Ubuntu with Crossover Linux

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Crossover Linux is the commercial version of Wine. This allows Linux users to run Windows apps in Linux without loading a Windows OS.

(I reviewed Crossover a couple of years ago but I thought an update would be in order.)

There is a free version of Wine, but the problem I have is that it is not as user friendly as I would like. Crossover uses the Wine core and overlays a very easy to use GUI over it. As I am using Ubuntu now as my main OS, Crossover enables me to use Photoshop and Microsoft Office within Ubuntu.

According to Wine’s site:

Wine is a translation layer (a program loader) capable of running Windows applications on Linux and other POSIX compatible operating systems. Windows programs running in Wine act as native programs would, running without the performance or memory usage penalties of an emulator, with a similar look and feel to other applications on your desktop.”

The singular advantage of Wine over running Windows as a virtual machine is that you do not need a valid Windows OS – Wine interfaces between Linux and the app without a Windows OS. What I did not know until I poked around Wine’s site is that there appears to be a project underway to incorporate Wine into Ubuntu – in my book this would go a LONG way to popularizing Ubuntu as THE Linux distribution of choice.

However let’s be clear about what Wine can and can not do – it is in no way a means to run every Windows app flawlessly – it can run some 100% and others to varying degrees. I am running Photoshop and Microsoft Office XP without any major problems, but then I don’t flog these programs very much. I did try to run some unsupported software for my Canon scanner but with no success (it runs OK under Linux and GIMP anyway, but I just wanted to see what would happen).

Running Crossover is drop-dead easy – check out my earlier review for particulars. What has changed in the last two years?

  • Ubuntu is maturing into a viable OS for the average PC user
  • Open Office has evolved into a competitive suite with Microsoft Office
  • GIMP’s latest version is similar to Photoshop, making a transition easier
  • Open source, free software continues to offer high quality apps

Personally I don’t think I can totally live without a Windows OS as there are many small apps that are only available in a Windows format. However, my plan is to live with XP as long as possible, most likely upgrading to Windows 7 in a few years.

You can reasonably ask “If you go to Windows 7, why use Ubuntu”?”

Frankly, the security risks in using Windows products swings me to using Linux. With 90% of the OS market, Windows will always be a target for malicious attacks. I’ll need Windows for some apps, but I don’t want to use Windows when dealing with sensitive data. In addition, Windows apps will outweigh open source by something like 10:1, and I don’t see this changing all that much.

However, the more I use Ubuntu the more I like its speed – it boots quickly, it’s not overloaded with eye candy apps (although you can get easily add them) and internet access is faster. I find it interesting to see some aspects of Ubuntu in Windows 7, most notably in how W7 got rid of Windows Explorer.

A Windows OS for only those specialized apps running on Windows will limit my financial outlay to the OS only – I can’t see spending additional $ for Microsoft Office or Photoshop considering the free alternatives.

Conclusion

There is a large user community continually contributing fixes towards making selected Windows apps run flawlessly in Wine, but if you absolutely need a particular Windows app, check out how well it runs under Crossover – you can download a trial version good for 30 days for test runs. I figure if I can get Ubuntu to run most Windows apps for $40, I’m way ahead of the game – it certainly eases the transition to Linux.

 

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