Running Windows XP programs on Linux Mint with CrossOver

Thanks to WINE and its commercial big brother, CrossOver, you can run some popular Windows programs on Linux.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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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