Wine (Probably) Made Me Lose Money

Years ago, Windows was notorious for being buggy. Linux users prided themselves on having a “better” operating system. The truth is that while Linux is better, it is not perfect. Unfortunately, that’s something we often forget. (Specially you fanboys!)

I re-learned that the hard way again this week. Where to begin? I’m working on a project for my job that involves writing in Microsoft Word. Naturally, I said, “No problem.” I figured that I’ll just run Word in Wine. (Wine is a program that allows you to run Windows programs in Linux.)

Unfortunately, The first problem I encountered was speed. Wine runs Word 2007 too slow on my EEE PC (netbook) and Celeron D—even with 2 gigs of memory each. Even Word 2003, which runs fine on the same computers running Windows was too slow. As much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t be as productive with Wine.

The second problem was MathType. It’s software that allows you to write math expressions in Word documents. If I’m not mistaken, in high school education (the field I work in), it is the de facto standard. Unfortunately, MathType doesn’t play well with the latest version of wine—while the program loads and installs just fine, it doesn’t run in Word (it’s a bug in the latest implementation of Microsoft VBA in Wine).

To add insult to injury, Word 2007 under Wine destroyed three files. I suspect that the problem lies in the file size and content—they are each about 6 megs with lots of pictures (binary data). Something about that combination—large size and tons of binary data—made “something” go haywire. As these files have always worked in Windows (running the same version of Word) and continue to work just fine in Windows, the culprit is likely to be Wine. For this project, I’m “under the gun,” every minute counts. The lost work was just unacceptable.

Why not use open source equivalents? The simple answer is that for this particular project, Microsoft Word/MathType is the work flow my company uses, so I have to adapt, not the other way around. Although in the future, I just might try to get the higher ups to switch.

In the mean time, I won’t be using Wine as the main tool for production environments. I upgraded the Celeron D to a Pentium 4, and installed Windows XP in a Virtual Machine. It runs OK and more importantly, I haven’t lost any work.


3 thoughts on “Wine (Probably) Made Me Lose Money

  1. I use Ubuntu as my main OS and have Office 2007 installed under Wine. I also use Virtualbox with WinXP and also have Office installed there. My experience is similar – far too slow under Wine, but works fine in the VB.

  2. So… The Linux is not perfect (what we all often forget). That is an undeniable fact. There are many obvious things to confirm it. I can’t come up with even a single one right now, though, but I’m sure there are many (do I qualify as fanboy?).
    But the example you are giving is certainly not one of them.
    Wine isn’t a mandatory part of Linux-based OS, and any Linux-based OS is unlikely to claim perfect Windows compatibility. Wine itself doesn’t claim that.
    You see, you were using something to do things it’s not even supposed to do (run Windows programs on Linux OS). And it /worked/. That alone is a miracle already.
    It didn’t work perfectly – well, you obviously can’t call that a flaw if it wasn’t supposed to work /at/all/.
    You need work done in MSOffice? Use Windows. Or OS X. Or whatever OS it is officially guaranteed to work on and supported on.
    Wanna use Linux? Well, you obviously know your risks then and won’t claim that Linux is flawed because it does not allow you to perfectly do something you’re /not supposed to do in the first place/.
    That’s like complaining that fishing rod remade into a gun doesn’t fire as accurately as a sniper rifle.
    Try to fish with sniper rifle maybe.
    P.S. Yeh, I know it’s a 3-something-year-old article.

    1. Yea you’re right. It’s been a very long time.

      The complaints from the article are basically moot now. Computing power is now so cheap that you can buy a linux desktop powerful enough to run VirtualBox (or equivalent) and run (real) Windows when you need it.

      By the way, by “Linux” I had meant “Linux Desktop”, and that’s a whole different ballgame. Back then, the hype with the Linux Desktop was that it’s an alternative to the Windows desktop (and it probably still is but I don’t know). In order for that to be true, you should be able to whatever you can do in Windows in Linux. Unfortunately, that’s just propaganda—while true for everyday users (email, internet, video, etc), it’s usually false in niche fields, like editing, which was the whole point of the article.

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