"The Linux Gazette...making Linux just a little more fun!"

(?) The Answer Guy (!)

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
LinuxCare, http://www.linuxcare.com/

(?) Running Win '95 Apps under Linux

From Jason Holbrook on Mon, 19 Jul 1999

Hello Jim,

I like the look of your web site. Very unique. Well to the point. I know you guys make money on consulting so, I will ask you to help me later when I get ready to setup. But for now, I am curious about the Windows 95 programs and the operating system Linux (preferbly RedHat Linux 5.1) I was wondering if it was possible with a emulator or to edit the kernel to run some Windows 95 programs in Linux or to run Windows 95 as a shell? Any references or books you could refer me to, I would appreciate it.

(!) I'm guessing that you've come across my website at http://www.starshine.org. Actually I do very little work on that these days. I spend far more time providing content to the Linux Gazette (http://www.linuxgazette.net) where I do the "Answer Guy" column. (No, I didn't pick the name. Yes, your question and my answer are being posted there).

[ I'm the one who did the new styling for the starshine.org site. This seems very appropriate since it's the home site for my consulting business. It's my belief that every company should have something that's a little unique about their site. Everyone's welcome to come take a look at mine :) -- Heather ]

I answer general technical support questions (such as this one) via e-mail and netnews. Some of them I cross-post to my editors at LG, who gather them up, run them through a custom mail2HTML filter (written by my wife, Heather), and with a few manual touchups, post them to the web where they can get indexed by Alta-vista, Yahoo!, Deja News, and all the rest. LG is also widely mirrored and seems to get translated into a few other languages (since I occasionally see parts of my own writing popping up in various languages that I don't speak).

[ Translations listed on the mirror sites page: French, Chinese, Italian, Russian. I seem to remember something about Hungarian too, but I could be mistaken. -- Mike Orr ]

Officially the Linux Gazette is part of the Linux Documentation Project (LDP: http://sunsite.unc.edu/LDP) and is released under a variant of the GPL (the GNU Public License) --- in basically the same was as the Linux Kernel and all of the GNU software which is used to build it and the GNU software which runs under it.
In answer to your question:
In my past columns I've answered similar questions several times. All of the back issues are available online so you could check out:
Issue #17
Brief mention of WINE and suggestion to just access your Unix/Linux systems from a "real Windows" system over telnet. Back then I didn't know about MI/X (http://www.microimages.com/freestuf/mix/index.htm) a free X server for Windows and Mac platforms from Microimages; and I didn't feel like mentioning the multitude of commercial X servers for Windows.
Issue #24
Clarified and allayed someones concerns about running WABI on Linux distributions other than Caldera; mentioned WINE, DOSEMU and others.
Issue #29
List of five alternatives for access MS mail from Linux).
Issue #32
Open letter to Insignia Solutions suggesting that they port SoftWindows to Linux, written to them when they sent me a postcard touting their ports to various non-x86 Unix platforms. With their response and a link to a "survey" and (potential) customer comment form.
However, there are better sources of information on the web, written by people who are actually involved in some of these efforts. So far the best collection of links that I've seen that related to running Windows software under Linux and other forms of Unix is at the WINE Headquarters (http://www.winehq.com) under their listing of "Other Related Projects" (http://www.winehq.com/others.html).
A particularly promising package which was only released fairly recently is VMWare. This seems to reliably run Win '9x, NT and even Linux from within a virtual machine. More info at: http://www.vmware.com
In issue 30 and again in 32 (above) mentioned the Microsoft WISE offering (http://www.microsoft.com/win32dev/base/wise.htm).
WISE is a cross-licensing deal to allow vendors to port Windows programs to RISC (non-x86) platforms. This is also noted, by name, on the WineHQ page.
The purpose of this is obvious. Legitimize the use of Windows products on "non-competing" versions of Unix (those for non PC hardware platforms) in an effort to curtail the groundswell of support for the PC Unix variants, particular the free Linux and Unix systems. Microsoft also seems to be releasing "Unix" versions of some of their products --- on a few *non-PC* platforms (particularly ironic since they still own a stake in SCO and they steadfastly refuse to support ports of their own products to that platform).
It's impossibly to address this situation from a purely technical point of view. The problems are political, and have very little to do with technology or even the finances of any particular product. Microsoft would make plenty of money if they sold MS Office for Linux. It would be far more profitable than any sales for AIX, HP-UX, or Solaris, simply because the size of the Linux market exceeds all of those combined (and we, as a whole aren't the cheapskates that many in the press like to portray). So, most of my thoughts on this subject are unabashedly political.

(?) Jason Holbrook
Holbrook Computer Systems (just started it :))
Elgin IL

(!) Good luck on the new venture. Are you considering offering pre-installed Linux systems through your business? Do you have a URL, yet? (If so, I'd suggest putting it in your .sig). I grew up in Chicago. However, I now live in the Silicon Valley (the computer nerd's "Mecca").

[ Drop me a line at consulting@starshine.org when you're ready to spin up your website, whatever your product happens to be. -- Heather ]

Copyright © 1999, James T. Dennis
Published in The Linux Gazette Issue 44 August 1999
HTML transformation by Heather Stern of Starshine Techinical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

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