January 03, 2001, 1:49 PM — I'M REALLY ENJOYING the recent media madness over the presidential election. It has been a real learning experience. For example, I've learned that I should be able to get just about anything I want by claiming to be "disenfranchised."
So last night when my wife served meat loaf, I complained that I would have requested something else but her dinner choices were too confusing. If she didn't want me to feel disenfranchised, she would have to make a whole new dinner.
In the unlikely event that you're an all-Linux shop, Windows fans in your organization may be feeling a little disenfranchised. In the more likely event that you are an all-Windows shop, the Linux users almost certainly feel disenfranchised.
Here's one way you can enfranchise both groups: Obtain a copy of NeTraverse Win4Lin 2.0 (currently in beta, see www.netraverse.com). Win4Lin allows you to install Windows 95 or Windows 98 as an application that runs on Linux. When you start up Windows, it appears in a window on your desktop, after which you can install and run almost any Windows application (you can't run most games because Win4Lin doesn't support DirectX).
I installed the Win4Lin 2.0 beta and Windows 98SE under Caldera eDesktop 2.4 and Debian 2.2. I used the Windows display settings to resize the Windows desktop to 1576x1087, which fits nicely inside my 1600x1200 KDE2 desktop. Then I installed Microsoft Office 2000 and Netscape Navigator 4.76. I tried all the applications that would make a Windows user feel disenfranchised under Linux: Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Internet Explorer, and Access. So far they all work perfectly.
The performance is downright amazing. At first I had some minor performance problems with XFree86 set to a color depth of 24. Then I set the color depth of XFree86 to 16 bits and allocated 48MB of RAM to Win4Lin and Windows 98 (the default is 24MB of RAM). With these settings, both KDE2 and Win4Lin really scream on my 600MHz P3 system. I can use Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Internet Explorer, and listen to a RealPlayer audio stream under Windows all at once with no problems. In addition, even with this entire suite running, Win4Lin has no perceptible impact on the performance of any of my Linux applications.
It can be a little tricky to install Win4Lin, depending on the Linux distribution you're using and the hardware you have. If you are using the default kernel for most Linux distributions, the Win4Lin installation program will patch the kernel binary. I customize every kernel I use, so that wasn't going to work for me. Fortunately, NeTraverse provides patches for various kernel source-code trees. I patched my kernel and had the Win4Lin-enabled kernel running in about half an hour.