October 25, 2008

Wine 1.1.7 Review - First Steps of Direct3D 10 Implementation

I think Wine is one of the most promising and useful applications, especially for those who need to run Windows programs in a Linux environment. A new development release is put up every two weeks or so, and improvements are visible from each version to another.

Wine is the project which makes possible to run games like World of WarCraft, Counter-Strike, Half-Life 2, WarCraft III and so on. And Wine is also the project which makes possible for web developers to test how their web page is viewed under Internet Explorer. Not to mention hundreds of other applications which work very well or well enough with it.

Ever since the first release tagged as 'stable' was put out for the public after 15 years of development, the Wine project continued development and now the latest version is 1.1.7, which brings numerous improvements and additions.

According to the official announcement, one of the highlights for this release is that the first steps were taken to implement the Direct3D technology, which is part of the DirectX API from Microsoft. The open and widespread competitor for Direct3D is OpenGL, the Open Graphics Library.

It's well-known that Wine works awesome with games like WoW, Counter-Strike or Half-Life 2.

A while ago I ran and installed the new Google Chrome web browser through Wine, since a Linux port is not available yet, and the result was very satisfying: with the exception of a little interface slowness, it behaved very well.

For this release, I installed Google Chrome following the tutorial I wrote for 1.1.6. I had to run it as:

wine ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/profiles/USERNAME/Local\ Settings/Application\ Data/Google/Chrome/Application/chrome.exe --new-http --in-process-plugins

And replaced USERNAME with my username. Chrome displayed all the web pages I tried, including this blog, Digg.com, YouTube.com (with the Flash plugin too) and the WineHQ homepage, but scrolling a page is extremely slow and choppy until the web page is completely loaded. I never tested Google Chrome on Windows so I can't compare exactly the behaviour.

I also installed Adobe Flash Player using the browser instead of winetricks. Below are some screenshots running Chrome through Wine. As you can see, Flash is enabled:

Wine provides an application database on their homepage, which classifies applications depending on how well they run and perform: platinum, gold, silver. The nice thing is that each application has detailed information on how to set it up in order to work best, in what conditions it was tested and it also includes user comments. Usually, if a game or application is known to work through Wine but you couldn't set it up, have a look at the comments posted and a solution will surely be provided.

As I already mentioned, one of the most popular games which worked perfectly for me in Wine is World of WarCraft:

World of WarCraft

I was glad to see the mIRC scripts editor does not crash the application anymore, but instead I couldn't make it connect to another network but the default QuakeNet, so you will have to use the /server command. Otherwise, mIRC 6.35 works pretty well, and if you really really need it and can't re-write your scripts for a native Linux client you can use it through Wine. Still, I suggest using a native IRC client like XChat, Konversation or Irssi.

I also tried the last version of Winamp, 5.541, and I installed the Lite version. It works very well, although I did not test it for long. It plays music.

It's true, I don't think Linux needs to run a player like Winamp, when we have powerful and full-featured, native and open-source audio players like Amarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, Songbird or XMMS. But maybe someone still finds a use for it, or it can help those who just switched from Windows and can't get used to another player.

Also, here is a top 25 applications/games which run in Wine, by votes.

Overall, the Wine project does what it has always done, bringing Windows games and applications to Linux. It's great to see games like WoW, HL2, CoD4, StarCraft, WarCraft III running very well.


Shamil said...

Good article. You bring to mind a great way of getting around the linux restricted modules. Instead of activating the restricted plf or medibuntu repositories, just install a windows browser with windows flash, and for mp3 playback, just install the usual goodness of winamp. Want to play dvd's in linux? Just start using media player classic. Although, an alternative to winamp for a native solution in linux is to use audacious.

All of these proprietary codecs are free and legal for win users. So why not use them instead of the free but native linux illegal proprietary codecs. I'm not going to go this extreme with codecs though, but, installing google chrome or win ff3, opera...etc with windows flash seems like a great idea for actually having a good version of flash in linux.

Anonymous said...

Er, you know that the linux codecs are not illigal right? they're just legally risky (you may or may not be sued, in a case that you may or may not win) So it's all very much unknown.

As for the windows versions, I'm pretty sure that all the codecs used by windows are just as 'illegal' to run under wine. In fact probably more so as your breaking copyright law via contract law. Were as the linux codecs are open source, just unknown problems with patents and other such lunacy.

Anonymous said...

Wow could Shamil have gotten it any more wrong?

As the other Anonymous says, they're not illegal but because in a few parts of the world (main example: The US) software patents exist, some software might not be legal.

They're classed as restricted (and not included on the install disk) because that would limit where a distribution could be.. er.. distributed.

If you're not somewhere where you're encumbered by software patents, the restricted repo is there to make your life easy.

I'll add that if the free MP3 codec is liable for patent suits, Wine is too. So is running media player classic with non-official codecs (eg: xvid or the k-lite codec pack) -- even if you're running a legal copy of Windows...

Please get a clue.

Anonymous said...

Another reason for using Winamp is that it has input plugins for many formats that native players don't support or support poorly. Winamp's SPC plugins are second to none, and AFAIK there is no way to natively play USF files on Linux. That said, I wish Winamp worked a little better under Wine. It's adequate, but it would be neat to finally have it work correctly with modern skins.

Unknown said...

WINE is truely a fasinating software program.

Anyone that gets confused as to whether it is an emulator or not, let me clarify that it is NOT en emulator it is nothing more than a TRANSLATOR.

Since, I can run most linux apps on windows or mac, it's nice to know I can run Windows apps on linux.

Also, I think many people forget that WINE actually exists. It can run so many windows apps, especially the ones that use common win32 apis, that switching to a linux distro should not be a problem.

Especially, as the previous posters mentioned, for every good win app there is an equally or better linux app. (if not dozens!)

I think Ubuntu should promote WINE more... you never here much about WINE, being able to cut the excuses of not being able to run Windows App, this or that.

Remember, Embrace, Extend than Eliminate! hehe

Anonymous said...

Why do people forget the EULA that comes with free software such as Internet Explorer or DirectX? They clearly state that the software may only be used with a legitimate copy of Windows. Even if you use the software with Wine, you are legally at risk.

For my money, I will use the Medibuntu codecs to enjoy my media. If they won't go after DVD Jon after moving to the U.S. they certainly won't care about me.

Of course you could always put your legit Windows install into VMware or dual boot.