All about Wine: Run Windows apps under Linux

Keep software free - Wine lets you run some Windows applications under Linux

A couple months back, I was at home, working on some changes to my personal Web site. I wanted to see how my work in progress looked in Internet Explorer. On a Windows machine that's as easy as pie, of course, but on my Linux desktop it's not so simple. I usually grab my laptop and boot it into Windows if I need to check something in IE (or interact with a wrongheaded site that requires that browser), but this wasn't an option that day--so I apparently had no choice but to reboot my desktop (which dual boots), select Windows, fire up Internet Explorer, take a look, and boot back into Linux to continue my work.

Well, feh. I figured there had to be a better way. Google quickly proved I was right: IEs4Linux brings Internet Explorer to your Linux desktop, with nearly all its warts intact. IE versions 5, 5.5, and 6 are officially supported at the moment; a beta of IEs4Linux provides partial IE 7 support, with improvements in the works. But IE 6 is sufficient for my Web-authoring tasks, and with IEs4Linux I had it running pretty much flawlessly in just a few minutes.

IEs4Linux accomplishes its magic rather simply. As you might expect if you're up on this sort of thing, it actually lets Wine do the heavy lifting. Wine is a Free Software project that aims to reimplement the Windows API on Unix systems. English translation: Wine lets you run some (emphasis: some) Windows applications under Linux.

Wine does just fine with IE 6 if you lay the proper groundwork first--and IEs4Linux handles that job for you. Follow the installation instructions , and you'll see IEs4Linux download IE components directly from Microsoft's public servers (and the Flash Player from Macromedia), install and register them under Wine, and even put a funny little upside-down IE icon on your desktop. (During the installation script, you can accept all the default values; just answer the yes-or-no questions with a Y or an N and press Enter at the other prompts until you're done.)

Double-click the launcher (the aforementioned desktop icon) to experience IE under Linux. Your Firefox browser will be scoffing and making rude comments in no time at all.

Watching Wine run IE got me wondering what else it can run these days. Wine's Web site has an application compatibility database , but it isn't exhaustive or up-to-date. That page also links to Frank's Corner , a site with more application listings and assorted Wine tips--but it's also a little dated overall. So if you really wanna see if Wine will run something in particular, your best bet is to just give it a shot.

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Matthew Newton

PC World
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