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


View All Comments

  • haplo602 - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    why that's easy, just compile them under windows and you are ready to run .... Reply
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Reading through the comments you will see part two will include some native games and ati.This will give us the full gamut of what Linux can do native or not between the two parts. Reply
  • flywheeldk - Friday, January 01, 2010 - link

    And in part three we will run native Linux games on Windows, just to even the score ?

    Or perhaps we are content with declaring one contender as the looser before the match begins.
  • Zap - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Props to someone making the move from reader to contributor! Reply
  • hechacker1 - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    So what configuration settings and tweaks were required to make these games run?

    As somebody who absolutely loves linux for its superior speed and stability, as an ATI user I know it is almost impossible to get any DX9 game going with all the features. Nvidia does much better with wine.

    So for TF2 were you able to run with DX9 and all highest quality settings? For the hardware you benchmarked I would expect nothing less.

    Furthermore, you show average FPS? I am more interested in the minimum and average, especially when it comes to a FPS.

    If you visit the TF2 wine page, it recommends DX8 mode, which makes the game run faster, but with such poor quality you'd be missing out on a lot, especially with such powerful hardware.

    I tried switching to linux completely at one point, hence why I bought an ATI card that theoretically has open specs and drivers. Eventually I suspect ATI would be a better choice because of their openness.

    But the last time I checked, it's just better to use Windows 7 if your a gamer. It is so easy to virtualize linux (even with 3D for compiz) it just makes sense to have WIndows as the host OS.

    I think the details would help show if it is really practical. Hey if TF2 and other source engine games run (L4D, L4D2) with highest quality setting, I would go back to linux full time.
  • jmurbank - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    ATI is not open as you might thought. There are two drivers for ATI graphic cards. One is proprietary and other is open sourced. The driver that is proprietary comes from ATI and written by them. The open source drivers comes from Xorg or ATI may answer questions that the open source community have, but they are basically not helping with the coding. AMD has provided documentation on how to access the microcode that is stored in the graphic card BIOS or AtomBIOS, but this does not mean they are completely open. Though even if you use ATI's proprietary Linux drivers, 3D support is mostly there compared to Windows.

    I do not recommend using Compiz or Beryl on a daily basis. You can use it to show off what Linux can do and brag that Linux is the first to implement this fancy feature, but it comes back to haunt you on its compatibility. Flash does not work well with it and not all programs in Linux are compatible with it. Again it is a good feature to show off, but not a feature to use on a daily basis.

    Team Fortress 2 should work in Cedega 7.3. Just make sure to update Xorg to the latest stable version for your distribution. If possible change graphics rendering in the game from DirectX to OpenGL. Left 4 Dead should be able to play in Cedega 7.3, but Left 4 Dead 2 can not. Like what the author of this article said older games are more supported than the latest games.

    I am a user of both ATI and nVidia graphics. I found nVidia is the best on terms of support for any operating system. nVidia's GeForce8 and above provides OpenGL 3 in Linux while other graphic brands and Xorg are stuck on OpenGL 1 (best support). The quality you are looking for is for OpenGL 3. Sure Xorg has support for OpenGL 2, but it is only mostly supported, so DirectX 8 is the highest it can go.
  • Veerappan - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    "ATI may answer questions that the open source community have, but they are basically not helping with the coding."

    This is not true.

    AMD has multiple employees on their payroll who contribute code to the open-source Radeon drivers. Off the top of my head, both Cooper Yuan and Alex Deucher are both paid by AMD to develop the open-source Radeon drivers. And John Bridgman, while he doesn't commit much/any code for the Radeon drivers is indispensable for PR purposes and community relations.
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Send me an email and I can give you additional information on my setup. Reply
  • hechacker1 - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I am most interested your TF2 configuration, as it relates to other popular source engine games.

    How about it? I think posting it here would be best to get the info out to people with similar questions. Frankly, your article isn't really useful without this info.

    *If* TF2 requires all sorts of quality lowering hacks, it is just not comparable to Windows. Though I would say it is playable and fun either way.
  • ravaneli - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I know Wine supports Company of Heroes, but the 64b version would not install on my computer at all. I have a 3-way RAID0. Then my video card is 9800GX2, which requires SLI to operate optimally. I love the Ubuntu on my laptop, and I want it on my desktop now, but only if I can play company of heroes.

    Can it be done, or should I give up? I am not dismantling my RAID.

    Any advice appreciated. Anand, I would love to hear from you too.

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