Countering arguments against Wine

Holly Bostick motub at
Sat Oct 30 09:32:02 CDT 2004

Dan Kegel wrote:
> I've run into people several times who dislike the
> fact that I advocate or even work on the Wine project,
> because they feel that it takes focus away from
> working on the Linux desktop.  I beg to differ, but
> I've never had a really snappy comeback for them.
> It happened again today, and this time it occurred
> to me I should write a page on the topic to organize
> my thoughts.  Here it is:
> Comments welcome.
> Thanks,
> Dan

Dan, first of all, thanks for writing that dowm. I agree with what you 
say, until you reach the "But doesn't Wine take away the incentive for 
native ports?" section.

I actually appreciate this reason, as it clarifies a 'feeling' that I've 
been unable to clearly express about this issue:

    2. once Linux's market share is above 20%, there will be a strong 
economic incentive to do native Linux ports anyway, because running a 
Windows app under Linux will always feel strange.

But I wonder if this is in fact true.

I am a pure Linux user; I began my migration a year and a half ago, 
moving from a dual-boot, to a multi-boot (2 versions of Windows and 5 
distributions of Linux on one system), and finally ditched all alternate 
boots except the Linux a few months ago.

So I'm not all that far from the migration mindset, since I used Windows 
for over 10 years, but as a pure Linux user, I'm not all that close to 
it anymore, either.

I've got Wine running, and installed several programs I was familiar 
with under Windows, mostly to perform tasks that I couldn't figure out 
how to do under Linux, but which I either knew how to perform using 
Windows apps, or could find HOW-TOs for that specified Windows apps. I 
find that it doesn't necessarily "feel strange" or at least as strange 
as I might have imagined. What mostly feels strange is the complications 
of getting the program started in the first place (having to cd to the 
application folder to run wine <program_name> from a terminal, or having 
to write a little start script in order to make a panel shortcut to it).

Once the program is running, though, it doesn't "feel" strange at all; 
after all, the reason I'm running it is most likely because I'm familiar 
with it. This of course, assumes that the program in question runs well 
under Wine, which we will assume for the sake of this discussion, if you 
don't mind ;-) .

I have admittedly found that it's ultimately "easier" (for me) to 
re-encode a video with transcode and mplex than it is to do so using 
TMPGEnc under Wine, which was a surprise given that I know squat about 
re-encoding video (I know somewhat more, now, though). I also found that 
    given a choice between equivalent Linux native programs and Windows 
programs under Wine (Aisle Riot and Pretty Good Solitaire), I'll often 
choose the Linux native program simply because it's easier to *start* 
(not because I prefer it, per se).

Maybe that's what you (and I) mean by "feeling strange", but since I'm 
not sure what causes this feeling, I am not certain that migrating XP 
users, who are used to and have no complaints with XP functionality but 
rather are migrating because they don't like the Windows security model 
(or lack therof)-- meaning, for practical reasons such as increasing 
cost for less value, rather than philosophical ones such as a deep 
objection to Windows' design philosophy or business practices-- would 
feel the same way after switching to Linux.

All of those "a computer is just a tool" people who find it more strange 
and painful to use the command-line, or get confused if they have to 
read --help output or a man page "just to get something done" may well 
find that their relief at having these familiar tools available swamps 
any "strange" feelings of (guilt,irritation?) that they may (or may not) 
experience when running Windows programs under Linux.

After all, you'll only have those feelings if you *care*-- and many, 
many users don't.

If I come up with a "better" reason #2, I'll let you know ;-) .


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