PlayOnLinux is a well-known application that allows its users to install and run games and applications that have been released only for the Windows platform, without breaking any laws.
There is no denying that Windows has a large number of apps and games and some of them are actually quite good. In fact, until just a few years ago, most games were only released for Windows systems and occasionally for Mac OS. It has changed somewhat, but not that much. A number of titles are still Windows only, and people are still looking for older software.
Some of you will say that we already have Wine and that Crossover does a great job, and you would be right to a certain extent. The problem is, Wine is only friendly if the game works out of the box, which doesn’t happen that often. Additionally, Crossover is a commercial app, and not everyone will be inclined to buy it, although it is extremely good. Keep in mind that many Wine developers actually work for Codeweavers, the developers of Crossover.
PlayOnLinux uses Wine, and it’s no big secret, but its creators went even further. They have also implemented a GUI which helps users better understand what is going on and makes the whole installation process mostly automated. You still have access to some of the more complex things, but you might not need them.
I tested PlayOnLinux in Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf), which technically is not a stable version yet. I had no issues with the app itself, but Wine decided to put up a resistance. Fortunately, PlayOnLinux is actually smart enough to install and use newer versions of Wine, even if the dependencies are broken on the distribution.
There is no official PPA for Ubuntu, but the developers provide a DEB file and it installs just fine. If you want to use a third party PPA, the guys at Noobslab have one in place. Either way, here’s how to install the application using the DEB file. Download the file, open a terminal where the file is located and enter the following commands (root will be required):
sudo dpkg -i PlayOnLinux_4.2.9.deb
sudo apt-get install -f
PlayOnLinux also needs Wine, so we’ll need to install that as well. As I said earlier, I had problems installing Wine 1.7 in Ubuntu 15.10, so I had to settle for Wine 1.6. This is not a major problem since PlayOnLinux can download and use other versions of Wine. Open a terminal and enter these commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa: ubuntu-wine / ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wine1.7
If you can get 1.7 to work, you can also install 1.6.
PlayOnLinux isn’t a hard app to use, and it has something for everyone. If you don’t want to do anything fancy, just hit the Install button and find the app or game you want. These are essentially profiles that were developed by people from the community.
Let’s say you want to play Bioshock. You select the game from the list and PlayOnLinux will download some packages like Mono or Wine 1.4 (confirmed to work with Bioshock), and you will come to a step where you will be asked what type of installation it is – from from a file stored locally, from a DVD-ROM or from Steam. I have this game on Steam, so I’m going to select it. I’ll also need to download proprietary fonts, but the app will do that as well.
I also need to install Steam, because I can’t just use Steam for Linux. The process will take some time because I have to download Bioshock, but as you can see everything is working fine.
It was the storyline of something that was already available, but I also installed one of my favorite RTS games, the Old Blitzkrieg, and it’s not listed. The procedure is not much different and I used my copy of GOG.com. It went pretty much the same way, and I didn’t have any issues.
It’s also worth pointing out that you can also customize the app itself, which is quite important, and you also get access to the Wine installation. For example, I usually set Wine to run in a window and not full screen. If something goes wrong (it sometimes happens), you can lock your system down without any way to close the app.
Another cool feature is PlayOnLinux Vault which allows users to save successful installations for later, with or without compression. That way, when you have a fresh install of an operating system, you just roll back that package and don’t have to do everything from scratch.
PlayOnLinux is a simple and straightforward way to install Windows apps, and the interface is probably its greatest asset. Everything can be done with a few clicks and without any prior knowledge. Also, the fact that you can install multiple versions of Wine is definitely a plus.
The only problem I have found with PlayOnLinux is that there is a possibility of locking your system when you start a game in full screen. Sometimes ALT-TAB won’t work and your only chance is to hit that reset button. Also, the error reporting is not very good, and sometimes you don’t know why something is not working.
It’s easy to see why PlayOnLinux is so popular in the community. It provides both simple, easy-to-use instructions for new users and enough options to keep experienced ones at bay. If you don’t want too many hassles and don’t like Wine’s micro-management to run your favorite apps or games, you don’t need to look any further than PlayOnLinux.