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Posts Tagged ‘Wine’

While Ubuntu‘s new Unity interface has been designed for less clutter, and generally makes getting to common tasks a breeze, many have found navigating through the rest a bit of a nightmare. While everything is supposed to be more simplified, some would argue having all your launchers accessible via categories in the old Applications menu was actually simpler and quicker.

But you can actually have the best of both worlds, so if you’re avoiding Unity and using the Classic Desktop simply for access to the Applications and System (or Wine) menus, read ahead.

While you can’t actually add the old menu system to the Unity panel, since it is not gnome-panel that is running, there is actually an “indicator” available for Unity that will do the same thing. So while this new (or old?) menu won’t replace Unity‘s “Dash“, you will see an Ubuntu icon in your system tray’s notification area. Click that, and you will see the old familiar Applications menu, with all the categories you’re used to.

To install Classic Menu Indicator, enter the following commands in sequence in a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:diesch/testing

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install classicmenu-indicator

Once installed, hit Alt+F2 and enter classicmenu-indicator as the command to run.

Apart from easy access to all your launchers, you’ll find your old System menu is there too, split into the familiar Preferences and Administration sub-menus.

More importantly for many, you will also have your old Wine menu back for running Windows programs. Unity‘s Dash menu system does not currently show a Wine section, and finding those apps can be near-impossible, but classicmenu-indicator will rectify this.

If you find that this menu/indicator does not automatically run upon your next boot (which it should), simply add classicmenu-indicator to your Startup Applications, and it will be forced to load from then onwards (it should already be in there, so check it isn’t disabled).

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If you’ve ever installed any Windows programs in Ubuntu, you’d know Wine takes care of extracting the program’s icon (usually in the ancient .ico format) for use in Ubuntu. But, for whatever reason it may be, you may need to recreate those, but you don’t have the reinstall your programs just to do so.

In my case, copying over the entire .wine folder to a freshly-installed system gave me all my old Windows programs in perfect working order (gotta love Linux!), but the launchers no longer have the familiar icons. While I copied over a hidden folder with panel launchers, I’d have to do some digging in my old system to restore those icons to what they were, but probably a less time-consuming answer would be to just extract those icons, have them converted to .png, and put them somewhere safe for use with the associated program.

Another scenario for why you would want to extract icons is that the default icon for one of your programs is horridly pixellated, yet you know the .exe actually contains a bunch of higher resolution icons, and wish to change it to one of those, simply to make it look better.

Now, there are a bunch of apps available for this, mostly command-line solutions but a few little GUI apps as well, but the easiest to use is gExtractWinIcons. All you have to do is open a resource file (like an executable .exe or .dll library), pick a destination to save to, select the desired icon(s) for extraction, and click Save.

If the file contains a lot of images, click Deselect All, and manually mark those you want for extraction. Once you’re finished, move your icons somewhere safe, and assign them to your Wine programs’ launchers.

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Here is a Wine “error” that appears to be fairly new, and if you’ve been upgrading your system (and Wine along with it), you probably haven’t encountered it yet. However, if you’ve recently installed Ubuntu (10.04 – not sure if this affects any earlier versions), you would have noticed it won’t let you run any Windows .exe files:

Blocked: wine start /unix
The file ‘/home/user/Downloads/program_name.exe’ is not marked as executable. If this was downloaded or copied form an untrusted source, it may be dangerous to run. For more details, read about the executable bit.

If, like me, you decided to do a fresh install, but copied your old .wine folder over so all your Windows programs work as they had in the old system you’ve migrated from, you probably have no problems opening those previously installed, only new .exe files that Wine hasn’t dealt with before.

But this isn’t a bug or an error, just an overly-cautious default setting, and it is actually really easy to disable. Open a terminal and enter the following command:

gksu gedit /usr/share/applications/wine.desktop

Located the line Exec=cautious-launcher %f wine start /unix and change it to Exec=wine start /unix %f

Save and exit the file, and Wine will now behave as you want when it comes across new Windows programs.

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If you prefer to leave this cautious setting as the default, you can always exclude individual Windows programs or, rather, bypass this security measure for individual .exe files. Simply right-click the .exe file in question, select Properties, and in the Permissions tab check “Allow executing file as program“. Click Close and that particular .exe will open as normal when you double-click it.

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Wine is what most look upon as a Windows emulator, though the developers prefer Windows compatibility layer. And that’s for a good reason, as Wine is a lot more seamless than you would expect of an emulator. And this isn’t virtualisation, where you run a Windows “virtual machine” inside Ubuntu, in effect running two operating systems at once. Wine makes it possible to run many Windows programs as though they were “native”, meaning just like any other Linux programs in Ubuntu.

While the programs will look as they do in Windows, they’ll be themed by Ubuntu (the window borders and titlebars), including desktop effects like window wobble. Like I said, they’ll pretty much be like any other Ubuntu programs, but might take a few seconds longer to load than in Windows.

Wine sets up a fake C: drive within its own folder, but you can browse through your entire system when importing or saving files in your Windows apps. You can even configure Wine to assign drive letters to commonly-used folders in your home folder, thereby making it simple to browse to them when opening or saving files.

Wine is easily installed via Synaptic, but you will need to enable “universe” and “multiverse” repos first.

Visit WineHQ for more general info, or check out the database of Wine programs (the list of popular games that run in Ubuntu is quite impressive). For those who want the latest available beta packages, you can find detailed info on how to add the WineHQ APT Repository for different versions of Ubuntu.

And remember: if you are having problems getting a certain program to run, or run without errors, join WineHQ and submit a bug report. It can be well worth the effort, as I have had Wine updates come out two days later with the fix I needed for programs like DVD Shrink.

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Did this information make your day? Did it rescue you from hours of headache? Then please consider making a donation via PayPal, to buy me a donut, beer, or some fish’n’chips for my time and effort! Many thanks!

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