Wine (software)

This article is about the Wine software. See wine for an article about the beverage of the same name.

Wine is a project to allow a PC running a Unix-like operating system and the X Window System to run x86 programs for Microsoft Windows. Alternately, those wishing to port a Windows application to a Unix-like system can compile it against the Wine libraries.

The name was derived from the recursive acronym "Wine Is Not an Emulator" (it implements a compatibility layer), although some have used the unofficial expansion "Windows Emulator". Sometimes the forms "WINE" and "wine" of the name are used, however the developers have agreed on the now correct "Wine".

Wine is free software. It was originally under the same MIT license as the X Window System, but, owing to concern about proprietary versions of Wine not contributing changes back to the core project, work as of March 2002 is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).



The Wine project was started in 1993 by Bob Amstadt (the initial project leader) and Eric Youngdale as a way to run Windows applications on Linux. It originally targeted Windows 3.x (16-bit) applications, although the present focus is primarily on the dominant Win32 (32-bit) applications. The project probably originated in discussions on Usenet in comp.os.linux (news:comp.os.linux). Alexandre Julliard has been the project leader since 1994.

Rather than acting as a full emulator, Wine implements a compatibility layer, providing alternative implementations of the DLLs that Windows programs call.

Wine is primarily developed for Linux. FreeBSD and Solaris-x86 are also strongly supported.

The project has been time-consuming and difficult for developers, at least partially because of incomplete or incorrect documentation of the Win32 API. While most Win32 functions are documented, there are areas such as file formats and protocols where an official Microsoft specification does not exist, as well as undocumented low-level functions and obscure bugs that must be duplicated precisely for some applications to work properly. Consequently, the Wine team has had to reverse engineer many function calls and file formats, in such areas as thunking.

The involvement of Corel for a time assisted the project, chiefly by employing Julliard and others to work on it. This was motivated by Corel's porting of WordPerfect Office, its office suite, to Linux. However, the effort stopped when Corel cancelled all Linux-related projects. Julliard is now employed by CodeWeavers to work on CrossOver Office, their proprietary packaging of Wine.


As of early 2004, Wine runs many well-known programs, such as Lotus Notes and some versions of Microsoft Office, with varying levels of reliability and stability. If the user includes native Microsoft Windows DLLs from a Windows installation, the number of applications that can be run successfully increases greatly.

Some Wine DLLs are such good reimplementations of the Windows originals that Windows is able to make use of them flawlessly.

Other versions of Wine

The core Wine development is directed towards a correct implementation of the Windows API as a whole and lags in some areas. Direct3D, in particular, is only marginally supported, which means that many commercial games cannot be run.

CodeWeavers markets CrossOver Office specifically for running Microsoft Office and other major Windows applications. CodeWeavers also employs Alexandre Juillard to work on Wine and contributes most of its code back to the Wine project under the LGPL.

TransGaming Technologies produces the proprietary Cedega (formerly known as WineX), forked from the last MIT-licensed version of Wine. It is tailored towards running Windows games and is available on a subscription basis.

Other projects using Wine source code include:

  • ReWind, an MIT-licensed fork of the last MIT-licensed version of Wine.
  • ReactOS, a project to write an operating system compatible with Windows NT down to the device driver level. ReactOS works closely with the Wine project on DLLs and compatibility issues and several developers work heavily on both projects.
  • Darwine, a port of the Wine libraries to Apple Darwin and Mac OS X. The aim is to be able to compile Windows source code to Mach-O/PowerPC binaries. The project is also investigating running Win32 binaries in the x86 version of Darwin, and combining Wine with the QEMU x86 emulator to enable running Win32 binaries on PowerPC.
  • Odin, a project to run Win32 binaries on OS/2 or convert them to OS/2 native format. It also provides the Odin32 API to compile Win32 programs for OS/2.

Microsoft's response to Wine

Microsoft has been very quiet about Wine. However they inadvertantly acknowledged it by blocking updates when Wine is installed. On February 16, 2005, Ivan Leo Puoti discovered that Microsoft was checking the registry for the Wine configuration key and was blocking the Windows update for any component. Puoti wrote, "... even if this is only an initial attempt, they appear to want to discriminate wine users, while this may be acceptable for operating system components/updates, this is probably a violation of anti-trust law for all other downloads. It's also the first time Microsoft acknowledges the existence of Wine." [1] (

Applications that run on Wine

Although this list is far from extensive, Category:Runs under wine is a good starting point to get further information.

External links

  • Wine Development HQ (
  • Application database (
  • Wine newsgroup ( (Google web interface (
  • Jeremy White's Wine Answers ( (Slashdot interview with Jeremy White of CodeWeavers)
  • Jeremy White interview ( (Mad Penguin)
  • Official Wine Wiki (, a place for developers and users to document and share their experiences.
  • Unofficial Wine support wiki (
  • Winetools ( is a simple installer of basic proprietary but free Microsoft Windows software, like TrueType fonts, DCOM98 and Internet Explorer 6, which are required to install most other Windows software after a basic Wine installation.
  • WineHQ Knowledge Base (, a site (Subversion not Wiki) giving useful information on how to install Windows software with a basic Wine installation (started in January 2005).
  • Frank's Corner ( page with many (sometimes outdated) tips for installing Windows software using Wine.
  • Software Freedom Law Center to represent the Wine project [2] ( (The press release doesn't mention what legal issue exists, but two days earlier a patent problem was mentioned at the Wine Developers Conference (

es:WINE fi:WINE fr:WINE ia:WINE it:Wine ja:Wine nl:Wine pl:Wine sk:WINE sv:Wine


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