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Wine isn’t just an adult beverage. It’s also a compatibility layer that lets you run Windows apps on Linux. Because there are so many applications for Windows that don’t have a native version for Linux, it became necessary to create the means to run them on the open-source operating system.

When you combine the lengthy list of native applications you can install on Linux with the built-in app stores, the universal package managers Snap and Flatpak, and Wine, the list of available software for Linux is massive.

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Unfortunately, not every single Windows app can run via Wine. If you’re curious about the apps that can, here’s a searchable database that lists the apps, from games to productivity tools, and everything in between.

So, how do you run those Windows apps on Linux with Wine? Let’s get to work.    

How to run a Windows app on Linux with Wine

What you’ll need: I’ll demonstrate the process on Ubuntu Desktop, but Wine can be installed on most Linux distributions. To install Wine, you’ll need a running Linux distribution and a user with sudo privileges. That’s it.

The first thing to do is log in to your Linux desktop and open a terminal window. 

Install both Wine and Winetricks, which is a tool to make configuring Wine easier, with the command:

sudo apt-get install wine winetricks -y

If you’re using an RHEL-based or Fedora-based distribution, you first have to add the necessary repository with the command:

sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo

You can then install Wine with the command:

sudo dnf install winehq-stable -y

You will also need to install Winetricks manually for Fedora, which can be done with the following command:

wget && chmod +x winetricks && sudo mv winetricks /usr/local/bin/

Run the Winetricks app, which will automatically create the necessary directories for you with the command, below. 

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In the resulting window, you’ll want to click “Select the default wineprefix” and click OK. In the next window, select “Run winecfg” and click OK. You can then configure the version of Windows you want Wine to mimic by choosing the option from the Windows Version dropdown and clicking OK.

The Winetricks application on Ubuntu Linux.

Winetricks makes it easy to configure several Wine options.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Winetricks also lets you take care of several other options, such as installing DLLs, fonts, and more. 

Also: How to get started with Git on Linux

At this point, though, you can close that window and prepare to install your first Windows app.

Installing a Windows app with Wine

I’ll show you how to install the Notepad++ Windows app with Wine’s help.

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First, download the Windows installer for the app and save it in your Downloads directory. Then, open your terminal window and change into the Downloads directory with the command cd ~/Downloads. 

Run the installer with the command wine npp.*.exe. Finally, the Windows install wizard will open, where you can click your way to success.

The Notepad++ installation wizard running on Ubuntu Linux.

Installing a Windows app on Linux with Wine is simple.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Once the installation completes, you’ll find the Notepad++ launcher in your desktop menu.

Installing a Windows app with Winetricks

Another cool trick up Wine’s sleeve is the ability to install a Windows app directly from within Winetricks. If you run the Winetricks app, which can now be launched from your desktop menu, and select “Install an application,” you’ll be greeted with a list of applications that you can install directly from the GUI. 

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This method will automatically download and run the necessary installer file and then open the install wizard to complete the process.

Installing a Windows app from within Winetricks.

Winetricks allows you to install applications easily.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Further configuration might be needed

Notepad++ is a fairly simple app to install with Wine. You might find there are some apps (especially games) that require further configuration. Should that issue occur, run the Winetricks app again to take care of those configurations. 

How much work needs to be done will depend on the app you want to install. If you receive errors when you try to install a Windows app via Wine, you might have to research which configurations are necessary for that particular app.

Even with those potential issues, installing supported Windows apps on Linux with Wine is considerably easier than you might think. Enjoy those Windows apps running on Linux.

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