The PhoneBoy Blog

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Win4Lin Part 2

I would love to be able to use Wine for everything. Crossover Office does a pretty good job for Microsoft Office apps, but I’ve got a couple of pesky apps that will either not run in Wine, or not operate well enough in it to be completely usable. Since one of the apps is a CRM app that is basically deprecated, I don’t expect Wine to properly support it before we get rid of it entirely.

I have Win4Lin working well enough within my work Linux box that I purchased a copy of Win4Lin for work. It basically allows me to run almost every application I need to run on a regular basis and utilize my existing VPN connection — two different OSes using the same VPN connection on the same machine, how about that :) . There is one application I cannot run because it relies on what is essentially ssh port forwarding. The good news is that one app is run very infrequently and can be easily run on a terminal server.

Win4Lin actually has a couple of different networking modes: VNET, which gives the system a “virtual” network adapter in the sense that it can ask for a unique IP via DHCP, and Winsock, which is an interface used by many programs that make use of TCP/IP on Windows. The Winsock calls are handled in a manner that make all requests appear to come from the Linux host. It safely permits outbound access for many applications and does not appear to allow any application to “listen” on a local port, so it’s also more secure. However, the Winsock method is less compatible, so some applications won’t work correctly. All the apps I need work just fine, so it’s not an issue for me. The fact that the Winsock method leverages my existing VPN connection was an unexpected bonus.

I never thought I’d be actually running Windows 98 Second Edition again myself, as I consider Windows 2000 to be a much more stable OS, but under Win4Lin, it’s getting the job done just fine. If Windows 98 starts acting up, the three-fingered salute is a much less painful process. Hopefully I won’t have to delete and re-install Windows for a while–something I did under Windows 2000 more than once–but even if I do, the process is much less painful now.

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