Can Linux Run Home windows EXE Information?

Users who recently migrated from Windows to Linux often wonder if they can run Windows apps and programs on their new system. The answer to this affects the user perspective of Linux in general, as operating systems should be easy to use while at the same time embracing the idea of ​​running different file formats.

A simple answer to the question is yes. You can run EXE files and other Windows programs on Linux, and it's not as complicated as it sounds.

By the end, you'll have a brief understanding of executables, as well as different ways to run these programs on Linux.

Executable files on Windows and Linux

Before running .exe files on Linux, it is important that you understand what executable files are. In general, an executable is a file that contains commands for the computer to perform specific instructions (as written in code).

Unlike other file types (text files or PDFs), an executable file is not read by the computer. Instead, the system compiles such files and then follows the instructions accordingly.

Some common executable file formats are:

  1. EXE, BIN and COM under Microsoft Windows

  2. DMG and APP on macOS

  3. OUT and AppImage on Linux

The internal differences between operating systems (mainly system calls and file accesses) are the reason why an operating system does not support every available executable format. However, Linux users can easily solve this problem by using either a compatibility layer software like Wine or a virtual machine hypervisor like VirtualBox.

Ways to run Windows programs on Linux

Running a Windows application on Linux is not rocket science. Here are the different ways to run EXE files on Linux:

Use a compatibility layer

Windows compatibility levels can help Linux users run EXE files on their system. Wine, short for Wine Is Not an Emulator, is a popular Windows compatibility layer that lives up to its name.

Unlike emulators and virtual machines, Wine does not run the program in a Windows-like environment created on the Linux system. Instead, it simply converts the Windows system calls into their POSIX equivalent commands.

Overall, compatibility layers like Wine are responsible for converting system calls, reforming the directory structure and providing a program with operating system-specific system libraries.

Installing and using Wine to run Windows programs on Linux is easy. Once installed, you can run the following command to run an exe file with Wine:

wine program.exe

Linux users who only want to play Windows games can opt for PlayOnLinux, a front-end wrapper for Wine. PlayOnLinux also provides a detailed list of Windows apps and games that you can install on your system.

By running Windows in a virtual machine

Another workaround is to run Windows EXE files with virtual machines. A virtual machine hypervisor like VirtualBox allows users to install a secondary operating system that runs in their base operating system.

All you have to do is install either VirtualBox or VMWare, create a new virtual machine, and set up Windows on it. Then you can just start the virtual machine and run Windows in your Linux-based operating system. This allows you to run EXE files and other programs as you normally would on a Windows-only computer.

Related: How to Set Up a Windows Virtual Machine on Linux

Cross-platform software development is the future

Currently, much of the software available is focused solely on a single operating system. Most of the apps you can find are only available for Windows, macOS, Linux, or a combination of these operating systems. You rarely have the opportunity to install software that runs on all common operating systems.

But all of this changes with cross-platform development. Software developers are now building apps that can run on multiple platforms. Spotify, VLC Media Player, Sublime Text and Visual Studio Code are some examples of cross-platform software that is available for all major operating systems.

The 5 best cross-platform apps to get things done

Are you looking for an app that lets you get your work done on all of your devices? Check Out These 5 Apps!

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About the author

Deepesh Sharma
(86 published articles)

Deepesh is Junior Editor for Linux at MUO. He writes informational guides on Linux with the aim of providing a blissful experience for all newbies. I'm not sure about movies, but if you want to talk about technology, he's your type. In his spare time he can be found reading books, listening to different genres of music, or playing guitar.

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