The perceived inability to run windows applications on Linux is what keeps many individuals from trying Linux. It turns out that it is possible to run many popular Windows applications on Linux PCs using one of several software technologies. Products that will allow Windows applications to run on Linux include:
Cedega from TransGaming Technologies Inc.
CrossOver Office for Linux from CodeWeavers Inc.
QEMU from Fabrice Bellard
VMware from VMware, an EMC company
Win4Lin from Win4Lin Inc.
Wine from the Wine Project
TransGaming Technologies bills themselves as “the global leader in the development of software portability products for cross-platform gaming”. Their flagship product, Cedega, allows games originally created for Windows to run on Linux.
CrossOver Office from CodeWeavers allows many popular Windows applications to run on Linux. The list of applications that CrossOver Office allows to run on Linux is quite extensive and includes applications such as: Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Project and Visio, and graphics applications such as Macromedia Dreamweaver MX, Flash MX, and Adobe Photoshop, and much more. CrossOver Office also allows individuals to use many Windows Web browser plugins, such as QuickTime and Shockwave. CodeWeavers uses Wine technology in its CrossOver Office Products (see the Wine description later in this article).
CodeWeavers maintains an extensive list of applications that can run on Linux using CrossOver Office with a ranking of how well they run. The list can be accessed on their web site.
CrossOver Office has been tested on many Linux distributions. The complete list may be found on the CodeWeavers web site.
CrossOver Office is available in two versions, Standard and Professional. The Standard version is intended for home users and Linux enthusiasts, while Professional is more for commercial users and builds on the functionality of Standard by adding enhanced deployability features, as well as the ability to run CrossOver Office in shared mode from a single machine.
A 30-day trial of CrossOver Office is available from CodeWeavers and may be obtained from their web site.
QEMU is a generic open source processor emulator that was developed by Fabrice Bellard. It is available for free. QEMU allows a user to run one operating system, such as Windows, within another one, such as Linux.
QEMU is available for Free and may be downloaded from Fabrice’s web site.
VMware comes from VMware, Inc., an EMC company. VMware allows users to to run multiple virtual machines on a single PC. Each virtual machine can run a different operating system. The net result is that VMWare allows a user to run multiple operating systems on a single Intel-based PC. Using VMware, a user can run a Windows virtual machine and Windows applications on a Linux PC.
VMware Workstation supports a long list of Linux distributions as the host operating system. You should check with the VMware web site for the specific releases and kernel levels supported.
A free 30-day trial of VMware Workstation may be downloaded from the VMWare web site.
VMware also provides the VMware Player for free. The VMware Player can run virtual machines created by VMware Workstation, GSX Server or ESX Server. Pre-configured VMware virtual machines may be obtained from the VMWare Virtual Machine Center.
Win4Lin from Win4Lin Inc. provides a Windows virtual computing environment that runs on Linux allowing Windows applications to run on Linux. Win4Lin comes in three versions that would be appropriate for the home user:
Win4Lin Home, which is targeted for the home or small business user.
Win4Lin 9x (Formerly Win4Lin 5), which is targeted for the home user/hobbyist, or business users who do not require Windows 2000.
Win4Lin Pro, which is targeted at power users who require Windows 2000 or XP.
Win4Lin runs on most 2.4.x or 2.6.x Linux distributions. Win4Lin 9x and Win4Lin Home require a modified kernel to work. For most users, the Win4Lin graphical installer will select, download, and install the appropriate binary replacement kernel, making patching the kernel unnecessary. However, there are some distributions that may require users to compile a vanilla kernel from source. Such distributions include Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and 4, and Fedora Core 3 and 4. Some Linux distributions include Win4Lin support in their default kernel or make a Win4Lin enabled kernel available, including: Gentoo, Linspire, SimplyMepis, and Xandros. Win4Lin Pro does not require kernel modification.
WineWine, which stands for Wine Is Not a (CPU) Emulator, is an Open Source implementation of the Windows API (application programming interface) that runs on Linux and POSIX compatible operating systems. Wine is a compatibility layer that allows Windows programs to run on Linux. Wine is still under development, and it is not yet suitable for general use, however, many individuals use Wine to run Windows applications on Linux. WineHQ maintains an Application Database of individual’s success and failure reports running Windows applications with Wine. Other products mentioned in this article are based on Wine, including CodeWeavers CrossOver Office, and Cedega from TransGaming Technologies.