Whining about WINE

July 22, 2006

I’m spending the day at work, plating with my new toy, which happens to be one that is fully installed with MEPIS. Mepis 6.0 just came out and I wouldn’t mind giving that a try, I still have figured out how to download the whole thing.

I just discovered something sort of neat. I had to reboot (more on that in a minute) and when it came up it put me right back where I was i.e. with the same windows on the desktop. So I didn’t lose my place, which is nice.

So I’m going to talk about WINE, which is the Linux answer for when you absolutely have to have an application running under Windows, for instance some games. The games that come with most distros are lovely, but silly and stupid. Except for the 3D Tuxracer on Mepis 3.3; that is truly cool game.

I went to the Mepis site and attempted to get some guidance on obtaining and installing WINE. Fortunately, once pointed in the right direction, it is somewhat intuitive. Like most things in Mepis, a user has a couple of choices in how to do things. I could use Kpackage or Synaptic Package Manager. I chose the latter because that is where the first Mepis forum I googled sent me. And there truly is a ton of stuff out there, but the trick is knowing what you’re looking for. I obtained enough guidance in getting through this process, which was no small thing.

It’s worth noting that I hooked this machine in to the network, meaning I could do some very heavy and serious downloading that could never be attempted over dial-up. There was some checking for updates and since I was using a pretty old Mepis release, there were plenty.

Next, was the quest to download WINE. One the repositories were selected, it was just a matter of scrolling down and reading the descriptions. Once selected, I hit ‘apply’ and it downloaded the stuff I picked out.

This downloading and updating process was not as short as it sounds. It actually took a couple of hours for me to figure this out while surfing around and letting the machine update. In the midst of things updating and installing, a window would pop up looking very much like the old DOS window. This would inform me of progress and occasionally prompt me to make some decisions regarding the installation or whether or not I wanted to update. Nothing appears to be hurt, so I guess I made the right choices!

Since I’ve been using open source stuff for awhile, I’ve become more familiar with the “Open with…” choice when you right click on a file. Sometimes I want to open a document with OOo and sometime with office XP. This was the key to getting my first Windows application to work with WINE.

I didn’t really have much at hand, so I chose the first thing I grabbed; a CD from a ceral box containing the game Backyard Baseball. This is actually a pretty fun game and is all Windows. Right clicking baseball.exe and then typing ‘wine’ in the box brought up the wine launch window telling me it was trying to open it. Then it it did! I hit the ‘play’ button, and then the dialog came up telling me it would play better in 256 colors. And then it proceeded just as if I were playing on XP. The only glitch came when I tried to exit. It might have been very slow to respond, but being the impatient noob I am, I tried alt-control-del and I got a dialog to log out of this session, which I did and ended up rebooting.

I then tried a program called ‘Dollars and Cents’ which is an educational game about money. It wouldn’t run off the CD so I tried hitting the install.exe as above with “open with…” and typing ‘wine’. Then I got the installer which went right along working just like it would in Win9x which is how old this thing is. And that was it. I couldn’t get the thing to run because it is supposed to be in a program file on the ‘C’ drive and I have no idea where the C drive is supposed to be. I found something promising by searching and digging around, but never did get this program to work. What’s worse, it wouldn’t let be eject the unmount or CD even after logging off. So I ended up having to paper clip it out. Lovely. Logging back in, it finally let me unmount the thing so I could open it.

I did eventually find where it was loaded and clicking the appropriate program launched it. But since it wanted 256 colors, it sort of created a garbled mess that would confuse my students more that they already are. So I clicked the ‘quit’ but and it logged me out.

Being a glutton for punishment, I decided try another game. It was the home version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. This took a couple of tries to find an installer that would work. Then it began working the installation, taking a few minutes. I skipped the product registration and then came to the part about restarting the computer. Sure, I pressed “finish.” and then the Window’s window disappeared. So how do I start Windows again? I tried starting it again after finding a millionaire.exe file, buut it went looking for directX and that was the end of that.

Logging out in order to get my CD back put me in the bloody Unix command interface. So I totally had to reboot.

After a good 4 hours of fiddling and playing, I had enough for the day.

Obviously, there’s a good amount of work to be done, here. I would hope that the commercial version of Wine would yield a bit more in the way of usefulness and productivity. The Tafusion version of Mepis does ship with the crossover application, but at $100, it’s more than I want to spend.

Funny thing is, is that the more I fiddle and play around with Linux the more in begins to feel like Windows!LOL!


One comment

  1. Uh, I know this is old, but:

    wine has c:\ under ~/.wine/drive_c

    Once a program is installed, it is preferred to run (for example):
    wine c:\\program\ files\\microsoft\ office\ 2000\\word.exe

    Yep – you use backslashes, and double them up (it’s called escaping), and place ’em in front of spaces.

    After that is working, you just enter the command as the run in a .desktop file (aka “Custom Application” aka “Link to Application” aka …)

    Now, ejecting a CD often requires running an unsafe unmount – which requires root access. Which means the console. So, load up Terminal, Konsole, or whatever, “su -” to root, and enter the command “umount -l /dev/cdrom” (assuming cdrom is a link to the correct device node, if not it usually is /dev/hdc or /dev/hdd). This will run a lazy dismount, something which really means “Sure, leave programs running which may need this CD, I don’t care if they crash – I’ll worry about that later.” Now eject works. And while we’re here, let’s clean up wine by running
    “killall wine winepreloader wineserver”
    if the command “ps aux | grep wine” shows leftover wine, winepreloader, or wineserver processes running, run
    “killall -9 wine winepreloader wineserver”
    but NEVER run this by default – it murders the processes rather than politely asking them to commit suicide.

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