• ARTICLES
SEARCH

How-To Geek

How To Run Windows Software on Ubuntu with Wine

Linux is a great operating system, but its software catalog can be lacking. If there’s a Windows game or other app you just can’t do without, you can use Wine to run it right on your Ubuntu desktop.

Wine is a work in progress, so it won’t run every application perfectly — in fact, some applications may not run at all — but it’s improving all the time. This beginner’s guide will get you up and running with Wine.

Wine Application Database

The process of finding out whether an application will work with Wine and tweaking it to work can be tedious, so the Wine project hosts an application database known as the Wine AppDB. Search the database for an application to see ratings, comments, tips, guides and tweaks left by other users.

Platinum-rated applications run perfectly, with no tweaks required, while garbage-rated applications don’t run at all.

For many apps, particularly popular ones, you’ll find a full guide to installing your application in Wine, as well as tweaks to fix any annoying issues.

Installing Wine

You’ll find Wine available in the Ubuntu Software Center. Both stable and beta versions are available — here, version 1.2 is stable and version 1.3 is beta. The stable version is more tested — sometimes, a regression in the beta version can cause an application to stop working, but some applications will only work with the newer, beta version. An application’s entry in the Wine application database sometimes contains information about the necessary version of Wine you’ll need.

Running an Application

Once you’ve got Wine installed, you can download an application’s EXE or MSI (Microsoft Installer) file and double-click it — just like you would if you were using Windows — to run it with Wine.

This isn’t always the best way to run an application. If you’re encountering a problem, you can run the application from the terminal to see detailed error messages that can help you troubleshoot the problem. Just use the following command:

wine /path/to/application.exe

If you have an MSI file instead, use the following command to install it:

wine msiexec /i /path/to/installer.msi

Bear in mind that many of the error messages don’t matter. For example, the fixme message here indicates that Wine doesn’t contain support for a specific function yet, but the application runs fine without this function.

If the application requires installation, install it as if you were using Windows.

Once it’s installed, you’ll find its shortcuts in your applications menu, and possibly on your desktop.

Wine’s Utilities

The Wine package comes with a few utilities, which you can access from the applications menu. Just type Wine in the application menu to search for them.

Wine’s configuration dialog contains a variety of options, some of which you may need to get applications working. You can set the Windows version Wine behaves as, or set specific Windows versions for each individual applicaiton. Other options include graphics, audio and theming settings.

The Uninstall Wine Software utility lists your installed software and allows you to remove programs.

The package also includes Winetricks, a helper script that automates some tasks. Winetracks can guide you through installing certain popular applications and games — you won’t find every supported application here, though.

The Registry & File System

Many applications require registry tweaks to work properly. You’ll often find information about which registry entries to modify on the application database. Execute the regedit command from a terminal to access Wine’s registry editor.

Wine uses a virtual Windows file system, which is stored in the hidden .wine folder in your home folder. Use the View -> Show Hidden Files option in the file manager to reveal it. Once you have, you’ll find a folder named drive_c in the .wine folder — this folder contains the contents of Wine’s C: drive.


Fun, geeky fact: Wine stands for “Wine is not a Windows emulator.” It doesn’t emulate Windows; it’s an implementation of the Windows API for Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris and the BSD family of operating systems.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 02/10/12

Comments (16)

  1. PhilmacFLy

    Seriously why should I want to install µtorrent on a Linux OS? There are much better alternatives on Linux.

  2. TheFu

    Quicken is one of the last non-game programs that doesn’t have a good replacement under Linux. Getting Quicken 2011 and earlier working has been solved in a relatively painless manner. Quicken 2012 is proving to be more challenging. Google “quicken linux” to learn more. Tax software is a challenge too, but versions of MS-Office have been working well.

    I think v1.3.37 is the current version of WINE.

    Besides WINE, there are two commercial add-ons that are filled with WINE application settings and customizations to make running programs under WINE much easier.
    * Bordeaux – http://bordeauxgroup.com/ ($5)
    * CrossOver and CrossOver Games – http://www.codeweavers.com/ ($50)

    If you aren’t as nerdy as someone who will manually copy DLLs from Windows to locations under WINE, then those offerings are a great option. Both companies contribute back to WINE development.

    I’m not a gamer, but many games are reported to run reasonably well under WINE.

    If you are running Linux for other great reasons, you don’t necessarily need to dual-boot back to Windows.

  3. IrishIT

    ^Agreed. But for what it is worth, wine is a really great product that I am expecting big things out of in the linux world :D

  4. Robert Benzing

    I have been there and done that. But it doesn’t want me to use it? Because I’m not the Root User? Well can some one please tell me WHO IS DA Root user? Ubuntu 11.04.

    Tank Youse,
    The Big BOOB.

  5. Ask

    Nice article.

    Can you please post article on – How to run Linux software into Windows 7 ?

    I am not looking for VM machines. A kind of emulator which just runs these .py & .tar files.
    Just for testing Linux software in Windows.

    Cygwin seems to cumbersome with so many packages to install

  6. Chris Hoffman

    @PhilmacFLy

    I just threw some popular, Windows-only applications up there for the sake of a screenshot.

    @TheFu

    Crossover (I haven’t heard of Bordeaux) is a good option. It does that hard work for you — of course, you pay for it.

    @Robert Benzing

    The root user is the same as the “Administrator” user on Windows. It’s just a system user account. It isn’t used on Ubuntu — you just use your user account’s password to gain root permisisons.

    @Ask

    From what I’ve heard, Cygwin is probably the best option. I’ll look into it! Although I may end up writing about Cygwin.

  7. Anonymous

    This kind of strikes a sore spot for me…

    I defy you or anyone to get a descent mapping program working under WINE. Something like Microsoft Streets and Trips or Rand McNally Street Finder for Windows simply will not work with WINE. Sure, you can run them in a VM, but what if you don’t have extra cores or extra memory to get your VM working decently? And then you want to put a resource hogging app in there? Please! Besides, most distros still tout that they love older hardware anyway. So why doesn’t anyone have a good mapping program for Linux or at least a way to let WINE do it?

    This can’t be something that requires Internet access either. Cause we already have Google Maps, Mapquest, and several others for that. This needs to be a mapping program that can zoom to street level (like Google Maps) and be used offline in the middle of nowhere. This offline aspect is key. Perhaps some way to get a mapping program working on something extremely limited like a PIII 500MHz with only 256M of memory. Cause I’m sure there are plenty of cheap laptops with at least those specs or better. This can’t be something that requires some convoluted way of ripping off Goggles map database either (and if if does, make sure the developers understand what K.I.S.S. stand for – good luck there).

    There simply is nothing within any of the Linux repositories that I’ve found for off line street mapping. And if you try to throw WINE at it things just doesn’t work. Now, there are a few Linux projects that require some major geekdom to even understand (like what doesn’t?), but those projects usually only concentrate on small geographic locations like some unknown island in the middle of a mid-western river – not somewhere I am in! Anything that runs under Windows typically falls all over itself when attempting to use WINE. And as I said, there is no app in any repository that even comes close to what certain Windows apps offer – with respect to street level mapping, that is.

    WINE is nice and all. But if all WINE is good for is gaming then I think I’ll stick to either dual booting or running a VM on a more modern system for those times when I want to run Windows apps. No brain damage that way (and in my case, usually no portability either). And really. What good is even a descent netbook or tablet if there’s no good off line mapping software to go with it? That reason – and my inability to get MythTV to work with even a Hauppauge 1600PVR – are the only reasons I still use Windows at all. But my MythTV woes are a whole other rant.

  8. Chris Hoffman

    Wine isn’t perfect. Remember what the Wine project is — it’s a lot of developers, many unpaid, trying to reverse-engineer and reimplement the Windows API from scratch.

    Given what Wine is, it’s amazing it works so well.

    Nevertheless, Wine isn’t perfect. It can run some important non-game apps — Microsoft Office and Photoshop (particularly older versions), for one.

  9. Koenigsegg

    Hum. It’s embarrassing to have such a stupid question in mind… But could someone tell me if Wine works on Fedora or on Mint?
    Thank you, guys

    K. , Linux noob.

  10. Chris Hoffman

    @Koenigsegg

    Yup! You’ll find Wine in other distribution’s repositories too, just open the Add/Remove software tool and search for it.

    Everything here will be similar — although there may be only a single Wine version instead of a stable and beta version. And I’m not sure if Winetricks is included by default on other distributions.

  11. Koenigsegg

    @ Chris Hoffman : thank you very much, my friend! I think I’ll install Fedira – which looks great on its last version, and I’ll check it out!

  12. Chris Hoffman

    I’ve used Fedora quite a bit; it’s a great distribution. A bit on the bleeding edge side, though.

  13. tech27

    Is it possible to run “DevCpp” on WINE ???
    also Microsoft Office 2010 ??

  14. Chris Hoffman

    @tech27

    I’ve never tried either, so I can’t give you a direct answer. Check out Wine’s AppDb, that I mentioned in the article: http://appdb.winehq.org/

    You’ll find comments from people that have tried these programs.

  15. tech27

    How to install MS Office 2007/2010 using WINE ??? Need help

  16. Chris Hoffman

    You’ll find in-depth instructions on the AppDB: http://appdb.winehq.org/objectManager.php?sClass=version&iId=4992

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!