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I am pretty savvy in Windows, but a complete newbie when it comes to linux (although that will hopefully change). I'm also an Engineering major in college and need to run a few windows-only programs on my laptop (Ansys, Solidworks,...); the laptop's an HP nx9010.
Is it true I can use a program called Wine to run any windows program on Linux? Will I run in to any glitches?
I also have an external HDD; will I be able to read/write to it using ubuntu?
You can emulate windows with wine and run a lot of programs this way, that's true. Whether you will encounter difficulties or not running the mentioned programs i cant predict. Give it a try.
As far as i know linux cant write to ntfs partitions but to vfat/fat32. So this is preferred format for shared data.
... but expect troubles, it's still very experimental. Sometimes things work, sometimes not. Unluckily for you I haven't a recent documentation/introduction to Wine for you. I highly recommend you find something like this as Wine isn't straightforward. You need to configure it first. Also it usually works best when used from command line.
For the external HD: if it's FAT32 yes, if it's NTFS the drivers for writting are still experimental and therefor not implemented in the Kernel, so no writting. You can also format it as ext2/3 and use a Windows ext2 driver.
As far as i know linux cant write to ntfs partitions but to vfat/fat32. So this is preferred format for shared data.
There exists a read support for NTFS on Linux, and it's in some kernels (Fedora stock kernel does not have it; Ubuntu should have I think -- just try to mount with filesystem 'ntfs'). A (read-)write support exists too, but it's only experimental and last time I checked it's probable success percent on writing/deleting was only something like 50% or less; that means most of your data won't be correctly written or deleted, and you might bump into trouble. Wasting existing data is possible too, so I don't recommend; also there is the problem that (last time I checked) these things, like Captive, were only for i386 and didn't work for 64-bit systems. That may change in the future, but let's keep in mind MS will surely change their NTFS systems a bit too, just to make it a little more difficult.
Wine is easy to install on Ubuntu/Kubuntu (the latest version). Fairly good instructions for Ubuntu reside in their site at winehq.org -- at the top right corner, click the newest version, locate a link for binaries, under that page Ubuntu and you'll find instructions on how to add a reposity to your apt/Synaptic which always finds the newest Wine version (there should be two or three newest stable Ubuntu versions). After this you should be able to install wine either from locating it at Synaptic, or from commandline:
sudo apt-get install wine
Unlike hansalfredche said, Wine does not necessarily need to be specifically configured; I just installed it on a Kubuntu laptop, and it run a few programs I tried without any extra configuration. I found some troubles (i.e. could print from one program but not from another), and know that some programs don't run partly or at all with Wine, but some well may. Give Wine a try, it's easy to install using the instructions at WineHQ, and easy to remove:
Pick up your version of Ubuntu. Works for Kubuntu, but you'll need to know how to add the given reposity in Adept yourself (K-menu -> System -> Adept -> Adept-menu -> Manage reposities).
To remove Wine, if you dislike it (works if you installed using the above method, or from a .deb anyway):
sudo apt-get remove wine
After you install Wine, you'll get command line commands like wine, winecfg and so on. To see them all, start a terminal emulator (Gnome-terminal or Konsole for example), type
and press TAB twice to get bash (if you use it) list all commands beginning with Wine.
To run a Windows .exe file from command line using Wine: let's say you want to run setup.exe from your CD which is mounted at /media/cdrom/:
..and you just should get the window in front of you. If the program doesn't start, use command line to start it to see errors.
From graphical window by just clicking the file: locate the .exe file using your favourite file manager like Nautilus or Konqueror, and just click (or double-click, depending on how you usually open files) it and either Wine launches if for you, or if you get asked which program you want to use to open the .exe file, type wine at the box and click OK.
That's pretty much it. Your Wine files (and programs) get installed under your home directory in /home/username/.wine/ so look there for the files (Windows "drive C" is /home/username/.wine/drive_c usually).
If some program won't run, and especially if it tells you're using wrong Windows version, open a terminal (Gnome-terminal for example) and type
which should give you a window where you can configure your Wine a bit (most configurations are found in Wine's system.reg file however). On one of the tabs you have a list of your programs which is empty at first; click the button to add your program there (locate the .exe file), and from the drop-down list pick up a Windows version you want to emulate, save/close the window and your Windows app if it was running and re-launch it.
Wine is nowadays fairly easy to use, and can work with your hardware pretty easily. If you use CUPS printing system, chances are your printer works great (if you get a warning "no default printer set", open your Printer setup from the system tools menu and check that some of your printers -- even if there is only one -- is selected to be a 'default printer'). Many programs run great, nowadays even programs created with Visual Basic, so give it a try. And then there are some programs that simply will not run, and when you encounter one of these, you can only try to see if some (older or newer) Wine version can run them; it's possible. Or then it just does not work.
One option is too to install VMware (or VMware player) and install a virtual Windows operating system with it. This makes virtually any of your Windows app run without problems, since the whole OS is installed virtually under VMware. Cons are that VMware is not free software, it eats up resources (memory, disk space, ...) etc., but if you do really need to have some difficult Windows program running and can't have dual-boot or another PC around, then VMware can save you -- even if it costs.
EDIT: forgot to mention. Wine might not run under 64-bit systems easily, but I think sombody has written a how-to on how Wine can be "forced to install" on a 64-bit system and even run there. I have no experiences on how well it works under 64-bit systems, but it is possible to some extent. I know for a new Linux user running those essential Windows programs, even games (for them there is Wine-hack called Cedega from TransGaming -- also check out CrossOffice which is Wine-based), sounds difficult and there are a lot of crossing opinions on this. I encourage you to try at least, however, because your own experiences are what matter, and on these nice binary distributions installing and removing Wine is easy, so no problem there. Instructions on configuring it are found at WineHQ and on the net. A final advice: if you plan to (manually) install a newer version of Wine, or older, first always remove the old Wine version (completely) and only then install the new one, it makes difference for some reason. I also know if your program doesn't run on a Wine version, and you plan to update Wine to see if it helps, you might even have to remove & reinstall your Windows program with the new Wine version too. That makes also difference.
1) at the moment I've installed last release of FUSE (file system in user space - the experimental controller for RW ntfs) and I'm working without any problem (now I'm crossing everything possible); it's very easy to install it under Ubuntu (or any derived distro like my Kubuntu): if you crawle the net a little bit you could find the repository, add it to apt source.list and then apt-get....
2) it's not strictly necessary to use VMWare under money payment: if you don't need either sophisticated usb controls or direct drag and drop between real and emulated disk, you can use VMWare server that is a little bit reduced version of VMWare.
3) what do you think about Xen, this is the completely open-source antagonist of VMWare. If I'm not wrong with the last release it should be possible to virtualize WinXP too and not only other linux.
In both the lasts two cases, you'll install a virtual windows world.
I believe the the official VMware name for their free (as in beer, but not speech) product is "VMserver". Here in Houston (at HLUG) we we are now installing it, where possible, rather than going the dual-boot route. It especially saves on laptop hardware problems.
VMserver comes in both "Winders" & GNU/Linux versions (i.e. for installing & hosting). Either host ver. can create & run VM's for either OS. Also, any VM created under one host OS is supposed to run on the other OS. I say "supposed to" only because I have not actually seen all combinations w/ my own eyes, but I have no reason to believe that there are any that don't work.
Ultimately, VMserver is a proprietary product, & the no-cost license could be withdrawn arbitrarily; therefore Xen is probably a better long-term solution. There are at least 2 problems w/ Xen for you today:
Unless your CPU has the new VM features, Xen can only run Linux-on-Linux.
Before messing with Windows programs on Linux you should try the Open Source alternatives. For example, OpenOffice instead of MSOffice. When I converted from MS to Linux a number of years ago I went cold turkey. I found viable alternatives for all the software I used in the Windows environment. In some instances there will be a learning curve but I foun those efforts well worth it.
Of course he should look for GNU/Linux equivalents, but he is "an Engineering major in college and need to run a few windows-only programs on my laptop (Ansys, Solidworks,...)"; does anyone know of such for the 2 he explicitly mentions?
I think the bigger Q, as yet unasked, is if this particular laptop will support/is supported by the distro he wants to install; otherwise, he may have to be content w/ running Lin on Win using VMserver, rather than (possibly) the other way 'round.
It's clear that the best approach is to install dual booting with Linux. Wine isn't a 100% solution for running Windows applications and most focus has been placed on getting the high runners working. Photoshop for example. I checked winehq.org http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...46#post2603346
and found Solidworks mentioned. This is the place to check for an indication of compatibility. Note there may be applications not on these lists that work but haven't yet been tried.
I used to be a proponent of dual-booting for those who wanted to use/try GNU/Linux, but were not able/willing to give up "Winders". I have done 50 or more installs like this in the last 3 years. Up 'til now, I agree, this was the best solution short of getting a dedicated 2nd Linux box.
However, there have always been some problems w/ this approach, especially on laptops. Although it's getting better, I believe that laptops are still subject to more than their fair share of hardware incompatibility problems. Laptops also tend to come w/ smaller HD's than their desktop counterparts. This means there is less space for the often needed FAT32 partition for data common to both OS's. There is also the time-to-reboot issue.
In my opinion, what is clear here is that we don't have enough information to say what will work best for OP -- we don't know what distro he favors & whether it's compatible w/ his HP nx9010. For example:
"Mandriva, updates, and the nx9010 laptop-Mandriva Linux Help-Linux ...OK, so I'm running Mandriva Linux on my HP nx9010 laptop. Getting the wireless card working has been giving me a real headache... but we'll get to that ... www.linuxforums.org/forum/mandriva-linux-help/ 42499-mandriva-updates-nx9010-laptop.html - 29k - Cached"
Yes, hardware support in general, & laptop & wireless support in particular, continue to improve; but ...
To me, the real Q is: "Is the VMserver option open to the owner of this laptop?"
And my A is, "It depends."
Based on the specs found here, the min. 2 GHz is enough CPU power, but the stock:
"Memory - 256MB or 512MB Synchronous DRAM, 1 GB maximum, 1 open slot"
should be increased to at least 1GiB, if possible.
Let's hope there is at least a 40GB HD available, 20GB will be tight enough for VM'ing, let alone dual-booting w/ large amounts of common data.
A year ago, even 6 months ago, if someone came in wanting to try GNU/Linux, I would reach for my partitioning disk; now it's my thumb drive w/ all the VMserver installers. However, I always check the hardware & discuss the prospect's needs.
I only recommend dual booting when an application is required by school or work that doesn't have a counterpart in Open Source. I changed cold turkey years ago and never missed Windows. I regularly share Open Office documents in Windows formats but normally provide them to others in PDF format. I consider a demand that I use Windows as a reason not to participate.
I was forced by a crashed HD to go "cold turkey" in mid-May 2005, & I too haven't missed anything, except no one gave me my 1-year chip last May .
I have taken an essentially religious vow to not allow any M$ "stuff" on any hardware I own, icluding cell phones & any future PDA's. I will however, for money work on other people's M$ induced problems. As a friend once said, "I love Windows, it's a wonderful revenue opportunity."
OUAT, I even set my e-mail filters to bounce any that contained Outlook headers; that killed a lot of spam, but it also nailed my brother, my 1st cousin, & the office at my ISP.
But out there in the "real world" I want to increase average computer literacy & reduce the number of security defective boxen on the 'Net that spew spam at my e-addresses. I.e., I want to help as many people as possible to "divorce Bill Gates & not pay alimony"(c). (Original line from an advertising blurb for my "Linux for Cowards"(tm) presentation.)
When it comes helping people discover Linux, I prefer a gradual approach:
"Winders" versions of free software: OOo, Firefox, Thunderbird, the GIMP, etc.
(See the installers on Ubuntu CD's.)
A live CD.
Side-by-side OS's, generally in this order of preference:
Full conversion, w/ special attention to residual necessary "Winders" only applications.
One of the advantages of Step 2 is that some people really can't adjust to Linux. Privately, I'm sure this is a character or intelligence or other defect, but it wins us no friends if we can't reverse any changes easily. One of the reasons for my enthusiasm for VMserver, is the ease of removal: delete the VM's & uninstall the software -- no need to mess w/ re-partitioning any HD's.
Anyway, enough of this. Obviously it's a subject I'm passionate about. I got on a roll & could scarcely stop. And I don't even have the excuse of early-morning caffeine deprivation. Hope I haven't gotten too hot or strayed too far from the original subject.