What do you do in Linux when you run into a Windows exclusive software?

I was able to replace MOST of my applications with Linux capable software, but there are a few programs, especially work related ones, that I am unable to do so. Microsoft Excel is a good example, where there are certain functions/programming plugins that our company uses that don’t work on Only Office or the other alternatives. There’s also highly specialized software, like Mozaik, a cabinet drawing software, that is only available on Windows as well.

Do you just run them in a VM with an unlicensed version of Windows? Or is there a better option?

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When I encounter software I want that isn’t available for my OS, I guess I kind of work down this list:

  1. Do I actually need it?
  2. If so, Is there other software that is available for my OS that accomplishes the same job, or a webapp?
  3. If not, are there other ways I could accomplish that same task in a different way?
  4. If not, maybe its worthwhile to setup a Windows VM, dual boot, or a second device with Windows for work/school/contexts where you need a specific piece of windows software.

In most cases I don’t need to go past question 1-3, but in Uni I did use the VM approach for some productivity software, etc. Some people would include WINE in that last, I personally haven’t used it, as I try (pretty successfully) to just avoid using Windows only software as much as possible.

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Web app for Excel/Office 365.

A WindowsVM if your other app does not work on Wine. Try also to run the installer under Steam/Proton if you have a Steam account.

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Lutris, or even Bottles, are good options. They both can be used to run Windows applications without Steam accounts, if you are concerned about that/don’t have a steam account. (Lutris is focused on games but you can run pretty much any .exe file with it)

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I’ve been keeping my eyes on Winapps which is running a Windows VM in the background and then using RDP (remote desktop protocol) to integrate single apps into the Linux desktop. So you can for example right-click on an Excel file and open it in Excel 365 that’s running in the Windows VM. It’s really quite neat but there’s a bunch of freerdp bugs, especially under Wayland. Hopefully it will be more mature in the future.