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Vintage Year For New WINE?

One of the large issues confronting organizations adoption of Linux is the availability of their WIN32 applications.

With that in mind, Wine, a popular open source project, has released its latest version (snapshot), which builds on the process of making it easier to run WIN32 application under Linux variants known as *nix.

The latest release includes numerous incremental improvements as well as bug fixes that further improve the usability and stability of Wine.

Wine, which is short for the acronym Wine Is Not a (CPU) Emulator, does not require a user to run Microsoft Windows and is based on Microsoft-free code.

"We really want to move to a more normal release cycle, but it's hard to break the habit of years," Mike Hearn, Wine contributor, told internetnews.com.

Hearn noted that interest in the project has picked up in the last year, as measured by the amount of patches submitted.

The Wine project is heavily backed at present by CodeWeavers (www.codeweavers.com), which offers the popular CrossOver application that, among other things, allows MS-Office to run with Linux minus Microsoft OS license costs.

"CrossOver is a customized version of Wine tailored to running certain apps well, mixed with a bit of proprietary software to do things like provide the office setup GUI, the menu integration and so on," Hearn told internetnews.com. "The core, the part based on wine, is of course open source and they contribute nearly everything back to winehq."

The Wine project was originally begun in 1993 as a way of running Windows 3.1 programs with Linux. It has since moved on to support WIN32 applications on a number of Linux, or *nix, variants. Despite the years in the project so far, it's still considered to be in "Alpha" status, though it's been a part of virtually every major Linux distribution for years.

The Wine project is licensed under the Lesser GPL (LGPL), which requires developers to make changes available, but does not require developers to open source the application if it uses that library.

Hearn said Wine "is intended to allow for easy porting of Windows software to Linux, which is often proprietary. So using the LGPL makes sense."

He said although parts of CrossOver based on Wine are covered under the LGPL, the proprietary parts are not. In addition, he cautions that Wine is not for building new open source WIN32 applications.

"We do not recommend usage of wine or win32 for developing new applications, for that matter, neither does Microsoft," he said. "Wine is only for backwards compatibility."

The Wine project is involved with freedesktop.org, a venue that also has contact with GNOME and KDE developers to ensure that Win32 compatibility is present at every level of the desktop system.

"We have worked with not only the KDE/GNOME guys, but also the kernel team in the past. Now X has forked and is a bit easier to work with, it's possible we'll be developing new X extensions to meet our needs in future too," Hearn said.