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This chapter is from the book

Working with Windows

Although the Linux platform offers an increasingly compelling platform for the desktop, there are sometimes situations when there is just no alternative application available. This is often the case with specific business applications, educational tools, and games. Luckily, you can run many of these applications right on top of your Ubuntu desktop.

For the last 12 years, the members of the Wine project have been beavering away to create a free software implementation to run Windows applications on Linux. They have made great strides in getting more and more applications to run. Although there are still quirks here and there, many programs run perfectly under Wine. It is recommended that you try the applications you want to run before you use them for important work.

Install the Wine package with the Synaptic package manager. When the package has downloaded and installed, run the winecfg tool. To do this, press Alt-F2, and type winecfg. This small program sets up your Wine environment and provides some options for configuring how your Wine system is run. The default settings should be suitable for most applications.

Running Applications

To run an application, right-click it, and select Open with Wine Windows Emulator. Most Windows applications need to be installed before use, so first right-click the setup program, and run it under Wine. When the program is installed, you can find it in the .wine/c_drive/Program Files folder in your home folder. Navigate to that directory (making sure you turn on hidden file viewing in Nautilus), and run any files with an .exe extension.

Using Windows Files on Another Partition

For those of you with a considerable amount of your life present on Windows partitions, you may want to be able to access these partitions from Ubuntu. This is no problem, although you will need to edit a special configuration file to do this. Luckily, you need to edit this file only once, and then everything will be set up.

Ubuntu should automatically recognize any Windows partitions you have on your computer and set them up for you, however, you may need to modify them or add your own. You should first load System > Administration > Disks and write down the partition numbers and filesystem for your Windows partitions. The partition number will look something like /dev/hdb1 or /dev/sdb1, and the filesystem will be either FAT, VFAT, or NTFS. If you have a FAT or VFAT filesystem, you are in luck—you can read and write the partition. If you have an NTFS partition, you will unfortunately only be able to read from it.

The next step is to create some mount points. When your Windows partitions are enabled, they are accessed via a particular folder in Ubuntu. This is called a mount point. So, as an example, if you have a mount point as /media/win1 and on your Windows partition you want to access your Work folder, you would access it from Ubuntu as /media/win1/work.

Mount points usually live in the /media folder. Create a different mount point for each windows partition. As an example, if you have three Windows partitions, run the following commands:

foo@bar:~$ sudo mkdir /media/win1
foo@bar:~$ sudo mkdir /media/win2
foo@bar:~$ sudo mkdir /media/win3

Now open up the following configuration file:

foo@bar:~$ sudo gedit /etc/fstab

The /etc/fstab file maps partition numbers to mount points. At the bottom of the file add a line like this for each mount point:

/dev/hdb1 media/win1 vfat users,rw,owner,umask=000 0 0

You will need to change the partition number (the first column), mount point (second column), and filesystem (third column) for your relevant partitions.

Now reload /etc/fstab to enable the partitions:

foo@bar:~$ sudo mount -a

Some hard disk icons for the new partitions now appear.

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