Tuesday, 7 July 2009

To Wine, or not to Wine, that is the Question?

Wine (Windows is Not Emulated) is a very cleverly engineered tool; it allows one to run Windows applications natively on Intel based Linux systems, to different degrees of success depending on what underlying Windows APIs are used by the application.

I never know what to think about using Wine. Part of me wants to just refuse to use any Windows application because it's "tainting" my system - I want to have 100% GPL'd Open Source based code running on my machine. Using this argument I should not be using apps like Skype or Flash and hence the BBC iPlayer and I should therefore refuse to use any close proprietary drivers, like the broadcom wl.ko driver module. Where does one draw the line?

Perhaps my machine should be a totally Windows free zone - that's one line I could draw. Alternatively, if I have to run Windows code, maybe it should be just inside a Virtual Machine just to contain it, rather than using apps in Wine.

It's a interesting debate - my current approach is go for as much GPL'd Open Source code I can, and be pragmatic - use some propriety apps like Skype only when I need to, and try to avoid any Windows code on my machine at all possible. So, sorry Wine, your technology is very powerful and enabling, but I don't think I will be using you for the moment.


  1. Depending on how picky you want to be, this removes certain games which were released as "Linux" versions from your choices too -- pretty much all the Loki games (SimCity 3000, for example) used a copy of Wine embedded in them to "port" them...

  2. I suppose I'm kind a picky, but also try to be pragmatic. Sometimes a job needs to be done and one has to install code that goes against the principles... it does go against the grain, but that's real life for you.