Windows Program Support

Scott Kitterman ubuntu at
Fri Nov 9 03:34:36 UTC 2007

On Thursday 08 November 2007 20:15, Evan wrote:
> While this is not yet a major issue since the majority of users still
> choose Ubuntu expressly over Windows or Mac (and realize what they're
> getting into), there are several problems inherent with Ubuntu's growing
> popularity. One of these is that less technical users may purchase
> off-the-shelf software written for Win/Mac and expect it to run. While this
> is essentially their fault for not researching the system requirements of
> the software, Ubuntu could handle it far better than it currently does. At
> the moment it essentially ignores all Win/Mac binaries with an error that
> it could not open the file. This email is mainly to open up this topic for
> discussion, but the following is what I personally would like to see
> implemented for 8.10 (most of these changes are too large for LTS).
> When a binary is run, instead of giving the current error, provide a
> dialogue that notifies the user of the fact that it is a Windows program
> that cannot be run normally under Ubuntu. Then give the user two options:
>    - list / install equivalent software for linux, the recommended option
>    (via partnership with an organization like or
>    similar)
>    - attempt to run it under wine (with caveat that it may not work)

Once this works, from a security perspective you have to assume that the user 
will click yes when a random please install me pop-up appears.  So once this 
works, Ubuntu will be vulnerable to many of the same security threats that 
Windows is (not that the machine can be fundamentally compromised, but that 
it can be turned into a useful bot).

> While I realize that wine is still highly unstable and incomplete, it is
> making progress, and it will now run the majority of programs which support
> win2k and earlier. Theoretically it should be starting to get better
> support for XP (which most new programs still support) by the 8.10 release,
> which will make it moderately useful. It won't run everything, but it will
> be considerably more useful than it has been in the past (largely in thanks
> to the slow Windows release cycle).
> In addition, Ubuntu should also add support for CD/DVD autorun. The
> majority of non-techy users will pop a CD in the drive and expect the
> installer to come up automatically. While most of them will be
> knowledgeable enough to browse the disk and find 'installer.exe' or
> 'setup.exe', this would be a nice feature to make Ubuntu even more
> user-friendly.
> Ideally, Ubuntu would be able to identify the program (using a file hash?
> out of my depth here), and automatically list equivilant programs, as well
> as that program's rating in the Wine AppDB, directly inside the dialogue. I
> imagine that this would be difficult, but I'm not sure, and it would be
> really great if possible.
> Again, this is mainly to open the subject up for discussion, so discuss
> away!

My initial thought to the is please, please, no don't do this.  I waited a 
couple of hours to reply and I haven't reconsidered.

Once you make desirable Windows software easy to install, you've made all 
Windows software easy to install.  It seems the most common goal in 
compromising machines these days is to use them as bots.  Compromising a WINE 
install is sufficient for that.  Running A/V is not a solution on Linux any 
more than it's consistently effective on Windows (every Windows box I've ever 
been asked to remove a virus from had a virus scanner installed).

Windows software NOT working without actually being carefully installed is a 
feature and not a bug IMO.

Scott K

More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list