Kamis, 12 Mei 2011

Thoughts on Wine Technology

If you have used a Unix operating system on a desktop computer for any extended period of time then odds are you have heard of Wine technology. In case you haven’t, Wine is an acronym that stands for “Wine Is Not an Emulator”. In actuality Wine is a “windows compatibility layer”. To put it in laymen’s terms it allows you to natively run Windows binaries in a Unix environment.

Wine is software I both love and hate. I love the fact that Wine exists. I hate the fact that it is necessary for Wine to exist. Lord knows there are a good number of (typically closed source) applications that only produce binaries for Windows. Some of these (such as games and office software) still lack true open source alternatives (Before anyone else says it: Yes LibreOffice is good but, as much as it pains me to say it, colleges teach Microsoft Office. It is difficult - if not impossible - to complete a class about using Microsoft Office, using LibreOffice). I dream of the day when enough developers pull their heads out of their asses and start developing software fully cross-platform.

That all being said, the Wine project is doing is truly remarkable job of accomplishing an immensely difficult task. They are reverse engineering all of the core binaries for an entire operating system. The Wine developers are doing their best to hit a moving target. The windows operating system is still evolving (albeit slower than Linux) and the Wine developers must be constantly coding to keep up with things.

Does Wine run all Windows applications perfectly? Hardly. It does a heck of a good job though! The number of “gold” and “platinum” rated applications continues to increase with each release. Are there bugs or regressions sometimes? Sure. But using a commercial product such as Crossover (which Bodhi Linux is now an official reseller for) catches most all regressions that occur between releases. The Crossover developers are also some of the lead contributers to the Wine project, meaning purchasing their software is a way to give back to the Wine project. If you want to easily keep track of Wine news Wine Reviews is a great resource for doing so.

Since I have taken all the Microsoft Office classes I’ll ever be required to sit through, I no longer use Wine for office software. I do however still use Wine for playing Starcraft 2 and several other Windows games.

What are your thoughts on the Wine project? Is it something you use? Does it work well for your needs?

~Jeff Hoogland

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