How to install Windows applications on Linux with Winepak
Windows users who want to make the jump to Linux may hesitate because they don’t want to abandon their applications. But there are many Windows applications that can be installed on Linux using Winepak.
If you are a longtime Linux user, you know that there is tons of software out there that lets you do your job. If you are a Windows user and want to make the jump to desktop Linux but don’t because the tools you need are Windows only, you might be surprised. Many Windows applications can be installed on Linux. In fact, it has been for some time, thanks to Wine. Wine is a compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications on Linux and other POSIX compatible operating systems. However, for many users, Wine itself has been a bit of a hindrance as it is not always considered the most user-friendly tool. It’s about to change. How? ‘Or’ What? Have you ever heard of Flatpak? Otherwise, Flatpak provides a sandbox environment in which users can run applications independently from the rest of the system. These apps are containerized, so you don’t have to worry about dependencies. You install the container and it runs. As easy as that.
To make this even more appealing, there is a new technology in town called Winepak. Winepak allows you to create containerized Windows applications that can be installed on Linux. Imagine, if you wanted, you could install a Windows application on Linux with a single command. I’ll show you how to do just that. I’ll do a demo on Elementary OS platform and install this proven Notepad ++ text editor.
Before we can do anything, we need to install Flatpak first. Without Flatpak, we don’t have Winepak. To install this dependency, follow these steps:
- Open a terminal window.
- Add the necessary apt repository add tool (if missing) with the command sudo apt install software-properties-common –no-install-recommends.
- Add the necessary repository with the command sudo add-apt-repository ppa: alexlarsson / flatpak.
- Update apt with the command sudo apt update.
- Install Flatpak with the command sudo apt install flatpak.
- Add the Flathub repository with the command sudo flatpak remote-add –if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo.
- Add the Winepak repository with the command sudo flatpak remote-add –if-not-exists winepak https://dl.winepak.org/repo/winepak.flatpakrepo.
- Restart your machine.
Once the machine has restarted, you are ready to install the application.
Windows application installation
Before we show you how to install the Windows app (in this case Notepad ++), you should know that the current list of available Windows apps is quite small. I imagine this list will grow quite quickly, as installing Windows apps on Linux using this medium is expected to become very popular. You can view the current list of apps here.
Let’s install Notepad ++. Now that Flatpak is installed (and the rests needed), we can install our app with just one command:
sudo flatpak install winepak org.notepad_plus_plus.Notepad-plus-plus
This command will download and install the containerized version of the Windows app. If you check your desktop menu, you will now find an entry for Notepad ++ (Figure A).
You can go back to the apps list page and install most of the ones included with Winepak. I tried installing InternetExplorer8, but found that it was no longer available for flatpak. Turns out some apps aren’t quite ready for prime time (and need to be built using a flatpak builder). This, of course, would completely defeat the goal of having a system that makes it easy to install Windows apps on Linux. For this reason, we will wait until these tools are available to be installed via the flatpak install command.
The future could be bright
Winepak is incredibly promising. If this technology gets the attention it deserves, it could demolish one of the last remaining hurdles preventing the masses from migrating to Linux. It’s not perfect yet, but if what they already have to offer is any indication, it could be a game-changer for Linux.
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