143. Ubuntu and Wine
By Andrew D. Wright
Are you a Windows user? If you're sick of worrying about keeping up to
date antivirus and anti-spyware programs yet still having your
computer seemingly always vulnerable and targetted for attack by endless
hordes of hackers and identity thieves, then this column is for you.
Ubuntu Linux is completely free, as opposed to the $100 - $200 a new copy
of Windows costs, and all those viruses, exploits, trojans and malware
programs Windows users have to protect themselves from are no danger to an
You can download an Ubuntu CD image from their website and use your
favorite CD burning program to turn that into a bootable Ubuntu CD. You
can also ask them to mail you a CD (also free) but this will take weeks to
With your Ubuntu CD you can boot up directly into Ubuntu Linux without
making any changes at all to your computer. This is perfect for trying
Ubuntu out and seeing how everything works. The Ubuntu interface is very
easy to use and Ubuntu comes with a wide variety of software ready to run,
everything from games, office software and the Firefox web browser to
graphics editing programs and memory testing utilities. All free, no
tricks or limited time trial offers like in the Windows world.
You can also install Ubuntu permanently from the CD to an empty hard drive
or use it to repartition an existing hard drive so you can boot into
Windows or Ubuntu with each having its own separate parts of the hard
drive. Ubuntu is able to read and write to the Windows partition so
copying files over from Windows is easy.
Right out of the box Ubuntu has all the software most people could want
already installed but there are thousands more programs freely available
from the Ubuntu software package manager. Type what you're looking for and
the package manager will find the software and download it and any files
it needs, all free. It will even let you know when there are updates to
any of your installed programs.
As if this were not enough, when you add Wine to Ubuntu, you get a
computer that can run pretty much any program you could ever want.
Wine is free software that enables programs written for Windows to run on
Linux. Wine imitates a Windows environment so Windows programs think they
are running on Windows. Wine sets up a folder like a Windows C: drive,
complete with a Program Files folder and Windows folder.
Wine doesn't use any Windows files by default. Wine programmers have made
new Open Source files that try and duplicate all the functions (many
undocumented) of Microsoft's proprietary Windows system files while
running in a Linux environment. Since the programmers do not have access
to the details of the Windows files, Wine is a work in progress but many
Windows programs will work without any problems right from the start.
When you want to run a Windows program in Ubuntu using Wine you just right
click on the program and select the Wine program launcher to open it. In
future the Wine program launcher will automatically be the default choice
to open the file so simply double clicking the program will run it, just
like in Windows.
Anyone looking for an upgrade path from earlier versions of Windows
without the cost or all the security problems should give Ubuntu Linux and
Wine a good hard look. You can get a more attractive, better functioning
desktop than Windows Vista offers, still use your favorite Windows
programs and save yourself hundreds of dollars in software costs.
Ubuntu Linux (free):
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Originally published 21 November 2008