Running Windows Apps Under Linux, Part 3: Advice on installing and configuring four useful emulators

Win4Lin

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.

* 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

root.

* 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

use Win4Lin.

* 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

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

compatibles.

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.

Conclusion

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

functionality.

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.

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