Software & Apps Linux 100 100 people found this article helpful 5 Tools to Help You Run Windows Programs in Linux Get the best of both worlds with these Windows emulators By Gary Newell Writer Gary Newell was a freelance contributor, application developer, and software tester with 20+ years in IT, working on Linux, UNIX, and Windows. our editorial process Gary Newell Updated February 08, 2020 Linux Switching from Windows Tweet Share Email Years ago, people tended not to adopt Linux because they couldn't run their favorite Windows programs. The world of open-source software has improved immensely, however, and many people have become accustomed to using free tools, from email clients and office applications to media players. Gary Newell Still, there might be that odd, must-have software gem that works only on Windows. In this case, try using one of the fantastic tools listed here to get it running on your Linux PC. Before you start, you should be aware that these are all based on or use WINE directly. Aside from virtual machines, WINE is still the only real way to run Windows applications on Linux. There are various wrappers, utilities, and versions of WINE that help to make the process easier, though, and choosing the right one can make a world of difference. 01 of 05 Plain Classic WINE What We Like No Windows license required to use Windows applications. The simple core utility behind all of these tools. This is the stable and officially supported version. What We Don't Like Doesn't always run the latest versions of Windows products like Microsoft Office. Some games and applications run sluggishly. Lacking any helper scripts. Doesn't have the latest patches and improvements. WINE stands for "Wine Is Not An Emulator." WINE provides a Windows compatibility layer for Linux that makes installing, running, and configuring many popular Windows applications possible. To install WINE, run whichever of the following fits your flavor of Linux. Ubuntu / Debian / Mint sudo apt-get install wine Fedora / CentOS sudo yum install wine openSUSE sudo zypper install wine Arch / Manjaro sudo pacman -S wine With most desktop environments, you can run a Windows program with WINE by right-clicking on the file and choosing Open with WINE program loader. Of course, you can run the program from the command line using the following command: wine path/to/application The file can be either an executable or an installer file. WINE offers a configuration tool you can launch using the menu of your desktop environment or from the command line using the following command: winecfg The configuration tool lets you choose the version of Windows to run programs against, manage graphics and audio drivers, manage desktop integration, and handle mapped drives. You might find this guide to WINE and the project website and documentation helpful. 02 of 05 WINE Staging What We Like Wider application compatibility. Better performance than regular WINE. Frequent Updates. What We Don't Like Requires an extra repository on most distributions. Still needs some configuration to use. The next step from the mainstream WINE release WINE Staging. The staging release includes various patches and improvements that aren't quite considered stable enough to make it into the mainstream release just yet, but they are usually stable enough to use on a daily basis. So, what does this mean for you? Using WINE Staging usually gets more applications working and improves the performances of the ones that already work. Unless you're using WINE for some critical business application (Microsoft Office doesn't count), which you shouldn't really be, anyway, you should probably pick WINE Staging. WINE Staging does require that you set up an additional software repository on most distributions, but after that, it's just as simple to install as vanilla WINE. Ubuntu / Debian / Linux Mint Enable the 32-bit architecture. sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386 Import the WINE developer key. wget -nc https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/winehq.keysudo apt-key add winehq.key Add the repository. Replace "eoan" with your Ubuntu release. sudo apt-add-repository 'deb https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/ubuntu/ eoan main' Debian users should follow the following example, replacing "buster" with their Debian release. deb https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/debian/ buster main Update your repositories, and install WINE Staging. sudo apt updatesudo apt install --install-recommends winehq-staging Fedora Add the repository from the WINE developers. Replace "30" in the address with your Fedora release. dnf config-manager --add-repo https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/fedora/30/winehq.repo Then, install the latest WINE Staging release using DNF. dnf install winehq-staging OpenSUSE OpenSUSE has WINE Staging in its repositories. Just install it. zypper install wine-staging Arch Linux / Manjaro WINE Staging is in the official Arch repository. Install it normally. pacman -S wine-staging 03 of 05 Lutris What We Like Very easy to play games. Manage configurations without hassle. Get the latest versions of WINE. Manage all your games in one place. What We Don't Like Takes a little setup on some distributions. Focused almost exclusively on games. When it comes to playing Windows games on Linux, there's no better option right now than Lutris. Lutris is relatively new, compared to the other entries on this list, but it's more than earned its spot by making it just as easy to install Windows games on Linux as it is on Windows itself. That's no exaggeration, either. With Lutris, you can play games, like Overwatch, on Linux in only a couple of clicks. There's no need to know the technical details. Someone already did the hard work for you. Lutris also integrates with your other Linux gaming platforms, like Steam, to keep your game library organized. With Lutris, you can access all of your games in one place. Lutris keeps separate configurations for each game, so it can manage multiple versions of WINE at once, using the ideal one for each game. Installing Lutris is fairly simple too. Ubuntu / Linux Mint Install the Lutris PPA. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lutris-team/lutris Update Apt, and install Lutris. sudo apt updatesudo apt install lutris Debian Add the Lutris repository configuration. echo "deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/strycore/Debian_9.0/ ./" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/lutris.list Then, import the Lutris signing key. wget -q https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/strycore/Debian_9.0/Release.key -O- | sudo apt-key add - Finally, update Apt, and install Lutris. sudo apt updatesudo apt install lutris Fedora Lutris is available in the default Fedora repositories. Install it with DNF. sudo dnf install lutris OpenSUSE OpenSUSE has Lutris in its repositories too. Install it normally. sudo zypper install lutris Arch Linux / Manjaro Arch also has Lutris in the main repository. sudo pacman -S lutris 04 of 05 Play On Linux What We Like Good gaming support. Install multiple versions of WINE simultaneously. Excellent community support. What We Don't Like Starting games in full screen mode can sometimes cause crashing. Error reporting is lacking. Similarly to Lutris, Play On Linux provides a graphical interface for WINE. Play On Linux came before Lutris, and it offers many of the same features. Play On Linux is more bare-bones and doesn't really include support for Linux native games. It does take a more general approach, so you may find better office application support here, even though it's probably not as good as something like Crossover. To install Play On Linux, run one of the following commands: Ubuntu / Debian / Mint sudo apt install playonlinux Fedora / CentOS sudo dnf install playonlinux openSUSE sudo zypper install playonlinux Arch / Manjaro sudo pacman -S playonlinux When you first run Play On Linux, a toolbar appears at the top with options to run, close, install, remove, or configure applications. You'll also see an installation option in the left panel. When you choose the install option, a list of categories appears as follows: AccessoriesDevelopmentEducationGamesGraphicsInternetMultimediaOfficeOtherPatches You can choose from a huge number of applications including development tools such as Dreamweaver, an assortment of retro classics such as Sensible World of Soccer, modern games such as Grand Theft Auto versions 3 and 4, the Half Life series, and more. The graphics section includes Adobe Photoshop and Fireworks, and you'll find browsers in the internet section. The office section is a bit hit and miss. Those apps may not work. Play On Linux requires you to have the setup files for the programs you are installing, although you can download some of the games from GOG.com. Software installed via Play On Linux is generally more likely to work than software installed with plain WINE. You also can install non-listed programs; however, the programs listed have been specifically configured to be installed and run using Play On Linux. 05 of 05 Crossover What We Like Streamlined setup makes it easier for Linux newcomers to use Windows programs. Reliable 24/7 customer support with premium plan. What We Don't Like Applications take up more space on your hard disk due to how it handles containers. Free trial is limited to 14 days. Crossover is the only item on this list that isn't free. It's actually a commercial product based on WINE. Installers are available for Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, and Red Hat. When you first run Crossover, you are presented with a blank screen with an Install Windows Software button at the bottom. If you click on the button, a new window appears with the following options: Select applicationSelect installerSelect bottle A bottle in Crossover is like a container that is used to install and configure each Windows application. When you choose Select application, you'll see a search bar from which you can search for the program you wish to install by typing a description. You also can choose to browse the list of applications. A list of categories will appear, and as with Play On Linux, you can choose from a wide array of packages. When you choose to install an application, a new bottle suitable for that application will be created, and you will be asked to provide the installer or setup.exe. Why use Crossover when Play On Linux is free? Some programs work only with Crossover and not Play On Linux. If you desperately need that program, then this is one option. While WINE is a great tool and the other options listed provide extra value for WINE, some programs may not work properly, and some may not work at all. Other options include creating a Windows virtual machine or dual-booting Windows and Linux.