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Those "Essential" Windows Programs


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So maybe you got a few programs that need Windows support and there's no easy alternative - complex video games, income tax or bookkeeping stuff, music player, photo storage, Adobe whatever. How you gonna run them? Here's some thoughts:

  • On the rails. Well, yeah. You'll get best results for sure. If you have late model, powerful hardware and you've already paid the license fees, don't mind Windows updates and/or security apps - it'll be fine. But if like me you have a bunch of old junk that Windows doesn't support any longer - what then?
  • Virtual machines. Just run one under Linux. You'll still need to install Windows - ideally with a valid license, and you can still get hacked if you eschew security - but it should work ok. Things might be slower, you may not have that great video or bandwidth, and you'll chew up a bunch of storage and CPU time - but it'll usually work. There's a learning curve though. With VBox you'll need to figure out Guest Additions and how to install them. But it seems like a lot of work if there's only one simple app you need to run.
  • Wine emulation. It's a Linux program that lets you use all your native hardware and software while giving Windows compatibility. Sounds great - and it is if you can get it to work. The newer your Windows app, the less probable it is that an old version of Wine will work with it. You'll be on the bleeding edge of Wine in no time. The other disadvantage is that you need to set up a "prefix" for any Windows program you want to keep free of error and corruption. This is sort of like a walled garden I guess. You also need need both 32 and 64 bit parts of Wine plus other things like Gecko and Mono for best results. The best way to get everything right is to install the winetricks package. With very old programs you might be able to get better reults with Linux and Wine that you can with the latest Windows. I have a friend in the hood who insists on running a genealogy program from 2004. This program is missing a few DLLs on Windows 7 even. It chokes on anything newer than XP, but it runs beautifully on Wine. Go figure.

In my own life, I run most of what I need in actual Windows. I have 1-2 apps I want to run in Linux so I use Wine. I had a Windows VM but I never used it, so it's been archived. If I ever resurrected it it would take a day or more to get it updated.

Edited by raymac46
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Tnx for the info raymac.  I'm in a situation where I'm not running very many programs that require Windows anymore.  The one or two that I do, works OK with wine....lotsa wine.... 😉

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As I said I have Windows for my train sims and income tax. The only Windows app I want to run on Linux is Amazon Music Player and that works ok with Wine.

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Only Windows program I need to run once in a while is a Garmin updater for me sat nav. I gave up trying to run it on linux though it supposedly can be run through wine. Some games run using wine through Lutris and Steams Proton. 

I find wine quite complicated to use and have never really got a handle on it. Never bothered to try fully understanding it as I dual booted. 😎

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Wine on its own has rather a steep learning curve but no worse than virtual machines. Adding winetricks makes it a lot easier to use.

The only major problem is that updates to your Windows program might cause it to crash in Wine. You never know in advance if something will work or not. Crossover Linux is also supposed to be easier to use but you have to pay for it and even then it might not work properly.



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