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.