Wine: use Windows applications in Linux (security risk!)


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Can't you find an adequate Linux alternative for a particular Windows application?

A good solution is then, to maintain a dual boot on your computer. That way, you'll always be able to boot Windows for that particular application. Or you can use Virtualbox, to install Windows safely within a virtual machine in your Linux.

But there's also another "solution", that I discourage: you can install the Windows emulator Wine in your Linux Mint or Ubuntu. Wine is an application that allows your Linux to run many (not all) Windows applications. As such, it's a small technological miracle.

This miracle has a distinct and serious disadvantage, however: with Wine, not only ordinary Windows applications can run in Linux, but also.... some Windows viruses and other malware for Windows.


Downside: security risks

Although Windows malware in Wine can't touch your system files (Wine has no root permissions but only user permissions), it might access all of your personal files. Like documents, music, pictures et cetera. Which of course is very bad indeed.

That's why I'm against Wine. I prefer to keep Linux pure. Safety first. Therefore I don't install Wine in the first place.

For the one or two Windows applications that I still need, I use a Virtual Machine with Windows 7, in VirtualBox (more about that later).


Securing Wine is impossible

Do you wish to use Wine anyway? Then sufficient protection of the files in your personal folder is not possible. Also when you change the default Wine folder and limit the number of "drives" that it can access: adequate safeguarding of the other files in your personal folder can't be done....

Wine allows Windows malware to do damage to all files in your personal folder, without you noticing it.

Unsurprisingly, this warning also applies to derivatives of Wine, like CrossOver and PlayOnLinux. It's better not to install them.


Need to use some Windows applications?

Do you need to use some Windows applications? Then use a dual boot computer on which you can also boot Windows, or (better yet) install a free legal Windows 7 Virtual Machine in VirtualBox in Linux.

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Removing a Windows virus in Wine

Does your Wine contain a Windows virus? Unfortunately, it might happen... This is how to kill such a virus (but you can't cure the damage that it may have done to other files in your personal folder!):

Note: this will cause all Wine settings to be reset to default, all Windows applications to be removed as well as all other contents of the Wine folder!

a. Close Wine (and all applications that use it).

b. Launch your file manager.

Use the shortcut (key combination) Ctrl h to make the hidden files in your personal folder visible, or do it like this:

In the task bar of the file manager: Files - Preferences - check:
Show hidden and backup files

Now close the file manager and open it again.

The hidden files (with a dot before their names) should be visible now.

c. Remove the folder .wine

d. Launch Wine: it'll create a new hidden folder .wine again, with clean default contents.

e. Be aware that the Windows virus may have damaged other files in your personal folder. So be careful when using them.


Want more tips?

Do you want more tips and tweaks for Ubuntu and Linux Mint? There's a lot more of them on this website!


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