Category: Linux and Open Source  ·  Originally posted September 23, 2009  ·  Last updated February 15, 2011

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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Discussion (28 comments)

  1. That would be a great thing, I like the picture of the dialogue box

    By historyb | September 23, 2009, 12:28 pm | Reply to this comment
  2. on the other hand, is it really a good idea to make ubuntu inherit such a design flaw as autorun in the name of friendliness?

    By vexorian | September 27, 2009, 5:28 pm | Reply to this comment
    • 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?

      By Bill Melater | June 11, 2010, 7:17 pm | Reply to this comment
  3. 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?

    By jua delach | October 1, 2009, 7:32 pm | Reply to this comment
    • 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.)

      By Tanner | October 5, 2009, 9:53 am | Reply to this comment
  4. 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.

    By leeth | October 1, 2009, 10:04 pm | Reply to this comment

      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!

      By Tanner | October 5, 2009, 9:59 am | Reply to this comment
  5. Part of the transfer issue is not a wine thing. Its moving off MS dependant programs before moving so reducing pain.

    By oiaohm | October 2, 2009, 6:06 am | Reply to this comment
  6. 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.

    By Sorpigal | October 2, 2009, 12:07 pm | Reply to this comment
    • Great ideas, sorpigal. You’re absolutely right – minimal Wine/DOSBox integration *would* be simple. Thanks for the comment.

      By Tanner | October 5, 2009, 10:10 am | Reply to this comment
  7. 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.

    By Licaon_Kter | October 2, 2009, 3:58 pm | Reply to this comment
  8. 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.

    By Travis Watkins | October 2, 2009, 4:38 pm | Reply to this comment
    • 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.)

      By Tanner | October 5, 2009, 10:13 am | Reply to this comment
  9. 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.

    By Apopas | October 3, 2009, 5:46 pm | Reply to this comment
  10. +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?”

    By wearetherock | October 5, 2009, 1:34 am | Reply to this comment
  11. 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.

    By anon | February 28, 2010, 3:55 pm | Reply to this comment
  12. I am sorry if my previous post seems harsh but I am frustrated.I truly hate Windows.

    By anon | February 28, 2010, 3:57 pm | Reply to this comment
  13. I’m actually working on something like this in Vineyard.
    The code for popping up a similar dialog for executables is already done (with virus scanning as well), but the optical device support is a good idea.

    AppDB integration is actually on its way in Vineyard as well, so you may very well see this in a future version of Ubuntu.


    By Christian Dannie Storgaard | March 15, 2010, 10:41 am | Reply to this comment
    • Vineyard is a very promising project, Christian – thanks for dropping in and mentioning it. Best of luck with your work on integrating AppDB!

      By Tanner | March 15, 2010, 10:48 am | Reply to this comment
  14. do it !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    By joe | April 29, 2010, 10:46 am | Reply to this comment
  15. 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.

    By Daniel | May 12, 2010, 1:56 pm | Reply to this comment
  16. 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.

    By Bill Melater | June 11, 2010, 7:13 pm | Reply to this comment
  17. 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 ..

    By Ganesh Katrapati | June 28, 2010, 12:09 pm | Reply to this comment
  18. “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?

    By Baldemar Huerta | July 5, 2010, 11:48 pm | Reply to this comment
  19. 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.

    By Meanjoe | July 16, 2010, 9:09 am | Reply to this comment
  20. 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.

    By Sunnyboy | January 22, 2011, 2:44 pm | Reply to this comment
  21. 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.

    By Daniyal Arain | April 27, 2011, 2:44 am | Reply to this comment

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