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.