A Windows App That Works Better in Wine Than Windows

September 20, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Posted in Technology | 11 Comments
As Microsoft slowly breaks old compatibility, and Wine continues to improve Windows compatibility. it seems only a matter of time before some Windows programs run better in Wine than in Windows.

Last week, I found my own example.  Timez Attack is a 3D educational Windows game where players move through an interactive world where they have to solve multiplication problems to advance.  My wife and kids tried to install in Windows unsuccessfully.  I tried myself and also failed.  In this case, it is mainly the case of an imperfect installer, but at least some fault lies with poor design by Microsoft.

The Windows hard drive on this PC is labeled by Windows as the “H:\ drive” and the Windows sees the “C:\ drive” as a memory card reader.  This is not an manual configuration, it is just how Windows chose to automatically label the hardware on this PC.  It is not a networked PC either.

So during installation, the game offers to let me change the installation directory.  And I have to manually change from “C:\” to “H:\” or it will crash.  Nevertheless, the installer still tries to install some component to the C drive without allowing for changes.  At this point, the installer crashes in Windows and installation cannot be completed.

So I boot into Ubuntu 10.04, download the installer from www.bigbrainz.com, right click on the .exe file and choose to run it with Wine on the right click menu.  The installer launches, I accept all the defaults, start the game, and the game plays perfectly.

While still not a representative example, it gives hope for what could be done. I also hope that Wine developers might focus on fixing compatibility with a few great Windows freeware games which have lost support in Vista or Windows 7.  Pendulumania is a great example of a simple and small freeware game I love to play on Windows XP that I would love to play on Linux with Wine.  I keep testing it, but still no luck yet.  Let’s hope more programs start to work as well as Timez Attack to make Linux with Wine the all-purpose desktop.


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  1. While I love that people are able to get programs (games, educational, whatever) with WINE, it would be better to see people take applications and just install them on a Linux distro and not need or use WINE or any other product that exists to just allow an opportunity for Microsoft (or any company) to Embrace and Extend in order to just Extinguish at the first opportunity.

    History is rife with examples.

    How about looking for a superior product that runs natively on open source, that way no one, not even Microsoft can prevent you and your kids from installing and using it. To ensure that another company does not do likewise, simply make sure your entire tool chain from BIOS to finished product does not require anything that can not be licensed by you. (i.e. Java is the most recent one, warnings have been sounded for years, often pooh poohed as silly, conspiracy theory, etc…you know the drill, you have heard it all before. Yet now the very part of Java that is proprietary, is the exact part that Oracle/Sun is using…what a surprise, not.)

    Let’s stop repeating history….that would be a refreshing and healthy change.

  2. FUD? I suppose you installed the game with Wine over the “C:” wine-emulated disk. If so, this is unfair to windows users (hey Im a linux fan, worked from VAXVMS to Linux for almost 18 years). Try installing it on wine in h:\, then rewrite the article.

    Windows will fall because it’s bad, but we Linux-ers must win fairly, not FUDdlying.

    • The article is not FUD… The article points out a failure of MSFT Windows to uniformly name hardware components. I’ve used Ubuntu exclusively for 4 years, but I remember buying games for Windows, reading the manual, and finding the little “Addendum” notifying you that for the game to work properly your installation drive MUST be “C:” — What a silly thing… No this article is definitely not FUD —

      You install Windows and expect it to work… the installation doesn’t warn you that drive names can’t be reset and doesn’t warn you that the automatically assigned names might not work with all programs and doesn’t allow you explicitly name the drives and doesn’t warn you that drive names will be assigned based on drive partition options and when in the installation process each drive is found…

      No this article is not FUD — it shows in a clear example one of the many failures of MSFT architecture — one of the many failures of a multi-billion dollar corporation to “get it right” for end user ease of use…

      • I do not think anyone is calling the article FUD at all, I know I was not.

        I loved PaintShop Pro, however when I purchased the new version, it required an operating system (OS) upgrade before the install would even proceed. That was very stupid on Corel’s part.

        Most of us have multiple computers or friends with the “current” version of the OS. At best we can use that PC w/ the current version of the OS to install the software to a USB device…once there it will simply run on older versions of the OS. At worst you can install the software to a location on the PC’s hard disk (that is non standard to the install process) and then copy the entire file structure to the USB device.

        Regardless that last upgrade of PaintShop Pro was my last forever. I switched to GIMP and never looked back. Gimp is simply amazing and there was nothing I could do with PaintShop Pro that I could not do with Gimp. When I started using PaintShop Pro, there was nothing I could not do with it, that I could do with Adobe PhotoShop.

        So all that company did, with their non-flexible install process was lose another customer. Not only was I thrilled with their product, I would recommend it freely to others so they lost free advertising and marketing as well…very short sighted on their part.

        As with every other product in open source, once you switch you suddenly discover that it is superior than the product you had been using and wonder why you did not switch sooner.

        I have been 100% open source since that switch and am loving it. Why would I ever go back?

  3. 6 years ago, when I went from XP to Fedora, I was shocked to find that the Olympus camera software that never ran well under XP ran beautifully under WINE.

    • A few years ago I found that several Windows games like Return To Castle Wolfenstein ran better under Wine or cedega than in Windows. Sure,it would be better if there were native Linux versions of games, but until then…

      • Return To Castle Wolfenstein does have a native Linux version as does the multiplayer sequel Enemy Territory.

  4. I wonder if anyone has considered porting Wine to Windows 7.
    (Yes I’m joking)

    • Joking aside, how well does wine run on cygwin?

  5. Timez Attack is pretty cool and runs excellently on wine, thanks for the tip.

    • Wow, I got Dan Kegel to comment… Now Dan, if you could just pretty please see what could be done to get Pendulumania to work! 🙂

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