Elementary OS: Windows Apps with Play on Linux

One of the major issues when using Linux is that you would like to use Software that was written for Windows. Thankfully more and more new Software is cross-platform compatible. However especially older Software and most newer Games will not support Linux.

If you are dependent on using Windows Software then you have several options available. Dual-Boot Windows and Linux, use a Virtual Machine (like VirtualBox or try  WineHQ

Wine essentially translates the Windows Commands to Linux Commands at run-time. Eliminating the penalty of using a virtual machine. The downside of Wine is, that not all new programs run properly. However, it seems games that were written for Windows XP work better with Wine than with Windows 10.

The last time I was playing with Linux I found it very difficult to configure and find packages. You need wine, wine-tricks, then install some other windows package into wine etc.  This time I found another project Play on Linux that provides an easy to use GUI with quick Installers for many different programs.

The other thing which makes “Play on Linux” great, is that it can create multiple virtual drives, for your various programs. So you can use different versions of Wine, or configure the different drives to emulate a different version of Windows, use different components etc.

Install Play on Linux

wget -q "http://deb.playonlinux.com/public.gpg" -O- | sudo apt-key add -
sudo wget http://deb.playonlinux.com/playonlinux_trusty.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/playonlinux.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install playonlinux

Battle.net games

Play on Linux shines the most when it already provides an installer that automatically configures Wine correctly to install all components that the program simply runs without any additional work.

You just locate Hearthstone, Diablo or Starcraft from the list and press install and the program will work without any issues.

Windows Steam Games

Step 1#

Install Windows Steam. Play on Linux provides easy installers for Steam, simply search for steam in the installer menu and press install.

Step 2

You will have to look up in the Wine AppDB if your game is supported by Wine.

If it is supported you then can log into steam and install games from your library just like in windows.

Step 3

Usually, you will need to install some sort of additional windows package to get the program running.

In my case, I wanted to install Tron 2.0, in the documentation for the program. Something like needs “winetricks directmusic” was mentioned.

To install “directmusic” you need to select Steam and click on Configure. Then switch to the Install components Tab and then select the component from the list and press install.

In some cases, like with my Tron 2.0 example, this is not enough and you have to google some more to find some helpful [article] (http://www.gamersonlinux.com/forum/threads/tron-2-0-guide.628/) that then tells you to install additional components  and not to use the Windows XP emulation but the Windows 7 emulation.

Custom Installers

Of course, you may have your own Programs, you can simply click on “Install non-listed program” navigate to the installation files and install your program.

Access to Files

Play on Linux installs a handy shortcut into your home directory so that you can easily access the various virtual hard drives of the Play on Linux instances, if you have the need to copy&modify files.

Conclusion

While Wine is not perfect and not everything runs smoothly and out of the box like when using Windows directly. It is worth fiddling around with Wine/Play on Linux to not have to dual boot or get a VM running.

EdX: Introduction to Linux

I recently completed the course “Introduction to Linux” by the Linux Foundation on the edX platform. Instead of paying 2500USD for the course you now can pay 250USD for a verified certificate, or simply get an honor certificate.

https://www.edx.org/course/linuxfoundationx/linuxfoundationx-lfs101x-introduction-1621#.U-YKjfmSyyY

Course Structure

The course is self-paced, you can take the exam any time and at the end of the month, the certificate is going to be issued.

Course Materials

Unlike other edX courses, most of the materials are short articles covering the core topics. There are short videos, however, they are mostly useless.

Learning Objectives

Sadly the first couple of Lessons are more like Advertisements that Linux is great and that Linux is used everywhere and being able to use Linux is an important skill. The rest of the course covers the basic operations when interacting with a Linux system. The course briefly takes a look at the graphical interfaces of three major Linux distributions Ubuntu, CentOS and openSUSE. As expected most of the course covers how to interact with the Console covers the basic interaction with the console, file operations, security principles, text manipulation and concluding with bash scripting.

Final Exam

The final exam is a 30 question multiple choice test. Sadly some questions are easier to be answered using Google than the actual course material. People with a basic understanding of Linux could just skip the entire course and just take the exam. It’s rather straightforward.

Conclusion

The course is a great introduction to the Linux System. The course is designed for IT-Specialists (Programmers, Web-Developers, and Administrators etc.) that have not worked with Linux and need a quick introduction how to work with the system. Sadly with the emphasis on using the console most users interested in using Linux as an alternative to Windows/OSX will simply say “Oh god, what a hassle, I’ll stick to my current system.” Once again Linux does not realize that GUIs have been invented to solve an issue where most people find it confusing when they do not see what they are doing. Most users interacting with a computer are not aware that it is possible to interact with a computer without GUI, telling those users that sometimes you simply do not have a GUI confuses them. Most of the success of Linux as the core of Android is the GUI and that users have a simple way installing programs and are not able to access any console/text only mode. Once again the core of Linux is great, however, the presentation and usability are that what is lacking.