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
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.
* Install the custom kernel. If you have not made any modifications
to your kernel, you can use the supplied install-kernel.sh
script. The Win4Lin installation supplies patched kernels for a
number of popular distributions. However, if you have applied
other patches to your Linux kernel, you will have to apply the
Win4Lin kernel patches and rebuild your kernel.
* Install Win4Lin. You should do that by running install-win4lin.sh
from your installation kit. If you are installing Win4Lin 2.0 or
one of its betas, install the RPM. You must perform that step as
* Install Windows on your system using the winsetup command. You
must also perform that step as root.
* Set up a personal copy of Windows 9x again, using the winsetup
command. You must do that while logged in as the user who will
* Once all that is done, you can run Windows by simply executing
the win command. You will see a window that has Windows running
in it. Of course, you will also have to install your Windows
applications into the version of Windows running under Win4Lin.
During my testing, I installed Office 97 under Win4Lin and felt that
the installation process was much faster than the same installation
under VMware on the same system.
Win4Lin is commercial software that you can purchase from the Win4Lin
homepage for USD 39.95, or USD49.95 for the CD version (see Resources
for a link).
Bochs, according to the Website, "is a highly portable x86 PC emulator
written in C++ that runs on most popular platforms. It includes
emulation of the Intel x86 CPU, common IO devices, and a custom BIOS.
Currently, bochs can be compiled to emulate a 386, 486, or Pentium CPU.
Bochs is capable of running most operating systems inside the
emulation, including Linux, Windows 95, DOS, and recently Windows NT
4." It was developed by Kevin Lawton.
I have not downloaded or installed it, but mention it here as it may be
an alternative for those running Linux on hardware other than Intel
While Bochs is commercial software, the source is available on the
Bochs Website (see Resources for a link), as are complete instructions
for downloading and installing it. Installation of Bochs itself will be
moderately complex for most people, as you must build the software from
sources. Also, installation of an operating system under Bochs appears
to be much more difficult than any of the other alternatives mentioned.
Well, there you are. I found four alternative ways of running Windows
programs under Linux. Wine, Win4Lin, and VMware are all very well
advanced, and the one you choose will depend on your needs.
If you only occasionally run Windows programs, Wine is the perfect
choice for you. However, if you need to run a large range of Windows
programs and need a more faithful Windows environment but can live with
Windows 9x, then Win4Lin is likely to be the choice for you, especially
if your budget is tight. On the downside, Win4Lin is much more
complicated to install.
If your needs include running Windows NT or Windows 2000, or you need
Windows applications that require Microsoft Windows Networking, then
you will want to use VMware. If you are a student or hobbyist, then the
USD99 is not too much of a jump over Win4Lin. The commercial use price
of USD299 seems somewhat steep, but then VMware provides much extra
If you run Windows on a platform such as Alpha, Power PC, or Sparc,
your only choice is Bochs.
A word of warning is appropriate, though. Windows is licensed software,
and you must ensure that you have the appropriate licenses before
running it in most of the ways mentioned above.
In future articles, we will explore the issues around backing up files
in a mixed environment as well as how to set up file sharing between
Linux and Windows, Network troubleshooting from Windows and Linux, and
so on. I welcome your input on new topics to explore since your
experience is likely to be as varied as mine.
Oh, and by the way, I am now determined to transfer all that Eudora
mail to a Linux-based mail client. Perhaps I'll write a future article
on mail clients that run under Windows and Linux, and allow you to
access mail from either environment.