards compatibility with older versions of Windows
  • Supports 32-bit and 64-bit Windows programs
  • Excellent Direct3D support
  • Comes with WineCFG, an easy to use GUI that allows users to change various Wine settings such as Windows version, drive emulation, library override functions, etc.
  • Can emulate a virtual desktop to house all Windows applications
  • Comes bundled with Winetricks. Winetricks can be accessed both by command line, or GUI. Winetricks allows for the easy installation of various Microsoft Windows utilities, dependencies, and applications
  • Wondeful community at WineHQ.org has a massive database of troubleshooting guides that can be used to easily get any program working with Wine

Cons

  • Some Wine updates can severely break applications
  • Not all Windows programs run properly with Wine on Linux, although most do

Discussion

wine2If you’re big into Linux, there’s a good chance most of your program selections are covered. You’re most likely more comfortable with most of the applications that Linux has to offer, and only seldom use Windows software in Wine. That is the way I am. I do not use Wine for anything but games, and applications that only work with Windows. I don’t use Wine to install things like Microsoft office because I use Google Docs, I don’t use Wine to install Photoshop because I prefer Gimp. The list can go on and on, but what I do use Wine for, is video games.

I know that Wine can be used for literally any sort of Windows software, and it does an amazing job at it, but my experience is largely with Windows video games. I usually have no problem installing any one of my old video games. I also seldom install Windows software that I need and can’t find a better, more native Linux version. These are tools that I really need that I can’t get on Linux like SonyVegas Pro 12, or Adobe After Effects etc. I usually don’t try to scour the internet for free Windows tools when there’s probably a better Linux tool.

Most people think that Wine turns their Linux machine into a Windows+ Linux machine. If that’s what you’re installing wine for, you might as well just install Windows. Wine is a wonderful tool for Linux users who have to live in a world where sometimes Linux gets neglected. It gives us a bit more of an option.

My favorite feature that Wine has to offer is the fact that you can run anything in literally any version of Windows. Winecfg allows you to switch all the way from Window 2.0 to Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008. This makes backwards compatibility for your old Windows stuff AMAZING. I’ve had a copy of a game I bought in 99 work better in Wine than several versions of Windows.

Wine really doesn’t have any major things to dislike outside of the fact that some updates to wine (may or may not) ruin the way applications work. This is rare and doesn’t happen, but it can, and when it does, it can be rather annoying. It’s nothing that a downgrade can’t accomplish, but it’s still something that needs to be addressed.

All in all, Wine is a must have if you’re a gamer, or even just a regular Linux user that wants to run some Windows software on your Linux machine. This is a program that you can’t afford to not install. Wine has its uses, and in a world where Windows is still dominating the Destkop PC market, it is an invaluable tool.

CONCLUSION AND DOWNLOAD LINK

If you’re a gamer looking to install Windows games, grab PlayOnLinux. If you’re just a regular guy looking to install Windows programs on your Linux machine, grab Wine. Wine has been around since 1993, and always been a lifeline for Linux users; it is the best tool for the job at hand. Do yourself a favor and download it right away.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.4.1

Supported OS: Any Linux distro, BSD, Mac OS X, Solaris

Supported software repositories: Any Linux distro’s repository

Download size: Unknown

Is it portable? No

Wine homepage

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10 comments

  1. Rob (Down Under)

    [@jipy]
    Thanks for taking the time to answer.
    I am having PC problems at the moment (trying to get a couple of old PCs to work).
    When I do get to install a Linux, I will definitely have a go at POL (thanks to your feedback)

    Regards from Australia,
    Rob

  2. jipy

    [@Rob (Down Under)] Yes Rob, it’s exactly what I say. Excuse me if I express myself badly, I’m not american and don’t master your language.
    I don’t have any game on my Linux system, I’ve installed it only for my essential and desperately missing Windows programs because not existing under Linux (some have 10 or 12 years old – e.g. “Personal Info Keeper” from High Criteria, THE BEST shareware soft for me).

    POL is easier to install and use than Wine. The graphic interface (skin?) is less repulsive and thus more pleasant.
    When I say “skin” it’s not wrong or false, it’s because, not everybody knows this, POL is based on Wine and use it. It’s so true that, when installing POL, if Wine is not installed, POL installs it.
    Sorry my reference is in French, found in the site of Ubuntu :

    “POL utilise WINE (qu’il installera comme dépendence de toute façon), donc, il fait systématiquement au moins aussi bien”

    http://doc.ubuntu-fr.org/playonlinux

    Hope it’s answers your question. Ashraf is a bad boy! … lol ! we all appreciate him!

  3. jipy

    [@Ashraf] PlayOnLinux is not only for gamers: I’m not one and use it, every day and with a real pleasure, on Linux Mint for my Windows programs, especially with portable versions. And 90% of them work fine, with no problem, even some 12 years old softs…

    That being said, I thank you for all your reviews.