Using Emulators

Some people need to use programs that aren't available for Linux. This is frequently the case when you must exchange files in a proprietary Windows format, such as Microsoft Word files. Although many Linux programs support proprietary file formats, compatibility is seldom perfect, so you may have to use the "genuine article" to do your job. If this is the case, emulators can help you use Linux while also getting work done. Chapter 10, "Using Multiple OSs," includes more information on emulators. In brief, on IA-32 systems, you can use Windows emulators, such as Win4Lin ( or WINE ( to run Windows programs. You can use machine emulators, such as VMWare ( or Plex86 ( to run an entire host OS—Windows, Linux, or others. (Win4Lin also runs Windows itself under Linux, but it can only run Windows, not other OSs.) On PowerPC systems, the Mac-on-Linux (MoL; program lets you run Mac OS from Linux. You can use Bochs ( to boot Windows or some other OS. Most of these packages require you to have a copy of the target OS, such as Windows. These programs vary in their degree of integration with Linux; for instance, you might not be able to cut-and-paste between Linux and Windows programs. As a general rule, WINE integrates best with Linux, but WINE is also the least successful emulator in terms of its ability to run a wide variety of programs.

Some of the best emulators, including Win4Lin and VMWare, are commercial products.

Tip The commercial Crossover Office package ( is a WINE variant with a user-friendly installation routine and the ability to run all but the latest versions of Microsoft Office, as well as several other common office productivity packages. If you really need to run Microsoft Office and want it to integrate well with other Linux programs, using Crossover Office may be the best solution.

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