Some common misconceptions about WINE

WINE is one of the most helpful pieces of software in the FOSS world. It helps Windows users transition to GNU/Linux more easily -- simply by making Windows software available on Linux. However, there are some unfortunate falsehoods regarding WINE and its use, that I aim to settle here.
  1. WINE is Windows.
    I hear this one a lot. "WINE is just virtualized Windows." This is completely, utterly false. WINE is Windows in the same way that OpenOffice is Microsoft Office -- They aim to provide similar functionality, but are certainly not the same product. WINE does not require a Windows license to use, nor does it truly virtualize anything.

  2. WINE is based on leaked Windows code.
    This may have been true at one time, but since then WINE has been completely clean-room rewritten. The developers periodically perform source code audits, and to the best of anyone's knowledge there is no Microsoft code in WINE.

  3. WINE is not an emulator.
    WINE is a recursive acronym meaning "WINE is not an emulator", which is something newcomers to the FOSS scene are quick to point out. However, WINE is, in fact, an emulator. The term "emulate" means "to imitate (a particular computer system) by using a software system, often including a microprogram or another computer that enables it to do the same work, run the same programs, etc., as the first." (Source.) In this regard, WINE is most certainly an emulator -- it emulates the software environment that Windows NT provides.

  4. Programs run in WINE perform more poorly than native Linux apps.
    The very nature of WINE (that is, being a software compatibility layer) means that any performance hit is not due to WINE itself. Most (if not all) software performance problems stem from two things: inferior graphics drivers for Linux (something we nVidia users have begrudgingly gotten used to) or nonstandard libraries. Or both, in the case of any QuickTime-based application. Many apps run under WINE actually perform better on Linux than they did under Windows, something which is surprising to the people who subscribe to #1.
After writing this article, I found a very well-written page on the WINE website that describes more.

1 comment:

skrite dot net said...

Hey, cool post. I especially like the part about wine being an emulator. I have been questioning the logic behind the "wine is not and emulator" thing since i heard it.