Windows Apps on Linux with Wine

Tutorials – Wine

Article from Issue 194/2017
Author(s):

Convert your home/office/friends to be completely Microsoft-free with our tips and tricks.

While we all love to shout from the rooftops about the awesomeness of GNU, Linux, Free Software, and open standards, we also have to deal with the awkward reality that Windows is still pretty dominant on the desktop and has an enormous software base. Sure, FOSS equivalents for proprietary Windows apps exist (and new ones are popping up every week), but certain tools simply don't exist elsewhere, and people or companies that want to migrate away from Windows toward Linux might still need to run the occasional Windows program.

Of course, dual-booting is one way to solve this problem, but it still means you need a Windows license and a chunk of your hard drive devoted to it. If you want to be as Microsoft-free as possible but still need to run the occasional Windows app or game, you have another option: Wine. This open source project provides a software compatibility layer that lets you run many Windows programs on Linux – albeit with varying degrees of reliability and compatibility. Wine is a mature piece of software, having been in development since 1993, but given the vast complexity (and closed nature) of Microsoft's operating systems, it has trouble running some apps.

Wine famously means "Wine Is Not an Emulator" – which seems silly for something that ostensibly emulates Windows. But really, Wine intercepts system calls from programs and reworks them for their Linux equivalents. This means that you can often get surprisingly good performance from Wine, because it's not doing the job of emulating a whole CPU; indeed, I've heard from readers who say that some Windows apps run faster on Linux+Wine rather than native Windows itself!

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