Running Existing Win32 Applications on SUSE LINUX

Posted: 2 Jun 2004


For long-time Windows users, making the switch from Windows to Linux can be somewhat of a daunting task. But with the recent popularity of the Linux operating system and the never-ending desire to reduce costs, the pressure to make the switch is mounting. There are several ways in which people have tried to migrate from Windows to Linux, everything from having a dual boot operating system, to a Virtual Operating System, and even separate systems. The dual boot system works well, but shutting down and re-booting to the other operating system just to get to your applications can get old really fast, and there is the fact that you haven't done away with the requirement for the MS Windows license. With a virtual operating environment such as VMWare you install one operating system, either Windows or Linux as the host operating system and other as the virtual operating system. Although this works great as well, you still need a Windows license and also a VMWare license. Another option (certainly the least expensive one) is to use Wine. Wine, which stands for "Wine is not an emulator" comes pre-installed on the SUSE line of products and can be used to run many of your Win32 (Win 95/98, NT/2000/XP), Win16 (Win 3.1) and DOS applications. Using Wine, you can finally remove the requirement for the Windows license and get the most out of your Linux system.

Using Wine on SUSE Linux

As previously mentioned, Wine comes pre-installed on Linux and can be found in a hidden directory (.wine) in the user's home directory. In the .wine directory you will see a fake_windows directory which contains directories required by the Windows operating system (Program Files, Windows, My Documents, etc.). If you type wine regedit you will notice that wine implements a Windows registry, which makes sense, since most Windows applications required entries in the Windows registry. Many Windows applications have a dependency on the Microsoft's COM product

Don't be surprised if you have to download DCOM98 to get your application to install.

Installing Windows applications using Wine

When installing a Windows application you have several options. If you are an experienced Linux user you can install the application from a Terminal Window. Simply change directories to where the install.exe or setup.exe is located, and precede the install.exe or setup.exe with "wine" to install the application (i.e. wine setup.exe). If you are not an experienced Linux user and prefer doing things in a GUI environment, you can use the Linux File Manager (pops up automatically when a CD is inserted) to browse and select the install.exe or setup.exe.

When Linux prompts for an application to open the file, enter wine and click OK.

Once the application is installed, you can either run the application from a Linux Terminal Window by changing directories to where the applications executable file is located and execute wine <app name>, or a better option is to create an icon on the desktop that references the application. Remember that you must precede the application with the wine command.

Using Crossover Office to install applications

Although it is not required, it is highly recommended that you use a third-party product named Crossover Office produced by CodeWeavers which uses wine and ensures Linux compatibility for many of today's popular Office Windows applications CodeWeavers is very proactive and if an application is on their supported list and it doesn't work they want to know about it so they can supply a fix.

Crossover Office ships with the SUSE Linux Desktop product, but must be purchased separately for other SUSE products for a very reasonable fee.

CodeWeavers has rated many of today's Windows applications with a Gold, Silver, Bronze, Honorable Mention, Known not to work, or Untested Medal rating for Linux compatibility which is a huge benefit.

Once installed, Crossover Office offers a setup application that maintains a list of installed Windows applications and also a list of supported applications.

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