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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  • LazLaong - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I share your POV, except.....on point [5]

    Never say never.
    As I consider Linux to be mainstream or at least a mainstream alternative, far more so than say... eComstation, BSD, Darwin, ReactOS, MorphOS, SkyOS, Haiku, etc........

    Even though
    ....that may not be one of it strengths or goals.
    ....or have parity in the common channels.

    It does have some exposure via netbooks and speciality shops.

    It also gets exposure via word of mouth from a tech aware friend/family member that wants less support calls.

    Outside the US, in Europe, South America etc, there is more exposure & awareness.

    World wide it may have equal or even greater usage than OSX.

    Not just for geeks any more.
    Quite a large part of the mainstream are those casual/general users who just need the most common services ~ Web, Productivity, Media, and Linux can be a simple inexpensive & secure solution. Once properly installed (usually by a tech aware friend/family member) it is pretty much set and forget. I have over the years done several dozen, to them the computer is just an appliance and Linux especially distros like the Ubuntus serves them well.

    So while the numbers may be small in comparison to the total more people are becoming aware & interested. And you can choose you level of interest/involvement the same as with any system.....

    Not impossible, but I certainly don't expect it to ever overtake MS and it should not have to.
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I think Linux is a great desktop OS for your standard user that does not game. I have recently taken an "older" life time windows user and ported him over to Linux. The response was that the computer is more responsive and it does everything this specific user needs it to do. All I did was take a few minutes to show him around and have not had to provide support since. With the advancements in Gnome/KDE/Xfce its very easy to port over your standard windows user with little to no problem. Often this also gets many more years out of the users aging desktop which is a good money saver.

    Also as a tip if you are using Linux as a desktop get out and try the new BFS scheduler by ck.
  • dealcorn - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    In a down economy I suggest a Linux article that targets two birds with one stone. How many Atom cores does it take for a headless home file server running NFS, openSSH server, software raid 5, Mythtv backend, and a torrent client? Do you need hardware assisted encoding for analog signals? Is performance/energy use reasonable? Personally, I like redundant storage for a couple TB of media files and moving background stuff to a low energy use 24X7 platform where it will not detract from the performance of my primary computer has appeal. I am curious whether you really record and play and download torrents and serve files all at once on a low cost home platform? Reply
  • defter - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Good article, but confusing title, it should have been: "Gaming under Wine" or something similar. Now it gives an impression that Linux is very slow for games, which is totally incorrect.

    If you want to test Linux gaming performance, you should use games that run on Linux natively. In this case the performance is roughly on par with Windows.
  • ChristopherRice - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I choose this specific title as this is part one of an overall gaming review in Linux. A sneak peak into part two will have some native games and ati joining the lineup. The native games will likely change some opinions on Linux gaming performance. However these titles are very limited. Reply
  • Soulkeeper - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I only play games that can run natively on linux or have a loki installer ...
    like wesnoth or ut99
    This is all the gaming I need.
    I've been content ignoring windows only games for years.
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    And trying to compare them directly is at least non trivial.
    I'm glad to see Linux section again :)
    Number of comments and the average number of word in each are impressive.
    Now, me too a very long time Linux user. And there is at least one Windows installation at home all the time. (gaming, corporate win only things etc.). I could live with Windows only, but prefer Linux. My main (and the only one i really care about) desktop probably has settings/tweak/(whatever) as old as 7-8 years (decision to make Linux main OS) or even more.
    The thing is, that it is amazingly easy to keep your familiar environment during OS/HW upgrades.
    I'm talking about switching distributions, 32 to 64 bit, numerous HW upgrades.
    So can say that Linux has saved me a lot of time on restoring "My System" after reinstalling OS for some reason. Actually I have less reasons to do it under Linux :)
    As a gamer I prefer FPS games so my gaming under Linux is better than average. Both ET, Dooms, Quakes and UTs clients are available native. A lot of open source free games like Nexiuz.
    Since I use Gentoo, I'm more exposed to changes behind the wallpaper. My guess is that in not so far future, Linux may become better gaming platform than Windows. I have another example of games working better in Wine than on Windows. WoW - i so it running faster in Wine than XP (dual boot).
  • Landiepete - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    You are proposing that I use an OS other than Windows , after which you want me to spend money on non-open source software, and a considerable hassle tuning it to each app, to enable me to run windows software. That about the cover it ?

    May I respectfully suggest you have your aircon ducs checked ? You have stuff growing in there.

  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    While harsh I have to agree with the OP. With the current state of Linux gaming there is no way someone will switch (or use) it other than to boast they got a particular game to work. WINE is one thing (since it's free), but paying $40 a year for a program that occasionally works but where in most cases the performance is significantly degraded is unacceptable to me.

    Remember the games being tested were not current, and the system was well above average. What you need to do is look at % differences not just to say the fps was fine on all the games. The resolutions tested were also on a 20-22" LCD which while very common will be reduced quite a bit going to a 24" screen, having a midrange system, or on newer games. Then you have to play the game of chance to hope the program you shelled out cash for (or just as important spent time researching a fix for) is the one that will actually play it with limited crashes. And let's face it, with the current state of games seemingly released in WORSE condition in regards to bugs (due to the large number of multi-ports and rushed deadlines), the last thing a gamer needs is another bug.

    As it stands (and what most people that use Linux do) dual booting with a copy of Windows for gaming is the only sane option. I pretty much fall into that camp. I use a Knoppix Live CD that I boot to for banking and financial transactions, but when it is time for music/movies/games/etc. I'm on Win7 (dramatically better than Vista IME).
  • Jovec - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Gaming on Linux had a shot before the massive push by developers to consoles. Now, few even want to support Windows.

    The ironic thing for me as a gamer and long-time linux user is that I can get open source apps for Windows for everyday tasks (often the same program I would use in Linux) while having the benefit of native windows gaming. Pair that with a linux VM for anything else, and there is little reason to use Linux as my main OS.

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