Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How to Use Wine & Winetricks to run Windows Applications in Ubuntu

In a previous blog posting, I explained how I run Windows XP in a virtual environment on my ThinkPad R52 running Ubuntu 8.10 using Sun Microsystem's VirtualBox. In today's posting, I'll discuss how I use Wine and Winetricks to run selected Windows applications in Ubuntu.

If you don't know much about Wine, you can start by reading About Wine (from Wine's official project site), as well as its WikiPedia entry.

The easiest way to install Wine is via Synaptic Package Manager. If you install via this route, you will install the current stable version: version 1.0.1. This version is good enough for typical users. I have been able to run Microsoft Office 2003 without any problems using Wine 1.0.1.

Once you have finished installing Wine via Synaptic Package Manager, a new submenu "Wine" is added to your "Applications" pulldown menu. If you click on "Wine," you will get Programs (where your Windows programs will reside), "Browse C Drive," "Configure Wine" and "Uninstall Wine Software."

The official Wine project site has lots of documentation and help for first time users wanting to know how to install and run various Windows applications:
  • Wine Documentation (include online manuals, user guides, etc.)

  • Wine How To (step-by-step instructions for various situations)

  • Wine Wiki (very detailed information covering a wide range of questions and issues)

  • Wine Application Database (the place to check whether a particular Windows application will work fully without any special configuration ["Platinum"], work fully with some configuration ["Gold"], work with some minor issues ["Silver"] or not all).

  • Ubuntu Community Documentation on Wine (not as updated but you might find something useful here)
As a power user, I am not running the stable version that is provided in Ubuntu's software repositories, but the beta version (currently version 1.1.21) that I obtain directly from WineHQ's repository. To do so, please go to WineHQ's Wine for Ubuntu and Ubuntu Derivatives page, where you will find easy to follow instructions and the necessary information to add the necessary repository information, as well as key file for authentication. Be warned though that the beta versions suffer from software regressions (i.e., an update may break an existing functionality that you need). You have been forewarned.

If you want an easy one-click way of installing WineHQ repository and key file, you can use Ubuntu Tweak, which allows you to do so under Applications > Third Party Sources.

In addition to Wine, I also use Winetricks to extend the functionality of Wine. For a detailed explanation and instructions on how to download and run Winetricks, go to the Winetricks page in Wine Wiki. Specifically, you need to:
  • download winetricks from http://winezeug.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/winetricks (right click on the link and use "Save As" to save a copy on your Desktop.

  • Once you have downloaded it, fire up your Terminal program (Applications > Accessories > Terminal).

  • Navigate to your Desktop by typing the following command : cd ~/Desktop

  • Run Winetricks by typing: sh winetricks

  • This will open up a GUI with a list of possible packages that you can install.
For example, I use Winetricks to install a Windows version of Firefox, which I use at websites which insist on a Windows browser, or when I need the Shockwave plug-in for particular websites. The Firefox installed under Winetricks is much more stable than installing directly under Wine, since Winetricks patches Wine to increase stability.Read my other blog entries on "Ubuntu."

Read my other blog entries on Ubuntu.


  1. louis@ubuntu:~/Desktop$ sh winetricks
    /home/louis/.wine/dosdevices/c:/winetrickstmp/zenity.sh: 83: Syntax error: "(" unexpected

    This happens when I try to run winetricks.

    Any help? Pleeease...

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