CrossOver Puts Windows Programs on Linux OS

Analysis: If you're moving to Linux, CodeWeaver's CrossOver Office lets you take many of your favorite Windows programs with you.

One of the most common reasons I hear most from people that they cant consider a Linux desktop is that they cant run their favorite Windows application on it.

Think again.

With CodeWeavers Inc.s latest CrossOver Office 5, you can run many of the most popular Windows applications on Linux.

CodeWeavers has been doing this for sometime now. Our Labs folks were pretty happy with Version 3.0.1, and its gotten a lot better since then.

How much better? Todays CrossOver Office 5.0 supported application list includes Microsoft Office 2003, XP, 2000 and 97, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Project, Microsoft Visio, Lotus Notes 6.5.1 and 5.0, FrameMaker, iTunes, and the one Windows program I cant live without: Intuit Quicken.

Thats easy for CodeWeavers to claim, so I turned to two of my Linux systems to see how well the newest CrossOver delivers the goods.

The first system ran SUSE 10 on an Insignia 300a, Best Buys house brand desktop PC. This computer comes with a 2.8GHz Pentium IV, 512MB of RAM, and an Ultra ATA/100, 60GB hard drive with 7200 RPM.

My other test box was a HP Pavilion a350n. On it, I was running Xandros 3.0 Business Edition. This system has a 2.6GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of dual-channel DDR333 SDRAM and a 120GB SATA (Serial ATA) hard drive.

In short, these are both decent, midrange systems. Both also had XP Pro partitions so I could get a rough idea of how the applications fared running on both Linux and XP on the same hardware.

For my rounds of testing, I used CrossOver Office Professional. For individual users, however, theres little practical difference between Professional and Standard.

The Professional comes with 12 months of Level 2 support, while Standard only has six months of Level 3—essentially installation-only support. Professional also has multi-user and network deployment options.

CrossOver Office is based on Wine. Wine, in turn, is an implementation of the Windows API on top of the Unix/Linux operating system family.

You can also, of course, use Wine, which after years of development is only now being beta tested, to run Windows programs. It requires a fair amount of technical expertise to get Windows programs properly installed. So, I recommend only Linux mavens who also know a fair amount about Windows software try it.

CrossOver Office, however, is extremely simple to set up. The total installation time was less than five minutes.

Life gets more interesting, though, when you start installing Windows programs. For the most part, this works pretty much the same way as installing the program in Windows. The only difference is that you must invoke CrossOver Office to run the installation CD.

Next Page: Installation and version-support problems.