Linux users to toast Wine

Users wishing to run Word, Internet Explorer or other Windows applications on non-Microsoft Corp. platforms can finally do so with software that a consortium of open source developers will roll out in the next three months.

Wine 1.0, in development by a group of voluntary programmers since 1993, is an implementation of Windows 3.X and Win32 that operates on top of Linux, Unix or X Windows workstations. Other features include:

-- Support for Microsoft's Common Object Model and Distributed COM technologies, the latter of which lets applications communicate over a network securely and efficiently.

-- The ability to mount shares on multiuser Samba systems, which give Linux desktop users access to file and print services that use Microsoft's Common Information File System.

-- The capability for users to run Windows-based Lotus Notes messaging clients on Linux workstations.

Companies have tested prerelease versions of Wine, with some using Linux and Wine on their desktops to concurrently run Linux-based management tools and Windows-based desktop applications.

"Once [Wine] is stable enough, I could roll it out to users that already have Linux desktops," says Jacob Kennedy, a systems analyst for a company in the U.K. that he asked not be identified. This would let him deliver Word, Outlook and other Windows applications to end users with Linux on their desktops, he says.

Several companies, such as Codeweavers and Transgaming, will offer distributions of Wine, packaged with installation scripts and documentation.

Wine runs on any version of Linux and can be downloaded from winehq.com, wine.codeweavers.com or www.transgaming.com.