Updated: August 23, 2017
As you know, running Windows applications on Linux is sort of a trip. A crazy Kessel Run attempted while blindfolded, with a band of gypsy violinists playing Ennio Morricone's music in the background. That pretty much sums the experience.
On a slightly more serious note, I do 3D art. I think I've even produced a handful of decent models, including my steampunk crossbow, the amphibian assault ship, and the urban warfare set. I've created all these using Google SketchUp, with subsequent rendering and polish in Kerkythea. All of this, done in Windows. So what about Linux?
Linux & SketchUp
Every now and then, out of curiosity, tenacity, obstinance, and pure desire to run my favorite software on Linux, I tinker and try all these sorts of experiments, in order to gage how ready Linux is for primetime use. I'm a realist, and I know there's no point deluding anyone they could just move to Linux and expect the same kind of functionality they get in Windows. Programs like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and a whole range of games aren't available, and probably never will be. Taking the plunge could be an irresponsible dip in degraded productivity.
Still, there are some workarounds, which, while not perfect, do allow for a semblance of Windows-like functionality. For instance, Office Online works well in Linux. Then, you can also try to run Windows software directly using emulation tools and compatibility layers.
And now, we finally touch SketchUp. I've already shown you, twice, how to install and configure this program in Linux, using WINE. We did this in 2010, and more recently on Xerus with version 8. For those of you wondering, WINE and its many spins, is a program that tries to give you as-native functionality as you'd get in Windows. This is a noble cause, with ignoble results.
My past testing has never been too satisfactory, and lately, it's been getting worse. WINE and its derivatives seem stuck in the XP era, and this is probably as good as it gets. Most of the advertised capabilities and programs are ancient versions, some dating back 10 years or more. One of the cool utilities that can help you install software through WINE is Winetricks. I've always liked it, and used it to get around some problems with direct installations. Unfortunately, much like the parent, it offers ancient relics.
I downloaded the 64-bit SketchUp Make 2017 version, and tried to install it from the command line, using wine <executable>. The installer complained that it could not proceed, because the Windows version was all wrong. Indeed, by default, WINE is still set to Windows XP. I had to change this to Windows 7, and then continue. You can change the defaults by running winecfg.
Then, the installer complained that several dependencies were missing, including the dotNET framework. The first attempt to get this done was a failure. The second, it looked as if the installer did manage to download the necessary files, but it got stuck in the installation loop, and only a hard process kill stopped it. No go.
Likewise, here, I encountered a whole bunch of issues and errors. Even when I just started the program, Winetricks warned me about using the 64-bit version, and how this could have potentially adverse results, and that I might want to consider the 32-bit one. All right. I navigated to the section that offers Windows DLLs and components, and tried to install the missing stuff from there.
Winetricks threw a lot of errors - it failed to download packages, checksums were wrong, Mono was missing, it started downloading dotNET 3.5, even though I needed dotNET 4.5, and it, too, got stuck in a loop, failing to complete the actions and complaining about Mono. I wasn't able to find either Mono or Gecko, in the official Kubuntu Zapus repos, or in the Winetricks interface. Besides, manually satisfying dependencies is pointless, because the whole idea of package management systems is for them to do this automatically.
My last attempt to get this done was by using PlayOnLinux. Again, like the rest, it's always offered lukewarm results, and with progressively worse compatibility as years stream by. Even some neat, old games like the Live for Speed simulator are no longer properly supported.
PlayOnLinux can install SketchUp - but it defaults to version 8. We're stuck in the past, indeed. If you try to manually setup the new executable (the 2017 version), you will get a whole bunch of errors, starting with the Windows version compatibility issue, missing dependencies, and more. So this one will also fail. Three out of three.
Back in the day, you really COULD install and use the likes of IE6, Word 2003, WinAmp, and other software. I was able to use SketchUp and LFS. And let's not forget DirectX! Then, Windows moved on and WINE did not. Hey, even IE7 and IE8 were tricky, to say nothing of anything more recent or complex. If you're aiming for serious stuff, you just won't succeed. WINE was designed and meant for Windows XP, and sadly, that is where and when the party ended. The test with SketchUp 2017 just adds another nail to the coffin.
I think the WINE framework needs a complete revamp. In its current guise, it just gives false hopes to people, or keeps them running super ancient software that, in some cases, makes perfect sense, but in others, it's a complete waste of time and effort. I also find the effort of trying WINE to be painful. I am not interested in errors, messages or manual tweaks. If it can't work automagically, it's not meant to be. Since my version 1.7 test, things have even gotten worse. I might as well give up on WINE for good. I don't know. However, what it does definitely mean, and what I do know, is that for my 3D games, it will have to be Windows, I'm afraid. Article, end of.