A Little WINE Is Good

by Jared Steer (Jalbindi)

A long time ago, on a computer far, far away, I used to use Windows XP. There, I said it. I’m not proud of the fact, and I really hate touching those computers. But, that’s life. Changing to Linux was a breath of fresh air for me. Personally, I don’t use Windows-based software much. There are a few programs I have to use which are only developed for Windows, and I can’t change that. However, what I can change is the way in which I use those programs. For some time, I would dual-boot, which kinda seemed ok. I mean, it really was just a make-do option, because I was afraid of what might happen to my computer if I were to get rid of Windows completely, and venture into the Linux realm where something might go wrong. And then what? No customer support for me there... Which, to be honest, I wouldn’t have used with Windows, anyway. So, I never understood why I was getting bent out of shape.

I came across a piece of “Software”  during my ventures into Linux that had caught my interest. It is called WINE, an acronym for Wine Is Not an Emulator. At its core, it’s an API layer that enables a Windows environment to exist, self-contained within the Linux distro, without the user needing to install a full version of the Windows OS. It eliminates the need for installing  VMWare, or any other virtual machine software, such as VirtualBox or Qemu. To my surprise, some of the Windows software I initially ran on WINE worked pretty well, and without much trouble. Could this be the solution? Well, yes and no. At the time, I could run some things, but not others. WINE was at version 1.2 stable release and 1.3 development release. So I jumped onto the development bandwagon, rolled my sleeves up and decided to help as a Super Maintainer in the App Database (AppDB for short). And, there I’ve been ever since. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I ditched Windows years ago, and have a fully fledged Linux all-in-one desktop system running PCLInuxOS!

WINE in general

As part of my commitment to help shape the world around me and convince people that Linux is the only choice for them. I try and help them to understand what WINE can and can’t do. WINE can run popular software. If you want to play World of Warcraft or Command and Conquer 3, then there’s a fairly good chance you can do that without much hitch. This, of course, all depends on the repositories you use. A lot of distros will always have the stable release version, (1.4 as of this date), which has come a long way from the 1.2 version I began with. (And don’t get me started about WINE on OSX, which is way behind the times). However, it won’t run everything.

The software that is the most popular are PC video games and programs that use a lot of computer resources, such as CPU, memory and graphics rendering. MMORPGs are pretty popular, too. EVE Online and World of Warcraft are pretty popular games for people to play in WINE. If you want to venture into more DRM territory, Steam in WINE is also a stable running piece of software. For me, I try and avoid them. (Maybe not EVE, but who wouldn’t want to fly around in space!).

To help you understand the various color charts that appear in the AppDB, I will help you by listing them. It is important for you to understand what they represent, because it gives you a good gauge on how far the development of that software is in WINE, and whether or not you should refrain from installing a program in WINE for a bit longer.

Variety is the spice of WINE

To help you understand the development of software, the AppDB has a series of designations which guide you into knowing how well it will work. These are:


Platinum marked software means that when you install the software in WINE, it will work flawlessly out-of-the-box. Whatever you expect the software to do in Windows, it will do in WINE. These are the best to run because you know you’ll not have any problems either in the stable or development release.


Gold marked software means that you can install the software in WINE and it will work the way it is intended to, but you may have to configure WINE first. The configurations can vary. Sometimes it’s a simple thing like typing out a command for WINE to run the software in a certain way. Sometimes it’s a little more complex. The end result, if you follow the guidelines, should give you the desired output.


My favorite, when I’m in the mood, because it means I get to troubleshoot! Silver marked software means you can install the software, but there will be minor issues involved. Typically, in my experience, it can involve DLL files, pathway problems, or additional configuration. Maybe even configuration of WINE in regards to ALSA and graphics. A lot of users just want their software to run, and understandably so. Unfortunately, software in this category might not be so easy to develop. But it is getting there!


My second favorite, because the software might install, but chances are it won’t render graphics properly, or won’t render fonts, or even render fonts in the right color. It might be missing a bunch of stuff that the program would normally need to work. The software might also run a lot slower than it ought to. (More on that later).


Basically... it’s a trash program. The program won’t install, or it might install and not run properly, or it might not render anything. It may contain so many bugs it’s impossible to run it any way you want. Usually, bug reports are made to try and resolve these issues, because we don’t want software to be trash.  But, sometimes it might be a piece of software nobody has submitted into the AppDB.

Word of Caution

A few words of caution should be applied here. WINE will not run software with the same frames per second as it would natively on Windows. That’s because WINE isn’t Windows: it’s an API layer that allows Windows software to run. So if you’re after a fast paced First Person Shooter, you might find yourself moving slower than other players.

WINE is also susceptible to malware. Remember, you are running Windows software. If it’s an .exe extension and it’s from a dodgy website, the chances are it’s a trojan or virus. That means you can infect WINE with it and cause untold problems for yourself. So my advice is, unless it’s from a website you absolutely know and trust, use physical mediums such as CDs or DVDs to install the software, because you can be relatively sure the software is free of such things.

WINE also doesn’t work the same way in every distro. For example, a distro with lower security features might not find it difficult running certain software that would otherwise require a firewall. Other distros might have WINE pre-installed in such a way that it causes certain problems for software that should otherwise work ok. This is normal, and there are workarounds for it, which leads me to...


As part of my tenure with the PCLinuxOS community I will be writing articles relating to the woes you have using WINE. The version of WINE in the PCLOS repository is the 1.4 stable release. I will work with that release to help troubleshoot some common problems you might face, and highlight some tips you can remember to arm yourself in using WINE. I will also highlight certain software on the AppDB that works flawlessly, that you might enjoy, and some of the risks with some of the software that is used in WINE.