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Wine is a project to allow a PC running a Unix-like operating system to run x86 programs that utilise the Microsoft Windows API. Alternately, those wishing to port a Windows application to a Unix-like system can compile it against the Wine libraries.

The name was derived from the recursive acronym "Wine Is Not an Emulator" (it is a compatibility layer), although an alternative expansion is "Windows Emulator".

Wine is free software. It was originally under the same MIT license as X11, but, owing to concern about proprietary versions of Wine not contributing changes back to the core project, work as of March 2002 is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).

Table of contents
1 Development
2 Functionality
3 Other versions of Wine
4 External links


The Wine project was started in 1993 by Bob Amstadt (the initial project leader) and Eric Youngdale as a way to run Windows applications on Linux. It originally targeted Windows 3.x (16-bit) applications, although the present focus is primarily on the dominant Win32 (32-bit) applications. The project probably originated in discussions on Usenet in comp.os.linux. Alexandre Julliard has been the project leader since 1994.

Rather than acting as a full emulator, Wine implements a compatibility layer, providing alternative implementations of the DLLs that Windows programs call.

Wine is primarily developed for Linux. FreeBSD and Solaris-x86 are also strongly supported.

The project has been time-consuming and difficult for developers, at least partially because of incomplete or incorrect documentation of the Win32 API. While most Win32 functions are documented, there are areas such as file formats and protocols where an official Microsoft specification does not exist, as well as undocumented low-level functions and obscure bugs that must be duplicated precisely for some applications to work properly. Consequently, the Wine team have had to reverse engineer many function calls and file formats, in such areas as thunking.

The involvement of Corel for a time assisted the project, chiefly by employing Julliard and others to work on it. This was motivated by Corel's porting of WordPerfect Office, its office applications suite, to Linux. However, the effort stopped when Corel cancelled all Linux-related projects. Julliard is now employed by CodeWeavers.


As of early 2004, Wine runs many well-known programs, such as Lotus Notes and some versions of Microsoft Office, with varying levels of reliability and stability. If the user includes native Microsoft Windows DLLs from a Windows installation, the number of applications which can be run successfully greatly increases.

Some Wine DLLs are such good reimplementations of the Windows originals that Windows is able to make use of them flawlessly.

Other versions of Wine

The core Wine development is directed towards a correct implementation of the Windows API as a whole and lags in some areas. Direct3D, in particular, is only marginally supported, which means that many commercial games cannot be run.

CodeWeavers markets a proprietary version called CrossOver Office specifically for running Microsoft Office and other major Windows applications. CodeWeavers also employs Alexandre Juillard to work on Wine and contributes most of its code back to the Wine project under the LGPL.

TransGaming Technologies produces the proprietary WineX (as of June 22, 2004 renamed Cedega), forkeded from the last MIT-licensed version of Wine. It is tailored towards running Windows games and is available on a subscription basis.

Other projects using Wine source code include:

External links