First 'stable' Wine puts Windows apps on Linux

The makers of Wine, a compatibility tool that allows Windows applications to run on Linux machines without Windows installed, have released a stable version of Wine 1.0.

The makers of Wine claim that version 1.0 is the first such "stable" release and have said that although compatibility is not perfect, thousands of applications are reported to "work very well."

Member and former president of Linux Australia Jonathon Oxer told ZDNet.com.au that the Wine project is "an attempt to make Windows irrelevant."

"Essentially, it's an effort to supplant the underlying operating system layer and allow Windows software to run on a Linux platform without requiring Windows to be installed," he said.

A challenge for the Wine project is creating libraries that perfectly emulate Windows libraries.

"It never will be stable because the target keeps moving. As each new version of Windows comes out, the underlying libraries are also changed and so, Wine has the same problem as a typical Windows developer who is attempting to write software to run on Windows," said Oxer.

Oxer said he considers the tool a Linux "migration path" for existing Windows users because they can move their applications across, even where they haven't been designed to run on Linux. Although Wine's original purpose was to provide a compatibility layer for office applications, the most popular use of the tool today is for gamers who want to play Windows games on Linux systems.

The only non-gaming application in Wine's top 10 most popular applications is Adobe Photoshop CS2, which is in second place behind Guild Wars.

Wine, not surprisingly, has been the target of anti-piracy campaigns by Microsoft. In 2005, Wine users were prevented under the Windows Genuine Advantage scheme from receiving Windows updates.

Fellow internet giant Google, however, has chosen to support the program, recently contributing cash to the open source project to ensure that Adobe's Creative Suite software still runs on Linux systems.

A list of Wine-compatible applications can be found here.

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