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How Can Linux Mint Run Windows Apps?..

Posted By: Az4x4

How Can Linux Mint Run Windows Apps?.. - 05/21/20 03:37 PM


A local Windows 7 user asked about upgrading his laptop to Linux Mint, while wondering out loud if running certain Windows programs in Mint is possible, which he'd heard it was.

"Yes, using WINE you can run Windows apps right on the Mint desktop," I responded. He asked, "How does that work?" It seemed to him that very piece of Window's software he wanted to run, which he believed were written for the Win NT kernel, would have to be re-written for the Linux kernel. Otherwise how would they run in Linux?

I explained that wasn't the case at all. The Windows software ecosystem is made up of apps built using one of two technologies. First is 'Win32', old-school Microsoft and still widely used, literally it's the main format for application development on Windows. Every major piece of software for Windows (think MS Office or Adobe Photoshop) are Win32 applications;

Second is 'Modern/Metro'. Initially introduced with Windows 8 as part of MS's now failed desktop-mobile convergence project, Modern/Metro is a newer Microsoft format which 'might' someday take the place of Win32 -- with the emphasis on 'someday.' Personally I doubt that'll ever happen, but I've been wrong before and in this case I really don't care.

Windows apps don't depend on the NT kernel. Windows apps depend on 'Win32' and/or 'Modern/Metro' APIs. APIs are simply functions and procedures in code that allow the creation of software applications with the ability to access the features or data of an operating system, a separate application, or some other service. In order for Windows apps to run on Linux, all you need is to port 'Win32' and/or 'Modern/Metro' to Linux, and you're good to go.

In respect to Win32, that is exactly what the 'WINE' project has done -- they've created a 'Free Open-Source Software' (FOSS) re-implementation of relevant Win32 APIs, allowing a great many Win32 apps to run on Linux as though they were native to the system, including heavy hitters like Photoshop.

Running Win32 apps on your Linux desktop under 'WINE' can be as simple as running them in Windows, and it works without all the undesired bits and issues that drive people nuts with Windows itself.

This fellow was so intrigued that he stopped by and spent time with my Mint powered laptop just to see for himself what it was all about. He'll be here next week to have me upgrade his Win 7 laptop to Mint!..
Posted By: Az4x4

Re: How Can Linux Mint Run Windows Apps?.. - 05/24/20 04:44 PM


Microsoft, no doubt noting the success Linux has had with its ability under WINE to run Windows apps on the Linux desktop, is working towards bringing as much of the Linux world into Windows as they can - without going to extremes. They're making it possible to run Linux GUI apps on Windows 10, complete with hardware acceleration. “Soon you’ll be able to use your favorite Linux IDE or other GUI application alongside your other Windows applications on your Windows desktop,” Microsoft explains.

Windows Subsystem for Linux v2 now comes with a full Linux kernel, plus the WSLv2 Linux file system is accessible via Windows ‘File Explorer’. Adding support for launching and running Linux GUI apps seems the next logical move.

This effort is primarily geared towards running more technically intensive apps than simply browsing through your favorite photo library, but it’ll make hardware accelerated OpenGL and OpenCL on WSLv2 a fact of life, so you’ll be able to use any of your favorite Linux GUI apps in Windows 10 any time you like - or so say those in the know.

Windows and Linux apps will get exactly the same access to the GPU, sharing its resources based solely on workload requirements. Graphically intensive Linux apps will be first-class citizens on Windows 10 under WSLv2, again per those in the know.

Microsoft’s work on WSLv2 is largely intended to encourage increased use of Windows 10 by software developers, who in recent years have abandoned Windows in droves moving to open-source Linux. Still it’s more than just ‘interesting’ to see Windows jumping on the Linux bandwagon with both feet, doing everything they can to encourage Linux developers and users to rethink their abandonment of Windows by including increased Linux functionality with WSLv2 in Windows 10. What Microsoft’s ‘end game’ in all this will be is anyone’s guess right now - not even sure that Microsoft knows just yet.

Will this new effort bring Linux developers and users ‘back to Windows?’ I doubt that will be the case, certainly not ‘in mass’ like they’ve moved away from Windows to Linux these past few years.

Moving from Linux back to Windows would be like strapping a 100lb sack of rocks to a world class marathon runner's back and asking him to run a race while trying to carry such an unwieldy and unwanted load. It makes no sense -- at all.
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