Wine With That Ubuntu?

I am still working on Jenny’s Gateway laptop. I got her HP laptop working pretty well using Windows 2000 and she reported that they were able to surf and get a paper written for school this week, though they couldn’t print from the laptop. But the Gateway is the one that eats up hard drives and the fourth hard drive is now showing problems. The laptop just won’t boot. For some reason it did boot a couple of times for me and I was able to install her copy of Office 2007 on it, but then I opened Word, the computer froze and I’ve never been able to get back into Vista again. I can use a Vista installation disk to boot the computer and I can boot it using Ubuntu, but Vista won’t reinstall because it doesn’t think there is a hard drive there. Interestingly, Ubuntu sees the hard drive and installs no problem. I even tried installing Windows 2000 by formatting the hard drive, but Win2k wouldn’t recognize the hard drive either. I tried different partition schemes involving Ubuntu and Windows and then formatted the whole drive with Ubuntu and tried to install Windows over it and still nothing. Ubuntu does say that there are some bad sectors identified on the hard drive.

So I don’t think any version of Windows is going on there. With Ubuntu, at least she can use the computer to surf the net wirelessly. And she could use OpenOffice to edit MS Office documents I think. But I know she would rather have Office available and I’d also like to install some of the bridge programs from work.

I know Macs can run Windows from within the Mac OS, so I wondered if there was something like that for Linux. One thing I found that was intriguing is software called Wine (it stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator, so it’s another obnoxious recursive acronym) which doesn’t run Windows, but actually lets you run Windows programs in Linux. The challenge there is that a Windows program uses all kinds of other files called DLL files that have pieces of code that can be shared among different programs, so the Wine developers had to write a lot of DLL’s from scratch rather than port copyrighted Microsoft DLL’s from Windows. They also seem to have a way of letting you import your own DLL files if necessary.

So I thought it was worth a shot to install Wine and see if it would let me use Microsoft Office in Ubuntu. First I tried Jenny’s copy of Office 2007. It started installing but hung up on something without explanation (could be the hard drive). So I tried again with a copy of Office 2000 I had. It asks you for the security code and everything, just like if you were installing it in Windows. And this went all the way through and installed. I opened it up and it seems to work fine.

Wine seems to be geared towards using setup.exe files or other installers in order to get some of the needed DLL’s. But the bridge programs are just compiled Fortran programs, each a single .exe file, so I don’t think they have or need DLL’s. I’m not sure if Wine needs to register the .exe files or if I can just open them using Wine and they will work.

This is pretty neat though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *