Thursday, July 27, 2006

How to run Windows application in Linux...

Windows Apps Running For CrossOver To Linux

What makes Windows operating system extremely popular among masses? Its simplicity in use and may be, above it, uncountable numbers of applications available for this platform. Linux has traveled a long way and it is finally becoming simple in its use. But, what about availability of applications for Linux ? Forces behind Linux movement know this fact from very beginning that hundreds of user-friendly Windows applications make Windows operating system very hard to ignore and they were trying real hard to make possible installing and running Windows Applications on Linux platform as its native applications. There were tools like Wine and Lin4win that helps you in running Windows application in Linux platform, but either they are still in development stage or need hacking level system tweaking for running simple application. Finally, CodeWeaver’s CrossOver software products make installing and running some of popular Windows application possible in Linux platform with easy, that too without the need for installation of Windows operating system in your computer.

CodeWeaver is developing a wide range of application that will help Windows Application installing and runing in Linux x86 as its native application. It uses a version of Wine, the famous Windows emulator for Linux/UNIX, reshapes it and creates applications called CrossOver product for installing and running Windows application in Linux without the need of Windows. It means that you can install and run Windows application directly in Linux without ever knowing Windows operating system. Presently, there are three CrossOver software products that you can use for running Windows application for your different need.

CrossOver Office

This application, once installed in Linux, lets you install and run popular Windows productivity suits like MS Office 97/2000 and Lotus notes, popular web browser Internet Explorer 5.5 with Outlook Express, Accounting software like Quicken etc. and many more. However, CrossOver Office is still in development stage and some of the feature of supported application may not run at all [for example, Frontpage Express of MS Office won’t run presently] or may give you some erratic results. It is claimed that these issues will be resolved very soon and base of supported application will be broadened. CrossOver Office is available as commercial product and if it keeps its promises, forgetting Windows may be easy and painless if not entirely priceless.

CrossOver Plugin

This application is developed to let you use Windows based browser plugin on Linux based browsers. You can use plugin like QuickTime Movie Player, Windows Media Player, Real Player, Flash, ShockWave, WinAmp, MSWord/Excel/PowerPoint viewer and many more. CrossOver Plugin has been designed as an application through which you can call Windows Application’s installation and setup files in Linux, install them and run them exactly as you are installing and running them in Windows. For this, a fake C drive with C:\Windows installation is created with all the directory structure of Windows installation to fool the Windows application. The required dll files and registry entries were simulated similarly as they were in Windows. The demo version of CrossOver Plugin is available at http://www.codeweavers.com/products/crossover/download_demo.php for free. Using CrossOver Plugin is fairly easy if you are familiar with Linux. However, new users of Linux may find it somewhat tricky in use. The detailed procedure for using this application for installing Windows application in Linux is given later in this article.

CrossOver Server Edition

This application is similar to CrossOver Office but is developed for using Windows productivity applications in Solaris or Linux thin client environment. It is claimed that in future, with this product, you will be able to use complete Microsoft Windows Operating System [Server edition] Environment without the need of purchase of Windows License. It is targeted at Internet appliances that are released for Windows and not supported in Linux.

CrossOver Display

This application is promising to deliver things way beyond your Virtual Network Computing. With this, you can run Windows applications in remote computer and deliver its display to a remote display unit. For example, while you manage your accounting in Aqura on your Linux desktop, simultaneously, your son can play Rayman in same computer and gets display in another terminal.

Installing CrossOver Plugin

Installing CrossOver Plugin in Linux is one step process, provided you fulfill its following minimum requirement:

  • x86 based computer
  • A browser that supports plugin technology like Netscape, Opera etc.
  • X11 R6 3.3 or higher installed and running
  • 17 MB free Disk Space

For installing CrossOver Plugin, check that Xwindow is running, then simply go to the directory where you have downloaded its installation file : install-crossover-plugin-1.1.2-demo.sh and double click on it [if you are using file manager like konqueror]. If you are comfortable with commands then you can give command sh install-crossover-plugin-1.1.2-demo.sh to install this application. Though it supports per user installation, it is better to install it as root user else you may encounter some errors. The application installs as standard Windows utility and installs in /opt/crossover directory for root user. After CrossOver Plugin setup is completed its installation, a configuration window appears through which you can install Windows applications and plugins and configure them for proper running in Linux. To install new Windows plugin, click on ‘Configure Now’ button. A new window will appear [after a while during its first run] where you will find tabs like General, Add/Remove, Netscape etc. Now click on Add/Remove and click on the plugin name that you want to install. If you have Internet connection ready, it will install the latest supported version of selected plugin from its web site. Alternately, you can install most of the plugin from previous issues of i.t. CD. For that, select the plugin Name as ‘Other’ and then click on ‘Add’ button. Now click on the browse button and point to the Application’s executable installer file such as setup.exe and click on it and follow on screen instructions. The application’s setup program will run exactly as it is installing in Windows - like asking you the directory in which you want to install such as C:\Program Files. Usually, the default setting may be accepted to avoid any possible error.

Running Installed Applications

While some program like WinZip installs in one smooth go and creates desktop icon for running WinZip application in KDE, some need extra tweaking to run them. If the application is supported [some unsupported application that not use much dll files and don’t need much registry entries may also install and run flawlessly such as Aqura Lite, the famous Accounting Software] then it will install without error and you will find an entry ‘installed’ against it. If you find desktop icon created by its setup such as in case of WinZip, simply click on it and enjoy using your Windows Application in Linux. If you do not find desktop icon, then try your luck on Start menu. You may find entry CrossOver>Program>Application_Name; where ‘Application Name’ is the name of Windows application you installed such as Word/Excel/PowerPoint Viewer. If you still not find shortcut for launching application, then you have to either launch it manually or create shortcut for it. Note that the installed Windows applications cannot run in Linux by simply running their executable file. Also note that your application installs in /opt/crossover directory [for user other than root it is /home/user_id/crossover directory] but you have to give command that runs the version of Wine that installs with CrossOver and then run the Windows application in its environment, say on wine desktop from a fake Windows directory, C:\. Depending on the directory at which you installed your application such as at C:\ or C:\ Program Files, following typical command for root user will launch your installed plugin application WinAmp:

/opt/crossover/bin/wine.sh “C:\Program Files\WinAmp\winamp.exe” --

Here, WinAmp is physically installed on a sub directory ‘fake_window’ of directory ‘crossover’ which is identified as ‘C:\’ by windows applications; where it will find complete directory structure replicating to that of actual Windows installation. In Linux applications, you will find UNIX type directory structure, but in Windows Applications, you will find Windows type directory structure. For example, in WinZip (while running in Linux) window, you will see directory like My Computer > Fake_Window(C:); Tmp Drive(X:); HOME(Y:); Root(Z:) etc.

At a later stage, if you want to install another plugin, you can run the CrossOver Plugin setup utility pluginsetup from the directory /opt/crossover/bin [for root] or $HOME/user_id/crossover/bin [for user other than root]. Occasionally, you have to put some free dll files such as msvcrt.dll at Windows/system subdirectory of crossover installation for some application to run properly.

At times, some Windows application starts misbehaving and may refuse to close. For situations similar to this, there is a utility CrossOver Cleanup in CrossOver for closing such applications. You may find it on your Start Menu/CrossOver/Program entry. If you do not find it here, then create one or run it by giving following command from /opt/crossover/bin [or $HOME/user_id/crossover/bin directory:

cleanup_crossover.sh

Your buggy application will instantly be closed with this command.

Now the time has come to fire Realplayer with it’s built in visualization for enjoying great multimedia stuff that you had always wanted in your Linux installation.

Screenshot descriptions:

  1. Cross1 CrossOver Plugin, the user friendly application that manages installing and running Windows Plugin Applications in Linux with easy.
  2. Cross2 You can install supported plugin that had default entry like QuickTime, RealPlayer, Flash etc., as well as other plugin and application like WinZip, WinAmp etc.
  3. Cross 3 Plugins can be installed from local directory or from Internet download. Most of the plugin can be installed from previous issues of i.t. CDs.
  4. Cross4 The executable installation file like setup.exe is to be run from within CrossOver Plugin’s setup window for installing application.
  5. Cross5 CrossOver Plugin ensures Windows application installs as easily and flawlessly in Linux as they installs in Windows.
  6. Cross6 Most supported plugins like QuickTime Movie player installs and run without any trouble.
  7. Cross7 RealPlayer, one of the most popular media players of Windows, playing in Linux with all its functionality including Visualizations.
  8. Cross8 Windows applications interprets Linux directory structure differently - unique Windows style.
  9. Cross9 Microsoft Wordviewer plugin, the application that helps viewing MS Office word document of various formats is running in Linux as standalone application.
  10. Cross10 Not all Windows application install in Linux, similarly, not all installed Windows application run smoothly. There is a utility called CrossOver Plugin Reset that closes buggy application instantly.
  11. Cross11 You can associate your installed application to particular file types through CrossOver Plugin Setup utility.
  12. Cross12 CrossOver plugin setup can be used to reinstall corrupted Windows application.
  13. Cross13 Crossover plugin setup uses a version of wine that creates Windows directory on Virtual C:\ drive as fake_windows directory.
  14. Cross14 WinAmp, the world’s most popular MP3 player is playing in Linux without the need of mush configuration and tweaking; courtesy – CrossOver Plugin.
  15. Cross15 WinZip the Windows file compression utility now delivers in Linux the way it was delivering in Windows for ages.
  16. Cross16 Besides supported plugins, you can install some other Windows applications through CrossOver Plugin.
  17. Cross17 Aqura Lite, the popular Accounting software for Windows installs and run in Linux as it is native application of Linux.
  18. Cross18 Windows Media Player version 6.4 installs but newer version fails to install.

Box Item for CrossOver Application

10 Big reasons for using Win Apps in Linux Platform…

1. You can combine the Beauty [Functionality] of Windows based Applications to the Brain [Free, Secure & Stable] of Linux Platform.

2. You can run your favorite Windows application in either platform. Although support is limited to a few application presently, but the base is widening speedily.

3. Your documents and data will get more portability across various platforms.

4. You do not need Windows OS License for running Win Apps.

5. Your computing environment will become more secure. For example, if a virus infects through the Outlook installed in the Linux System, it cannot format hard disk of Linux file system. With proper security settings, at most it could do is damage Virtual C drive, the fake_windows directory.

6. The need for Costly Windows platform for the shake of using an application will be eliminated.

7. The cost of ownership can be reduced drastically since there are huge numbers of Windows based freeware-yet-powerful applications available. For example, you can use freeware AQURA lite, the Accounting software even for large business use.

8. Rebooting for system change will become history since Linux does not require reboot and for Windows application, there is a utility that creates simulation of Windows reboot.

9. If any application crashes, it will not affect your system and with a CrossOver Office utility CrossOver Reset, these applications can be reset immediately.

10. Though the CrossOver is a commercial application, which automates the tasks of installing and running Windows Application on Linux, you can use and configure Wine, the freeware Windows emulator that CrossOver uses for the same purpose.

Box item 2

Installing CrossOver Office

CrossOver Office can be installed similarly as CrossOver Plugin. But you have to buy it or request the 30-day evaluation version from its web site. The installation file for CrossOver Office is approximately 7 MB and it installs without glitch by double clicking it in any file manager or giving command sh [file name]. Here, [file name] is the CrossOver Office installer file you downloaded. For example, the latest file available at the time of writing this article is install-crossover-office-1[1].2.2.sh.

Further, Windows based applications can be installed similarly as described in CrossOver Plugin. Applications can be uninstalled through CrossOver Office setup utility by selecting the application and clicking the Remove option. Note that if you uninstall CrossOver Office itself, then all your installed applications will be removed instantly without any trace.

Enough of good talking! Now face some reality. As of now, every Windows based applications are not supported and Windows based application’s every features are also not supported. Major problem area you find is in support for display. For example, while running Microsoft Office, you may find it difficult to resize the working window. These issues are being solved rapidly and it is said that within a couple of years, you can install and run virtually any application on Linux that is released for Windows platform.

Screen shot descriptions for box item:

1. crossof01: CrossOver Office setup utility that helps you install and run Windows application in Linux.

2. crossof02: Some application like Microsoft Office create Start Menu program group entries that can be used for launching Program.

3. crossof03: Microsoft Word / Excel / Powerpoint 2000 runs flawlessly in Linux except showing some display bugs.

4. crossof04: CrossOver Office supports many other Windows based application like Aqura Lite, the accounting software which installs and runs like Linux native application.

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