Wine packages, universe maintainence, and myself

Scott Ritchie scott at
Sat Jan 29 19:49:01 CST 2005


I met some of you on IRC the other night. I am currently the Debian and
Ubuntu packager for the Wine project. The "official" Debian maintainer
hasn't been updating the packages and refuses to turn them over to me,
so we've setup our own apt repository at The packages have
been tested a lot, and are also in the Ubuntu backports project working
fine. I was wondering what it would take to make them the ones that sit
on Ubuntu's repository, rather than the (very old) Debian unstable ones,
and from what I heard on IRC it seems like this is a rather doable thing
for Ubuntu as we don't have to worry about Debian politics so much.  

Hence, I am writing this email.  I'd be willing to maintain the Wine
packages for Ubuntu, as well as related ones such as winetools.  There's
other work for me to do as well, but I suppose the first step is to
coordinate things in here and make this happen.

There's quite a bit on my todo list for the moment
-Documentation is a seemingly never-ending task, both for man pages and
packaging guidelines and such.
-The Wine documentation also needs to be moved into the right places.  I
was recently given a very helpful tip on IRC about making Wine's User
Guide work with standard help interfaces, and I'll be
committing the patch upstream shortly.
-Tweaking the wine package to get it a bit more right is also important.
I've got a bunch of little changes I need to make for the next release
written up on my penboard at the moment.  Hopefully soon I can start
erasing them.
-Updating the Wine User Guide itself.  I've already got chapter 1, the
introduction, finished.  Obviously, this is a good thing to do.
-Updating the Wine web site to make things easier (example is this page: ).  That site may undergo a
slight redesign in the future too.
-I've got a special project I've been trying for a while involving
porting Miranda Instant Messenger with Winelib.  In theory, I could
convert it into an Ubuntu package that runs on all arches with the Wine
package installed, even though Miranda is a windows program.  If this
becomes easy it represents an amazingly huge step in application
compatibility - it won't be long before we start seeing other OSS apps
like DC++ or FileZilla coming into Ubuntu packages.  Writing a howto
guide for this based on my experience is part of this goal.
-The Winelib documentation needs updating as well.  I plan on using my
experience trying to port Miranda IM to help it out.
-Winetools, a useful program for running Wine, also needs packaging.
I've got it almost finished at this point, although I need some help
with some issues I've been having.  More on this in IRC.

As for the Wine package itself, the current versions of the Wine and
Winetools packages are in my webspace, here:
deb binary/ 
deb-src source/ 

The Wine package at first glance seems a bit different from some Debian
standards, for various reasons.

First off, even though Wine has some seemingly shared libraries, I
haven't split them off.  This is because only wine binaries can really
use them, and they need the latest version anyway.  Both windows apps
called with Wine and winelib apps still need to be handled by the same
wineserver (in case they message eachother, amid other reasons), and so
they are both completely dependent on the Wine binaries anyway.
Furthermore, since it's the same wineserver coordinating everything on a
system, it needs to have the same library in use - since it's basically
impossible to get use out of more than one in a system, it
makes little sense to support this.

Secondly, Wine, not being an emulator, has some rather important
differences between architectures.  Wine really does need 3 different
packages for the 3 different Ubuntu arches, as they each have some
challenges.  The i386 one is the simplest, and is basically standard
Wine.  The PPC arch can only run winelib apps, so it may need some
trimming down and added documentation to prevent confusion.  The 64 bit
version of Wine represents the most interesting challenge, as Wine will
still need the old 32 bit libraries to run 32 bit Windows applications.
According to forum posts I've read, Wine packages not currently doing
this easily is actually a blocker for some users in switching to 64 bit

Wine has some rather unique things which make it harder to maintain.
-Arch issues, like mentioned above
-PAX issues will inevitably come up again. This was an issue that came
up before, although with Ubuntu using the latest Wine it will certainly
be an easier one to tackle.
-Until Wine hits a stable release, which seems to be perpetually six
months away, Wine is updated monthly.  This means an old and possibly
unstable version of Wine will perpetually end up in Universe, unless we
backport it.  This may or may not be a problem from the User's
perspective. Either way, I'll make the latest available at
Clearly the best long term solution is to move to a more stable Wine
release - I've been doing my part to help clear our 0.9 blocker bugs
like the lack of documentation, but I can't do much for core Wine
development other than cheer on my compatriots.

We may want to have an entirely new applications menu for Wine.  I
envision having Wine installed and then having it create a new folder
Applications->Wine, which will contain the Winecfg program labeled
"Configure Wine" as well as a near empty start menu with Wine's shipped
winelib Notepad program.  When other windows programs get installed,
they can be put in the Wine start menu there.

The PPC arch may have no real need of start menu, though.  We can run
winelib apps on ppc, such as the hypothetical Miranda-IM package, but it
might make sense to put that somewhere other than Wine's start menu
(such as Applications->Internet)  In fact, we may want to have packaged
winelib apps specifically not go in the Wine folder for all arches, even
arches that support a Wine start menu.

I guess I should make a page for myself on the Ubuntu wiki.  I'll likely
put a huge todo list for myself up there as well, if for no other reason
than to remind me of what I still want to do.

I really like what's going on with Ubuntu.

Most encouraging are emails I get like the following:
Dear Scott,

I am using your wine packages from:

deb binary/
deb-src source/

and it's just great! Thank you!

It would be way cool if your packages could be the official Debian ones.
I sincerely hope that some solution can be found, so that it can happen.

Best regards,

I also had a man message me on AIM thanking me profusely for the Wine
packages.  Apparently he had won several hundred dollars using a Windows
poker program via Wine.  The ability of Wine to put usable icons on the
desktop really impresses users, and I really look forward to the day
when we can have a usable start menu too.

Anyway, I'd appreciate feedback and thoughts about this, as well as help
with my package.  Meet me in IRC, I'm YokoZar.

Scott Ritchie

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