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Play On Linux
New Ubuntu users can often find Wine to be intimidating and difficult to use. PlayOnLinux simplifies much of this and makes installing and using Windows programs in Ubuntu easier.
This how-to is so that both new users, and other users who find Wine too confusing, can nevertheless use it easily.
Disclaimers and Warnings
Wine is not a perfect replacement for Windows; in fact, it is rather limited. Most Windows programs will not work under Wine; some will be buggy, and a few will work well. Refer to the Wine database to find how well your preferred Windows application is likely to work.
- Some Windows programs will run slower under Linux, and others faster. It seems to depend on your hardware and available drivers.
Why use PlayOnLinux?
- GUI; no need for the command line interface (CLI).
- Hides the complexity of Wine.
- Uses "virtual drives" (see notes below).
Some applications are "supported" (e.g. Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Microsoft Office, Spore); PlayOnLinux automates their installation.
- You can manually install "unsupported" applications.
What is a "virtual drive"?
- Think of each virtual drive as a separate Windows machine. If you install each program in its own virtual drive:
- Windows programs don't interfere with each other.
Uninstalling a badly-functioning or unwanted program is easy (PlayOnLinux simply deletes the virtual drive).
What are the cons of using PlayOnLinux?
PlayOnLinux is just a front-end to Wine. Therefore, it has all the same cons as using Wine; many Windows programs don't work, or they work with flaws.
- Sometimes, installing a Windows program can be a little buggy. For example, I have previously installed Publisher 2003 without any problem, but when redoing it for this how-to I had a problem.
- Some programs may not work on a 64-bit installation.
What alternatives are there?
- Instead of using Wine, which has many imperfections…
You can use Crossover from Codeweavers. Being commercial software, it is not free, but it is likely to support Windows programs better. There is a great Compatibility search bar at the top of the web page. Crossover "revolves around the Wine project" (Codeweaver's wording), and the company shares all improvements with Wine.
For the finest results, either dual-boot with Windows, or run Windows in a virtual machine such as VirtualBox (if your machine can handle it). This gives you 100% compatibility, but of course you do need a Microsoft Windows license.
How to install PlayOnLinux
PlayOnLinux comes in the default repositories, but I prefer to have the latest version available.
Use the latest available version (optional)
Open the Ubuntu Software Centre > Edit > Software Sources > Other Software > Add.
In APT line, type the following (replace "precise" with your distro, e.g. "lucid", if you have an earlier version):
deb http://deb.playonlinux.com/ precise main
- Press Add Source.
Close the window; open a terminal and enter the following. (If you don't like the terminal, open Update Manager instead and select Check.)
sudo apt-get update
- Open the Ubuntu Software Centre.
Search for playonlinux.
On Gnome Classic, you will find PlayOnLinux under your Games menu (I'm not sure why it's there!). On Unity, of course, you can just use the Dash.
Open PlayOnLinux. Often when you do this, it will "refresh":
But the very first time you run it, PlayOnLinux will lead you through a process to download the Microsoft fonts. You must be connected to the Internet and agree to the license conditions.
Follow the instructions.
How to install a "supported" Windows program
When PlayOnLinux "supports" a program, it automates the process for you. I will illustrate this through an example: Internet Explorer 8.
Start PlayOnLinux > the big Install button at the top > Internet > Internet Explorer 8 (or you can use the search bar).
- Press Install.
- For some programs, e.g. Microsoft Office or Spore, you will need the original (legal) CD, DVD or purchased download.
Follow the instructions.
Remember: when the installation asks if you want to restart your computer, this applies to your pretend Windows machine, and not to your Ubuntu machine; you can safely go ahead and press the Windows restart button. PlayOnLinux will intelligently realise what is happening and restart your virtual installation without affecting your Ubuntu session.
Once installed, you will see a launcher on your desktop (which you can delete if you want), and another on the PlayOnLinux window. Double-click either of them to open and test the application.
How to install an "unsupported" Windows program
- The process for installing an "unsupported" program is similar to installing a "supported" one. However, you will be given extra options.
Start PlayOnLinux > the big Install button at the top > Install a non-listed program (at the bottom left of the window).
A wizard appears. Press Next > Install a program in a new virtual drive (unless you want to use an existing virtual drive) > Next. This creates a new, independent, virtual drive (a pretend Windows machine), independently of any other Windows programs you have installed.
Type a suitable short name without any spaces, e.g. Quicken.
- Press Next, and Next again.
Browse to the installation file, which may be, for example, an autorun.exe on a CD or a downloaded .exe file.
- Follow the prompts, which will depend on the application you are installing.
Once installed, you will see a launcher on your desktop (which you can delete if you want), and another on the PlayOnLinux window. Double-click either of them to open the application.
How to uninstall a Windows program
- Uninstalling a Windows program is easy.
Start PlayOnLinux > select the application you want to uninstall > press the big Remove button.
A wizard appears > Next.
When asked, "Do you want to delete the virtual drive", press Yes > Next.
What if my application does not appear?
- Sometimes, an installation fails (not even the installation process for that application works). Your virtual drive has been created, but you cannot see the application. You can delete the virtual drive as follows.
Close PlayOnLinux (and any programs started from PlayOnLinux, if any).
Open Nautilus and navigate to your home folder > PlayOnLinux's virtual drives.
- Find the virtual drive you wish to delete, and delete it. Do not delete default.
Originally posted The Ubuntu Forums (ubuntuforums.org)