Running Windows applications under Linux

There are a number of Windows applications that may not have suitable replacements under linux. I know a lot of people that have considered switching, but there was “one program holding them back.” Fortunately there are several options on how to keep that one application from holding you back.

Well for starters, there is the free WINE, Wine strives to give a windows compatible API under Linux. There is an application database on the site as well as LOADS of other information on their development process. Their application database gives the status for applications and notes if there are alternative native-linux applications that might take the place of the Windows application. Wine is freely available.

Next, there is the CVS version (freely available of Cedaga (formerly Winex)). Now, access to the official version of Winex / Cedaga is available for a $5 per month “subscription”. (The subscription basically gives you voting rights on their development. The last I saw their minimum was 3 months. So you can download the official for $15). WineX (Cedaga) is designed to be more for gaming in that they’ve focused on implementing the DirectX api. The main difference between the pay and free versions are that the pay version has some copy protection code in it to access copy protected discs. Instructions on downloading the free version of Cedaga can be found at Frank’s Corner.

Franks Corner by the way is another handy, free resource in this area. There is an application database there as well and some frequently asked questions and a few other wine related links.

Next we have Codeweavers Crossover Office as a pay option to support installing Windows applications on Linux. The cheapest option they have is Crossover Office Standard at $39.95, they have other packagings of their product. Essentially they use wine (in fact they contribute most of the paid coders for the WINE project.) The main difference is that they’ve added some easy to use graphical installers to deal with installing software and they’ve put out a list of the software which can install and work and they rate the software. They also provide support for making things work. There are a variety of deployment options (including Crossover Office server edition)

Next let’s look at the various emulators. It’s possible to install a complete Windows environment under either Bochs. My experience with Bochs was that it was too slow to be usable. That’s been some time though. It may be that with a) a newer version of Bochs and b)faster hardware your experience might be better.

I’ve had pretty good results with Qemu. Qemu is also emulates a computer system, so you have a “Virtual machine” running into which you can install Windows. I’ve used it with the Qemu kernel accelerator module Kqemu and find the results to be pretty good. The speed is a bit slower than native windows. (You’re experience will vary based on system memory, how many apps are open competing with QEMU and I’ve been able to tweak it when necessary by giving it a higher priority with renice.) For light applications this might be a good solution if the application fails to work under Wine.

Netraverse Win4lin 9x home, Win4lin 9x and Win4linPro are somewhat like a virtual machine emulator, although they are tuned specifically towards Windows operating systems. (In other words you couldn’t load Freebsd or another OS in this virtual machine.) I’ve had good experience with Win4lin (now replaced by Win4lin 9x). I essentially have run Windows 98 in it, there is a Kernel module that it requires and newer versions (as I understand) can make use of Qemu’s kernel module as well. Pricing starts at $29.99 for Win4lin home and goes to $119 for Win4lin pro (pro let’s you run XP and 2000).

Finally, vmware specializes in Virtual Machine software, Windows can be run under VMware on Linux and pricing starts at $189 for VMWare Workstation.

There are a few good options for running dos applications under linux as well. These include dosbox and dosemu.

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