Ubuntu Linux, Day 23: Would You Like Some Wine With That?

30 Days With Ubuntu Linux: Day 23

Over the course of the three weeks I have been using Ubuntu so far for the 30 Days With Ubuntu Linux series, there have been sporadic comments suggesting that I just run this app or that app in a virtual Windows environment from within Ubuntu. So, today I am taking a look at Wine.

Wine has been around for 17 years. It started as an acronym for WINdows Emulator, but the software evolved from an emulator to a compatibility layer, and the acronym was eventually adapted to be Wine Is Not an Emulator. Now, Wine is just accepted as the name of the software for the most part without regard for turning it into an acronym at all.

If you absolutely must run Windows software, you can use Wine in Ubuntu Linux.
I will say that--on some level--running Windows software seems like cheating. It's like saying that an SUV is obviously a better vehicle than a Prius, but then towing a Prius around for those occasions where the SUV is too big or consumes too much gas to be practical. It's like deciding to be a vegetarian, and then spending all of your time trying to figure out how to make tofu look and taste like the meat you chose to give up.

To be fair, though, it is nice to have a tool like Wine available in your back pocket for special occasions. It is preferable to visit the Ubuntu Software Center and find native Linux alternatives to the programs you use(d) in Windows, but if there is software that you just have to run, and you can't find a suitable substitute, you can give Wine a whirl.

I opened up my handy-dandy Ubuntu Software Center and typed Wine in the search field, and...WTF? There are 14 matching items that show up. Many of them are variations on 'Microsoft Windows Compatibility Layer'. One has '(meta package)' at the end, another has '(dummy package)'. They each have a little sub-title like 'wine', or 'wine-gecko', or 'wine1.3-gecko'. Why isn't there just a single app clearly called 'Wine'?

I didn't really have any clue which of these various software packages is the real Wine, but the one at the top--the 'meta package'--had the most ratings and ranked highly at 4.5 stars, so I decided to give that one a shot.

Once it completed installing, I went to the Applications lens on the Unity bar and typed in Wine. It claims I have three apps installed that fit that description: Configure Wine, Uninstall Wine Software, and Winetricks. I was hoping to actually run Wine, but given these three options it seems that Configure Wine is the logical first choice.

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