How do I install and use Wine?

Q I'm a radio ham and use several programs that only work in Windows. However, I wish to use these programs in Linux, Ubuntu being my preferred OS. I'm aware of the Wine program, but I can't seem to obtain it.

My request is simple. Where can I download a copy of Wine?

A The Wine project's home page is at www.winehq.com, but this isn't the first place to look for it. Ubuntu, in common with other Linux distros, has large repositories of software packages pre-configured for the OS and ready to install at the click of a mouse. Run Synaptic Package Manager from the System > Administration menu and press the Reload button to make sure it has the most up-to-date list of available packages. Then type wine in the search box to see a list of Wine variants. Click the checkbox to the left of the main Wine entry, select Mark for Installation and press the Apply button to install it. Not only is this an easier way of installing the program, but you'll be automatically notified when there are newer versions available.

OnceWine is installed, you'll see a new item in the Applications menu, although the only program available so far is Notepad. If you download a Windows program as an EXE file and double-click it, Wine will start and run the program. If this is an installer - as is usual for a downloaded Windows program - it will install the program to Wine's C: drive, which is the

.wine/drive_c folder in your home directory. Once installed, it will appear in the Applications > Wine > Programs directory.

Wine works by emulating the Windows programming interface, so the programs think they are running on Windows. This is an imperfect science, so not every program will work perfectly, but every release of Wine adds better support for more programs.

The packages in the Ubuntu repository are recent, stable versions that have been thoroughly tested with that distro release. There may be a more recent or beta version available from the project's website. If your program doesn't work with the supplied version of Wine, go to www.winehq.org/download/deb and follow the instructions for adding their repository to Ubuntu's list of software sources.

You don't say exactly which programs you're using for your ham radio activities, but there are several Linux programs in this field. All else being equal, a native program is a better option than running one on an emulation layer. It would be worth asking a few questions on some of the popular ham radio websites, forums and mailing lists to see what other Linux users recommend.

Switching to Linux is usually easier if you start by dual-booting. Rather than trying to switch to Linux for everything in one go, install your chosen distribution alongside Windows and you can make a more gradual transition. Most distros have an option to do this, enabling you to choose which operating system you run each time you boot. Alternatively, if you only need one or two Windows programs and they don't work in Wine, consider installing VirtualBox and running Windows in a virtual machine for those programs.

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