Wine project announces first release candidate

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The Wine project has announced the first release candidate for Wine, the free Windows API for Unix/Unix-like systems (and even non-unix systems like MS Windows itself and ReactOS). The Wine project started in 1993, which makes this release candidate 15 years in the making.

With so many excellent software for Linux systems these days, and the combination of powerful desktop hardware with great free virtualisation suites such as Virtualbox, people often ask me what the actual benefit of having a complete and stable free Windows API is. The ones I could think of is:

  • Gaining the benefits of free software. This comes down to having the ability to fix bugs yourself, or getting someone else to fix them for you. A company might have to run some legacy software under Windows, and Microsoft itself might not find it financially beneficial to fix a certain bug in their system. You could then switch to a free API and if the bug is present there as well, have it fixed. Since Wine does not run Windows under an emulator (or run Microsoft Windows at all), you do not need a Windows license, which you would need if you would run Windows under KVM/Virtualbox/VMWare/etc.
  • Beneficial to ReactOS (and similar projects). ReactOS is an attempt to completely re-write the entire Windows operating system, including boot loader, registry. kernel and user interface. ReactOS uses Wine for its Windows API. ReactOS is currently in early alpha state, and plans to release an alpha that is roughly 70% of a Windows NT 5 (Windows XP) kernel by the end of 2008.
  • Allows software vendors to dip their toes into cross-platform support. Software vendors such as Google have ported software such as Picassa and GoogleEarth to Linux-based systems using Winelib. Using Winelib, a software vendor can package their software to run on non-Windows systems at a fraction of the cost of what a rewrite or proper port would cost. While this may be a short-term solution for some providers, it may give them a market lead boost by being able to provide to a large audience rather sooner than later.
  • Commercial Wine support providers such as Crossover or Transgaming (see Tom’s comment below). These companies patch Wine to provide additional support for certain software and also provide user interfaces to allow easy installation and configuration of Windows software. The software released by these type of companies are usually proprietary software.
  • Performance and integration. Even though desktop hardware has become cheaper, and virtualisation software offers more and more nice features such as ’seamless’ window mode, running a complete additional operating system does come at a performance hit. At the very least, it will typically consume a dedicated amount of memory. Unless you do fancy tricks with shared directories between the host and guest systems, you also don’t get tight desktop integration with the software running in the guest. Running your legacy software under Wine allows you to get past some of these problems.

That’s the immediate benefits I could think of from having a free, stable Windows API available. There are probably more, and while I think that we probably won’t care about this anymore 10-15 years from now, considering all the next-generation cross-platform programming tools that are available now, I do think that the coming of age of the Wine project will be welcomed by many, and will provide many companies and individuals plenty of short-term benefits while the computing landscape transforms.

6 Responses to “Wine project announces first release candidate”

  1. Tim Fuchs Says:

    I think Google Earth uses Qt and is a native app.

    Also Picasa technically doesn’t use winelib but instead ships a whole wine binary with it.

  2. Adrian Says:

    I use Wine for a few small windows applications. Its great because I don’t need to pay for Windows or boot up a whole OS *just* for a small 1MB app. Go Wine!

  3. jonathan Says:

    @Tim Yes, you are right, on it points out that as of Version 4 beta, Google Earth runs natively as a QT port. says that Picasa ships with Wine libraries, which is a bit ambiguous. From the citation,, they do mention that they customise Wine, but doesn’t mention how it is ship. I guess I’ll have to take your word for it :)

  4. Tom Wickline Says:

    Transgaming doesn’t support Wine! They ship a fork of Wine A.K.A WineX their fork..

  5. Vincent Says:

    Jonathan didn’t say Transgaming supports Wine, just that it patched it to provide support for certain software. Perhaps it would be worth mentioning that these patches aren’t shared with the Wine community ;)

  6. Tristan Seligmann Says:

    Transgaming can’t share their patches with the Wine community, because of licensing issues; winehq was relicensed to LGPL which is impossible for Transgaming to use, so they stuck with the old MIT/X11-style license codebase, and in 2006 or so took over the hosting of the “ReWind” project ( which backports dual-licensed contributions to that codebase. Certain select portions of Cedega (like the copy-protection support code) are not available in their public source tree, but the rest is mostly available under the Aladdin Free Public License (considered non-free by Debian and others); see for details.

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