Running Windows XP programs on Linux Mint with CrossOver

Running Windows XP programs on Linux Mint with CrossOver

Summary: Thanks to WINE and its commercial big brother, CrossOver, you can run some popular Windows programs on Linux.


There are two basic ways to run Windows programs on Linux. One is to use CodeWeaver's CrossOver Linux. This program enables you to run many popular Windows applications on Linux. Supported Windows applications include Microsoft Office (from Office 97 to Office 2010), Internet Explorer 8, all current versions of Quicken up to 2014, and some versions of Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop CS.

Run Windows apps on Linux? Sure, all you need is CrossOver and Wine.

Besides work stuff, CrossOver also runs games. For example, you can play such popular online games as World of Warcraft and Guild Wars.

How to install Windows apps on Linux with CrossOver (Gallery)

An even better way, if you have powerful enough hardware, of running Windows XP apps on Linux is to use a virtual machine (VM) program such as Oracle's VirtualBox or VMware Player. The problem with these is that they don't run well on older XP systems with limited resources. If CrossOver supports the applications you need you won't need to worry with fitting a VM on your older XP system. 

CrossOver is based on the open-source project Wine, an implementation of the Windows application programming interface (API) on top of the Unix/Linux operating system family. Wine is a mature project with 20 years of work behind it.

Technically, you don't need CrossOver Linux to run Windows applications on Linux. You can do it with Wine alone — if you know what you're doing. What CrossOver brings to the table is automated installation of Windows applications and technical support. CrossOver makes it much easier to install and manage Windows applications.

CrossOver, which is available as a 30-day free trial, costs $59.95; this includes 12 months of upgrades and technical support. CrossOver is supported on Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Debian, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It should work on any Linux, but those are the distributions that CodeWeavers officially supports.

There's also one good free program, PlaysOnLinux, which duplicates some of CrossOver's functionality but doesn't have as much support. If you're new to Linux, CrossOver is the best way to go. Since you can try it for free, you'll know before you buy it, if can support your favorite Windows applications.

Windows XP and Linux Mint: Brothers at the interface (Gallery)

CrossOver runs on pretty much any x86 Linux system. To install the program, you simply download the appropriate version, Mint in our case, and open the downloaded file. This will bring up the Package Installer; you simply click on the "Install Package" button and you'll be on your way.

Once that's done, installing Windows applications tends to be easy. From the CrossOver interface, you just choose what Windows applications you want from the list of supported applications. You can also install applications that are not "officially" supported. For example, I always put one of my favorite HTML editors, NoteTab, on Linux even though it's not officially supported.

You can also install useful Windows components aside from the actual applications. For example, I usually install the most common Windows fonts, such as Arial and Times Roman.

Some applications will require that you install some Linux components as well. Usually there are 32-bit libraries that you'll need even if you're running a 64-bit version of Mint. The CrossOver installation program gives you detailed instructions on when and how to do this.

In my experience with CrossOver, which goes back for more than a decade now, I've found that most supported Windows programs run well on CrossOver. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't run all Windows programs. Also, I sometimes find graphic glitches, with Linux and the Windows app fighting for the same screen space.

That said, I've found CrossOver to be very useful, especially on low-powered systems. If you have one special Windows program you must still run, Linux or no, CrossOver could be exactly what you need.

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Topics: Enterprise Software, Linux, Software, Windows

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  • Obsession

    SVJN, your obsession to kill windows and Microsoft is truly becoming pathetic. This is your Nth post of how or why replace Windows XP with Linux. We all got the message! Please take your pills.
    • Just as extreme

      I recall he said there would be a series of articles talking about Linux as an alternative to XP. It's not an obsession, it's about breaking down a large and (for some people) daunting topic into manageable chunks.

      I have an old netbook which running XP. I only use it for basic browsing and writing my book (Office 2007). I didn't want to run XP beyond its EOL. These articles have given me a useful starting point and I'm now happily running Mint. I don't really care whether SVJN's articles come across as obsessive : I'm grateful for the info he has covered. I may or may not continue with Mint Linux but it has cost me nothing to try it out. And so far it has been fine.

      There is far too much ranting and raving in the comments on this site.
      • I'm grateful for the info he has covered.

        That's what tech forums and comment sections are suppose to be for. To share info, ideas, and experience on tech topics. However, some participants are more about not being so helpful with their comments.
    • The obsession of certain Talkbackers... denigrate Linux, open source, their advocates, and all non-approved alternatives to MS-products is at least as pathetic. If you disagree with something SJVN has to say than say so and say why, but the personal attacks are just plain rude.

      And even if everything you said was true, it might still be the case that SJVN will still sometimes put out an article worth reading.
      John L. Ries
      • just as any topic

        That even remotely mentions Microsoft or their products is literally swarmed with ABM people and their often moronic reasoning.

        Talking about moronic reasoning, this author started his "migrating from XP to Mint series" with the suggestion XP users should move to Mint 16 (Petra), without even considering or mentioning that Petra is end of support in about three months.

        So people that would follow his advice are at the very least obliged to do a dist upgrade just three months from now, just after they replaced XP (that was supported a whopping 12 years).

        This article of course continues the bullocks. Instead of moving to a supported version of Windows (such as Windows 7 or horror horror Windows 8) that would run most if not all of their applications right out of the box.

        He is actually suggesting people pay 60 bucks (which incidentally is a mere 40 bucks less than simply getting Win8 or win7) for just one year of support and no guarantee whatsoever that their application would actually run without issues and would be fully functional. As opposed to move to say Windows 8, supported until 2023 and a much wider choice of possible applications and a much greater chance that their existing applications not only run, but are fully functional, as of course the win32 API is native to Windows.

        Of course people are here to point out that the author is an idiot.
        • Seems an interesting informative article

          I know Microsoft fans don't like him, because he clearly don't like windows 8 and some other Microsoft stuff. But the reality is that he was mostly right, and when someone predicts with big accuracy what is going to happen, it seems even more silly to complain about their words.

          Some people "waste" their time complaining about articles and posts, imo they would do a lot better by providing their own insights about themes discussed here.
          • actually

            I did point out some of the inaccuracies such as suggesting a non LTS version of Mint for people to upgrade to, which in my book is silly and moronic.

            And yes I did provide my own insights on this topic, which simply states that people currently running XP would be best served with Windows 8 as their upgrade path, simply because Windows 8 offers them the broadest application compatibility and a far lower learning curve, and more bang for their bucks (when compared to the suggested usage of crossover).
        • Do you really expect...

          ...*any* author of a column named "Linux and Open Source" to teach people how to upgrade their Windows systems? His beat is Linux, not Windows; therefore it makes perfect sense for him to offer Linux as an alternative to Windows XP users who don't want to or can't upgrade their systems. There are plenty of other ZDNet columnists who can discuss upgrading instead.

          I'm not a Mint user, so I didn't catch the version issue.
          John L. Ries
          • For a linux and open source guy

            half of his articles actually relate to Windows or Microsoft.

            No I don't expect him to teach people how to upgrade their Windows system, neither do I expect him to spent about five articles at last count, to persuade people to move to Linux. Especially not if such a move might not be in the best interest of the targeted audience.

            I understand that he wants Linux to reach a bigger audience, but I doubt he actually has the best interest of the targeted audience at heart, in fact on the contrary.
          • The option is there

            It should be discussed.
            John L. Ries
          • "half the article is about Microsoft"...

            yes, the title is: "Running Windows XP programs on Linux Mint with CrossOver" - I am surprised he does not discuss Wine further, since this is free, and does a decent job for the code applications - like MS Office.
            Mint is an OS with thousands of free applications, maintained by a huge community, and Wine/Crossover allows Windows applications to run as if they were native, coded for Mint. He has a point, drop the games, but the rest runs and allows an organization to move to a secure environment. Some of us have to work with a full tcp/ip stack, with connections that are taken down.
        • z

          And if your hardware won't ***RUN*** MSWin8, then what, Einstein? Oh, yes, you won't be able to go to your local office supply or consumer electronics store and buy a usable version of MSWin. So you cough up $150, and you can't run it anyway. Brilliant move, genius. And don't toss out the typical excuse of "buy new hardware"; we are still mired in the depths of an economic depression with no signs of ever getting out. So no one has money for new equipment.
    • The article is an informational article

      describing how to get Crossover to run Windows applications. The content of the article, from what I can see, is accurate and informative.

      If it is not content you are interested in, it would probably be best not to read these articles.
    • Obsession

      gbouchard99, your obsession to shill for windows and Microsoft s truly becoming pathetic. This is your Nth post of shilling. We all got the message! Please take your pills.
    • That's right

      Keep up the party line and stay on message.
      Alan Smithie
    • Oh shut up al;ready!

      If your so anti linux don't read the column you idiot! Its just as tiresome to listen to you Microsoft Weenies whining all the time. Go read Tech Net you won't be bothered by all this terrible linux news there..........And I can enjoy the article without your mindless comments!
  • Why not just run XP ?

    I am currently carrying out a virtual installation on Parallels Desktop 9 just for the sheer hell of it.

    But seriously although its zero day for XP whats the hurry. Its not as though XP is going to stop working.

    EOL for XP is no more than an opportunistic moment to promote Linux. Guess what it will still sit at 1-2% user base.

    In a word don't hold your breath for Linux to become popular over night.
    • Because you will be hacked

      Look at any Patch Tuesday and you'll see plenty of vulnerabilities affecting XP as well as more modern systems. MS declares the vulnerabilities in Vista+ and issues a patch. Crooks reverse-engineer the patch to find the vulnerability. Test on XP. If it works, you have nearly 20% of the internet at your mercy. And you can bet your life those crooks have been sitting on a pile of XP vulnerabilities, waiting for MS to stop patching and hoping they're not found.

      Running a VM for the hell of it some box in a cupboard offline is one thing. But do anything serious online after tomorrow with Windows XP and you're running a huge risk. And, frankly, you deserve everything you get.
      • Re: online after tomorrow with Windows XP Huge Risk....

        Utter Rubbish and no more than scare tactics. Do you work for Microsoft ?
        • Denial

          Of course, if you don't have an argument to back yourself up with, resort to declaring me a paid shill. No, I am not a Microsoft employee, I just have some common sense.

          I might not be an expert in computer security, but these guys are (and none work for MS):

          "Our data indicates that less than one fifth of our customers run Windows XP but more than a quarter of infections are Windows XP-based... Effectively, every vulnerability discovered after 8 April will become a zero-day vulnerability - that is, one for which there is not and never will be, a patch"
          - Dave Emm, Kaspersky Lab

          "Malware writers go for the low hanging fruits because it's a lot easier to infect systems running on an old Windows XP operating system compared to brand-new Windows 8.1, with all its built-in security features... We think we will see a lot of attacks for Windows XP within the next few months, but attackers will also always add exploits for other Windows systems just to catch those systems as well."
          - Maik Morgenstern and Andreas Marx, German AV-Test group

          "The types of groups sitting on zero-days will tend to use them against high-end targets and for corporate espionage... Some organisations will have particular concerns because they find it so hard to move away from XP... Once it's out there it gets into the malware kits and then gets circulated and there will be no defence"
          - Orla Cox, Symantec

          "There are plenty of black hats out there that are looking for the first vulnerability and will be looking at Windows 7 and 8 to find those vulnerabilities. And if you're able to find a vulnerability in XP, it's pretty much a silver key."
          - Marcin Kleczynski, CEO - Malwarebytes

          The bottom line from all of the above: upgrade.