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.

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  • tomaccogoats - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    The only real reason i use windows over linux is because of it's game support. I'd totally switch to linux 24/7 if they could make a game play the same in Windows, and in Linux Reply
  • mindcloud - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    I completely agree. Games is the only thing I use windows for. Reply
  • rs1 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I wouldn't. Linux has too many usability shortcomings that have never been adequately addressed. Everything from connecting to a wireless network (and woe unto you if you need to switch between networks frequently, or between DHCP and static IP connections) to getting the networked printer to work still requires more effort, and more user knowledge, than it should. Reply
  • tracyanne - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    What a load of rubbish. I use Linux (Currently Ubuntu), and Windows on the same laptop.

    I can move from network to network, Wireless and Cable, and be connected to multiple networks, Multiple wireless plus cable. Every time I switch networks on Windows I have to restart the network daemon, or run repair. Linux just switches transparently.

    Typically I suspend the machine, then travel to whereever I'm going then wake the machine up. Every time I do Windows has trouble connecting to the new network, and I have to run repair or restart the daemon.

    Linux just display a message saying I'm disconnected, then after a few seconds the network icon changes and a message saying that I'm connected appears.

    As far as printers are concerned, I have no problems their either. I typically work on a Windows network, which has several printers on it. All of the printers appear and can be aquired, and for all but one the drivers were installed automatically, all I had to do was click OK the initiate the the install after the system offered to download and install them. The one machine that didn't I had to go to the manufacturers site for the drivers, which had to be installed manually.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Sounds more like a wireless driver problem than a Windows problem, as I routinely travel between various locations and never have issues with my laptop connecting/reconnecting. What WiFi card and drivers are you running, Ralink? I've had reasonable success with Atheros, Intel has never given me problems, but the few times I've tested a Ralink chipset I've been disappointed at best. Reply
  • Amiga500 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Try a modern version of ubuntu.

    You'll be very surprised.

    I had MUCH less issues getting my wireless network on ubuntu 9.10 than I did on Win7.
    Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Ubuntu gets worse with each release. Reply
  • rs1 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I did that, not too long ago. I found I had more issues with Ubuntu than I did with earlier versions of SUSE and Red Hat. Maybe my laptop is just not the most ideal platform for Linux, but I've never once gotten the "it just works" feeling from Linux that I get from Windows. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    If this was Windows Vista I would totally agree. However with Window 7 out (and for only $30 for students), there is little incentive to switch to Linux just yet. Office 2007 is vastly superior to OpenOffice, the Flash video support on Windows runs MUCH better, and with Windows 7 out, the interface is much cleaner and much more stable. Furthermore, there is far FAR more compatibility.

    Ubuntu 9 has come a really far way in its OS. You spend much less time in Terminal and there is a lot more software. However, for only $30, I still would prefer Windows 7.
    Reply
  • Penti - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    Well for business (there's no commercial consumer linux distros any how) it doesn't matter as you just stream (from a Citrix/remote desktop/terminal server/virtual XP) your Office 2007 applications to your Linux and OS X desktops. Same with all the rest of the win apps. You can stream Linux/OS X apps to windows too.

    For consumers there's really no reason to run Linux, your computer already has a legit copy of Windows or OS X. Community distros lack (free) legal support for patent video codecs and a lot of finish. Sure you can run homebrew codecs such as FFMpeg/libavcodec (as ffdshow, vlc etc uses) just as you do on Windows for your warez, but nobody can ship that as an official part of a distro no less can a computer OEM ship computers with it.

    There's no drop in replacements for apps such as MS Office, Office 2008 for mac doesn't cut it in a corporate environment even. If MS can't do it you shouldn't expect any one else to be able to do it either. But that said, that doesn't mean you can't create an alternative word processor, spreadsheets, document management (others than SharePoint) or email client environment. Certainly companies like IBM do try where possible. But it's no replacement, if you need Office then run office, the same exact office as the ones you work against. If you need a word processor/office productivity app just for your internal corporate environment you might get away with a lot of other solutions. If you just need the ability to open and write basic doc/docx files even Google Docs or OS X internal TextEdit does that.

    Of course multimedia means == Windows, even over OS X in a lot of aspects especially the one you mentioned Adobe Flash. For professional use or like creating multimedia/video OS X might be or fit better. Depending on preferences of course. But for consuming it's MS Windows hands down. But for gaming, well all the Windows computers (new too) aren't up to gaming at all, laptops or small form factor PCs with weak integrated graphics etc can't do it. So I don't see how not why not to just run a separate gaming machine with Windows regardless if you run a Linux, Windows or OS X laptop, Linux or OS X low end PC, mid-end work computer as your main machine. There's no reason to do everything on the same machine. Everyone aren't even Windows gamers now days. That's not why you have computers today it was like in the 80's and early 90's, but today is another world. Use what you need, that might be something other then Windows, it might not. There's really no reason to run a unified environment today mixed does fine for a lot of things.
    Reply

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