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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  • niva - Monday, January 04, 2010 - link

    This is not true. Most games these days are designed for windows almost from the ground up. Most graphic engines, to speak of your argument, are optimized for dx and d3d which is Windows. The opengl branches get very little attention because of the smaller user base. Look, even id software seems to be dropping opengl in the future, at least I heard rumors of this.

    Windows has won the gaming front hard. They don't seem to be paying much attention to it so there is a chance new platforms like the iPhone could take over at some point with different apis.
  • CastleFox - Friday, April 09, 2010 - link

    I have been searching all around the internet for linux gaming coverage. I have had success with WINE myself but I know for the higher end games it can be more of a struggle. I hope to see more Linux coverage soon Reply
  • Setsunayaki - Wednesday, May 12, 2010 - link

    I've done linux gaming for many years...

    The reason I switched to Linux years ago for some gaming was because I was part of a highly oppresive shooter community. The community was small and used everything from IP tracing tools to disrupt your privacy and threaten you over MSN. These people also attempted to create modifications that would scan your computer in search of any modifications your were working on, along with a lot of information being transmitted.

    Linux allowed me to control the access levels a lot closer, and it also helped me make a better gaming server using Wine due to how Windows XP was an OS from 2001, while the Linux version I was using was far more reliable and its netcoding was a lot better.

    The key thing to Linux is Nvidia Cards. Forget ATI. Sure, ATI may have the performance crown due to the price crown...but when you factor in the best video card for cross-OS performance you will find that Nvidia Cards win in Linux, Mac and for the most part challenge ATI cards well on Windows as well....making Nvidia the leader it truly is (as much as I love ATI/AMD)...

    Once I had Linux setup, I found myself that although my framerate was lower than Windows PC Gaming, I still had over 60 FPS which is one really needs and some overhead in my favorite games and due to the netcoding, I had lower ping in every game I played vs Windows based PCs possibly due to the fact Linux is about networking and its netcoding and processor scheduling was far better.
  • olbrannon - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link Reply
  • SniperSlap - Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - link

    First off, I didn't see anything about World of Warcraft or any other games running in OpenGL mode. Let's keep in mind that the difference in performance between WINE and Windows is mostly due to the fact that WINE will always be playing catch-up to DirectX. When games are run using their OpenGL renderers, I've noticed a bold increase in performance when running under Linux. This is largely due to the fact that Linux makes use of internal resources more effectively, conducts HDD access more efficiently and overall is much leaner.

    Second, I'd really like to see the comparison between nvidia and AMD video drivers soon. On top of that, in the same review, I'd like some looks at how AMD is planning on improving support and performance in Linux.
    My understanding is that they've made some pushes in this regard somewhat recently, but still have a long way to go. The biggest concerns with AMD drivers that I have isn't strictly about performance. It's also over the quality of the drivers and userspace utilities. In the past, I've seen far too many obscure quirks when using AMD/ATI video cards under Linux. From full-screen rendering literally being upside-down when output over digital DVI (but right-side-up on analog dsub!), right the way to inexplicably poor performance.

    AMD needs to iron out all these quirks and strange situations which will have people going and disabling this, or tweaking that in their WINE settings. They need to take a page from nvidia and rally around the standards and smooth out the architecture and lifecycle of their drivers.

    Which brings me to my third "hope"... I'd like to see any review of nvidia and AMD drivers also look at how the drivers get themselves into the system. Compare the different ways the drivers are modeled. A kernel module? Or is it DRI? What userspace garbage will nvidia or AMD pollute our systems with, and how bad is the interface?

    I recently got an AMD video card and am thoroughly impressed with it. But I'm using it on a Windows system and don't have high hopes that my life will ever be as easy under Linux with AMD as it is with nvidia.
    Any review of linux drivers and 3D will have to be quite comprehensive. We're talking a 10+ page article! ;)
  • Yfrwlf - Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - link

    "We have some other Linux articles in the pipeline as well. In retrospect, we should have started with something a little less daunting, as gaming and Linux was plagued by more problems than other aspects of the OS."

    Gaming and Linux? WINDOWS gaming INSIDE of Linux. The fact that you can do that is AMAZING. Can you play Linux games inside Windows?? lol

    Then the title: "Linux Gaming: Are We There Yet?" Wow. Just, wow. That's the most deceptive article title ever.

    Windows gaming in Linux: Are We There Yet?
    Answer: No, and never will be, as playing perpetual catch-up to Microsoft and DirectX will be just that, perpetual.

    Linux Gaming: Are We There Yet?
    Answer: Mostly, since games made for Linux mostly work on Linux, barring some games that aren't packaged well and don't include everything in the archive/installer. In that case, you can run into dependency hell. This is largely the fault of Linux STILL not having a good open standard (cross-distro, otherwise not a standard) for Linux programs. However, things which are packaged right and contain everything within the archive are fine.

    The number of Linux game titles has been increasing at a faster rate recently due to the increase in adoption, but of course Linux is behind Mac, and both are way behind Windows in quantity. That being said, most anything that is made for Mac as well as Windows should run perfectly in Wine, because usually the Mac version is simply the Windows binary wrapped in a Wine (or Cider, as it is known on Mac) wrapper. (Mac IS Unix after all, too, specifically BSD, so it's basically the same thing as Linux anyway.)

    So, message to AnandTech: How about write up some fair articles about Linux gaming. Some things in this were good, and Linux definitely has problems and sore areas still, but the way you presented this article, like gaming on Linux WAS running Windows games, is stupid as it is always going to be more difficult and a bit silly for anyone to be trying to run one platform's games on a different platform. The best you'll be able to ever hope for, more than likely, is to be able to flawlessly run older programs. Wine is excellent for that, as using Linux + Wine it allows you to run some old Windows programs which aren't based on DOS (otherwise, you can use DOSbox). Some of those programs won't even run on modern Windows machines any more, so Wine can give you a lot of flexibility in running old Windows programs while still running a modern OS. THAT is what Wine is mainly good for, running WoW, and Diablo II, and other games especially those that are OpenGL-compliant and/or have Mac versions, but Wine being the solution for Windows gaming? That is, and will always be, laughable. Microsoft will help ensure that's always the case for as long as they're big enough.

    The best solution for Linux gamers is more Linux games, not more Windows games in Linux. That's what your articles should be focusing on, the biggest games coming, and which have already come, to Linux.
  • bridal gonws - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    Useful info here!Thank you!

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