Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Taste of Wine - Running Windows Applications on Linux

One of the reasons that hinder Microsoft Windows users from migrating to Linux is fear -- fear of not being able to run Spider Solitaire on it!

Well.. let's face it, Microsoft Windows became so popular that Linux's ability to look like Windows Vista or any other operating system on the planet is not enough to draw people into it. As far as Windows users are concerned, any Windows replacement should also run Windows programs... seamlessly.

But all that is about to change -- thanks to Wine, which is a software application that aims to allow Unix-like computer operating systems such as Linux to execute programs that were originally written for Microsoft Windows. Wine has been around since 1993 and is still continuously being developed to support a wider range of Windows applications. Wine can run -- among the applications that it supports -- Microsoft Office, Apple Safari for Windows, multi-media applications such as QuickTime and Windows Media Player, and even games such as Max Payne, World of Warcraft or The SIMS. Almost any other complex application can be made to run well given a bit of time. Each time a work is done to add one application to the list, many other applications benefit from this work and become usable too.

Benefits of Wine:
  • Wine makes it possible to take advantage of all the Unix strong points (stability, flexibility, remote administration) while still using the Windows applications you depend on.
  • Unix has always made it possible to write powerful scripts. Wine makes it possible to call Windows applications from scripts that can also leverage the Unix environment to its full extent.
  • Wine makes it possible to access Windows applications remotely, even if they are a few thousand miles away.
  • Wine makes it economical to use thin clients: simply install Wine on a Linux server, and voila, you can access these Windows applications from any X terminal.
  • Wine can also be used to make existing Windows applications available on the Web by using VNC and its Java client.
  • Wine is Open Source Software, so you can extend it to suit your needs or have one of many companies do it for you.

As of this writing, the latest version of Wine is 0.9.59.

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