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Install and Optimize PlayOnLinux on Ubuntu and Wine

If you find it necessary to run Windows programs or applications in Ubuntu, you should take a closer look at PlayOnLinux. This program is powered by Wine to run Windows programs on Ubuntu, even if those applications are designed to optimally run on different Wine versions or settings.

By: Codex-M
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August 10, 2011

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Wine Configurations and Versions

Some Windows programs (particularly games) do not optimally run in all versions of Wine. Ideally, an Ubuntu gamer will research the Wine application database: http://appdb.winehq.org/ to determine the optimal Wine version and settings that the game would run. If you need an introductory tutorial about the basics in optimizing your Wine settings for a particular Windows application, you can refer to this tutorial: http://www.devshed.com/c/a/Administration/Configure-Wine-Ubuntu-For-Running-Windows-Based-Games/

In reality, you may be installing more than one Windows programs in Ubuntu. If that is the case, then the following situations are necessary to allow all of those programs to run without issues:

a.) Each Windows program might run in a different Wine version using the default Wine configuration settings for each version.
b.) Each Windows program might run in the same Wine version but using different Wine configurations or registry settings.
c.) Each Windows program might run in different Wine versions with different configuration settings.

Because of the three situations above, managing Windows applications can be daunting without some kind of software to manage those situations. This is where PlayOnLinux can come in handy.

Install PlayOnLinux on Ubuntu

This tutorial will be using Ubuntu Lucid Lynx (Version 10.04). If you already have a current Wine installation, then installing PlayOnLinux won't delete or affect the old Wine installation. To get started, follow the steps below:

1.) Go to Applications – Ubuntu Software Center – in the search box type PlayOnLinux.

2.) If you see PlayOnLinux, click the “Install” button.
3.) Enter your root Ubuntu password.
4.) Ubuntu will then download PlayOnLinux and install it on your computer.
5.) After installation, you should see PlayOnLinux under Applications – Games.

6.) The installation is not complete. Try launching PlayOnLinux and you will see the “First Use of PlayOnLinux” note. Click “Forward”. Make sure you are connected to the Internet. After you click “Forward”, PlayOnLinux will download some updates. Wait until it is finished and be patient - it might take a while.

7.) After downloading the updates, PlayOnLinux will finally launch. This time you will see the message: “An updated version on PlayOnLinux is available. (3.8.12).” This implies that you are currently using the old version of PlayOnLinux. To check your current version, go to “Help”, then click “About”. You will then see the current version:

As you have observed, the current version is 3.7.3 but version 3.18.12 is already available. To update and use the current version, follow the steps below:

a.) Close PlayOnLinux by going to File – Exit. Then go to Applications – Accessories – Terminal.

b.) In the command prompt, enter this command:

wget -q "http://deb.playonlinux.com/public.gpg" -O - | sudo apt-key add -

It will then ask for your Ubuntu password. After you enter it, it will display: “OK”.

b.) Next, enter this second command:

sudo wget http://deb.playonlinux.com/playonlinux_lucid.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/playonlinux.list

c.) When the command prompt appears again, enter this third command:

sudo apt-get update

d.) Finally after you see the message “Reading package lists...Done” and the command prompt re-appears, enter this last command to finally update PlayOnLinux:

sudo apt-get install playonlinux

Once you see the prompt again, the update process has been completed. Launch PlayOnLinux again under Applications – Games. It might require you to update Microsoft fonts. Just click forward and proceed to install them.

Finally, you are using the updated version of PlayOnLinux on Ubuntu.

Getting Started: Installing Windows Applications

The good thing about PlayOnLinux is that it makes it very easy for you to search compatible Windows applications to install. Simply launch PlayOnLinux, then in the Dashboard, click “Install”.

You will see a lot of Windows applications organized in different categories. It will even give you some ratings to the games to give you an idea of how good a particular game is with Wine. Consider the following illustration:

Case Example: Suppose you will install Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. So you click “Install” and then go to the Games section. Scroll down and select Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Finally, click “Apply”. You will then see the installation wizard. Note that it will install it to your Ubuntu home folder, for example:

/home/codex-m/.PlayOnLinux/wineprefix/GTASA

To understand more about Wine prefix, you can read this tutorial: http://www.devshed.com/c/a/Administration/How-to-Use-WinePrefix-in-Ubuntu-to-Optimize-Gaming/.

Click "Forward" to proceed. It will then aske you for the location of your CD. Just select from the path if it's available. Or, if you have the game installer right inside your Ubuntu Desktop:

/home/codex-m/Desktop/GTA

where the GTA folder contains the game installer .exe file. Just select “other” and provide:

/home/codex-m/Desktop/GTA

as the path, then click "Forward". It might ask you a question regarding the memory of your graphics card. To confirm:

a.) Go to Terminal and type this command:

sudo apt-get install sysinfo

b.) After it is installed, go to Applications – System Tools – SysInfo.
c.) Click your Video card (e.g. Nvidia)
d.) You will then see the model of your video card and the video RAM.

If you see a warning such as: “Do you want to patch your game?” Click "Yes" if you need to patch and you have the patch file, otherwise click “No”. One thing to keep in mind is that if the game is copy protected, you won't be able to play a game using PlayonLinux. At this point, after the game has been completely installed, you will see a message similar to: “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has been installed successfully”. Click "Forward" to finish.

Optimizing Gaming Experience using PlayOnLinux

Once the game has been installed, your next job is to optimize it for the best gaming experience. Follow these steps:

1.) Research about the game in the Wine application database: http://appdb.winehq.org/. Click “Browse”

2.) In the “Name” container, type the name of your game (e.g. Grand Theft Auto).
3.) Scroll and click the exact game version name (e.g. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas).
4.) This is where you will need to examine the test results provided by other gamers. See the table below from the Wine test results page of that game:

As you have observed, the version 1.x of the game has a gold rating with 150 test results (very reliable). Click 1.x and you will see the details. In the details, one test result is “Platinum” (best) with wine version running at 1.3.11 and using Ubuntu 10.10 or other variants.

If you are running Ubuntu 10.10, then you are in luck. This Ubuntu version is perfectly suited for this game. What should you do if your Ubuntu version does not match with the optimal results? You can still run the game under less optimal conditions or you can always select a game that runs perfectly with your Ubuntu version; try to research with regards to its compatibility before proceeding to install the game so that you won't run into serious problems later on.

To implement these optimal conditions with PlayOnLinux:

1.) Suppose your system installed Wine (the wine version before installing PlayOnLinux) version 1.2.2. This is the Wine version that will be used by PlayOnLinux by default. But the optimal wine version based on the Wine results test page for that game is version 1.3.11. To know your system installed Wine version, go to Applications – Wine – Configure Wine – click “About”. You will then see the version.

You need to install 1.3.11 in PlayOnLinux for the sole purpose of running Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

2.) Install Wine 1.3.11 in PlayonLinux. Go to “Tools” – “Manage Wine versions” select “1.3.11”, then click “Add”. Click “Forward”, then proceed to complete the installation. Wine version 1.3.11 will then appear under “Installed Wine versions”.

3.) Click the “My Applications” tab. Change the version from “System” to “1.3.11”.
4.) Click “Close”.
5.) Now go back to “Dashboard”. Click the game and then click “Configure this application”. Click “Forward”. Select “Configure Wine”. The Wine configuration will then pop-up - click “About”. You should now be using 1.3.11.
6.) Click OK.

Other things you can optimize are registry settings for the games. All of these tips are available in the Wine application database.

Finally, this is a sample screenshot of the game installed in PlayOnLinux. You can click “Run” to start the game.

If you encounter a serious problem on PlayonLinux, you can ask for help in their forums: http://www.playonlinux.com/en/forums.html


 
 
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