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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  • TheHolyLancer - Tuesday, January 05, 2010 - link

    look try this, install vm-ware tools in ubuntu and tell me how it feels vs installing it in windows xp/server 2003/7 under vmware workstation or esx/i

    or how about drivers that you download and is not in the repo? unlike windows where you can either point the stupid wiazrd to the folder and let it do its thing, or run the .exe, its just CLI all the way...

    sure, everyone blames .exe for troubles like viruses and what nots, but hey it is a surefire way for one to get something onto your computer, you may not know what it is, but with a simple double click and a few nexts, a driver, or a game, or a virus can be on your computer instantly (and for others to fix later...), and linux can't do that, maybe for security, but hell it's highly inconvenient to my mom when she can't double click through any issue.

    this may be a simpler gripe than say the hardware support issue, but it is a large issue for everyday users, or lazy in-the-know user like me, for one, I always keep a backup for my ubuntu VM that has everything configured, while not for winodws as a reinstall is just that much easy...
  • phcoyote - Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - link

    I've installed numerous Desktop Linux systems for a variety of users. It's a side business. A good number of them are of the type that barely know how to right click.

    The interesting part is that almost all of them are actually finding it easier to install software in Ubuntu than on Windows. Some use Synaptic but many are actually using Add/Remove which is even easier.

    Click Applications - Add/Remove. Select a category. Put check mark beside desired app. Click Apply. Really, it doesn't get any easier than that.
  • LuCiPh33R - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    The problem is that they don't ALL use it. Any CLI will never be acceptable to 90% of PC users. Reply
  • Veerappan - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    I agree that a CLI package manager is more than we should expect the average user to be able to handle... but I would recommend that you check out Ubuntu's Synaptic. It's a GUI package manager that is launched directly from the "System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager" menu entry present on the default gnome install.

    Launch Synaptic, select what programs you want to install/remove (it has a handy field for search keyword entry), and then click the Apply button. Synaptic handles figuring out all of the dependencies for you, and a minute or two later, your new program is installed and ready to use (relevant menu entries are auto-created).

    Knock Linux for other reasons, sure, but Synaptic (admittedly only in Ubuntu right now) is pretty slick.
  • ChristopherRice - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - link

    Isn't synaptic functional in fedora as well? Reply
  • Jackattak - Tuesday, December 29, 2009 - link

    Precisely. sammyF, I know of what you speak, and you know darned well that isn't the case in every single scenario. Reply
  • ProDigit - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    I'm using Linux right now!
    I've been using it for quite a while now.
    The only reasons I use windows at times is because of it's ability to compress data on NTFS partitions (eg: on external HD's). Also for it's ability and range of games.

    A lot of games no longer work on the latest U/Ku/Xubuntu (v9.10 and up), something with the kernel.
    In Windows, there's some sort of compatibility. Linux changes every 3 months in kernel(or so), which is why so few companies tend to build something good (like a decent game) for Linux. Yes, there's DOOM and Quake, and you can emulate PS2 and DOSBOX, but that's nothing like running a modern game in it's own window (say Crysis, or Rally 2, or even simple games and creators like spore)!

    For applications, there are little applications I use in Windows only. Most of my tasks consist of viewing video files, and audio files, creating a document in open office (sometimes gives smaller font errors when using it on MS Office), transfer files, and be on the internet a bit.
    Those tasks I can do on Linux pretty fine.

    Like some user said,Windows is only there mainly for the games! If Linux has stable builds that will be supported for years instead of months, and graphic card manufacturers will recognize the need for those cards in a Linux environment, and more and more games will become available on Linux, I guess near to half the population will start using some form of Linux OS, because it is free, and hopefully will have a database of compatible games available too!
  • jmurbank - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    The kernel has nothing to do what program works or what program does not work. The kernel controls hardware, so nVidia and ATI have to follow the versions and game developer companies does not need to unless they created special modules or drivers to increase performance of their game. The problem that companies have is there are several thousand Linux distributions to make sure the software works while Windows has only one. The problem with all these distributions is each one uses different library versions. Probably your problem is the libraries in your distribution or to be more precise is the glibc library is not using the required version. If your distribution has the required libraries, then it is not compiled with backwards support. In this case, complain to the maintainer to make sure they include the backwards compatibility for the library or just do it your self.

    The real problem for game developers trying to write games for Linux is there are no tools to aid designing in OpenGL. Also OpenAL, multi-platform audio, is controlled by Creative Labs and they have not pushed it to where DirectX is where today. SDL is a combination of OpenGL, OpenAL, and input device support for multi-platforms is limited because it does not have any network support.

    It is not just libraries and no OpenGL developer tools that causes problems. ATI is also causing problems with their poor software support since they started their company. Using ATI's proprietary drivers in Linux provides limited 3D commands. These limited commands makes using Cedega and other similar programs becomes unstable and unreliable. Do you think game developer companies like EPIC want to be stated to be providing favorites to only nVidia because nVidia is the only company to provide full support. If EPIC does publicized Unreal Tournament 3 for Linux and it only supports nVidia graphic cards and not ATI's, EPIC will have a big problem that will be more complicated than Verizon and AT&T.

    Another thing businesses are tightly wrapped around market share. If they see Linux that has the most share, they will develop programs for that OS instead of Windows. Since Windows has the most market share, they design for that OS. The market share is only the tip of the ice berg which means there are more issues in the waters that makes market share irrelevant, but companies do not want to buried their head in these issues because to them it will cost them money. Unfortunately, money controls everything.
  • Penti - Thursday, December 31, 2009 - link

    Games are created for a game engine, it's their job (the game engine developers) to create tools for development and designing. There's no reason to do the bulk of development on Linux either. It's just the game engine that must support Linux, there's no reason to support every distro or glibc version, however distros should be better with backwards compatibility so you don't need to run an old distro or such. It's a problem and an old version of glibc should be able to be included just as you have old VS c++ runtime environments in Windows. However a game engine should be very portably either way. It should be code that can be easily recompiled for newer glibc/other libs. Not optimal maybe, but now we see backwards compatibility dropping and introductions of XP mode in W7, same can of course be done in linux distros to provide backwards compatibility. To integrate an old virtual distro into the new distro to run apps for the old distro. That as a feature in itself. Of course also Apple shows what can be done with GCC if they do it slightly different. But developers should expect to have to upgrade for/support the latest OS, service pack/upgrade any way no matter if it's Windows, OS X or Linux. A lot of Win apps are broken when service packs come out, new OS versions come out and so forth.

    Drivers are a big problem though. But it's overcomeable if they get ATI and nVidia on the boat. Maybe they should release their own distro for gaming just to show what can be done if collaboration is done properly... Finish is what most distros lack.
  • darkstar56 - Monday, December 28, 2009 - link

    WOW usually does pretty well on linux. I know a few people that run it fine on it, they don't lag or have problems in raids.

    Though wow is usually stable on all platforms, except Mac OSX atm.

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