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

  • ashtonmartin - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Yes Linux may be free to download but the time you spend getting it to work right and the incompatibilities will offset the cost of Windows. The nice thing about Windows is that I haven't had to read a manual since Windows 3.1 when I first started using computers.

    If your time is valuable, Windows will be much cheaper in the long run.
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    I agree. After several tries at Linux over the years, I gave up, and decided Windows was simply a better value to me (especially since my copy of Win7 was free, and another copy was only $49). I'm thinking my next fray into another operating system will be OSX. Reply
  • imaheadcase - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    The steps involved won't ever appeal to anyone in the mainstream world.

    The fact is, people want to install a game and play fast. Consoles and windows make that possible. The setup for linux is the time waster.

    The one thing linux can't do right, never has, was make things simple. Open source is the cause for the cluster of bad ideas in the linux community, so many projects, nothing ever is the end-all-be-all solution. While the idea of everyone making something better sounds like a utopia, with no actual direction it makes for total confusion the the people not involved.

    If you want any evidence of that, take a look at when wal-mart tried to sell Linux computers, the returns on the was off the charts, some local stores reported everyone returns in my area. The leading problem? Could not get printer to work. lol

    Linux based OS have a place, its business applications. Pure and simple.

    All this is IMHO.
  • Captain Picard - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    As Yahtzee would say, the short answer is no.

    The long answer is, noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
  • jmurbank - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Linux is here for gaming, but developers are not here because there are no OpenGL tools to help creating 3D objects. At this time, the only way to create 3D objects with OpenGL is through a trial-n-error process. Also there is no easy way to handle networks unless the developer does not mind using Qt from Trolltech. The one problem with Qt for the developer is the program have to be open sourced or else the developer have to pay $1000. Reply
  • lordmetroid - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Any games I got for my computer runs on a native Linux binary.
    I love Quake and Unreal and the latest software I got myself was World of Goo.
  • marc1000 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    congrats on the writing. the only thing I would like to say about the article is that you never explained what is "X" (the graphics manager), on the first page. I always had interest in linux but never got used to it, so I don't run any distro in my machines at home. Maybe I look to it with looking for simplicity in the first time, and even with the great recent advances, the experience overall is still a little hard... IMO. Reply
  • blowfish - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Who in their right mind would pay £40 per year for software that might allow a game to run significantly more slowly than it would on Windows?

    I'm no big fan of Windows, and would love to see more Linux use - but my dabblings with Linux have been wholly unsatisfactory. It seems like there's no alternative but to learn more than you should about Linux to get anything working - simple things like media players, for example.

    The only real growth in Linux use will be in things like Expressgate, used by Asus on recent motherboards, as a quick way of booting up and getting online. Otherwise, it's just for Geeks with the time on their hands to fiddle around enough with it to get it working.

    Shame on the Linux community for not coming up with something better suited to mainstream use. It's as if they suffer from the same snobbery against "noobs" as most online forums, which results in a very effective damper on mainstream adoption of Linux.
  • Jackattak - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Couldn't agree more, blowfish.

    Until the Linux community makes it easy for a layman to install apps and works severely on compatibility issues (and somehow gets all the software and hardware manufacturers of the world to start supporting Linux), there will never be widespread adoption from John Q. Public.

    Based on the conversations I've had with Linux users, that suits them just fine when brought up. However, they're also generally the first to start crying about how Microsoft stymies their attempts to get a bigger "marketshare".

    Make it easy for John Q. Public to use, and you're in.

    Until then, Linux will never be anything but a geek's OS used by less than 1% of the PC-using planet.
  • sammyF - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    Just a note about "Until the Linux community makes it easy for a layman to install apps" : You mean, like .. I don't know.. one centralized package manager, in which you only have to enter what you want and it pukes out a list of possible software packages, which you only have to click to download AND install? Yeah .. maybe it should also check for new software versions automatically and update anything that needs updating instead of just the OS!! Wow! Now, THERE is an idea!

    (check "sarcasm" if you don't know about it yet)

    About the hardware compatibility, it's really an individual case thing. I had plenty of notebooks and desktops which just ran perfectly out of the box after installing Linux, and required the manual download and installation of new drivers in windowsXP or Vista (can't say much about Win7, sorry). On the other hand I've seen the exact opposite phenomenon too (not running easily or at all in Linux, worked flawlessly in Windows after a reinstall). Globally, Hardware support in Linux has vastly improved from its state just one year ago though.

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