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How to run a Windows app on Linux with Wine

If you want to make the Linux operating system your go-to but you still need to run Windows apps, Wine has you covered.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Penguin in front of windows
Nathalie Michel/Getty Images

Wine is a compatibility layer that makes it possible to run Windows apps on Linux. When you combine the lengthy list of applications you can install on Linux with the built-in app stores, the universal package managers Snap and Flatpak, and Wine, the list of available software for Linux is massive.

If you're curious as to what apps can be run with Wine, here's a searchable database that lists the apps, from games to productivity tools, and everything in between.

Also: The best Linux laptops

But how do you actually run those Windows apps on Linux with Wine? 

Let's get to work.    

How to run a Windows app on Linux with Wine

What you'll need: I'll demonstrate the process on Ubuntu Desktop, but Wine can be installed on most Linux distributions. In order to install Wine, you'll need a running Linux distribution and a user with sudo privileges. That's it. 

1. Open a terminal window

The first thing to do is log in to your Linux desktop and open a terminal window. 

2. Install Wine on Ubuntu-based distributions

Install both Wine and Winetricks, which is a tool to make configuring Wine easier, with the command:

sudo apt-get install wine winetricks -y

3. Install Wine on Fedora-based distributions

If you're using an RHEL or Fedora-based distribution, you would first have to add the necessary repository with the command:

sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/fedora/36/winehq.repo

You can then install Wine with the command:

sudo dnf install winehq-stable -y

You will also need to install winetricks manually for Fedora, which can be done with the following commands:

wget  https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Winetricks/winetricks/master/src/winetricks
chmod +x winetricks
sudo mv winetricks /usr/local/bin/

4. Configure Wine

Run the Winetricks app, which will automatically create the necessary directories for you with the command below. 

Also: How to get started with Git on Linux

In the resulting window, you'll want to click Select the default wineprefix and click OK. In the next window, select Run winecfg and click OK. You can then configure the version of Windows you want Wine to mimic by selecting the option from the Windows Version dropdown and clicking OK.

The Winetricks application on Ubuntu Linux.

Winetricks makes it easy to configure a number of Wine options.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Winetricks allows you to also take care of a number of other options, such as installing DLLs, fonts, and more. 

But at this point, you can close out that window and prepare to install your first Windows app.

Installing a Windows app with Wine

I'm going to show you how to install the Notepad++ Windows app with the help of Wine. Here's what you need to do.

Also: I revived three ancient computers with ChromeOS Flex, and you can too

First, download the Windows installer for the app and save it in your Downloads directory. Then, open your terminal window and change into the Downloads directory with the command cd ~/Downloads. 

Run the installer with the command wine npp.*.exe. Finally, the Windows install wizard will open, where you can click your way to success.

The Notepad++ installation wizard running on Ubuntu Linux.

Installing a Windows app on Linux with Wine is simple.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Once the installation completes, you'll find the Notepad++ launcher in your desktop menu.

Installing a Windows app with Winetricks

Another cool trick up Wine's sleeve is the ability to install a Windows app directly from within Winetricks. If you run the Winetricks app, which can now be launched from your desktop menu, and select Install an application, you'll be greeted with a list of applications that can be installed directly from the GUI. 

Also: Want to save your aging computer? Try these 5 Linux distributions

This method will automatically download and run the necessary installer file, and then open the install wizard to complete the process.

Installing a Windows app from within Winetricks.

Winetricks allows you to easily install a number of applications.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Further configuration might be needed

Notepadd++ is a fairly simple app to install with Wine. You might find there are some apps (especially games) that require further configuration. Should that issue occur, you'll want to run the Winetricks app again to take care of those configurations. 

How much work needs to be done will depend on the app you want to install. If you receive errors when trying to install a Windows app via Wine, you might have to do a bit of research to figure out what configurations are necessary for that particular app.

But even with those potential issues, installing supported Windows apps on Linux with Wine is considerably easier than you might think. Enjoy those Windows apps running on Linux.

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