Even though the Linux software catalogue is huge, there are times when you may feel that you are missing an application that is otherwise available on Windows. There could be many reasons behind why you want that exact application. Probably the most common is that support for a particular file format or an application used at work is simply not available for Linux. Thankfully, there are many ways by which you can use a Windows app on your Linux system. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular methods…
Dual booting: In this method you will need to create a separate partition and install Windows on it. Then whenever you need to run a Windows application you will need to restart your system, then boot into Windows and use the app. This method is only recommended for an intermediate audience who are comfortable with partitioning their hard drives. It also requires that you have a large amount of disk space at
Virtual machine: In this scenario you will need to install a virtualisation program such as VMware Workstation or VirtualBox on your Linux system, then install Windows as a virtual machine. You can the use this virtual machine to run Windows applications without rebooting your system. However, using virtual machines requires a considerable amount of system resources in terms of RAM, CPU and disk space as the virtual machine needs to run a fully fledged operating system within another operating system simultaneously.
Using Wine: Wine lets you run Windows applications without rebooting or virtualisation. In this tutorial we will be using Wine to run Windows applications on a Linux system.
Introducing the world of Wine
Wine (a recursive acronym for Wine Is Not an Emulator) is a translation layer (or a program loader) capable of running Windows applications on Linux and similar other POSIX-compatible operating systems. Wine does not emulate Windows applications on Linux – instead it provides alternative implementations of DLLs that a typical Windows application calls and a process substitute for the Windows NT kernel. Wine is made of 100 per cent Microsoft-free code.
Wine supports a large number of applications, but not all are supported equally. You can visit the Wine Application Database (AppDB, http://appdb.winehq.org) to see how well your favourite Windows application works with Wine. AppDB is maintained by the community and you can also add your own discoveries. AppDB defines the following type of ratings…
Platinum: An application can be rated as Platinum if it installs and runs flawlessly ‘out of the box’. No changes are required in Wine configuration files.
Gold: Application works flawlessly with some DLL overrides, other settings or third-party software.
Silver: Application works excellently for ‘normal’ use. For example, a game works fine in single-player but not in multiplayer; Windows Media Player works fine as a plug-in and standalone player, but cannot handle DRM etc.
Bronze: The application works, but it has some issues, even for normal use. For example, a game may not redraw properly or display fonts in wrong colours, be much slower than it should etc.
Garbage: An application gets this rating if it cannot be used for the purpose it was designed for. If so, there should be at least one bug report in Bugzilla. The application cannot be installed, does not start, or starts but has so many errors that it is nearly impossible to use it.
01 Installing Wine
Wine is available for all popular UNIXes, including Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, SUSE, Mandriva, FreeBSD, Solaris and Mac OS X.
Continue to page 2 to see how to install Wine within Ubuntu…