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How to Run Windows Programs with a Linux Operating System [Fwd: Win4Lin]

Hello Free Framers,

I had a conversation last night with my son Steve about
Linux and Windows  and then got the note from
Carol J. Elkins a few minutes ago!  I forwarded it to
Steve;  his credentials include six years at Microsoft and
several years since then pursuing Linux.  From other
notes which have been coming in, I think that a few
of you are very ready for his message!  He's the expert
on these things, not me  I'm only his father.  But, since
I'm the family FrameMaker user and subscribed to Free
Framers, I owe it to all of you to pass this along.

Chuck Hastings      cwh2@earthlink.net

I use Linux and I know a fair amount about it.  Here is what I know
about running Windows programs under Linux.

The most famous option is WINE, the Windows environment.  It is an
attempt to duplicate the entire environment in which Windows programs
run.  As time goes by it is getting better, but it is far from a 100%
solution.  There are several flavors of WINE available.  First is the
generic free one that is unsupported; this is a great option if you want
a new time-consuming hobby, but not recommended if you just want things
to work.  Second is WineX, but that is mainly intended for games.  Third
is Crossover Office, which lets you run Microsoft Office under WINE.  I
did a web search and found that Crossover Office will run FrameMaker,
but not perfectly, and FrameMaker is not supported so the Crossover tech
support won't help you.  Crossover Office  costs $50 and you might not
be happy with the way it runs.  Note that WINE does not require a copy
of Windows; it is its own Windows environment.

Another option is VMWare, which lets you create a virtual computer and
run anything on the virtual computer.  So you can run VMWare on Linux,
and inside the virtual computer you can run Windows (any version). 
VMWare is kind of slow, though, and it is $300!  And you need a copy of
Windows.  (Any version at all.)

Which brings us to Win4Lin by Netraverse.  This is a sort of a hybrid of
the above two products.  It sets up a virtual computer that can only run
Windows.  And only the 9x versions of Windows: Windows 95, Windows 98,
Windows 98 SE, and Windows ME.  You will need a copy of a 9x version of
Windows to install Win4Lin.  However, it is fast; your programs will run
about as fast as they would under bare Windows.

It's kind of like WINE because it sets up an environment for Windows to
run on top of, and it's kind of like VMWare because Windows runs in a
virtual computer that runs inside of Linux.  Win4Lin costs about $90 if
you buy the "download" version, and about $100 plus shipping if you buy
the version that is actually on a CD that they send to you.

Win4Lin will run just about any Windows program except for modern games
(they require direct hardware access to the graphics card, which Win4Lin
cannot either provide or simulate right now).

I'm using Win4Lin and I like it.  And it's kind of fun to watch Windows
"boot" in under six seconds!  Win4Lin is great for things like QuickTime
movies, because Apple supports QuickTime on Windows but not Linux.

Also, I am pleased with Netraverse right now.  They just came out with a
new version of Win4Lin (version 5.0) and they gave a free upgrade to all
customers who bought it after January 1 of this year.  For customers who
bought Win4Lin before then, they offer a $30 upgrade price, which seems
very fair to me.

Here is my advice on how to adopt Linux:

The easiest way to go to Linux is to do a full install of Red Hat 9 on a
newer computer.  Then once you have that done, install Win4Lin.  Let me
explain in more detail.

It is possible to do a custom install of Linux that will "dual-boot",
thus letting you boot either Linux or Windows.  But that is a little
complicated to set up.  If you just let Linux install on top of your
whole disk, that is much easier.  The automatic installer will take care
of everything; just accept all the default options.

If you can afford it, consider buying an inexpensive new computer and
setting that up for Linux.  Once you have it working, you can transfer
your files over from the old one.  Then your old one is still available
as a spare computer.  I'd hate to have you get Linux half-installed and
then have a problem, and be without any working computer at all!  If you
just want to install on your current computer, please make sure you have
all your files backed up safely before installing Linux.

It is *possible* to get Linux to run on almost any computer, even a
creaky old Pentium 100.  But the older and creakier the computer, the
more of a Linux guru you will need to be.  If you run the Red Hat
installer on a modern computer, it will auto-detect all your hardware
and set it all up for you.  This is very nice.

There are other versions of Linux than Red Hat 9.  I could spend a long
time going over the pros and cons of them all.  For a beginner, Red Hat
is excellent: it will just work.  And you can sign up for the "Red Hat
Network" where you get the latest updates and security patches online. 
(This is much better than "Windows Update", in case you have ever been
burned by "Windows Update" and are leery of online updaters.)  Also, Red
Hat has tried very hard to make Linux approachable.  They picked a bunch
of "best of breed" applications and put them in the menu for you.  Some
other versions of Linux just provide you with a dozen different programs
and let you pick which one you want; that's great if you are a Linux
geek like me, but if you just want something that works, the Red Hat
defaults are all good.  (Red Hat does provide the dozen different ones
if you really want them, but by default it just picks the "best" ones.) 
Red Hat also provides support, to help you get your Linux set up and
working.  But the installer is so slick you probably won't need any

By the way, Red Hat 9 comes in two versions: a $40 "Personal" one and a
$150 "Professional" one.  You don't need the $150 one.  The $40 one is
all you need.

Here is a screen shot of Win4Lin running on Red Hat 9:


Here are some useful links:



Here's a review from a British magazine:


Steve R. Hastings    "Vita est"
steve@hastings.org   http://www.blarg.net/~steveha