Wine applicability (was: Python Popularity: Questions and Comments)

Alex Martelli aleax at
Fri Dec 28 09:35:26 EST 2001

"Cameron Laird" <claird at> wrote in message
news:200112281405.IAA20884 at
> >I don't do much gaming, but I still have to use Windows (mostly in
> >under Linux) for a few needs (e.g., SOME durned webpages that I need
> >show correcty under any browser except Internet Explorer).  Not to
> >that think3 is a mostly-Windows shop, too.
> >
> >Linux is my preferred platform for most tasks, except that my
> >machine runs OpenBSD (sometimes security is more important than richness
> >of features, support for strange hardware, and so on).
> .
> I'm a tiny surprised; I sincerely thought you
> were most comfortable with Windows for COM and
> ADO riches.

I do love COM and COM-based technologies, and for the last few years
I've had to immerse myself almost exclusively in Windows to develop
some of the expertise for which I was (and am) gainfully employed.  But,
out of all the operating systems and environments I've tried (including
also Vax/VMS, IBM mainframe OS's such as VM/SP and MVS, Apollo Domain,
and quite a few others) Unix-like ones have always been my personal
preference for most tasks.  I used Linux at home in '92-'95, before
the switch to Windows for "total immersion/gain expertise" purposes,
and this year I've been able to switch back to Linux at home (and
OpenBSD for the firewall/etc -- now THAT is stability, solidity, and
security; upon reviewing most all available environments, OpenBSD
struck me as heads and shoulders above the crowd -- but, behind the
firewall, I find Linux preferable, given typical "consumer" needs such
as Windows emulation, viewing Realmedia files, and so on).

> Alex, do you have any sense of how well "SOME
> durned webpages ..." look when viewed with IE
> under Wine on Linux?  Are you saying that they
> *are* acceptable through win4lin-plus-IE?

I was unable to make Microsoft Word run perfectly under Wine, and
that's my primary need -- Word with O'Reilly customized macros &c,
as that's what I'm required to use for one of the books.  So, I
did not try Wine extensively on other tasks.  I did try VMWare (a
beta) and found it somewhat clunky, ponderous, and slow, although
maybe that was its beta nature; anyway, I wasn't motivated to plunk
down several hundred dollars for the final version to find out.

Then I discovered, carefully hidden on a CD of my favorite Linux
Distribution (Mandrake 8.1 powerpack), a demo/trial version of
NeTraverse's Win4Lin.  Half an hour after starting to try it out
I had purchased the full unlimited license online (after trying
to do so, without success, directly at Mandrake Store, I just got
to NeTraverse's site, and, there, it was a snap) -- 1/4 the price
of VMWare and more usable for my purposes.  Lots of limitations
that may be important to some: you only get to run Windows98 on
top of Linux, and your Windows "machine" doesn't get to see any
strange hardware you may have (in my case, a durned Winmodem by
Conexant, really win-only; fortunately I was later able to have
it exchanged with a Lucent-chipset one, which does run fine under
Linux, it appears).  But those limitations were not important for
my own specific purposes.  All webpages show up just fine under
IE 5.5 (haven't bothered downloading 6, I'm told it plays havoc
with CSS handling), Word runs, and so does Visual Studio when I
need to compile/try out something in Windows version.  I have
occasionally used Excel, Powerpoint, the OKbridge Windows clent,
and a few minor things -- for each of those I'd have good Linux
side alternatives too, but, since I had win4lin already, why
bother.  I believe the only failure was when trying to examine
some files with the Windows Media Player.  I do get occasional
"crashes" (of the simulated Win98 environments), but roughly as
often as a real Win98 crashes under similar usage, so I don't
think that's win4lin's fault.


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