Wine Projects: Which Vintage?

Now that we have a basic understanding of Wine, we can dig into Cedega and Crossover Games a bit. The two major goals behind Cedega and Crossover Games are to offer additional game support and a friendlier user interface than what is currently implemented in Wine. That being said these projects have taken two different approaches to the solution.

Since version 2.1, Cedega has been patching and developing their code without using the public Wine source tree. This is mainly due to the license change that occurred with Wine back in 2002 from MIT to LGPL. Under LGPL Cedega would have been forced to publish all their source code for free. The result is that parts of Cedega are open source, but the GUI, Copyright Protection, texture compression, and other parts are closed source. The GUI and Copyright Protection (SecureRom and SafeDisk) is what most people really want, but there are other benefits to paying. First, you get a nice package that won't require compiling on your part - these are available for most Linux distros. If they don't have a package available, you can still get a precompiled binary. Purchasing Cedega also gives you the ability to vote on what games to support in future releases, potentially getting your personal favorite to work sooner rather than later.

Cedega will cost $25 for a 6 month subscription or $45 for one year. If you just want the free version, you lose out on the GUI and you're also going to need to try and get the project to compile on your own. That will entail finding and setting the correct flags for your distro, and in many cases you'll also need to find a patch to make it work.

Crossover Games uses the current Wine source tree and employs Wine developers to handle part of their proprietary code. Crossover Games also contributes code to the Wine project as per the LGPL license. This means more of the Crossover source code is available, but paying still provides a better experience - otherwise you're going to have to deal with the same compiling/patching issues as Cedega.

Crossover is available for Mac OS or Linux, with the Linux version costing $40 per year. (A $70 Professional version gets you enhanced features that are mostly useful for corporations and multi-user environments - nothing you need for gaming under Linux.) The free version of Crossover will provide users with some of the GUI, but the final result is still less desirable than the pay-for version. Honestly, if you're going out and buying $50 (or even $10) games and you really want to play them under Linux, you'll save yourself some headaches by just ponying up for the full version of the software. Of course, at that point you're almost half-way to the purchase of a licensed copy of Windows (though you'd still have to deal with the hassle of dual booting).

One of the key features Wine is missing is relative to Cedega/Crossover is an easy to use GUI. Wine does install shortcuts on your Linux desktop, but when it comes to managing your different Wine environments there isn't really anything available. As far as the free versions of Cedega/Crossover, you get a somewhat functional watered down version of Crossover/Cedega, but I have never had great results with the CVS versions. You might as well pay the couple of bucks to get the full version along with all the bells and whistles.

Users new to Linux will likely prefer Cedega/Crossover Games over Wine due to the interface and easy implementation of the application. Both of these projects also support different games than your standard Wine install. As far as game compatibility, the three projects use similar rating schemes. Wine and Crossover both use medals: Gold means it should install and run pretty much as you would expect; Silver means it will install and run well enough to be "usable", but you'll likely encounter some bugs or performance issues; and Bronze is for games that can install and at least partially run, but frequent bugs/crashes are likely. Wine also adds a Platinum rating, which is for games that install and run flawlessly - Gold Wine games may require a special configuration. For Cedega, the ratings are broken down into Cedega Certified (Platinum/Gold), Checkmark (Silver), and Exclamation Point (Bronze). There are of course plenty of other games that are unrated, as well as games that are known not to work.

Despite the ratings, it's possible to have a very different experience than what you would expect. A bronze game may work fine for you, or a gold game may have problems. Hardware and drivers play a role, sure, but other times you're just left with some head scratching. Of course, if you're already running Linux and intend to give any of the Wine projects a shot, you likely are familiar with the process of searching wikis and forums, a skill which can save a lot of time.

Index The Test Setup
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  • DrMrLordX - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Funny you should mention this.

    Running Xubuntu 9.10 and the latest build of WINE I can get through Synaptic, I have had nothing but trouble with World of Warcraft.

    The first problem is that every time you launch the game via launcher.exe, it will write-protect your entire WoW directory if you have the game "installed" to a Linux partition (it does not do this if you run the game from an NTFS partition). So you run the game directly with wow.exe. This write-protect scheme was apparently stealthily implemented to prevent multi-boxing. Fat lot of good it did.

    Secondly, I get uncontrollable mouse spin that makes things . . . very interesting. Basically my character is mouse-turning in one direction constantly until I can get it to stop, which isn't very often.

    Thirdly, sometime the server just punts me for no apparent reason when I'm running the game under Xubuntu 9.10/WINE. Why? I don't know.

    Taking a few short minutes to do research on the problem, I found no explanation for the server disconnects and one solution for the mouse spin problem which, apparently, did not work for me at all (a package that I do not have installed was blamed for the problem).

    Someday I might put in the hours, days, or even weeks of work necessary to get WoW running properly on my Linux install. For now, I boot to XP.
    Reply
  • handbanana - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Very nice job on the article. I am not a big fan of Windows and there lies the problem since I must swallow my pride and play games on it.. Its a vicious cycle Reply
  • atfuser - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Nice write-up.

    It seems that things haven't changed much. Support seems a bit better with these commercial forks of the Wine project, but the support for these older games was spotty.

    I personally wouldn't be able to justify paying $50 per year for the commercial versions. That's more (per year) than I paid for Windows (XP/7) Professional, and I can play any game out of the box.

    Once you're talking about paying for a linux setup then you have to ask yourself why you're picking it instead of Windows 7. I know some people will make that choice because they hate MS or they want to support the open source community, but neither of those reasons offer enough incentive to me to make the switch.


    Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    A $120 Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade will definitely last you a few years. It's cheaper than paying $50 every year for a Wine project and you can be sure that all the games will work out of the box, at full performance and with no glitches. Reply
  • Patrese - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Nice article... things are actually better than I imagined regarding Linux gaming. But here's my question: the testbed is pretty much high end, and gets quite a respectable overclock... would there be a big drop in performance while using a mid end setup? It would be nice to see how things work on a Core2 (Duo or Quad) with a 9800GT or a HD4850, for instance. Reply
  • anactoraaron - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I am no linux expert in any way, but I was also curious in regards to stability with the overclock. Just because the system passes prime95 in windows does not guarantee stability in linux/wine, and by frying the motherboard and PSU (as stated by the article) I would only assume you were having issues related to the overclock, not just the wine projects.

    I would like to see this test again at stock everything, and maybe with a SSD. This would remove a few variables.

    Then maybe throw in a normal linux box as part of the testing (like the core2 and 9800gt mentioned above), as I have yet to know a whole lot of people who go out and spend $1000 on a build and not get windows. Yeah, yeah, I know there are those who do, I just think those people would be in the minority with regards to linux.
    Reply
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    The computer failed due to multiple power outages because of an internal power source issue supplying the computer/ps. That has been remedied with some additional infrastructure. The OC running on the computer has been that way for over a year, and has caused no instability within windows or Linux. In fact many compiling tests had been run post the review for a future article. These tests put far more stress on the cpu then any of the games run. Also these tests did complete properly, the problem arose after these tests in which the computer received a series of surges that resulted in a failure. Yes it was on a pretty expensive surge protector, however its going to be moved to a full apc setup post rma.

    As for attempting some tests on a moderate setup, I couldn't agree more. I'll work on trying to source some parts so we can have a high end and a more common setup. In this article I really wanted to show the best case scenario in the comparison. Thanks for the feedback.
    Reply
  • Spivonious - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I hope to see more of your articles in the future.

    Just wanted to point out a small grammatical issue. When listing examples of things, use "e.g." not "i.e." Just a pet peeve of mine.

    e.g. = "exempli gratia" -> "for the sake of an example"
    i.e. = "id est" -> "that is"
    Reply
  • marc1000 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I guess what he meant was "In Example", but I gor your point. I didn't knew the "official" meanings too. Reply
  • theqat - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Just writing to mention that Heroes of Newerth (by S2 Games) also has a well-supported Linux-native client. It's currently in open beta but they always get the Linux client out for a new patch within a few hours, and they show no signs of halting support. Reply

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