Rediscovering Wine

At work, I sometimes have to edit MS Word documents (other members of the team use Word). Normally LibreOffice does the job pretty well, but I have come across occasional issues with tracked changes and big tables/graphs when the document is reopened in Word (mostly when using Microsoft’s OOXML formats). As a result, when working on Word documents for work that I need to share back, I’ve tended to use Word 2007 running in a virtual (VirtualBox) Windows XP environment.

That’s all fine (and of course, it works great) but there is still the hassle of firing up the virtual machine and the memory hit (I’m often using quite large datasets in R on Linux simultaneously and losing some memory to Windows can have a noticeable effect). I’m also squeamish about letting Windows XP access my working directory for the files on Linux directly, so I tend to have to copy them to a special folder that I share with the virtualised Windows XP.

I was setting up a new laptop today and the above issues, together with the pain of either doing a Windows XP install or the (lesser) pain of copying the virtual disk from my other machine, persuaded me to think about alternatives. I tried Wine for runningn MS Office back in the day (I guess at that point it was Office XP or maybe 2003) with limited success, but I checked the Wine App database and found that reasonable success had been had with Word 2007.

Following the specific (slightly outdated) Fedora guidance provided by Fclose I was soon up and running. Word 2007 seems to work flawlessly so far, so maybe I’ll have no more need for even a virtualised Windows instance at work.

Thank you, Wine team.

11 Responses to “Rediscovering Wine”

  • Djuro Drljaca says:

    Take a look at “Play on Linux” –>

    This is one of the best (if not the best) tool for using wine. For each program (or game) that is supported they have a configuration script that gives selects the best wine release for the program you need including with additional configuration options for wine.

    It is mostly popular for playing windows games on linux (a lot of them work either perfectly or at least good enough) but they also have a selection of supported windows programs…

    • Stu says:

      Hehe, seems (given also Stefan’s comment) that I should definitely check out Play on Linux…

  • Stefan says:

    If you think that’s impressive, you should try out PlayOnLinux. It’s a frontend for wine that makes installing and running windows applications a breeze. An amazing complement to codeweaver’s excellent work.

    • Stefan says:

      Oh boy, I really should have started by reading the comments …

  • CTown says:

    Have you tried Calligra or the proprietary KingSoft Office (also known as wps)? It seems a bit excessive to use a vm or Wine to edit a document! But whatever gets the job done, right? Unfortunately…

    • Stu says:

      I’ve tried Calligra too – generally I’ve found the compatibility is slightly ahead in LibreOffice in some areas, though that might not be a fair assessment. I use Calligra generally when starting a document from scratch as I prefer the UI and integration. There isn’t much that doesn’t work for me, the problem tends to be that colleagues will open in MS Office documents I’ve edited in LibreOffice and have problems (quite possible LibreOffice is following the spec – such as it is – and MS Office does not, of course…)

      I hadn’t heard of Kingsoft Office, but it’s another proprietary solution… Using a VM was nasty overhead and inconvenience, using Wine is pretty seamless. I can right click a document in Dolphin and open it in Word (I still prefer LO or Calligra to edit OOXML documents I don’t need to share back to my colleagues, otherwise I’d make Word the default for .docx and it would be really seamless). In all honesty, I’d rather just use LaTeX as I have before, but with multiple editors, only around half of which know LaTeX, that is not going to happen 🙁

  • “quite large datasets in R on Linux simultaneously and losing some memory”

    Perhaps it’s R’s fault 😉 (SCNR, but even being a heavy R user I hate it)

    • Stu says:

      For sure, R is using a lot of memory here – it’s alos fair to say that without running R the VM is not an issue for memory. However, I’m just about on the limit of the RAM here (and the RAM the computer can hold) and the VM seems to tip it over the edge. Certainly with MS Word via Wine open I can run things without swapping that I cannot run with MS Word in the VM.

      I actually like R, but it certainly has some oddities. I came from MATLAB though and, for me, that’s far worse.

  • dwio says:

    The best solution for me was Crossover. I have used Vanilla Wine and PlayOnLinux a long time for MS Office 2007, but it always had certain bugs and needed fiddeling/manual tuning. With CrossOver it runs more reliable and integrates better into the desktop environment. Its commercial, but for me it was totally worth it.

    • Stu says:

      The vanilla Wine option seems to be working fine for me. But if I had issues (or needed to run a more rencent Office for example) then I’d likely try CrossOver. I used it back in the day with good effect.

  • michel says:

    My personal workaround with LibreOffice flaws is using Softmaker Office for Linux ( One has to purchase it, but the price is very moderate. For the time being, I experienced no problem in reading and writing MS Office documents.