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CrossOver Linux Professional 10.0 "The Impersonator" [Review].

India, Feb. 11 -- One of Windows' biggest advantages is the large collection of commercial applications that are exclusive to the platform. Often it is one or two of these applications that keep people locked to Windows, which in turn gives application developers an incentive to stick to Windows.

Wine neatly breaks this circle by implementing a compatibility layer that allows Windows applications to run on Linux without modification. Unfortunately a number of applications still do not function properly, and by searching online you often get a series of convoluted configuration parameters / patches / steps that can get your favorite program working.

Codeweavers CrossOver Linux is a supported commercial offering that simplifies the installation of popular applications such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Internet Explorer and Quicken. CrossOver builds on Wine, giving it a simple-to-use UI for installing popular applications, and for managing multiple applications environments that it calls bottles (from Wine bottles). Codeweavers has code named CrossOver 10 "The Impersonator" since it impersonates Windows in order to run Windows applications on Linux.

We thoroughly reviewed and tested CrossOver 9 when it came out, and a majority of the functionality remains the same in this version. Before going over what's fresh and new in this latest version, let's reiterate some of the things that remain the same ? for a detailed perspective, you can read the CrossOver Linux 9.0 review.

Bottles: CrossOver can isolate different applications installs from each other using the concept of bottles.Every time you install an application, CrossOver will create a fresh "bottle" with a fresh virtual Windows "install" in it. The registry, "Program Files" directory etc, are all separate for each bottle, thus allowing you to install multiple copies of the same application in different configurations, or install different versions of the same applications. For example you can install Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 in parallel using CrossOver; this is something that is not normally possible on Windows.

Each bottle has its own "Control Panel" and Wine configuration, and can be tuned to a different version of Windows (98 / 2000 / XP / Vista / 7). Bottles can also be packaged and sent to other users fro quick installation, or wrapped into installable Linux rpm / deb packages.

Normally applications you double click will start running immediately, you can specify a default bottle to run such applications in.

Linux Integration: Applications installed using CrossOver integrate well with the Linux distro. CrossOver automatically creates entries for Windows applications in your distro's menu. All entries created by Windows applications appear under a menu called "Windows Applications", which for all intents and purposes is the equivalent of the Windows "All Programs" menu.

Windows applications installed using CrossOver can also be associated with files just as any other Linux application. You can even drag and drop files on CrossOver applications, and copy paste (usually) between Linux and Windows applications.

Installing applications: If the application you are installing is supported by CrossOver, then installing it is as simple as selecting it from the list of applications. CrossOver will, if it can, automatically download all the libraries / components / fonts required by the applications, and then download and install the application itself. Example of this would be IE6, and 7 which can be installed in this manner. In case of applications like Microsoft Office 2007, you merely need to insert the software install disc, and CrossOver will detect the application and start the setup.

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Codeweaver has a large community of users who help maintain a large database of all applications that can run on CrossOver, along with ratings of how well they run. For many applications CrossOver users have posted helpful tips and tricks to get applications running. In CrossOver 9, Codeweaver took advantage of their large community of users willing to come up with and share recipes of how to make applications work, by allowing such complex install procedures to be wrapped into XML profiles, in the form of C4P files. These profiles could then be downloaded from the CrossOver website and used to automate the install of software that aren't officially supported by Codeweavers themselves.

In the latest version, this feature has been further strengthened. In place of C4P profiles you now have a system called CrossTie, that uses .tie files which serve the same purpose. In CrossOver 10 these profiles are automatically downloaded and updated from the software interface.

Community-supported applications such as IrfanView can be installed straight from CrossOver.

CrossOver will even warn you if you need to install any Linux libraries to make the app work better.

IrfanView and its dependancies automatically installed IrfanView running on Linux Mint 10

This way if there is an improvement to any existing recipe or a new recipe available it will automatically be downloaded and made available in the interface.

One can still browse the CrossOver database to find CrossTie profiles for applications that are not included with CrossOver. Now for example you can easily download and install IrfanView from the CrossOver interface, for which you would have needed to visit the CrossOver website in the previous version.

You can choose whether you want profiles to be automatically updated The settings for downloading application profiles can be refined via "CrossOver Preferences"

CrossOver uses the open source Wine at its core ? CrossOver 10 uses Wine 1.3.9 ? and contributes to its development. The direction and focus of Codeweavers development of Wine is based on the votes and pledges given to the many applications in its database.

Since the engine powering CrossOver, Wine, is free and open source, one can get similar results from using Wine directly for free. While Wine itself doesn't provide a UI for the same, some CrossOver features such as automatic download and install of applications, and creating "bottles" is possible using free / open source third party software such as Wine-Doors and Q4Wine.

However, CrossOver provides a more integrated and polished solution that provides a number of unique features such as archiving bottles, making packages, and installing applications from profiles.

Crossover 10 is available in a number of versions. CrossOver is available not only for Windows but for Mac OSX as well (although we tested the Linux version). CrossOver has three editions for each platform, Standard, Games, and Professional. CrossOver Games is optimized for gaming, while CrossOver Professional adds features such as deploying Windows applications as RPM, multi-user support etc. The professional version also includes the Games license. The Standard and Games versions cost $39.95 (currently ~ Rs. 1,850), while the Professional version costs $69.95 (currently ~ Rs. 3,200).

If you are a Linux user who is struggling without your favorite Windows application, you might want to give it a try under Wine and CrossOver version. Chances are you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Date:Feb 11, 2011
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