If you're looking to run Windows applications on Mac OS X, Wine is a great way to do it. Wine, which stands for "Wine Is Not an Emulator", lets you run Windows software on your Mac by installing files that Windows programs need in order to run.
That's right: you can run Windows software on your Mac without having to install Windows!
Wine isn't the only way to run Windows programs on your Mac, but a few things make it stand out from the rest:
- Wine is free ($0) and open-source
- Wine runs within OS X, so you don't need to use Bootcamp to boot into Windows, and you don't need to fire up a Windows virtual machine like you would with Parallels, VMWare Fusion, or VirtualBox
- Wine takes up less hard drive space than a Windows partition or a Windows virtual machine: less than 150MB compared to around 6GB for a Windows 7 install
- Wine is under constant development and has an awesome community of volunteers
So, I don't need Windows?
In many cases, you can use Wine instead of a Windows install. There are a few things to keep in mind, though:
- While Wine can run a number of Windows programs, Wine can't run everything. To see what Wine can run (and how well), check out the Wine AppDB
- Windows applications aren't optimised for OS X, so they may take up more CPU power and RAM than regular OS X applications
But, wait--don't go! All kinds of Windows applications work like a charm using Wine in OS X, and I'll help show you how.
How does it work?
There are at least seven ways to get up and running with Wine on your Mac. Each method is different and has its own strengths and weaknesses. Here they are in a nutshell (well, a table):
|OSXWineBuilder||Automated build, gamepad support, latest Wine version available, one-folder install||No frontend (runs in Terminal), dev tools required, long initial build time|
|Winebottler||Easy to use, great OS X integration, can convert Windows programs to OS X app bundles, dev tools not required||No USB device support, no beta Wine|
|PlayonMac||Automated graphical installation, simple interface, pre-built Wine downloads, automatic Wine configuration for supported applications||Interface can be confusing, troubleshooting can be difficult, files stored in ~/Library folder|
|Wine (from source)||Simpler troubleshooting, no reliance on third parties, gamepad support||Challenging to set up manually, no frontend, dev tools required, long and involved initial build|