Windows on Linux

Find an equivalent in Linux

It may well be that the software you want to run has a Linux version, or that there is a program available for Linux that does the same thing. If you specify which functions you are interested in, we'll be best able to help you find it if so.

Use the terminal server

This is probably the simplest choice. There are several Windows Terminal Servers in Physics, and RDP (Terminal Server) clients available for Linux. See the section "Connecting from Unix/Linux" in Remote Desktop and Terminal Services and elsewhere in that article for details of the servers available. You will quite likely also want to set up a connection to your windows home directory on your Linux desktop. See Access Central Physics shares from Linux or contact and we can help with that.

You may see an error about licensing with rdesktop. If so, either use Remmina instead or type the commands

mkdir ~/.rdesktop chmod 0000 ~/.rdesktop

Get a second machine

A second machine could be set up with a Windows installation for you, either using older hardware your group has or on a new machine. This can also be set up for remote access and controlled from your Linux log in.


Whilst Wine seems like a nice solution to running Windows applications on Linux, its support of APIs is quite variable, and applications can behave in strange ways if they run at all. The status of programs can be checked at the Wine App Database. It often works well for older 32-bit applications, so if you have a small, simple program it may be worth a try.


DOS emulation in Dosbox is pretty solid and may be good for very old .exe and .com files, but this has limited applicability and is not for Windows applications.

A Virtual Machine

This is not recommended as we cannot monitor the update status of VMs easily, and we strongly prefer the preceding options in this list. Support for this option is not guaranteed. However, it can run some applications very well. The VM systems we use the most, and thus are most likely to be able to help you with are VMWare, which requires a license and VirtualBox, which is free. IT can install this on your Linux system (if it's an IT managed installation) on request.

Dual Boot

This is even more strongly discouraged. As only one OS is booted at a time, the updates for the other OS will almost necessarily go out of date. The set up of partitions and boot loaders also make this awkward. A strong case needs to be made for this option. We cannot guarantee a working application or even a working system with this choice.

Categories: Linux | Virtual Machines | WINE | Windows