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Linux Business Operating Systems Software Windows

Win4Lin 5.0 Reviewed 419 419

uninet writes "About a month ago, NeTraverse contacted OfB Labs with an early release copy of Win4Lin 5.0, the follow-up to the already impressive Win4Lin 4.0 released in May 2002. Win4Lin, for those not familiar with it, offers near-native (or better) speed "virtualization" of a Windows box so that one can run Windows 9x (95/98/Me) inside GNU/Linux."
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Win4Lin 5.0 Reviewed

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  • by jkrise (535370) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @09:20AM (#6241981) Journal
    Just y'day there was an article on a UK firm doing a school Linux project using Win4Lin. This product uses SCOde, and isn't suited for true Linux enthusiasts.

    Less of SCO, more of GNU, GPL I say!

  • No 3D? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Erwos (553607) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @09:22AM (#6242005)
    I'm willing to pay for one of these windows-emulation packages when they finally get some 3D going, which is why I _really_ want Windows at this point. What's stopping them from doing this?

  • Toughest? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rwiedower (572254) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @09:23AM (#6242010) Homepage

    one of the toughest challenges a piece of software ever faces, the upgrade installation mode

    I can think of several stress filled things a program may have to do. I'm not sure the upgrade installation mode ranks as the "toughest". Maybe it's difficult to get perfect...

  • weird (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Boromir son of Faram (645464) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @09:30AM (#6242082) Homepage
    It's crazy how much time people put into making Windows emulators for GNU/Linux. I mean, if you want to use Windows applications, just install the Windows that came free with your computer. For the cost of Win4Lin or Wine, you can get a whole nother hard drive to dedicate to Windows, and it will be fully compatible.

    On a related note, how come there are no Linux emulators for Windows? Is it because Windows has better alternatives to any Linux program, or is there some sort of GPL patent issue?
  • by Ryanwoodings (60314) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @09:32AM (#6242094) Homepage
    "The NeTraverse products are derived from a proven technology developed over the last 15 years for UNIX® based operating systems, notably SCO®'s, MergeTM technology, accounting for over 800,000 users worldwide."

    Funny how the article didn't mention Win4Lin had any connection with SCO... probably because NOBODY wants to be associated with those money grubbers these days!
  • It makes one wonder (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SynapseLapse (644398) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @09:42AM (#6242170)
    Why Microsoft hasn't sued them out of bussiness?

    Sony succesfully sued Bleem out of bussiness...
    Granted you need a win98 cd to get this sucker running (Which means they have to still buy windows from Microsoft.)
    but conversly, it means more people like my mother could potentially use it as they would then still be able to use their old win apps.

    Now all we need is to run WinLin with a Unix emulator running a Mac Emulator running...
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @09:53AM (#6242256)
    yet you think it's unreasonable for people to criticize these coders who blatantly copy Windows

    What coders who copy Windows? You do realize that to install Win4Lin, you need to already own a Win9X CD. You go through the entire Windows installation process, including loading the Windows CD and typing in a valid product ID code. An entire standard Win9X installation is created on your PC, it just happens to live in a Linux file system.

    Funny that you bring up SCO. Win4Lin is based on a DOS-virtualization technology called "merge" that SCO has also used. Here [] is a summary I found of its very convoluted history. (Google cache; real page is broken.)

  • by aksansai (56788) <> on Thursday June 19, 2003 @09:53AM (#6242257)
    Production environments moved to Windows 2000+ years ago because of operating stability issues encountered when running Windows 9x based systems. Nevermind the inherent security issues that plagued the operating system when the user is assumed to be the administrator of the machine.

    Production environments that have selected Linux as their "host" operating system have already made a good choice in selecting a stable, secure operating system. Allowing their users to still be able to use "modern" Windows software (for various reasons) is priceless.

    I used to work for a company which deployed Linux throughout. However, various assignments for software development required the use of Visual Studio, which runs just fine under Windows 98 - but, as you can imagine, has a difficulty running under Linux. I purchased Win4Lin 3.0 - and the flexibility (and speed), yet convenience of not having to install Windows was absolutely fantastic.
  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tzanger (1575) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @09:53AM (#6242258) Homepage

    Oh I don't know... better app support? The ability to access the printer port from win32 apps (Microchip MPLAB comes immediately to mind, doesn't work at all under WINE if you want ot use the expensive ICE you bought), Acrobat 5 or 6, IE for VoloView (AutoCAD drawing viewer)... Lots of little things.

    WINE seems to be a very useful "meta project" -- take the bits of WINE you need to get the specific windows functionality you need, but you'll never get 100% of it. I'm not sure why.

  • by calethix (537786) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @09:54AM (#6242268) Homepage
    That would make an interesting poll...
    The last time I paid for the copy of Windows I used:
    I don't use Windows you insensitive clod
    Huh? Pay for Windows?
  • by wbav (223901) <> on Thursday June 19, 2003 @09:59AM (#6242307) Homepage Journal
    Not to belittle your point in the slightest, patching the kernel is a pain in the a$$; however, to base you decision solely on the amount of work it requires seems a little silly. And you must admit, in some ways, patching your kernel is easier than installing 98 and creating a dual boot machine. Besides, I've found that if you don't build your own kernel with Red Hat, the performance loss is noticeable.
  • Poppycock (Score:5, Interesting)

    by delphi125 (544730) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @10:14AM (#6242448)
    First you say 'direct access' then you immediately follow it with 'drivers'. Which is it?

    Almost all (Windows) 3D nowadays is either DirectX or OpenGL. I'll ignore the former for a moment and stick to OpenGL. How hard can it be to 'emulate' a glVertex3f call? Ok, I'm not saying it is trivial, but it must be a lot easier than the average Win32 API call. I mean, the function already exists anywhere you have OpenGL.

    Back to DirectX or rather Direct3D... although this uses COM interfaces, the functions available are pretty similar to those in OpenGL. Now there will be a number of 'slow' functions (loading a large texture), but these will always be slow. A little more overhead won't make a huge difference. There are only a few functions (vertex, texture coordinates, normals etc) which get called really often. It is here that optimization efforts should be directed. Not easy, but should be easier than the entire Win API.

    I will admit to ignoring the problems of X being a network protocol rather than a graphics one. I suspect that to reach optimal frame rates you wouldn't want to run DirextX games in an X window on another terminal over the network. But unix has always done well at allowing multiple 'terminals', so do it that way.

  • Re:I don't get it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @10:29AM (#6242629) Homepage
    Sometimes, they base their whole GUI around IE.

    What, you mean like RhymBox []?

    So WINE will not be able to run these programs.

    Are you sure [] about that []?

  • Re:weird (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HermanAB (661181) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:00AM (#6242951)

    Well, just to give you some simple examples why Win4Lin is needed: WordPerfect only works on windoze. Most lawyers use WordPerfect. If you have 50,000 files in WordPerfect format, there is no practical way to change to another word processor, so the only solution is win4lin, with WinME and it works beautifully that way.

    Another example is accounting. If you have your whole business history in some special accounting package, which is required by a regulating body, changing to something else is not an option.

  • by ukyoCE (106879) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:11AM (#6243067) Journal
    Some trolls have been astroturfing saying that emulation is a bad idea and will prevent anything from ever going native.

    This would be bad because emulation is almost universally slower and more buggy.

    I think that proves it right there - emulation will create a market willing to buy the faster and less buggy linux version. WineX will tide us over only until our numbers are large enough to demand native linux apps.

    Besides, emulation is important for legacy applications+games. I really don't think Blizzard is going to go back and make Warcraft2 for linux, but I got to play through it again on linux using Wine.
  • by James Thompson (12208) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:18AM (#6243158) Homepage
    As a user of win4lin I have to disagree.

    Would people have felt this way about SCO technology a year ago? How about two years ago? I doubt it. So now I'm to punish Netraverse for not having the ability to forsee SCO's actions years in advance even though I myself didn't?

    Thanks to Netraverse's product I now have 6 GNU/Linux ternimals running KDE where windows only boxes used to set. The users are doing less and less inside windows as they find *nix equivilents that work as well, if not better, than their windows counterparts. The installs under win4lin are more stable and require less support time. The product is solid and Netraverse's techincal support staff have been nothing short of amazing in dealing with issues that have cropped up.

    While I have no desire to support SCO I have even less desire to punish a company like Netraverse for something that is clearly beyond their control.
  • by FatherOfONe (515801) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:27AM (#6243271)
    Ok, I am a transgaming member, and love the idea of the software, but I feel that anyone who thinks that this software will solve the issue of not being able to play most "new" games on Linux is not solved at all.

    First be warned that you should have a Nvidia video card. If you have anything else (like a faster ATI card) you could be in for some issues. It could turn in to a real science project. If you plan on running RedHat and still getting support from them then you will also have issues.

    In short this is great software; BUT in my opinion if you are a hard core gamer then you will be better suited with a Windows partition or separate hard drive. Removeable hard drive bays are around $20 and a separate small hard drive for Windows isn't that much.

    To be honest even Linux ported games still seem to have major issues. It appears that you can get most to work, but I have found that there is almost always a "catch-22" with software, something you will need that breaks something else.

    Now I need to say that my experience has been with only RedHat. It is possible that RedHat is the main source of the problems with games, but you would think that developers would focus a little bit of effort on that Distro.

  • by mgrennan (2067) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @11:55AM (#6243598) Homepage Journal
    Before I toss down the change. I'm use Crossover office to run NOTES and IE at the office. (RedHat 9.0 as the base)

    How odes Win4Lin compaire to it?

  • Zealot go home! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2003 @12:50PM (#6244186)
    "This product uses SCOde"

    Umm, I'm sure you realize of course that this is old SCO we're talking aobut for the original code... New SCO group doesn't look to me as being seriously interested in creating anything other than work for lawyers. But in any case NeTraverse licensed and paid for the code prior to all this occuring, advocating punishing them for things that are completely out of their control is wrong! Not only that, it is short-sighted. Irresponsible zealots, think about this: Netraverse could have come forward and did a MS. "Look, we respect IP, we paid for blah blah blah..." So, my short-sighted zealot, you want to give them a reason to provide bad press?

    "and isn't suited for true Linux enthusiasts."

    Which you sir most certainly are not. Isn't linux supposed to be about freedom of choice? Oh wait, or is that only so long as you don''t decide of your own free will to use commercial software? Or so long as yopu only use zealot-approved software?

    Get real, your position is no more tenable than Microsoft's position. Open Source is not the one true way. Closed Source is not the one true way. They are polar extremes, and as in reality (the one the rest of us live in and my zealot friend denies) the real answer lies somewhere in the middle. Where in the middle is a function of who you are and what you want to accomplish. It is not a moral deficiency to use commercial software to accomplish a task. Further, using freeware to accomplish a task in preference to commercial software better capable of accomplishing the task is not moral, it is stupid, short-sighted, and counter-productive.

    Allthough I use Linux for 90% of my computinbg tasks, I recognize that the other 10% my computing time is better handled by other platforms. On my linux servers are a variety of free and commercial products. Again, I use the best tool for me to accomplish the required work in the least time, with the least aggravation.

    I am sick and tired of the Linux zealots though, Linux is not for everyone, it is not God's own operating system. The world doesn't need a Society of Linus (Linuits?) running around putting everyone who doesn't accept their perceived moral superiority to fire and sword.

    Please be responsible in your advocacy.
  • by davros74 (194914) on Thursday June 19, 2003 @02:29PM (#6245531) Homepage
    The required kernel modifications are not as difficult as you make them seem to be. Granted, I will agree with you that they are slow in releasing patches, but the patch itself is actually quite small.

    First, there is the mki-adapter patch, and since it is fairly orthogonal to the kernel (adds non-existing functionality), it will have almost no chance of colliding with anything during a patch. The kernel patch itself can usually be applied to a fairly close kernel number, or with very few changes (if you know how diff/patch work). Since it deals with the memory management/paging, if there wasn't a major difference between the kernel you are compiling and the patch version, the patch will probably succeed. I'm using the 2.4.20 Win4Lin kernel patches with the 2.4.21 kernel right now, and it works okay.

    Now, 2.5.x kernels? Well, really. Can you expect them to have patches for a development version of the kernel? Especially when it so closely connected to memory management? Since most customers of Win4Lin are probably in a SOHO or production environment, I'm not sure how many people are clamoring for 2.5.x patches from Netraverse. I'd say that if you want to run Win4Lin you have to live with a stock 2.4.x kernel. That's acceptable, i think. You can always have more than one kernel (dual-boot kernels!)

    NeTraverse DOES supply vanilla patches for the stock linux kernels that you can download from You do not have to use their prebuilt RedHat/Debian/WhatEver kernels. I'm using a plain vanilla 2.4.21 kernel on RedHat 7.3.

    But yes, if you are a 2.5.x user, you'll have to skip on Win4Lin. It's a little hard to ask them to support a moving target that the 2.5.x series kernels are. I wouldn't use 2.5.x in a production environment anyway.

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