Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wine, Lunascape, and IE in Ubuntu Jaunty

My most recent explorations in Ubuntu have involved Wine (a translation layer that allows you run Windows applications on Linux and other *nix platforms) and a couple of Windows browsers.

I had thought Wine was installed by default in Ubuntu but found I was incorrect. Downloading and installing it was quick and painless, thanks to Applications->Add/Remove.

Now for some Windows applications to try it out on.

I recently read about Lunascape, "the world's first and only triple engine browser," which uses the rendering engines underlying Internet Explorer (Trident), Firefox (Gecko), and Safari and Chrome (WebKit); Opera's Presto was not included, nor were a handful of other lesser-known engines. Intriguing, eh?

I downloaded and ran the set-up .exe file with no problem by right-clicking and selecting "Open with 'Wine Windows Program Loader'," but unfortunately several attempts to run it resulted in at best a browser window that darkened after about 10 seconds, after which a warning box opened notifying me that the application was not responding; and at worst, nothing. Further attempts to uninstall and reinstall didn't help and it's unclear how I can remove Lunascape from my Wine programs menu (except possibly by un- and reinstalling Wine itself?) but a bit of research turned up instructions here to remove it entirely after uninstalling it from the Wine menu. I had to use ls to get the official name of the Lunascape folder and rm -r to get rid of it, but I'm getting better at that than I was.

Internet Explorer was more of a mixed bag. By following these instructions I was able to get IE 6 installed and running, but neither the XP nor Vista versions of IE 8, downloaded directly from Microsoft, would open with Wine. The interesting thing about the IE 6 installation is that it requires using the command line to start it: /home/john/bin/ie6, although reinstalling ies4linux created a desktop shortcut to it. I think I'll get rid of the shortcut and just try to remember ~/bin/ie6. That shouldn't be too hard, should it?

At some point when I feel very brave I might try VirtualBox with some of these Windows apps.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Two Ubuntu Challenges Faced and Conquered

I've been enjoying my experiments with Ubuntu and so far I've been able to do most of what I want to without much trouble. I've been particularly pleased with the similarity of some helpful little touches to Mac OS X, but the most recently discovered trick I would have preferred not to have had to use.

When the new 3.5 version of Firefox was released I downloaded it later that same day on my OS X machine by using the "Check for Updates" menu command. I was distressed to see that option grayed out in my Ubuntu Firefox, and even more so when I did some research and found that it was not expected that the new FF would be available in an officially sanctioned form until October's release of Karmic Koala. Almost immediately there were workarounds posted but most were quite intimidating. Fortunately, there are apparently a number of ways to go about it and I ended up using the instructions here, following the easy (fairly easy, anyway) instructions provided by Pritam P. Hans. They worked flawlessly and now the default browser is Firefox 3.5.

The other challenge was more esoteric. Although I'm the only person using this computer, I was curious to see if I could install a new font at the system level, as I do with my OS X computer. Junicode has just come out in a new version and since that's the font I'm using in my on-again off-again Hyginus Fabulae book and I'm hoping to be able to work on it on this computer too, keeping the file synchronized across machines thanks to Dropbox, I need to have the font here locally for XeTeX (actually XeLaTeX) to use. With OS X it's a simple matter of dropping the unzipped fonts into /Library/Fonts, but when I tried that with Ubuntu I was informed I didn't have permission. I ended up using Terminal and sudo mv, and it was here I made my happy discovery of an OS X trick: it's possible to drag an icon into Terminal and have it turn into a path. In fact, I was able to drag all 4 fonts into Terminal and making their destination (as I discovered) /usr/share/fonts/truetype. I was amused with myself because the first time I tried I used mov, which understandably puzzled Terminal since the command doesn't exist, and the second time I forgot sudo and so permission was denied. sudo is the computer's "Simon says," I realized.

In retrospect I realize that it's actually A Good Thing that the system is trying to protect itself by requiring a password before putting anything above the User level and I wonder why OS X doesn't, even for fonts? But I still don't understand why something as basic and desirable as Firefox 3.5 wasn't available to Ubuntu systems via the FF "Check for Updates" feature.