WINE 1.7 review - Alcoholics Anonymous


Updated: December 21, 2015

Several weeks ago, I read a quick but thoroughly interesting news snippet about a, well, ahem, new (not anymore) WINE release, which included additional experimental DirectX 11 support. Wait, what? DirectX 11 support? Sounds massively cool.

This made me revive my desire to retest the WINE framework and see how far it's progressed since my last serious attempt to use it, sometime back in 2011. I have always been intrigued and equally disappointed by the Microsoft application and game support in Linux. It's no one's fault really. Desire and goodwill aside, it never quite worked. Maybe this new version can do wonders? Note: I KNOW WINE 1.8 has just been released, but I still felt I ought to publish this article, given the invested effort and its results, future work and conclusions notwithstanding.

Overrides

Getting underway, the first sip of moonshine

WINE 1.7.XX is too modern for most distros, which is why I setup the official PPA in my Mint Rafaela install, and grabbeth the packages. Soon enough, I had the framework in place. As always, during the initial configuration, it complained about some stuff, and it auto-downloaded the missing bits and pieces.

Setup

After you launch the WINE configuration menu, the one noticeable element is that you can setup the default compatibility profile to be Windows 10. Blimey, that looks ambitious and encouraging. I likez.

Windows 10 compatibility

Binge drinking

I decided to try a bunch of popular programs and games. The first and foremost, the LFS racing simulator, which I still often play, even though I've recently discovered a new favorite. Soon. Anyhow, the program wouldn't even run under Windows 10 compat:

fixme:d3dx:D3DXCreateTextureFromFileInMemoryEx Texture loading fa
fixme:d3dx:D3DXLoadSurfaceFromMemory Unhandled filter 0x80004.
err:d3dcompiler:compile_shader HLSL shader parsing failed.
err:d3dcompiler:compile_shader HLSL shader parsing failed.
fixme:d3dcompiler:D3DAssemble flags 1

I had to downgrade the version to 8.1, after which the setup completed successfully. However, the game runs with no textures, and it looks horrible. Checking online, the WINEHQ application database now lists LFS as Bronze, where it used to be top-notch Platinum several years ago. Even if you use the XP mode, it's still borked. Why oh why? Why these regressions? Why does this autumn season only bring grief?

LFS test

LFS fail

Moreover, my framerate was only about 55, whereas I used to get 90+ on an aging LG laptop many years ago. Slow, sluggish, and ruined, One of my top games is now just rubbish under WINE. Luckily we have Steam, eh?

The hangover (AKA the vomit comet)

Gently gutted about this whole process, I decided to try some of the more up-to-date software. I wanted to see if Internet Explorer 11 would run. And also, I tried to setup Office 2013. After all, these are the big ones, and if you can have them running, then you can slowly wean yourself off Windows, even though, as we've just seen, every new version release brings about the same dreaded question and uncertainty of backward compatibility. Imagine that, running something for 3-4 years to fail suddenly. Can you go back to Windows then? You could, should, but the gap is immense.

Well, it didn't really work. None of it. Even DLL overrides did not help. Nothing at all. WINE simply refused to cooperate, throwing errors and exceptions. With every passing new minute, my mojo was plummeting more and more.

Overrides

Office 2013 failure

Wrong version of Internet Explorer

One last attempt, Winetricks

Lastly, I tried Winetricks, which always seems to have worked for me well. Alas, if you open the menu, the list of programs hails back to 2007. It's still the same XP era stuff, none of which makes any sense today. Why would I care about WMP9? Or Office 2003? I mean yes, they are perfectly sane choices, but most people no longer have or use these old outdated programs. There's nothing wrong with either, but c'mon. Seriously.

Conclusion

WINE 1.7 for me is a lesson in disappointment. Even the few small things that used to work no longer run. It's a total and complete regression, and it kills any hope that WINE could ever be anything more than an enthusiastic experiment. I would never bet my day to day income or productivity on something like this. Professionally, it would be suicide.

Maybe it does bring some support and improvements in the gaming space, but that's no longer one area that needs support and improvements. That has been sorted out, and what keeps people back is the core Microsoft stuff. And apparently, none of that runs under WINE. Fine. Then, I won't be using WINE. It brings no value. For some reason, it's frozen in 2009, and nothing seems to have changed since. Shame really. I had such high, high expectations. Well, we're done here, on a super-sad note. WINE 18, here I come! To be continued.

Cheers.

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