Modern Software Experience

2008-12-27

Wine

Open Source

Wine is the name of an open source project to run Windows applications on UNIX-like systems. Originally, WINE was a recursive acronym for WINE is Not an Emulator, but today, it is just a name.

Windows on UNIX

Wine is a compatibility layer that allows running Windows programs on UNIX-derived systems such as FreeBSD, Solaris and Mac OS X.
Official builds for various Linux flavours are hosted by SourceForge. The WineHQ download pages has a few more. Between them they provide builds for CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, Red Hat, Slackware, SUSE and Ubuntu.

commercial

The CodeWeavers CrossOver product that many MacOS users are familiar with is based on Wine. The Bordeaux product for Linux is a graphical front-end to Wine. Both companies support the development of Wine.

1.0

Wine has been in development for some 15 years, but it was only last year, on 2008 Jun 17, that the developers released Wine version 1.0.

Wine application database

Not all applications run as well on Wine as others. In the early days, that was mostly because Wine was not ready. Today, it is mostly because the programs do things they should be doing.
A Windows application that follows all the Windows rules and guidelines should be fine, but such applications are rare. Many applications use a dirty trick or two.

The Wine project maintains the Wine application database (AppDB), that provides compatibility details for many popular applications. This database is filled by Wine users. Anyone can sign up to add applications to the database or leave their rating.

Application compatibility is rated as Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum. The only rating below Bronze is Garbage.
The Wine application database home pages features a Platinum, Gold and Silver top-ten list. The Wine Wiki explains the ratings as follows:

  • Platinum. (Software will install and run without requiring any extra steps tricks or workarounds)
  • Gold (Working in all aspects)
  • Silver (Working well)
  • Bronze (Mostly Usable)
  • Garbage (It don’t fly too well)

Whether a rating applies to the application or to Wine may be up for discussion, but most users will only want to run applications that rate Gold or Platinum.

genealogy software

There is no separate genealogy category, but there is a search box on the Wine AppDB home page. I used that to create the following table of genealogy applications and their current Wine AppDB ratings. Direct links to the individual AppDB pages have been collected in the links section.

AppDB ratings

applicationWine AppDB rating
Agelong Tree 3.1.1Platinum
Ahnenblatt 2.5.1Platinum
Aldfaer 3.4.1Garbage
Aldfaer 3.5.3Bronze
Ancestral Quest 11Gold
Ancestral Quest 12.1Silver
Ancestry Family Tree 9Silver
Brother’s Keeper 6.2.4Gold
Brother’s Keeper 6.2.79Bronze
Custodian 3Garbage
Family Origins 9.2Silver
Family Tree Builder 2.0.0.676Silver
Family Tree Maker 4.0Garbage
Family Tree Maker 2005 SP1Silver 
Family Tree Maker 2006 (13)Silver 
Family Tree Maker 2009Garbage
Family Tree SuperTools 2.0Bronze
GedStar Pro 3.2Garbage
Genbox 3.7.1Silver
Genline Family Finder 2.4.4aGold
GenoPro 2.xBronze
GensDataPro 2.6Garbage
GenSmarts 2.1.1.43Silver
Heredis 9.1Gold
Heredis 10.1Silver
Legacy Family Tree 5.0Bronze
Legacy Family Tree 6.0Garbage
Legacy Family Tree 7.0Garbage
OnThisDay 2.1 Build 1Gold
PathWiz 7.10Garbage
PathWiz 8.0Garbage
Personal Ancestral File 4Platinum
Personal Ancestral File 5Platinum
RootsMagic 3.2.2Silver
RootsMagic 3.2.5Platinum
Second Site 2.1 Build 10Bronze
The Master Genealogist 4.0Garbage
The Master Genealogist 5.15Silver
The Master Genealogist 6.12Silver
The Master Genealogist 7.03Silver
TMG Utility 3.8 Build 1Bronze
TMG 7.0 Build 0Garbage

beyond the ratings

The ratings tells you something already, but there is often additional information in the comments. For example, the Family Tree Maker 2009 entry does not just tell you that its Wine compatibility is garbage, it also tells you why it received that rating; there is a comment that notes that it only installs, but does not run.

You have to wonder how reliable the ratings are when RootsMagic 3.2.5 is rated Platinum, although there are several comments about RootsMagic crashing. Surely a program that crashes should not be rated Platinum?

On a similar note, that Brother’s Keeper version 6.2.79 rates Bronze while version 6.2.4 rates Gold does not seem to be because it the program deteriorated, but only because the later test was done by a more critical user.

completeness

A lot of programs are rated by only one or two users, and many programs are not listed at all. Some of the programs that are not listed yet are relatively new ones like Behold, Cognatio and ohmiGene, but even older ones like Family Historian and WinFamily are missing from the database.

advantage

The Wine AppDB makes it easy for the average user to find applications that work fine, or find instructions to install it just right.
The Wine AppDB documents practical issues trying to run Windows program on Wine, and as such is a great resource for the Wine development team.
But if you leave feedback, you are not just leaving it for them. You are also, and foremost, leaving it for the application vendor.

Application vendors can use the database to learn about the real-world problems users encounter trying to run their applications on Wine, and then use that information to improve the applications. Such improvements are of direct benefit to Wine users, but not without benefit for Windows users. As a general rule, if it runs fine on Wine, it runs great on Windows.

resolve

At least one genealogy software vendor is working to improve its Wine AppDB ratings. I came across a TMG forum thread in which a TMG programmer worked with a Wine user to resolve TMG issues.

That thread shows that Wholly Genes worked on its AppDB rating when a Wine user and prospective customer asked to resolve an issue, but vendors should work to improve their rating before users ask.

Vendors that work to resolve poor Wine AppDB ratings may well pick a few more users - on both Wine and Windows. Wine users will have more choice and Windows users will enjoy stabler applications.

updates

2008-12-28 genealogy category

WinHQ has adopted my suggestion for separate genealogy category.

2009-02-02 Wine Honour Roll

There now is a Wine Honour Roll for applications that officially support the Wine platform. There is one genealogy app on there: GenoPro 2.0.0.5.

2011-04-23 Linux.org

The linux.org domain seems to have disappeared early in February of 2011. The broken link has been removed.

links

Wine

third-party

Unix-like systems

Linux flavours

Wine AppDB

category

individual applications

GenoPro wine support

GenoPro newsletter 2007-05: GenoPro compatible with Wine (Linux and Mac)

TMG forum thread