Easily Install Windows Games & Software on Linux with PlayOnLinux

PlayOnLinux provides a point-and-click interface to automatically install and tweak Windows software on Linux. It’s like a package manager — but for Windows games and other applications on Linux.

We’ve covered using Wine to run Windows software on Ubuntu and other Linux distributions in the past. PlayOnLinux automates this tedious process for the applications it supports. It provides a list of applications you can install and automates each installation process as much as possible.

Installation

PlayOnLinux is in Ubuntu’s software repositories, so you can grab it from the Ubuntu Software Center or install it with the following command:

sudo apt-get install playonlinux

If you want the latest version, you can download it from the PlayOnLinux website. Download the .deb file for Ubuntu and double-click it to start the installation.

If you want to keep up-to-date with the latest version, run the four commands on the page to add the PlayOnLinux software repository to your system. New versions of PlayOnLinux will appear in Ubuntu’s Update Manager if you do this.

PlayonLinux uses Wine as its backend. Installing it will also install Wine and other required software on your system.

Getting Started

Once it’s installed, you’ll find PlayOnLinux in your applications menu.

PlayOnLinux starts with a wizard that automatically downloads any other required software, including the Microsoft core fonts.

Installing Applications

Once it’s done, click the Install button on the toolbar or select Install from the File menu.

Use the install window to browse available applications or search for applications. PlayOnLinux has more games than any other type of software — Linux has a lot of great alternatives to Windows software, but games are still a weak point.

Games aren’t the only category of software on offer, though. You’ll find Internet Explorer 6 and 7, Apple iTunes and Safari, Adobe Photoshop CS4, and Microsoft Office 2000, 2003, and 2007 in the list.

Click the Install button after selecting an application and you’ll see an installation wizard.

Depending on the application you selected, PlayOnLinux may automatically download the program’s installer, ask you to download and browse to the setup file, or have you insert the program’s CD or DVD into your computer’s disc drive.

Launching and Managing Applications

After Windows applications are installed, you’ll see them in the main PlayOnLinux window. You can launch them from the PlayOnLinux window or from the shortcuts on your desktop.

Use the Remove or Shortcut buttons on the toolbar to uninstall apps or create new shortcuts.

Wine Versions

Some applications only work with a specific version of Wine. PlayOnLinux automatically downloads and installs the appropriate version of Wine for each application, saving you the hassle.

You can view your installed versions of Wine from the Manage Wine Versions option under the Tools menu.

Other Features

Click the Configure button to easily perform common configuration tasks.

PlayOnLinux also includes several plugins. The Capture plug-in lets you record screen capture videos, the PlayOnLinux Vault lets you save and restore your installed applications, and the Wine Look plugin lets you change the theme Windows applications use.


If PlayOnLinux doesn’t have the application you want, you can try installing it yourself with Wine.

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+.