Installation turned out to be the easy part, and even installing from sources looks relatively easy. However, to run Wine, you must ensure that your configuration file,
/etc/conf/wine.conf, has correct information in it. You might choose to run Wine two different ways, with a Windows partition or without one. If you have a Windows partition, perhaps because you installed Linux in a dual-boot environment with Windows, you can run your Windows programs directly from that partition under Linux by using Wine. If you don't have a Windows partition, perhaps because you have simply copied your Windows application files into your Linux file system under the director
$HOME/win, you can run Windows programs using Wine, but you will have to use the correct Wine configuration.
The Wine HOWTO contains detailed instructions on setting up Wine for both the above scenarios as well as installing Wine from sources.
While the Wine Website lists a large number of Windows applications that run under Wine, many more applications do not yet run under Wine and may never. However, Wine certainly is a low-cost way to run some of your Windows programs under Linux.
Interestingly, I found it impossible to run Wine on a kernel that had the Win4Lin patches applied, as Wine reported an unhandled exception and hung.
Wine is available from the Wine Website, and it requires an Intel or compatible processor. It runs on Linux, FreeBSD, and other versions of Unix that run on Intel platforms. Wine does not require a Windows license to run the Windows programs it uses.
Win4Lin is an alternative to Wine that provides a much more complete Windows environment. Indeed, during installation it actually installs Windows for you. It was quite amusing to see the Windows installation screens running in a window under Linux.
The current version of Win4Lin is 1.0, but that version does not support SMP systems. Since I was initially testing Win4Lin on a SMP machine, I had to download the beta of Win4Lin 2.0. Win4Lin requires a Pentium-class processor with a minimum of 32 MB of memory and Linux 2.2.x.
Win4Lin only supports Windows 95 and Windows 98, and it does not support Microsoft Windows networking. However, it does have WinSock support, so many networking applications will work under Win4Lin.
The Win4Lin installation requires a custom kernel and a number of steps, and it is thus more difficult than any of the other alternatives mentioned here except Bochs. If you run a custom kernel already, you will have to apply the appropriate Win4Lin patch to your kernel by hand. The steps to install Win4Lin are:
Unpack your installation kit -- assuming you downloaded Win4Lin from the Web.