Tuesday, October 13, 2015

PlayOnLinux Review Playing Windows Games Was Never Easier

PlayOnLinux is a well-known app that allows its users to install and run games and applications that have been released only for the Windows platform, without breaking any laws.

There is no denying that Windows has a large number of applications and games at its disposal and that some of those are actually pretty good. In fact, up until just a couple of years ago, most of the games were only released for Windows systems and occasionally for Mac OS. That has changed somewhat, but not all that much. Quite a few titles are still Windows-only, and people are still looking for old software.

Some of you will say that we already have Wine and that Crossover is doing a great job, and you would be right to some extent. The problem is that Wine is only friendly if the game is working out of the box, which doesn't happen all that often. Also, Crossover is a commercial application, and not everyone will be inclined to buy it, although it's extremely good. Keep in mind that many of the Wine developers are actually working for Codeweavers, the developers of Crossover.

PlayOnLinux is using Wine, and that is not really a secret, but its makers have gone a step further. They have also implemented a GUI that helps users get a much better understanding of what's going on and that makes the entire installation process mostly automated. You still have access to some of the most complex stuff, but it's possible that you won't need to.

Installation

I tested PlayOnLinux in Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf), which technically is not a stable release just yet. I didn't have any problems with the application itself, but Wine decided to put up some resistance. Fortunately, PlayOnLinux is actually smart enough to install and use newer versions of Wine, even if dependencies are broken on the distro.

There is no official PPA for Ubuntu, but the developers do provide a DEB file and it installs just fine. If you want to use a third-party PPA, the guys from Noobslab have one in place. In any case, here is how you install the application by using the DEB file. Download the file, open a terminal where the file is located, and enter the following commands (root will be required):

sudo dpkg -i PlayOnLinux_4.2.9.deb
sudo apt-get install -f
 
PlayOnLinux also needs Wine, so we'll have to install that as well. As I was saying earlier, I had problems installing Wine 1.7 in Ubuntu 15.10, so I had to settle with Wine 1.6. This is not a major problem since PlayOnLinux can download and use other versions of Wine. Open a terminal and enter these commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wine1.7
 
If you can get 1.7 to work, you can also install the 1.6 version.

Usage

PlayOnLinux is not a difficult-to-use application, and it has something for everyone. If you don't want to do anything complicated, then you just hit the Install button and look there for the application or game that you want. Those are basically profiles, which have been put together by people from the community.

Let's say that you want to play Bioshock. You select the game from the list, and PlayOnLinux will download some packages like Mono or Wine 1.4 (confirmed to work with Bioshock), and you get to a step where you are asked what kind of installation it is - from a file stored locally, from a DVD-ROM, or from Steam. I have that game on Steam, so I'll select that one. I will also have to download some proprietary fonts, but the application will take care of that as well.

I also have to install Steam, since I can't just use the Steam for Linux. The process will take a while because I have to download Bioshock, but as you can see, everything works smoothly. This was the scenario for something that was already available, but I also installed one of my favorite RTS games, the old Blitzkrieg, and that's not listed. The procedure is not much different, and I used my GOG.com copy. It went pretty much the same way, and I didn't have any issue.

It's also worth pointing out that you can also customize the application itself, quite a great deal, and you also access to the Wine installation as well. For example, I usually set Wine to work in a window and not in full screen. If something goes wrong (it happens sometimes), you can lock up your system with no way of shutting the application.

Another cool feature is the PlayOnLinux Vault that lets users save successful installations for later, with compression or without. This way, when you have a new installation of an OS, you just restore that package, and you don't have to do everything from scratch.


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