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Codeweavers crossover - Beta testing Internet Explorer 7 on Linux

I've recently been involved in the beta testing of the next release of Codeweavers Crossover for Linux (a commercial implementation of WINE) which allows some Windows software to run on Linux.

What is WINE?

Wine allows Windows software to run on the Linux operating system.

Rather than having to pay Microsoft for the Windows operating system then you can download Linux for free and run that instead. Many people are also finding Linux is a cheaper and better (eg. performance, security and included software) particularly for Netbooks, such as the EeePC. From this year I now use Linux almost exclusively for my home computing needs, hardly ever booting into Windows.

One of the drawbacks about Linux is the lack of commercial software. Actually many will say that this isn't a drawback at all as there are thousands of applications that replicate most of the functionality of commercial software for free, but occasionally there is some software that is available for Windows but not for Linux. In my case I wanted to install Internet Explorer 7, so that I can use it to test my website. Although well tested in Firefox, there is a bug that occurs sometimes in IE6 which causes a problem with positioning of the side menu. By testing that I don't get the same problem with IE7, it looks like this may be an Internet Explorer bug.

The solution to running Windows Software on Linux is WINE. There are emulators that have been around for some time that allow a computer to run software designed for another computer, but WINE is different in that instead of trying to emulate Windows it instead creates the same functionality of Windows running within the host operating system. WINE stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator to stress this fact.

Like Linux, WINE is open source software, which means you can download and install it for free, access the source code and even make changes and share those changes.

Why pay for Crossover if WINE is free?

Crossover is a commercial version of WINE costing about £26 for the standard version. As I've already said WINE if free, why would you want to pay for a commercial version? Many companies may like the support available, but for me it's the fact that crossover make it so much easier to install software using the software wizard.

It's also the case that Crossover is usually ahead in which software runs (although the updates are filtered down to the main WINE), and that the money from people buying the commercial versions is used to create the code that eventually ends up in the free version.

The software wizard provided in Crossover makes it as simple as starting the wizard, inserting the disk and then performing a normal application install. Or in the case of software that can be downloaded (eg. Internet Explorer) it downloads and installs the software for you.

The cost of Crossover is certainly less than the cost of a Windows license, and also means you don't need to upgrade your hardware to the spec required by Windows Vista.

What's in version 8?

Version 8 includes support for Quicken and Internet Explorer 7, as well as other features that may help other software run. Unfortunately due to the complexity and closed source code of Windows, it's a very difficult task to fully implement and is therefore being tackled by focusing on a few large applications.

How is version 8 looking?

Crossover is getting better with each new version, and version 8 will add more application support. The code is still in beta (hence the testing), and I've found a couple of bugs, but hopefully they'll be fixed before it is released. Here is the description of the bug report that I've sent off.

Install on EeePC 1000H running a Ubuntu based distribution and the beta deb package. Eeebuntu with Gnome.

Installing Internet Explorer 7 using a new bottle for this install.

Choose express install on the crossover install wizard.

XML Parser installs OK, but then crossover install wizard hangs on Refreshing desktop manager

Crossover install wizard is still responsive - ie progress icon moving left and right, but it doesn't complete. Cancel by clicking x in top right.

Start again using same bottle

Install of flash goes OK

Install of IE7

Install latest updates is ticked (doesn't seam to effect if it works or not)

IE Installer runs through and then gives "Installation Complete" but with error message: unable to install updates

Click restart now

Refreshing desktop manager does not complete (same as after the XML parser install).

Close

No menu entry created - launch using "run windows program"

On run once screen, unable to change language/region as menu disappears before a selection can be made.

Saving gives error that the settings could not be saved properly.

then saving again says it was successful, and unsuccessful. Perhaps this is a problem with IE rather than crossover?

Browsing the web appears to work correctly although very slowly.

The problem with not creating the icons and refreshing the desktop manager happens with other installs as well (eg. Quicktime) but I didn't have that problem with other applications using the Alpha version.

No menu entry created - launch using "run windows program"

On run once screen, unable to change language/region as menu disappears before a selection can be made.

Saving gives error that the settings could not be saved properly.

then saving again says it was successful, and unsuccessful. Perhaps this is a problem with IE rather than crossover?

Browsing the web appears to work correctly although very slowly.

Conclusion

There are still some bugs to be squashed, but Codeweaver's Crossover 8 is looking promising.

Find out more on the Codeweavers website.

Also see: Running Dreamweaver 8, Fireworks 8 and Flash Professional 8 on Linux using Crossover Office (cxoffice)


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