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The importance of the WINE project
A guest column by Roland (Jan. 22, 2002)

In this guest column, a reader makes the case that the WINE Project offers one of the most effective means available to expand the use of Linux as a replacement for MS Windows on the desktop. The author recommends that individuals and companies who want Linux to succeed on the desktop ought to make supporting the WINE Project a high priority, and suggests some companies to contact. This article originated as a "letter to the editor" to It is being published here as a "guest column" with permission of the writer . . .

The importance of the WINE project

I'm sure you guys at are well aware of the WINE project. To put it short it is a Windows emulation that runs on Linux. Once WINE is complete, any MS-Windows program will be able to run on Linux. The point is, I think not enough effort is put into this project. That's why I'm mailing you. My hope is that I can convince you and others of the importance of this project in order to speed it up a lot.

First of all, I want to make clear why I think that this project is so important: I think nothing will increase the value and popularity of Linux as much, as being able to run all MS-win apps. This is because for many people the main reason for not changing OS, is that Linux still doesn't run the specific apps that those people need. So the answer is WINE. One Idea would be to spread the word among Linux user groups all over the world, in the hope to find more volunteers for WINE. Another idea would be to reach big corporations like IBM, that has a 1 billion dollar commitment to Linux. If IBM would invest 10 Million of that billion on WINE, I'm sure that we could have a significant speed up of development.

I know you know about Lindows. Many think that they have just put together a Linux system with a better WINE to make their OS. If they succeed it is possible that they will soon be the biggest Linux distributor on the world. So investing in WINE should also be in the interest of ALL Linux distributors like Red Hat, Mandrake, etc. Remember that WINE is NOT GPLed, but rather is under a BSD-style license. That means that any company can take the sources, make a better product out of it, and sell it. That's probably what Lindows is doing.

Some people will complain that we should invest in native Linux apps, instead of an emulator. My counter to them is that, in the long run, this is what will happen: if WINE runs, Linux will be widely adopted. Once Linux has a big market share, a lot of companies will start producing native Linux apps also. In other words, the number of apps is more a function of market share than anything else. If we increase the market share, more apps for Linux will be written. Hoping for the apps to be here first in order to increase market share is wishful thinking.

What do you think about my points? I would like to hear your honest feedback. Who else do you think that I should contact, although I'm sure that there are others probably more qualified than me to do that. Do you know anyone at IBM, SUN, etc., who could help convince their companies to invest on Linux? I have already emailed Scott Handy at IBM, he is one of the big Linux guys there. But so far he has not answered my email.

Talk back! Do you have comments or questions on this article? talkback here

About the author: Roland works as a programmer in Brazil for a small company which uses Linux mainly as a desktop OS for development. The company's servers are currently running OpenBSD or FreeBSD, but may be moved to Linux in the near future. Unfortunately they still have to keep some machines running MS Windows because some very specialized apps they require that don't exist for Linux. Roland's says he is interested to see Linux succeed for three main reasons: (1) it is free; (2) it is the only way he knows to break the current Microsoft monopoly; (3) he likes it.

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