Can you run Windows programs on Ubuntu?

Installing Windows applications on Linux


One of the questions asked by those who want to switch to free operating systems is Can Windows programs run on Ubuntu? This is a very important question given that support for Windows 10 ends next year and both Windows 11 and its successors require hardware with special features.

The short answer is yes. In a previous article We discuss how to install a specific Windows program on Linux, The long answer is that it depends on the program.

Can you run Windows programs on Ubuntu?

If I had to give an answer for an ideal world, I would say that if you need to use a Windows program, do it in Windows. But, the ideal world does not exist.  It is not safe to use an unsupported version and not all of us have the money to change hardware every time Microsoft decides to raise the requirements. minima. That leaves us with the following options.

  • Search for alternative programs.
  • Use cloud versions.
  • Virtualize Windows.
  • Use compatibility layers.

Find alternative programs

In many areas, for example in office suites, there are programs for Ubuntu that are fully compatible with Microsoft file formats. This is the case of LibreOffice or the paid Softmaker Office office suite. On the other hand, Inkscape, Scribus, Krita and Gimp can replace the Adobe office suite in many cases.

In the case of video editors, there are both versions of commercial programs such as Lightworks and Da Vinci Resolve as well as several open source titles.

This has its limits. There are very specific programs that have no replacement in Linux. If you need them, you should consider facing the costs of the new version of Windows.

Use cloud versions

More and more software developers are choosing to offer versions of their programs that can be used from the browser and regardless of the operating system and hardware power. Microsoft did it with Office and Adobe did it with Photoshop. To this we must add multiple third-party services that add artificial intelligence capabilities.

This option has two points against it. They usually require a monthly subscription, in many cases more expensive than buying a normal license and sharing data, often sensitive, with the service provider company and unknown third parties.

Virtualize Windows

Unfortunately this does not exempt us from purchasing new hardware or the license for a new version of Windows. Except we can use an older unsupported version and limit the security risks since the older system is not affected.

To virtualize Windows, a program known as a virtual machine client is used that makes the operating system believe that it is running on a certain hardware configuration simulated by software. Although in reality the resources of the real hardware are used.

The best known of the virtual machine clients is Virtualbox, which is present in the repositories and you just have to search for it in the package manager. Then you just have to download el pack of extensions from the project page and install it by double clicking

Use compatibility layers

Compatibility layers act as an interpreter between the Windows program and Ubuntu system resources. That is, the application is installed in the operating system without the need to simulate the hardware. Although many programs are compatible, especially older ones, it does not work with all of them and is not suitable for the Microsoft application store.

Some solutions to do this are:

Wine

It is actually the basis of the rest of the solutions. TIt has a minimal graphical interface and takes its time to install the programs.

We can install Wine with these commands:

wget -qO - https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/winehq.key | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /etc/apt/keyrings/winehq-archive.key
sudo wget -NP /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/ubuntu/dists/$(lsb_release -sc)/winehq-$(lsb_release -sc).sources
We update the repositories
sudo apt update
And we install it with
sudo apt install winehq-stable
Now we just have to double click on the Windows executable.

There are two graphical interfaces based on Wine that facilitate the installation of programs, PlayOnLinux y Bottles.


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