Day 4 – 10 Days of Ubuntu 10.10 Feature Requests

Today is day 4 of my “10 Days of Ubuntu 10.10 Feature Requests” series.  See the series introduction here.

Day 4 – Real Wine Integration

(See official documentation for this project here.)  I discovered today that ways to address this issue are already being discussed, but it deserves a special call-out.

The transition from Windows to Ubuntu can be very pleasant.  (Yes, that says pleasant.)  Analogs exist for most standard software (browser, audio player, etc.), but many people will find that at least one or two of their favorite pieces of Windows software have no direct correlation in Windows.  This is especially true for gamers.

In many cases, the software in question can be run under Wine.  Some Windows software is so reliable as to receive a Platinum Rating, which the Wine AppDB describes as “Applications which install and run flawlessly on an out-of-the-box Wine installation.”  Today’s Top 10 Platinum List includes games like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XI, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and more.

Unfortunately, Wine is not integrated into an out-of-the-box Ubuntu install.  I am not sure of the reasoning behind this (though I suspect that free install CD space is a factor), but Ubuntu is missing a golden opportunity by not using Wine to its fullest extent.

In the perfect world, I envision a user putting in his World of Warcraft CD and being greeted by the following dialog box:

How cool would it be to boot up Ubuntu, insert your World of Warcraft disc, then see this dialog?
How cool would it be to boot up Ubuntu, insert a World of Warcraft disc, then see this dialog?

Yes, I realize that an implementation like this is likely more difficult than it seems (particularly in languages other than English).  However, I also don’t think it should be dismissed out-of-hand.  Wine’s AppDB is quite extensive, and if .exe titles on inserted CDs could be matched up with their corresponding AppDB entry, a dialog box like this wouldn’t be unreasonably difficult to generate.

Just imagine the look on your friend’s faces when they install Ubuntu and their favorite Windows games work just fine.  Impossible?

Not necessarily.

<< Day 3 – Improved Visual Aesthetics

Day 5 – Solid, Functional Video Editing >>

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28 thoughts on “Day 4 – 10 Days of Ubuntu 10.10 Feature Requests”

    1. see: UAC, vista. People just turn the shit off if you have to keep clicking on it to make it go away. PEOPLE DON”T CARE. THEY JUST WANT THE COMPUTER TO WORK. If you’re so GD smart, why doesn’t it?

  1. IBM did that with OS/2 and made “A Windows better than Windows”. It never helped OS/2. It won’t help Linux. Who would want to run (or develop) Linux apps if Windows apps run better?

    1. Sorry Jua, but I think you’re missing the point. Wine integration is not about helping Linux be “a better Windows.” It’s about accepting the sad truth that Linux simply doesn’t have a replacement for EVERY piece of Windows software.

      Think games. What does Wine autoplaying World of Warcraft have to do with making Windows apps run better than Linux apps? Until every piece of Windows software is ported to Linux (never gonna happen), Linux developers have to accept the sad reality that typical users cannot afford to give up all their Windows software. If desktop Linux providers continue to have the attitude that “you’re either all Linux or all Windows,” they are going to lose.

      I wish things were different, but they just aren’t. (And no amount of wishing can change that.)

  2. I think it might be a good idea to try to match it by label of the disc or by other means. it’s possible to match cddb entries by disc id really reliably, it should be possibly with data cds/dvds just the same.


      Unfortunately, CDDB only works for audio CDs. Data CDs could use another checksum method, but then you run into the problem of how to handle different versions of a CD (for example, WoW CDs that could contain any number of patches and thus have different checksums).

      That said, I do think that there are lots of options for reliably identifying CDs from other OSes. Additional ideas are welcome!

  3. While your dialog example, and the whole checking the appdb thing, would be a lot of work it would actually not be hard to get some degree of wine integration working.

    The most important thing is setting up binfmt support for PE so that:
    * DOS programs open in dosbox
    * Windows programs open in Wine
    * .net programs that are native run natively

    Just by double-clicking executable .exe files.

    This is not hard to configure and would be a good baseline.

    To complement this, you could add some custom UI improvements. For example, what if you double click a Windows .exe that is not executable? The default handler app for .exe should know enough to ask if you want to run it, chmod it +x and run it. What happens if you double click a Windows .exe when Wine is not installed? Something should try and run it with wine and, finding wine not there, behave much like Ubuntu’s terminal command-not-found handler: Tell you what you need to do to install it. Or, better yet, tell you that something can be installed to make it work and provide a nice, default-action button which if clicked will kick off the installation of wine via apt. Unless it’s a DOS exe, in which case it would install DOSBox.

    None of this is particularly complicated.

    Adding appdb integration is a little worse. You’d probably have to provide a package that is installed with wine which provides the latest appdb info for each app in a nice, local database. Requiring an active internet connection to retrieve this information would be onerous.

  4. My mockup:

    My take: while i do have the utmost respect for all the talent and good intentions of the Wine developers and while I use Wine to run my bought Windows games, I still feel that the developers are going in the wrong direction by emulating ( both bad and good design of ) Windows and not working with the application/game developers on native Linux versions.

    We need more Linux ports of existing games, like LGP is doing: , and more multi-OS titles that include a native Linux version, than to emulate an operating system that we don’t want to use.

    We need Linux top guys like Mark Shuttleworth and LGPs Michael Simms talking with game developers about Linux users, about the Linux game market and about (lost) sales opportunities.

  5. We’ll never have WINE installed by default but, as you’ve seen with that spec, there are plans to make it integrate with the system better when you do install it.

    We won’t have it installed by default because we aren’t Windows and we aren’t trying to be.

    1. I’ll just refer you to my reply to Jua (above).

      Having Wine installed by default is not about trying to be Windows. It’s about making Ubuntu a more viable OS for people who have stacks of Windows CDs with no native Linux replacement. Expecting them to chuck those without a second thought is not reasonable.

      Wine is an essential part of migrating people from Windows, like it or not. (And believe me – I don’t like it. I wish there were a better option.)

  6. While aknweldge the necessity of native games and while I never bu windows software even if plays well with wine, we should think about people who already have bought windows software since they are coming from windows. We can’t show them the finger. Instead, if they are able to play easily their games via emulation, they will easier stay with Linux and the next titles they get will be native ports.

  7. +10

    “IBM did that with OS/2 and made “A Windows better than Windows”. It never helped OS/2. It won’t help Linux. Who would want to run (or develop) Linux apps if Windows apps run better?”

  8. I tried Ubuntu 9.10. I went back to Windows. It was just to difficult to use my gadgets and games.I spent a solid month trying to get my printer(Lexmark 5000 all in one) and my digital camera working. And forget about playing Big Fish Games on it.Until they get serious about providing real usability to the standard user they will be nothing more than amusement for bored computer geeks.

  9. I wish Canonical could fund the WINE project to quicken its development so it can function close to 100%. What truly frustrates me with WINE is knowing how to debug your applications in order to make them run and I’m not knowledgeable enough to do that. If WINE had a friendly debugging gui or something it would perhaps help the “windows” people side to linux more. Kinda sad cause I love linux even though windows was my first OS.

  10. clickonce/dotnet > 3.5 apps are becoming more and more commonplace in the biz world. Ubuntu needs to run these, otherwise, it’s just a big stinking turd.

  11. ppl are simply missing the point .. it is not abt windows or ubuntu or mac or any other the reason ubuntu is respected is that it is free-software or it gives user the complete freedom..if u want to use non-free games or apps whats the point u have gained 4m ubuntu or any othr free-software .. ubuntu is aimed to be a os respecting social and moral values ..

  12. “ubuntu is aimed to be a os respecting social and moral values”

    Jesus H F-ing Christ. It’s just an OS. Let’s all hold hands and sing kumbaya. More liberal nonsense like “lets make NASA more accessible to foreigners.” Why? so they can bomb us from space?

  13. Slightly off-topic, but what if the WoW developers pulled a Google Earth-ish move and provided a WoW version for Linux that installed a captive WINE implementation already pre-configured to run WoW in an optimized fashion? I know it is not the same as having a native Linux implementation but I have very little hope that Bliz will ever port WoW directly. This method would sure make life easier for me.

  14. Why do some always bargh at the integration of WINE to assist those brought up with Windoze, do these same people still write in latin script or have they too moved on and adapted.

    I have just moved to Ubuntu 10.10 from Vista, I love it but a left over from Windoze is my wish for Dreamweaver, only. I am sure that almost everyone broke their teeth on Windoze, so why if it helped them should it not still help others.

    An equivelent Linux program to Dreamweaver and I will be the first to switch.

  15. Man ,I hate hate hate Ubuntu + Wine Integration.
    I have tried to install many programs with it.
    From small games to medium ones – from Small apps to a little over medium ones.
    BUT nothing works in it.
    It always stops working.
    My PC is working fine with it.
    But there is this one bugginess that doesn’t leave this wine.
    I think I am too much illiterate in Linux/Ubuntu right now that is why I am unable to get it to work but I don’t know.
    It should work.
    I install it properly.
    It should WORK.

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