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How to Install Windows Programs in Ubuntu

Updated on March 19, 2017

Using Wine 1.4

Ubuntu is one of the most popular linux operating systems out on the market. The latest "stable" release is 12.4 LTS ("Long Term Release", aka Precise Pangolin).

There's a newer release available, ---12.10, but while testing it, I saw Amazon ads pop up (?)... every time I opened the dash....., and quickly switched back to 12.4.

Ubuntu, (a FREE, downloadable, Open Source Operating System), is a great place to start if you're curious about linux, and has all kinds of great apps (most of them free), that you can easily download through the "Ubuntu Software Center". This download tool is very similar to the droid "market", (now "google play").

Just like the droid "Market", you can search for and choose a program you like, and in a few clicks you're done.

Those of you familiar with older versions of Ubuntu may remember the Synaptic Download Manager. Although still available, the default (and preferred) installer is now the Ubuntu Software Center (versions 11.1 and higher).

But what if you Really want to install a favorite Windows application, like MSPaint, or Office 2007 Pro? You'll need to know about WINE, which BTW, stands for (Wine is Not a Windows Emulator).

In this hub I'll show you the Ubuntu Software Center and then walk you through the download and use of Wine 1.4 in Ubuntu 12.4.

Ready? Grab an energy drink and let's get started!


Ubuntu 12.4 - Precise Pangolin

Within the Ubuntu Desktop (pictured above), you'll see to the left "The Launcher" tool bar. It's very similar to the bottom desktop bar in Windows 7. The launcher will show a combination of applications that are running, as well as applications you may place there as shortcuts.

TIP -- Click on an icon to launch an application, right click the icon and select "quit" to end the application. Also, use your mouse to "hover" over the top left of the desktop, to get to that applications specific menu options, for example Firefox options are integrated within the desktop!


The top Icon in the launcher is "The Dash". We'll discuss that in a second. The sixth icon down on my screen, the icon that looks like a shopping bag, is the Ubuntu Software Center. Simply Click on that and you'll be brought to the main download page.


You can install all sorts of apps from within this window, including the newest Wine package, 1.4. Use the search bar on the top right, and simply search for "Wine". You'll see the results in the picture below.

And sure, we Could do that, but what fun is that? My advice, if your willing to play with Ubuntu, or any linux distro for that matter, you may as well learn some of the commands along the way. I'm going to show you how to quickly install Wine 1.4 from the Terminal.


Ubuntu Terminal Commands

  • sudo apt-get install wine1.4 --- will install wine 1.4 quickly from the terminal
  • sudo apt-get playonlinux --- adds functionality to the front end of wine, espec. for games
  • sudo-apt-get autoremove wine1.4 --- make a mistake? use this cmd to fully remove wine 1.4
  • wine --version --- quickly check to see what version of wine your running

Using the Ubuntu Terminal

You can get to the terminal by clicking on the "dash" icon as showed above (the first icon on the launcher), OR, a better way would be to click "Ctrl" + "alt" + "T" at the same time.

Welcome to the Terminal, very similar to the Windows CMD console. Simply by using the commands I've listed on the right, you'll be able to install (or uninstall) Wine in seconds.

*note -- if your installing games, such as Steam games, etc, you will want to install the "playonlinux" feature as well.

You'll probably want to install the latest version, Wine 1.4 (which is what I suggest), but you can install any version you wish (if, for example, your having driver issues).

To check and see which applications are most compatable with wine, you can check the "Wine Application Database" by checking out their website here.


So now that we have Wine 1.4 installed, (and we've checked using the wine --version command), we can use a groovy little tool called "Winetricks".

Click on the Dash Icon from the launcher on the desktop. (The very first Icon). Type "Wine" and you'll see "Winetricks". Click on that Icon and you'll see your options as shown below.

TIP - to create a shortcut on the launcher, simply drag the icon from the applications menu to the launcher (similar to the bottom bar in Windows 7).

Click the "Winetricks" icon and you'll first see the question, "What do you want to do?". Select "Install an App" from the list, and you'll see the list of applications readily available. Some are Windows apps, but you'll also see some other favorite applications, such as Valve's "Steam", "Filezilla", and "7zip".

For this hub, I'll select Windows Paint.


Once you've "installed" the mspaint package, you'll get prompted with the next question: "What do you want to do with this wineprefix?". Select "browse files" so you can see exactly where the mspaint.exe is.

The last step is to right click the mspaint.exe icon and select "Open with Wine Windows Program Loader". That's it!

TIP - Now that Wine is installed, any Windows application or similar non-linux program can be opened (or at least attempted) by right clicking the .msi or .exe and selecting "Open with Wine". I strongly suggest checking out their Application website mentioned above for more details.

Wine is certainly not the recommended way to install apps in Ubuntu 12.4, why would it be? There are so many great options available from within the Ubuntu Software Center, but if, you do need to load an external application, Wine 1.4 is the way to go.

For more the complete guide on Ubuntu 12.4, you can checkout their website here.


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    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 4 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Hi RonElFran:

      Glad you stopped by, thanks for chiming in!

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 4 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I'm just starting to check out Ubuntu. I'd heard of but forgotten about Wine. Thanks for the info.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 4 years ago from Tampa, FL

      @Elias -- Hello my friend and thanks for commenting, I'm just now getting into Linux and am starting to appreciate it's value. Thanks again -- J

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 4 years ago from Athens, Greece

      An easy to follow and clear how-to guide. Linux is a great OS so your advice is most appreciated and helpful.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 4 years ago from Tampa, FL

      @AJReissig, Thanks for the positive comments and for stopping by!

    • AJReissig profile image

      Alex J. Reissig 4 years ago from New Richmond, Ohio

      Great hub! I have used playonlinux to install MS Word/excel/powerpoint and Scrivener on Ubuntu. All of these work flawlessly. The only problem I have encountered is when using the KDE desktop. For some reason, playonlinux will not create icons for the desktop or panel when using KDE. I can launch the apps by running POL, but I really want my icons. Other than that, this is a great program for installing windows applications.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 4 years ago from Tampa, FL

      @MountainManJake, Thanks for the positive feedback and for stopping by!

    • MountainManJake profile image

      MountainManJake 4 years ago from Seattle

      Wine is probably the only thing keeping Ubuntu alive. With Ubuntu coming out with phones later this year, I don't see where their market is. The lack of apps will kill them. I wouldn't use Ubuntu without Wine. Good Hub! Help keep Linux alive! Voted up.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 4 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks for the positive feedback Rick , your feedback is heartfelt because in this article that's exactly what I was going for. About 12.10 -- I wasn't aware that you could turn those ads off (thanks for the heads up) , I'll pull Ubuntu out this weekend and have a look, tip sincerely appreciated. Thanks again for stopping by and the kind comments :)

    • profile image

      Rick Shultz 4 years ago

      Great job, and thanks so very much. Truly enlightening and you've helped to weed through some of the absurdly complicated pieces of Ubuntu. The only thing I'd like you to do is to go back to version 12.10 because of the subtle differences between it and 12.04 and it is the future and those of us using it need your help! Your problem with Amazon ads is popping up in the dash is easily fixed by a click of a button but, sorry, I don't remember the details right now - just Google it in 12.10. Thanks again!!!

    • nrjperera profile image

      Roshan Jerad Perera 5 years ago

      Your article just made things much easier to starts things off with Wine. I've been using Ubuntu for a long time and still haven't tried this out yet. Does this slow down Windows apps? I mean like when using heavy softwares like Adobe Photoshop?

    • jimagain profile image

      jimagain 5 years ago from Hattiesburg, Mississippi

      Awesome again! I got to try this. I have Ubuntu and windows vista partitioned on the same laptop. I'm new to Linux but my computer geek brother loves it. He was always the weird kid!!

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Hey Brett :), thanks for the tips, I'll check out Mint and Playonlinux this weekend. I like the idea of the "bottle" vs a virtual registry. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Linux is a great OS, I personally use Mint, as it is a polished version of Ubuntu ... made to be more user friendly (in my opinion). You may also want to lookup 'PlayonLinux' (if I've remembered it correctly). The reason is that this will install popular things like MS office and games from Windows ... but, will also automatically install all the support and driver settings that they need. It puts each install into a 'bottle' so that they never interfere with each other .. a great solution for those wanting to use Windows software in Linux!!!

      Up, useful and sharing.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      @shiningirisheyes, thanks very much! (took me the better part of my weekend lol), but had a lot of fun doing it. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Stellar job with this hub my friend. You made it easy and descriptive enough for even someone like ME to follow.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      @androidiphone, thanks for the positive comments :), I'm having fun with linux, digging it :)

      @jponiato, ty for the pos feedback as well :), I was thinking the same thing as I was writing this hub. I had used previous versions of wine in the past, but they've definitely streamlined the process in 1.4

      Funny you should mention the vm, as I have a windows os with a vm of ubuntu, and while writing the hub, couldn't get spotify perfect (audio drivers), sooo.. I just used the windows machine. I might just go ahead and switch 'em around like you have them. Thanks for stopping by!

    • jponiato profile image

      jponiato 5 years ago from Mid-Michigan

      Nice overview of the process. It's been years since I attempted to use wine - I'd guess it has come a long way since then. Now I generally have a Windows VM around for when I really need to use a windows app.

    • androidiphone profile image

      androidiphone 5 years ago from Pakistan

      great job keep doing the good work i love linux

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      @Suzie, thanks so much :), was a fun project!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Jeff,

      What a great job you have done here! Your layout makes it so user friendly and engaging full of easy step by step info. Vote up, interesting and useful! :-) Sharing on my friend!