Given enough ISV support, Wine needn't be be a poor cross-platform solution for running Windows apps on Linux.
In our last issue, I wrapped up a trio
of columns on the topic of running Windows applications on
alternative platforms with a dismissal of Wine-the open source
project aimed at building a home for Windows applications on
Unix-like hosts such as Linux and OS X-as a viable solution for
this cross-platform quandary.I was prepared this week to move on to
other terrain when Wine reared its head again--this time not in the
form of a message from an impassioned reader, but in the course of a
Saturday afternoon search for a slicker alternative to the default
MySQL Query Browser application that I've been using a lot lately for
a fantasy basketball project I've been working on.
In my dressing down of Wine, I noted
that users are unlikely to find Wine mentioned in their ISV's support
matrices, but, as I learned, two of the most frequently-recommended
MySQL query tools I encountered, PremiumSoft's Navicat Lite and the
open source HeidiSQL, owe their Linux support to none other than the
Navicat comes along with its own
implementation of Wine, which accounts for 63MB of the overall 91MB
Navicat for Linux package-not a bad corkage fee, considering that
by bringing its own Wine, PremiumSoft can ensure that things like
font anti-aliasing will work without any registry tweaks required.
HeidiSQL doesn't come with its own copy of Wine. Instead, it relies
on the copy you get from your Linux distributor or from the Wine
project itself.I downloaded both of these
applications, and both ran well on my Ubuntu desktop.To be sure, the experience wasn't
perfect--on HeidiSQL, for instance, launching the application's
built-in MySQL help browser made the query editing pane inaccessible,
thereby seriously limiting the usefulness of that documentation.
Also, neither application fit in comfortably with the look and feel
of my desktop, and neither used my system's native GNOME file access
dialogs.Of course, one of my main qualms about
the default MySQL query tool is that it uses an old version of the
GNOME dialogs which, like the Wine dialogs, lack support for setting
up and visiting file location shortcuts-such as to the directory
where I keep my SQL query files.All told, my experiences trying out
both of these Windows-native applications through Wine were positive,
with the key difference between running these particular Windows
applications vs. any arbitrary applications under Wine being the ISV
support.If more Windows ISVs set out to reach
non-Windows platforms via Wine, the project would have a brighter
future than the one I laid out in my previous column. And who knows?
Perhaps even Microsoft could come to take a leadership role in the
viticulture of the Windows software ecosystem. After all, Microsoft
surprised many this far when it announced plans to produce, in
association with Intel a Linux-native version of Silverlight to run
on Intel's Moblin operating system.As for my own query browser search,
I've settled for now on an open source application, called
CrunchyFrog, built out of Python and the GNOME-native (but still
Windows compatible) GTK framework. Still, my search has given me a
new respect for Wine--if you depend on Wine for running particular
Windows applications outside of Windows, I'd love to hear about them.
As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. Jason's coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at email@example.com.