Running Windows Software on Linux Wine

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Wine is a Windows compatibility layer that allows you to run many Windows applications natively on Linux. Though you could run the Windows OS on Wine, the actual Windows OS is not required. Windows applications will run as if they were Linux applications, able to access the entire Linux file system and use Linux-connected devices. Applications that are heavily driver-dependent, such as graphics-intensive games, may not run. Others that do not rely on any specialized drivers may run very well, including Photoshop, Microsoft Office, and newsreaders such as NewsBin. For some applications, you may also need to copy over specific Windows dynamic link libraries (DLLs) from a working Windows system to your Wine Windows system32 or system directory.

To install Wine on your system, search for wine on the Synaptic Package Manager (see Chapter 6). You will see a wine package listed, described as the Windows Compatibility Layer. Once installed, a Wine submenu will appear on the Applications menu. The Wine submenu holds subentries for Wine configuration, the Wine software uninstaller, and Wine file browser, as well as a regedit registry editor, notepad, and a Wine help tool.

To set up Wine, start the Wine Configuration tool. This opens a window with tabs for Applications, Libraries (DLL selection), Audio (sound drivers), Drives, Desktop Integration, and Graphics. On the Applications tab, you can select for which version of Windows an application is designed. The Drives tab lists your detected partitions, as well as your Windows-emulated drives, such as drive C:. (The C: drive is actually just a directory, .wine/drive_c, not a partition of a fixed size. Your actual Linux file system will be listed as the Z: drive.)

Once configured, Wine will set up a .wine directory on the user's home directory. (The directory is hidden, but you can choose View | Show Hidden Files in the file manager to display it.) Within that directory will be the drive_c directory, which functions as the C: drive that holds your Windows system files and program files in the Windows and Program File subdirectories. The System and System32 directories are located in the Windows directory. This is where you would place any needed DLL files. The Program Files directory holds your installed Windows programs, just as they would be installed in a Windows Program Files directory.

To install a Windows application with Wine, you can open a terminal window and run the wine command with the Windows application as an argument. The following example installs the popular NewsBin program:

$ wine newsbin.exe

Or, instead of using the terminal window, you can right-click the application icon on the desktop and choose Open With | Wine.

Icons for installed Windows software will appear on your desktop. Double-click an icon to start up the application. It will run normally within a Linux window as would any Linux application.

Installing Windows fonts on Wine is a simple matter of copying fonts from a Windows font directory to your Wine .wine/drive_c/Windows/fonts directory. You can copy any Windows .ttf file to this directory to install a font.

Tip You can use the commercial Windows emulation framework called CrossOver Office on your Linux system to run certain applications, such as Microsoft Office. Check www.codeweavers .com for more details. CrossOver Office is based on Wine, which CodeWeavers supports directly.

To install applications that have .msi extension, you use the msiexec command with /a option. The following installs the Mobipocket Ebook Reader:

msiexec /a mobireadersetup.msi

To add books to the Mobipocket reader library, just drag the book to the open Mobipocket window.

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