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How To Run Windows Softwares On Linux System | Top 3 Methods

Linux has come a long way, but you may still need to run Windows applications occasionally, especially Windows only PC games. Luckily, there are quite a few ways to run Windows applications on Linux.

Before you try to run an old Windows program, you should look or alternatives that run natively on Linux. You’ll have a better experience if you can find a decent alternative that runs without any fiddling.

1. Wine

Wine is a compatibility layer that allows Windows applications to run on Linux. It’s basically an implementation of the Windows API on Linux. Of course, Microsoft doesn’t publish all the information we need to re-implement the Windows API from scratch, so Wine has to be reverse-engineered. While it works amazingly well given how little Microsoft has given us to worth with, it’s nowhere near perfect (Official Link: Wine).

To run an application in Wine, you can install Wine and use it to launch an installer’s .exe file. Before you do, you should take a look at the Wine Application Database website, which will tell you how well an application runs in Wine. Wine is frequently used for games, as games are the one type of software that can’t run in a virtual machine. While Wine can be used to run desktop applications like Photoshop and Microsoft Word, these will run flawlessly in a virtual machine.

Almost all the Linux distros come with Wine in their package repository. Most of the time the latest stable version of Wine is available via package repository. Installing Wine on Ubuntu is as easy as firing up a terminal and running these commands:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install wine

If you are using an 64bit installation of Ubuntu, you will need to run these additional commands:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386

2. Virtual Machine

While Wine may have bugs or crashes when installing applications, a virtual machine will be able to run those desktop applications just fine. Install Windows in a virtual machine program like VirtualBox, VMware Player, or KVM and you’ll have Windows running in a window. You can install windows software in the virtual machine and run it on your Linux desktop (Virtual Machine: VMware).

Virtual machines introduce some overhead, but with today’s fast CPUs, running many types of software in a virtual machine shouldn’t be a problem. This is especially true after you’ve tweaked those virtual machines for speed. This doesn’t apply to games virtual machines don’t have very good 3D graphics support, so all but the oldest games will fail to run.

To integrate the Windows applications with your desktop, you can use VirtualBox’s seamless mode or VMware’s Unity mode. The applications will still be running in a virtual machine, but their windows will appear seamlessly on your desktop, as if they were running on Linux.

3. CrossOver

If Wine seems like too much of a pain, you may want to try CrossOver Linux. CrossOver is a commercial product so it will cost you money, although CodeWeavers offer a free trial. CrossOver essentially takes the Wine software and packages it so that it’s guaranteed to work properly with popular applications like Photoshop, Office, and even popular games. CodeWeavers provides commercial support for these supported programs, so you have someone to turn to if something breaks (Official Link: CrossOver).

This option isn’t for everyone often you can run the same applications by using Wine but if you’re just interested in running a few popular applications on your Linux desktop and paying someone else to do the tweaking for you, CrossOver may be your ticket. CrossOver also sends their patches back to the Wine project, so the money you pay helps fund open-source Wine development.

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