Wine: Bridging Windows and Linux – A Comprehensive Guide

184 views
4 mins read

Wine is not your typical emulator like Qemu or a virtualization environment like Virtualbox. Instead, it’s a runtime environment designed to emulate the Windows API on a Linux system. While this API mapping isn’t entirely complete, it’s comprehensive enough to allow many Windows programs to run seamlessly on a Linux desktop.

The journey of Wine began as a hobby project three decades ago during the time of Windows 3.1, with its 16-bit API. Initially, it achieved success by running a simple “Hello World” program and even the classic game Solitaire. With the advent of Windows 95 and its 32-bit API, Wine faced new challenges but continued to make impressive strides. Corel recognized its potential and invested in further development from 1999 to 2000, primarily for the popular WordPerfect application.

Over time, Wine development splintered into commercial branches, which deterred open-source contributors and hindered progress. Fortunately, in 2006, Google revived Wine’s development, using it as a compatibility layer for the Linux version of Picasa, thus saving the effort of porting Picasa to Linux.

Today, Wine’s development is primarily driven by the gaming industry, with Valve’s Wine-based compatibility layer, Proton, taking the lead. While Microsoft’s Office suite has shifted to cloud-based services, Wine remains indispensable for gaming on Linux, ensuring that development persists.

The latest release, Wine 8, represents a significant milestone by supporting more contemporary programs and games. This achievement is attributed to the conversion of Wine modules into “portable executables,” a format required by some modern games. Additionally, Wine can now run 32-bit programs within its 64-bit environment without the need to install all the necessary 32-bit libraries on the host system.

This article provides a guide on setting up the latest Wine edition in Ubuntu 22.04/23.04 and outlines the initial steps for configuring this environment to run Windows programs. Presently, Wine can emulate all Windows versions from XP to 11, although the emulation of Windows 10/11 is still a work in progress.

Determining whether a Windows program will run on Wine no longer requires empirical trial and error. The searchable application database, http://appdb.winehq.org, provides valuable insights into program compatibility. Applications are rated as platinum, gold, silver, bronze, or rubbish based on user reports, offering a clear indication of compatibility. Many entries include installation instructions, which can be challenging at times, making it important to use the right Wine version, such as 7 or 8.

For particularly challenging applications, there’s Crossover, a commercial utility built on Wine. It is actively developed by major Wine contributors and offers enhanced compatibility with Windows programs. Crossover focuses on office applications, including Microsoft Office, and comes with a graphical interface for easy program installation and management. While it’s not open source and starts at $74 euros, a 14-day free evaluation version is available after registration.

Crossover provides binary packages for RPM and DEB formats, making installation straightforward for various Linux distributions. You can check program compatibility at www.codeweavers.com/compatibility. It’s worth noting that Crossover 22.x is still based on Wine 7.7, with Crossover 23 expected at the end of 2023.

When it comes to Ubuntu and Linux Mint, the standard package sources offer outdated versions of Wine. For the latest Wine experience, you’ll need to tap into the 32-bit package sources, as Wine 8 relies on numerous libraries for optimal compatibility.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.