This Thursday I am giving a talk on using Wine to run Windows applications on Linux. Wine stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator. It is an implementation of the Win32 API, which means applications run at a normal speed compared to running them in actual emulators like VMWare.
That is, if they run properly. Wine is still not at version 1.0, which means that nothing is expected to work. Still, a great many apps are available as can be seen in the Application Database.
My first test was to install Starcraft. I found a few how-tos, but they aren’t terribly consistent, and it seems that the authoritative document is years old. Fortunately it wasn’t hard to install and run. The only problem I’ve found is that Battle.net isn’t usable. I get a black screen and the mouse cursor disappears so I can’t join in games. Cedega is a fork of the Wine code that was made into a closed source app. It was previously called WineX. It’s database lists Starcraft as highly rated and doesn’t mention the Battle.net problem. Still, I am not ready to shell out $5/month just to have Windows games I’ve already paid for running on my Gnu/Linux system, especially when some months I don’t get to play said games, and especially when there are plenty of native apps already. Also, it seems that newer versions of Wine tend to break the feature whenever it is available. I’ll wait.
My next test was Wizardry 8. I love the Wizardry series, and I feel bad that I haven’t played 8 very much. It works perfectly according to the Wine application database, so I set out to install it. I had forgotten how long it took to install this game! This is one of those 3 CD games which take up a lot of space on my hard drive. At 50% I had already added 1GB to my home directory (well, including Starcraft and the rest of Wine, but still).
Unfortunately when I try to run it, Wizardry 8 thinks I am running a debugger and wants me to stop doing so. I ended up having to find a no-cd crack in order to play this game, which goes to show you how annoying copy protection can be for legitimate owners of games. In the end, I managed to get it to play and aside from a few sound cracks during the opening video, it ran flawlessly. I am very pleased but I wish I didn’t have to go looking for a No-CD crack to play. Still, it shows a legitimate use of what would otherwise be considered illegal under the DMCA.
And Total Annihilation’s setup program wouldn’t even run on the version of Wine that I was using (20050310).
Wine just isn’t ready yet, but then no one pretends it is. Still, I have the ability to play one game as it was meant to be played, and another one works fine in single-player mode. Total Annihilation was possible at one time, so I can look forward to it in the future, I’m sure. Not bad for an incomplete project.
I’ve updated the Wine-Wiki for Wizardry 8, Starcraft, and Total Annihilation. Someone else already added their own comments about Starcraft. Wikis rule.