Can Wine make Ubuntu better for Ed Tech?

Can Wine make Ubuntu better for Ed Tech?

Summary: One of the keepers of the Ubuntu software respositories (called MOTUs, or Masters of the Universe) has proposed a mainstream inclusion of Wine with Ubuntu. For any of you unfamiliar with Wine, it is a body of software that allows Linux users to run a variety of Windows applications.

TOPICS: Open Source

One of the keepers of the Ubuntu software respositories (called MOTUs, or Masters of the Universe) has proposed a mainstream inclusion of Wine with Ubuntu. For any of you unfamiliar with Wine, it is a body of software that allows Linux users to run a variety of Windows applications. WineHQ summarizes:

Wine is a translation layer (a program loader) capable of running Windows applications on Linux and other POSIX compatible operating systems. Windows programs running in Wine act as native programs would, running without the performance or memory usage penalties of an emulator, with a similar look and feel to other applications on your desktop.

Wine allows applications ranging from Accelerated Reader to Examview to Logger Pro to run on a Linux box. A complete list of Windows educational applications enabled with Wine is available here.

Obviously, making Wine easily-accessible to Linux users would bring down a significant barrier to its adoption.

According to,

This does not mean the Wine would be installed by default but instead that, on clicking an executable file, the user would be prompted if they want to install Wine. An automatic install would follow, similar to what is already done for codecs in Ubuntu.

The proposed inclusion of Wine certainly makes sense for Ubuntu, largely considered the mainstream Windows alternative of choice (next to OS X). It also means that users of netbooks won't necessarily have to run Windows XP Home to access educational applications. Instead, as Wine continues to mature and see increased adoption and integration with Ubuntu, Linux netbooks become far more realistic. So, in fact, do DIY labs, saving licensing fees on operating systems, even if the fees can't be saved on some proprietary software used in your school system.

Topic: Open Source

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Wines Improve With Age To A Point

    In reading the many talkbacks re: the perennial seesaw battle between Windows and Linux, one comment surfaces often.
    'I'd switch source...except for some applications that aren't readily available yet.'
    This Wine option may be just what the Good Doctor ordered. In favor of Linux, and its many flavors, more frequent adoption!
  • Wine is a double edged sword ...

    There are two schools of thought about using WINE. One is that by using WINE you can transition into Linux, OSX, or any POSIX compatible system and still maintain your legacy Windows applications until vendors start to produce native versions. In this instance WINE can act as a bridge from Windows to a *nix world.

    The other school is that by using WINE vendors will not have an incentive to develop native versions since they can just use the compatibility layer instead. This is what led to the demise of O/S 2 since it came with a Windows compatibility layer that ran so well vendors just developed for Windows and never bothered to develop native 0/S 2 versions.

    With Ubuntu starting to become a household name having WINE pre-installed or prompting to install by default may actually hurt the brand instead of helping. ;)
    • I have to

      agree with your premise. Makes sense. Besides I would rather have a Linux binary instead of a Windows binary running in emulation. ]:)
      Linux User 147560
    • Except that...

      OS/2 wasn't free, Ubuntu and Wine are. That won't be all Ubuntu needs to have to keep from suffering OS/2's demise, but it will certainly give it much needed traction.
      Release The Hounds
      • And?

        [i]Except that OS/2 wasn't free ...[/i]

        At the time Microsoft did not have a 90%+ market share in operating systems so an opening for a competitor with enough resources at their disposal could have unseated Microsoft. Cost had nothing to do with it since you could have ordered a computer at the time with either operating system. I know since I sold these systems back then.

        IBM tried to pitch O/S 2 as the alternative to Windows. The compatibility layer was so businesses could effectively migrate their current Windows infrastructure to the IBM platform since O/S 2 was marketed as the superior operating system, which is was at that time.

        The problem was that O/S 2 was so good at running Windows programs ISV's didn't bother to write native applications because of the time and energy involved. Why write for two platforms when one will suffice? Remember this is way before numerous cross-platforms tool were available and the internet as a distribution model was still in its infancy.

        So the lesson learned by IBM is that you can't have too much compatibility with your competitor because in the long run there will be no incentive for ISV's to migrant their applications to the new platform. ;)
    • Bigger principle is freedom

      Freedom is to run what ever you want on your computer is the reason why we have free software. Wine should be included just so anyone who wants to use it can use it. Wine should not be excluded because of some political and strategic considerations of certain people in the community.
    • The third school is to dump WINE

      and just install Windows. This stuff about emulation
      (sorry "not emulation") have been around for years,
      and if it were so good it would have enticed a lot of
      people to migrate. It's not.
      • Actually the emulation is pretty good

        Besides Windows has a DOS emulator in it so emulation does work. Of course the best option is to use native apps, but just like Linux is not for many Windows users, Windows won't do for many Linux/Unix users for various reasons. Also, for some us it's nice to be able to port our products across platforms or to be able to open documents on multiple platforms. When I'm working in Linux, I don't want to have to re-boot into Windows just for one document and then have to re-re-boot back into Linux to finish what I was working on. Being able to open the app or document through emulation is convenient.
    • The ugly, the bad and the good

      I use Wine. It was too much of a pain to set up Visio to work with Wine, and Notepad++ mostly works: as long as you avoid the two functions that cause it to crash. I'm comfortable with Notepad++ and since I use it in Windows, I keep on using it in Linux. BeyondCompare is a program that works great in Windows and just as well in Linux without resorting to Wine, though it isn't as tightly integrated in Linux as it is in Windows. So, there you go; the ugly, the bad and the good - in just that order.

      One more point is that adding one program to a suite of programs (in this case for programming) can pull the other programs together and make them/you more efficient, i.e having a editor that I don't have to think about when I use it with BeyondCompare. So, even though Wine isn't 100% effective for me, the good of using it is compounded because it fills a gap and helps make working in Linux easy and productive.
  • Security risk

    There may be a security risk involved. Inadvertently, one may install Windows viruses....

    This risk is limited, as is the potential damage. Because the Windows virus can only do harm within the Wine environment.

    Nevertheless, this is one of the reasons why a native Linux application is preferable by far. The other main reason is ofcourse, that an emulator, no matter how well built, is never 100 % effective.

    One should therefore only consider Wine as a means of last resort, when nothing else works (no native Linux app available, nor a cloud application).
  • Wine is not ready for prime time.

    Wine is not for beginners. Getting any one of the Windows programs on the Wine compatibility list to run requires hours of on-line searching, consulting in various help fora, and experimenting with tweak after tweak after tweak. And God help you if your installation program is spread out over more than one disk!

    Installing Wine with the default applications in ubuntu will only discourage newbies, and give the impression that nothing on ubuntu works. Bad idea.

    If you need Windows apps, then run Windows. Wine is NOT an emulator.
    • Uh?

      [i]Getting any one of the Windows programs on the Wine compatibility list to run requires hours of on-line searching, consulting in various help fora, and experimenting with tweak after tweak after tweak.[/i]

      WTF? Hours of on-line searching? Experimenting with tweak after tweak? When was the last time you ran WINE? Since version 1.0 WINE has been very easy to configure with minimum hassle. Distros for some time have had WINE integrated into the menu structure now so it's right click run with WINE. If you use Crossover from Codeweavers it's even better with more control of individual applications. Stop spreading a bunch of garbage, mkay?
      • I love Ubuntu but...

        I do have to admit I am about 50% on my success using WINE. I love the program but some of the windows programs are very hard to get working. I have spent hours hunting through forums and the internet for help on getting stuff working on WINE.
        For me I have never installed a compatible program I did not have to tweak in some way with help from online forums. Sometimes the tweaks work and sometimes they don't. Like I said 50% of the stuff I have loaded works.

        I used Ubuntu for web-browsing, productivity, and watching DVDs mostly and the native programs for these activities are far superior to anything in WINE or Virtual Box. I understand that Virtual box is a virtual machine while WINE is a program layer but sometimes something will work in Virtual Box that won't run in WINE.

        I use WINE mostly for games. Thief Deadly Shadows never ran in either program, Civilization 2 never ran in WINE (will in Virtual box thought) Just as examples. :-D
        • Same here.

          Similar experience, here. Installing even a single "compatible" program in Wine 1.0 takes many hours, and lots and lots of on-line research and tweaking. And even then, a 50% success rate is very, very good.

          Wine seems intended for hard-core Linux geeks who just can't live without a particular game, and are willing to put in a lot of time and effort to get it running. It is not for the faint of heart, and will only give Linux newbies the impression that Linux is an unworkable disaster.

          I appreciate the efforts of the Wine team, but Wine is NOT a tool which will enable a user to run a number of Windows apps. Presenting it as such will only disappoint, and will discourage enthusiasm for Linux.
          • no..

            I dont think so, if you look at the gold and platimium apps on Appdb, they are all straightforward to install with wine and have near 100% functionalities. I agree that a whole lot of apps will not work very well on Wine, but some will be very easy, and using PlayonLinux can make the install even easier in some cases.
          • Not windows

            You have to remember that WINE is not windows. I have tried many times to get apps to work that are rated broze or garbage on the appdb, and I expect that they will take a lot of work, or may not even run (most don't). However, if you are trying to install a platinum, gold, or silver app, the install is usually straightforward, or if not, usually a simple google search (not hours) will bring up a forum topic with steps to take.

      • Hate to say it...

        but my experiences with wine have been pretty bad as well. I have made several attempts to run a variety of Windows applications with either limited success or none at all.

        The fact is wine isn't ready. And I am an experienced Linux user... been using it since 1999. But even with all my experience I still cannot get a reliably successful wine install. Even some applications that are supposed to work flawlessly, don't or haven't for me.

        I don't promote wine, I don't use wine it isn't fine. Now granted the wine folks have done a wonderful job considering the barriers they have to overcome, but wine isn't ready. ]:)
        Linux User 147560
        • +1 here

          About 30% runs easy, 70% is total hassle.
  • RE: Can Wine make Ubuntu better for Ed Tech?

    I've never installed Ubuntu WITHOUT installing Wine immediately after. I absolutely think it should be included, if only for the fact that if you don't use it it has no bearing on how the system performs. I think it would be beneficial. Maybe it would spark curiosity in younger users and inspire them to learn more about it and work on the project to make it more reliable. In my opinion no bad can come from including this program in a mainstream install.
    NamelessFor Now
  • Wine can make Ubuntu better

    but a few beers would actually make Ubuntu worth looking at :)