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Windows emulators for Linux (part 2)

written by: John Lister•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 9/21/2008

Sometimes even the most loyal Linux user wants to run a Windows-based program. In the second of a two-part series we look at some of the leading emulation software which makes this possible.

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    Win4Lin

    This program actually runs Windows as an application in its own window within Linux. That can seem a little confusing, but in practice you can run any of the Windows programs in full-screen so you don’t have to worry about ever-decreasing-windows! What makes the program particularly clever is that all your documents and settings are saved within Linux’s file system, so in practice you shouldn’t have to worry about which system a particular program runs on.

    Win4Lin is probably the best option for the casual user who just wants to run the odd Windows program here or there. It costs $29.99 for a single user running the Ubuntu version of Linux.

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    VMWare

    This company’s ‘Workstation’ product simulates an entire machine. This means your Linux computer can theoretically run exactly as if it was a Windows PC (though in practice there are some glitches). The big advantage here is that you can run Linux and Windows applications separately and, if one system crashes or freezes, the other will continue to work without problems.

    For more advanced users Workstation may be worth a look, but it’s primarily aimed at businesses wanting to save money on hardware costs. The system offers many more options than Win4Lin but is more complicated to set-up and more expensive at $189 for a single user.

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    Wine

    Technically speaking this isn’t an emulator. Instead, it’s an open source version of the Windows API – the system that controls how a particular program interacts with Windows. To put it in very simple terms, it’s a bit like a Windows-to-Linux translator. Because of this set-up, you don’t need a copy of Windows to use Wine on a Linux PC.

    Not all programs run well under Wine, but the manufacturer does provide a comprehensive database on its website to tell you whether a program should work at all, and how complicated it is to set up. At the moment, Microsoft Office 2002 is the latest edition of Microsoft Office rated Gold (meaning it runs efficiently and simply).

    The biggest drawback is that there’s little to no support from software manufacturers for Windows programs run in this way.

    As it’s free to download and use, Wine is definitely a good bet for people who want to try running one or two Windows programs in Linux.

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    Related reading

    >>> Comparison of Computer Operating Systems

    >>> Linux Operating System: Open Source, Free, Customizable

    >>> Why use Linux, the Open Source Operating System?

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    Images

    Win4LinVMWareWine

Windows emulators for Linux

Sometimes even the most loyal Linux user wants to run a Windows-based program. In a two-part series we explore how this can be done and look at some of the leading emulation software.
  1. Windows Emulators For Linux (part 1)
  2. Windows emulators for Linux (part 2)