CrossOver Linux

April 10, 2007

In my continuing attempt to get a Linux machine into the realm of being functional and even perhaps useful and fun, I decided to take a look at the proprietary version of WINE, namely CrossOver Linux.  If the program proved easy enough and versatile enough, I would have no problems spending money on such a thing.  What’s $40 or so to be free of Windows or at least to make old machines new again? 


Fortunately, you can download a trial version to try for 30 days.  So I went ahead and downloaded the trial version.  Downloading proved to be simple enough after giving CodeWeavers my name and email address.  The file was about 19 mb so it easily fit on my thumbdrive.  This was then taken to a MEPIS machine that I have that is not networked at the present time.  I really would just like to have a stand-alone machine that can be productive, play some games and find its own fit in my technology milieu.   I hope this is not asking for too much.


One of the first things CrossOver promises is that is should be easy to install.  To this nOOb, that was not a very good promise.  “Easy to install” would mean seeing the icon after MEPIS detected my thumb drive and opened the directory and then me clicking on it and it installing.  That would be easy.  However, this thing had an icon that told me that it wanted to do something in command line mode.  Oops.  That isn’t good.


CrossOver’s directions and help on installation were imprecise and not very helpful.  However, I did find a command in the MEPIS menu that did the trick to getting this thing installed.  It actually took two tries before it began installing.  My machine is a bit on the slow order, at 866 Mhz, so this involved some waiting.  I went and had lunch while it did its thing.  After lunch, I decided to try to play around with it.


CrossOver does list several applications and games that it is supposedly compatible with.  At the beginning of running the program, it asks you to select some of these for installation.  Since I didn’t have installation discs for any of these and since I wasn’t networked, I went ahead and tried to install a couple of simple games that I had discs for.


Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is one I thought would be fairly simple and straight forward.  So I went ahead and directed CrossOver to attempt to install this game as an Unsupported Application in the menu.  CrossOver then created what they refer to as a “bottle” for this so it wouldn’t mess with program settings for programs that were supported.  The installation looked promising and proceeded fairly normally, if not a bit slowly.  At the end, CrossOver lets you know that it is simulating a restart to install the program.  However actually playing the game did not work.  I was informed that DirectDraw did not work in 16 bit mode, which Millionaire uses.  So I have no idea what that means as far as actually getting the game to work.


A second test involved an old copy of Backyard Baseball that one of my paras got from a box of General Mills cereal.  This is a surprisingly fun and addictive game, at least to me, which involves some real strategy and genuine skill plus some luck doesn’t hurt either.  Both Millionaire and Baseball are 1999-2000 games which puts them squarely within a Win98 capability.    Backyard Baseball installed fairly easily, and I was able to play this game normally.  I tried to play across two sessions and sure enough, it saved the info from my teams and my season.  So in this regard, CrossOver was successful.  The game play is essentially the same, although the “escape” button I used to keep from having to watch replays didn’t work and the exit function was not at all smooth.  In fact, I ended my session, logged back on and the CDRom was no where to be found and I had to use a paperclip to get the thing out.  Then it seemed okay with my CD drive.


More testing is in the works with some other game CDs that I have.  I’m wondering if not having Explorer 6 installed is going to prove problematic.  Hooking it up to the network isn’t too much of a problem, although it’s just an inconvenience.  I’m not holding out a big hope for more sophisticated games, though.  I’m just taking the program out for a leisurely stroll and there are already some problems cropping up.  I’m still learning about installing programs and then finding those that I’ve already installed.  My machine does have some limitations with processor speed, but 320 Mb RAM should be more than adequate. 


I will say that this is a more promising and easier application than WINE ever was, but we still have a ways to go before I’m convinced that it is worth $40.  I’ll try a few other applications or games in the near future (at least within the next 30 days) and I’ll let you know.  I actually have a few older Win9x games that sort of had issues with XP so it would be kind of cool to see some of these resurrected as well as if some of the few other games I have decide to work.





  1. Hi- we don’t know each other, but I came across your comment in Google.

    I’ve seen similar comments before, and just wanted to make a suggestion.

    If you had a friend that was moving to Windows from Mac, and complained about not being able to use iLife applications (iPhoto, iMovie, etc.), would you try to help them make those applications work in Windows? Or would you point out that there are equally capable applications already available in Windows?

    The friend in the above paragraph was still “thinking in Mac”, not “thinking in Windows”. The longer they continued to do that, the less happy they would be.

    Likewise, if you are trying to bring your Windows applications with you to Linux, you won’t be happy. WINE (and the commercial variants) are intended as transition tools. They help you run applications that are important to you, until you have fully moved over to native applications.

    If you absolutely must run Windows applications… run Windows. You already paid for it, you already have it.

    On the other hand, if you really want to use Linux… use Linux applications. There are thousands of games for example – but remember they are free. Free means no big budget for advertising. You don’t know them, you’ve never heard of them. That doesn’t mean they are not good.

    I used Linux on and off for years, but I never really understood the capabilities, never really appreciated the hundreds of thousands of free applications, until I immersed myself in the environment.

    Remember that this is what you have done in your current environment – you used it exclusively, probably for years, and that’s why it’s so comfortable for you. If you want to get equally comfortable with Linux, you will need to get past the initial learning curve of a new platform.

    If you need help, there are many people willing to volunteer their time to assist you. a non-distribution specific support site, like linuxquestions.com is probably a good place to start.

    Good luck!

  2. It’s well worth it if you use:

    That is, the ones they support.

    Most of which are better than the free alternatives. Apologists can say whatever they want – they’re mostly full of shit. And usually are either programmers [actually, most programmers don’t care what you use – with the exception of Theo de Raadt, of course] or worse, power users.

    Anyways, the install should be simple – I always use the shell script install, which is composed of Extract && Terminal && “sudo sh *.sh” and it’s installed. But, in Gentoo, there are ebuilds, and I believe you can get RPMs [rpm -i *.rpm], DEBs [dpkg -i *.deb], etc. from Crossover.

    Unfortunately, that’s the current state of affairs – it will take ONE CLI command (or, since you consider the CLI the root of all evil, drag the .sh file onto /bin/sh) if the distro doesn’t provide / is not provided with a binary in the native format. Universal Package formats have been attempted, often with great technical success, only to fail from lack of adoption – thereby becoming yet-another niche package format.

    I think Mace is wrong – Linux is (too a large extent) a technology platform (much like Vista IMO), and I see no reason not to make using Win32 binaries possible. Some Linux apps are great – KOffice is the Office Suite of the future, hands-down. I’ve always hated OpenOffice, and I’ve always hated Java ever since my programming class said “No, you can’t do C++, we teach in Java!” [I’m still young].

    But don’t worry Mace – Paulo’s more patient with Dick, and slowly turning him round, than anyone else here. Dick knows all the tutorial stuff already, and probably would use Windows if he wasn’t interested in the future. Dick’s an educator, and presumably likes to remain educated.

    Now, Dick, some points.
    When doing unsupported applications, things can really bugger up. You just saw it. What’s usually happening is that wine, wine-preloader, and wine-server (I think it’s those three) are all failing to close properly.

    Solution a)
    CLI command “killall wine wine-preloader wine-server; sleep 3; killall -9 wine wine-preloader wine-server”
    Which attempts to “nicely” exit the three programs, gives them 3 seconds, them forcibly terminates them. The last one is really a last-ditch measure, but is sometimes needed.

    Solution b)
    Use a Process monitor (gnome-system-monitor, ksysguard) to end them. Just like Windows.

    If your CD STILL won’t eject, you’ll have to unmount it the old (2005) way, instead of the automagical HAL. That involves learning the use of the “umount -l /dev/cdrom” command. In particular the -l (lowercase L). Which means “do it now and to hell with application stability”.

    Different distro’s may provide a GUI for this, but time being, until some bright person [definitely excluded myself there] modifies the KIO media:/ slave to provide a “This drive is currently in use by some application. Do you wish to stop it anyways, although some programs may become unstable?” dialog, the CLI will always work.

    I’d like to disclaim that this all occurs when doing UNSUPPORTED applications though. [Personally, I think that it should at least not lock up with unsupported applications, and do that by having all WINE commands be wrapped in a script that knows how to properly force-terminate a WINE program. Which may comprise of having to write a modification to WINE, where the main program is to send every 4 seconds and message “I’m still here” to some listener daemon who if it does not receive after 8 seconds will notify the user and take steps to ensure the WINE program is terminated]

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Mace! And you do bring up some interesting thoughts, some of which I’ve taken to heart and even tried to implement. I’d like to think I’m at least fairly flexible.

    Stand by for a post on *that* one.

    Baby steps, Orbi. MEPIS actually has some sort of “extract binary shell script” in the GUI which is how I managed to install CrossOver in the first place.

    In many ways, Linux is like an autistic person. Lots of smarts and many gifts to offer but getting access to them takes an awful lot of work. This is probably some of the appeal (for me) in trying to make Linux a legitimate part of my technology milieu.

    Linux matures just a bit with every new distro, making some of the more annoying behaviors less of an issue. But as it becomes more “typical” or Windows-like, we start seeing more of those typical behaviors like crashing or locking up.

    There’s a learning curve here, and I’m trying to bravely scale it, bit by bit. But at the same time, I’m awfully glad I do have some Windows machines that seem to work…for the time being.


  4. Linux is just so damn vast… such a huge job.

    BTW, Mandriva 2007.1 (Spring), which is RC3 right now, is looking to be very nice. I know you’re happy with Puppy and MEPIS, but hey, whatever. I just settled my laptop on Mandriva [One], the competitors being Ubuntu, Debian, SourceMage, Gentoo, SuSE, and Fedora. It’s Flashy, Simple, and Clean. Yah, so I’m a elitist prick on my Desktop, but my Laptop’s all about the evangelization!

    I really wish it were possible to do a working Universal package format – that’s the biggest problem right now…
    “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
    How amusing it is, that when i18n has labored to undo Babel, that there are so many variants of the software.

  5. I actually did order a Mandrake set of disks back in the day. The fact that it didn’t have a liveCD version was the biggest turn-off. Their push for desktop-on-a-stick is hardly innovative, as Puppy has been doing that forever and without hogging as much memory. The 3D desktop looks intriguing, but the flash package looks pricey. There is some merging going on, with Ubuntu leading the way and then adopting Linspire’s CNR technology. Which means future releases of MEPIS may also have that feature.

    Considering that we’re talking about distros here with French, Australian, South African and U.S. origins, I don’t think we’re doing that bad really.

  6. I had bad experiences with Mandrake when I tried out 10.(something). It was an RC1 build, so I expected it to have problems, but the installer couldn’t even install what it was told… I tried 3 times with the same settings – I said “KDM, no MDKDM” it said “KDM, but it crashes on load”, then “MDKDM and no KDM”, then “GDM and KDM, GDM default”.

    Absolutely nuts… so I said “Why do people like this?” and moved on to… SuSE I think. Lasted for about a month, at which point the need to be productive with programs I knew drove me back to Windows.

    But the latest version, Mandriva 2007.1 (Spring) is something I’m very fond of. With the exception that a broken NetworkManager is in contrib. I recommend Spring over 2007.0 since they’ve switched to programs I like – Banshee 0.11 (for webradio), Beryl (I like the config UI vastly more than Compiz), and uswsusp (userspace suspend works better for me than any of the kernel hacks).

    Anyways, Mandriva is easily the best of the RPM-based distros. FC-future may get really good with Fedora Extras, but all my experiences with Fedora have convinced me it’s easy to break. And both RedHat and SuSE’s update programs are slow… SuSE in particular, as once I went to install mplayer+mencoder for SuSE to record a 30 min TV-show, and it took 45 min just to get those two programs installed! {Add repository, update repositories, run installer, search for mplayer and mencoder, determine dependencies, and install}

    But I’m going off on a tangent. The point is: Mandriva’s URPMI is as fast as, if not faster than, apt-get. The GUI control center is time-tested, proven, and fantastic [although the customized menus annoyingly don’t support a lot of contrib stuff]. And it now comes in a LiveCD, Mandriva One.

    As for Mandriva Flash, hey, you can’t fault them. So what if it’s not inventive [innovative is the wrong word here, I believe]? It raises them money, and moves things forward. I doubt I’m going to buy one, as I’ve got my laptop for that purpose. But it is innovative – not radically, but because of the way they’ve implemented it, it will be an incremental innovation.

    Ubuntu using Linspire’s CNR service is just another reason I’m avoiding Ubuntu – definitely not a point I’d standardize on. Any attempts unify or to provide a Universal Package format need to accommodate changes to other specs.

  7. […] to recap, I was attempting to use Crossover Office to port some of my games to a machine running Mepis 6.06.  My 30 day trial ran out and I wish I had something positive to […]

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