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Paying for open source software - Crossover / WINE

I'm a big fan of Free and Open Source Software. Obviously getting something that you may otherwise pay up to £100 for, for free is one of the reasons, but it's also about the philosophy in having the ability to look at how it works and to improve it for yourself and others. It helps build a community around the software and can mean having a direct input into how the software works.

See my earlier post for an explanation of what FREE and Open Source Software is.

I am not however completely against software that is not free (in both open source and money). There are times when it would not be able to get sufficient funding to develop software using the free model. For example whilst there are some really good open source games, it is well short of the amount of commercial games which are developed in response to customer demand and driven by profit.

What I am against are companies that lock you in by using proprietary formats and implement open standards incorrectly so that they only work with their software. Companies that use underhand tactics to destroy competition to maintain their unfair monopolies. But that's not what this post is about...

What is WINE?

WINE stands for WINE Is Not an Emulator. It provides a way to run Windows Software in a different operating system (eg. Linux or MacOS). It is open source; available for free; possible to modify and improve.

As Windows is a proprietary closed source operating system it's not possible to see all the different things it uses to work so therefore the WINE software is constantly evolving to work with additional software. The list of software that works without issues is fairly limited, but is growing.

WINE - Crossover Office Professional from Codeweavers

Note that Crossover Office, Crossover Professional and Crossover Impersonator all refer to the same software, but is available in different versions. It is now called CrossOver Impersonator (the Office has been dropped from the name) and is available as CrossOver Linux / Mac Standard or Professional, as CrossOver Games or a Bundle including Crossover (Linux or Mac) and CrossOver Games.

Screenshot of Crossover Installer - WINE

Crossover Impersonator is both open source and closed source. It combines Open Source Software of WINE with some closed source software to make installing software easier. Codeweavers work on improving the WINE open source software which they release as open source for everyone to use, but the "bottles environments" and the installer code is only available by buying a software license.

The cost is not too expensive, certainly less than buying a copy of Windows. The license includes either 6 months or 12 months of support depending upon the version purchased. Support is limited to only certain software that is certified to work, but it does include some key software to justify the purchase.

Software installed

Some of the software that I have been able to successfully install and run includes:

and a few other programs.

The list of supported software is much bigger.

I didn't use the support at all during my previous license period, but I have recently used the support to get Microsoft Powerpoint viewer 2007 working under Mint Linux. It appeared to install correctly, but whenever I tried to launch it nothing happened.

Installing Powerpoint Viewer 2007 on Linux

Normally if I have a Powerpoint presentation I will open it with Libre Office which works very well. Unfortunately I had a password protected presentation file which Libre Office is unable to read. I needed to run this on my Linux Mint (having recently replaced Unbuntu Linux) laptop.

I launched the installer from CrossOver Linux, which downloaded and installed the software over the Internet. Whenever I tried to run it nothing happened.

I spent a lot of time searching the Internet and trying various re-installs before I contacted support. I received a reply in less than 24 hours with some pointers on how to get the software working. They also asked me to submit some more details so that they could investigate further (although that was not needed in the end).

I think that it turned out to be a missing DLL file, and I'm not sure why it was missing or which particular action fixed it, but the advise from the support ticket at least got me working in the right direction. 24 hours after my original ticket and I had PowerPoint viewer up and running and now able to load and play the powerpoint presentation.

Is it worth paying for?

I like the Crossover products, whilst they don't run all the software I'd like, the ones it does run really well. It's worth paying for the convenience of the installer which makes life much easier, but the support has also come in very handy.

Added with the knowledge that the funding for the commercial product is also contributing towards the improvement of the Open Source WINE and I think I've had excellent value for money for the software.

Also see

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