How To Run Windows Apps On Linux With Wine

These days, many people are switching to Linux. When switching to this new platform, users often need to find alternatives for popular Windows programs that they previously used. When it comes to replacement programs the Linux platform has this covered for the most part. Certain programs can be replaced; Photoshop can be replaced with Gimp, and Microsoft Office with Libre Office. A lot of mainstream Windows programs have open-source alternatives. However, there isn’t an alternative for every single program. There are some apps that those coming from Windows will need, and no alternatives exist. Luckily, there is a software project out there that lets you run Windows apps on Linux. The software is called Wine. It creates a compatibility layer for Windows programs to interact with the Linux operating system.

Install Wine

All Major Linux distributions carry Wine in one way or another, though under a different name. Open up a terminal window and use the following command to install it on your operating system. Alternatively, open Gnome Software (or however else you normally install software on your Linux PC), search for Wine, and click the install button to proceed.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install wine-stable

Debian

sudo apt-get install wine

Fedora

sudo dnf wine

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S wine

OpenSUSE

sudo zypper install wine

Other

Running Windows Apps

Wine can be used in two ways. Users can either launch a Windows program via the terminal, or with the file manager on the system.

Via Terminal

For those who prefer to use the terminal, here’s how to run a Windows app. First, go to the folder where the program is on your PC using the CD command.

Note: if your EXE isn’t in the Downloads folder and is instead somewhere else, change the command to suit your own needs. ~/ = /home/username.

cd ~/Downloads

Then, use the Wine command to start the program.

wine windowsprogram.exe

Via The File Manager

Windows apps can be launched (and installed) directly from the file manager. To accomplish this, open the file management tool that comes with your Linux operating system. Please keep in mind that every desktop environment is a little different. Settings and options will be different, depending on which one you’re running. Regardless of this though, the core idea remains pretty similar.

Even though the wine software is installed, it doesn’t mean it’ll launch an EXE right away. Instead, you’ll need to set wine as the default program for “exe” files.

To launch an app, find the folder that it’s in, and right click it.  to reveal the context menu. Select “properties” from the context menu, and look for “open with”, “filetype options”, or something similar. In this section, browse for wine.  Can’t find wine in the program list? Look for an option to write a command instead, and write: wine.

Go back to the file manager and double-click on the exe. Wine will open the Windows app and run it.

Wine Helpers

On it’s own Wine is perfectly fine, and most users don’t have any trouble using it to run Windows app on Linux. However, some people find the way Wine works to be complex, and need a little help. That’s why in this article, we’re going to briefly cover some good “wine helpers”. These are resources people can use to make their Wine experience a little better.

PlayOnLinux

For those looking to use Wine to install Windows games, PlayOnLinux is the obvious choice. It comes with a collection of helpers that make installing many different Windows games incredibly easy. Just use the search bar, find a game you like and click the install button. PlayOnLinux installs everything the game needs to run (even things like Windows runtimes that are required by the game). PlayOnLinux is on most mainstream Linux distributions. To install it, open a terminal and enter the following command. Alternatively, open the software tool that comes with your Linux distribution and search for “PlayOnLinux”.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install playonlinux

Debian

sudo apt-get install playonlinux

Fedora

sudo dnf install playonlinux

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S playonlinux

OpenSUSE

sudo zypper install playonlinux

CrossOver

Crossover, much like PlayOnLinux is software designed around the framework that is wine. Unlike PlayOnLinux, however, this software is paid software. It allows users to make “Wine bottles”. Wine bottles let windows software run independent of the rest of the system. Meaning, if a user has a program that requires Windows 2000, but another that requires Windows 10 or 8, they get their own bottles.

Additionally, Crossover has a massive list of “helper scripts”. All the user needs to do is search for a popular windows program, click the install button and the software will install it for you. For this reason, if you’re a new Linux user and need help installing Windows programs, this software is your best bet. Purchase it for Linux here.

Conclusion

With the help of Wine, installing Windows software on Linux becomes a possibility. It isn’t perfect but having the ability to run programs developed for a different operating system really increases the other operating system’s usability. Those that are on Linux but need access to certain Windows programs can breathe a sigh of relief.

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith
Kelli runs customer support and creates content for Skillcrush, a digital skills training and education platform with friendly instructors, an active student community, and laser focus on helping you achieve your career goals with technology. She has an MBA and successfully ran an international company and her own freelancing business before pursuing her passion for tech by taking advanced web development classes. Kelli loves listening to tech podcasts at 2x speed, looking for cute Corgi photos online and teaching and performing country line dancing—as a true Texan living in Finland would do. Say hi on Twitter.

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