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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  • Amiga500 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Sorry, disagree very strongly.

    Recently shelled out for Win 7 professional... and rebuilt the machine. At the same time, installed ubuntu 9.10.

    Ubuntu 9.10 has a better interface, better desktop features, better desktop "fancy graphics" and better stability (2 crashes with 7 so far, albeit neither critical crashes).

    Ubunutu is a better operating system. No arguments on that.

    Of course the only problem is program compatibility. Is that linux's fault? With the constant changing of kernels... possibly.

    However, I hope 9.10 is getting so close to good enough, that after 10.04, there will be less need to upgrade the kernel so quick - resulting in greater incentive for 3rd party programmers to support the system.
  • Griswold - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    "Ubunutu is a better operating system. No arguments on that."

    No its not because what you describe are not the only factors that make or break an OS. An OS is only as good as the work and tasks you can get done with it - and that includes but is not limited to your mostly subjective claims of superiority in usability and stability. For others, its the other way around at the bottom line - for most others, that is.

    I regularly check out various linux distros and so far, even setting them up to do what I need to do (which is more than just browse the web and write emails) is more of a hassle than most people are willing to go through. So, in the end, its NOT the better operating system. At best, it may be the better technology under the hood...

  • akse - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I started working at my current job about a year ago, using Ubuntu 8.04 and now I'm running with 9.10. I've had average experience with Linux OSs before but now I started to use them daily.

    I always felt Linux was the OS for me and yes it really felt like that for long. But recently there have been some things that I have started to hate about it.

    Or probably it is just that Win7 and Vista have improved so much from XP times that I really love to use Windows now. So far everything is working so well on my home computer with new Win7 installed after using 2 years of Vista which also worked great.

    Of course there are many things at Linux OSs that you can't beat with Windows, but then again there are many things in Windows that doesn't work quite right in Linux or you have to make 30 mins of work to make them work, which is fine but sometimes frustrating.

    Anyways 9.10 Ubuntu interface kinda pleases me but they should try to figure something new for the Top and Bottom Panels, I like the new status area.

    My work laptop has Ati Graphics card in it which makes the Linux experience even worse :)

    Well about gaming: In home I have win7 and other computer next to it runs Ubuntu 9.10 (too). I have wine there which I use for 1 thing only. Whenever I get into playing Diablo 2 again I use it to have a second character online at the same time :) It works just fine, though I have to play it in windowed mode to work, which is the case in win7 and vista also.
  • sammyF - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I agree on the Flash support, linux definitely needs more Adobe-Love on this one :/ The rest of your post is pretty much humbug.

    Win7 is 30$ for students, maybe, but by far not everyone is a student. It's also the price over and over again if you own more than one computer. It would also be quite something if Office2007 was actually included in the price you're naming. The home and student version of Office2007 is listed as $79.99 (down from $149) at (probably can get it a bit cheaper elsewhere, but you see the point)
    I will spare you the horror of finding free software that does all the stuff you can get for free through an easy to understand click&install interface in linux ... and I won't talk about grabbing the latest drivers for your hardware, compared to a very high chance that everything runs out of the box in linux.
    "The interface is cleaner and much more stable"? which one? Gnome?KDE?XFCE?AWESOME? some other one? Besides, most DE or WMs are easily customizable (without even touching the terminal)

    Okay ... and then "There is far FAR more compatibility" ... This Anandtech article should be proof enough that you got it backwards. let's see :

    Linux -> 100% compatible with linux software, partially compatible with windows software as old as win3.1 through one of the packages mentioned here.

    Windows7 -> 100% compatible with win7 software, probably vista soft too ... partially compatible with winXP software if you happen to have a version with the XP compatibility thing. 0% compatible with linux software.

    Winner through KO : Linux
  • ManjyomeThunder - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Uhh, Linux doesn't have ANY support for Windows applications. Linux is the kernel. Now, if you want to say that using 3rd party applications on certain Linux distributions can provide some level of Windows API support, then you would be correct.

    In the same way that saying that Cygwin provides Windows users with a UNIX-like environment and an implementation of the POSIX API.

    Both have some support for the other's API and applications through third party applications, but they're both fundamentally different. However, Windows has a larger amount of applications, and thus one could say that it does have better "compatibility".
  • sammyF - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    yeah, you're right, sorry. I got carried away I guess. Additionally, whether in windows or linux, there is always the possibility to run the other OS in a vbox.

    I'm just tired of reading "it has more/better compatibility" and similar ~sentences~, as they just don't make any logical sense : Compatibility with *what* or *whom*? And my foot is also longer.
  • LuxZg - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Out of all this reading, only thing I can say is - why bother at all? Either dual-boot Windows and your favorite Linux distro, or run one OS and keep other in VM (preferably Windows and Linux in VM because of 3D support in VMs).
    As for the pricing, author here recommends buying two products, plus a third one for a price of over 100$ - PER YEAR!. For 100$ you can get OEM licence of Win 7 Home Premium, giving you great compatibility through dual-booting, and you can use it till next OS gets here. That's minimum 3 years, meaning you've just saved yourself 200$. OK, you can use just Linux+Wine and go the completely free route - but is it really worth it? I mean let's face it. For casual gaming Linux is fine, and so is it's brethren OSX. But if you're avid gamer, you spend so much money on games and hardware (CPUs and graphic cards) that it's simply hard to give an excuse for NOT using Windows. Only negative is having to support two OS-es on every computer that you game on, but than again, if you have one computer it's not that much more work, and if you have many, than it's better to dedicate one for just gaming (just Windows) and be done with it.

    It's hard to convince anyone that Linux is good for gaming when all you get running without much trouble are games few years old... That's - casual gaming. Very casual :)

  • sprockkets - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Both the opengl people and Microsoft tried to merge all the 3d api's together, but both failed to do anything about it. Both are to blame.

    You know that whole thing about Apple only allowing Cocoa on the iphone to develop with to protect the platform? Same with DirectX stuff.

    At least OSX has some commerical support going for it with Blizzard.
  • medi01 - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    Why would Microsoft cooperate to make Windows less attractive? PC games support is the only nearly exclusive "windows" feature.
  • Penti - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    The 3D API aren't to blame nobody designs games to run directly on DX or OGL, they write code and do graphics/content for a game engine and plenty run on both DX, OGL and variants of both of them two, on Windows, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3 and several engines also on OS X and Linux. You don't create game content for an specific OS.

    Running virtual Windows for 3D Windows apps is really the way to go anyhow, now days you can get a dedicated graphics card for accelerated graphics if your computer has Intel VT-d support anyhow. Sure you need a separate graphics card and a retail (or just as you do on your wincomputer pirated) copy of Windows. But it's doable. If you need Windows then run Windows. Or just have a separate gaming computer. (Which probably will be cheaper anyway.)

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