So, I just built my PC today, and am only using Ubuntu until I get Windows installed (sorry, guys!) But when I go to click on any .exe file, nothing happens. It just sits there. No error message, nothing. I've seen other people with similar problems, but they all get an error message. But not me... Whats going on? How do I fix this? Help?
.exe files are not binary-compatible with Ubuntu. There are, however, compatibility layers for Linux, such as
Detailed answer and solutions
The underlying problem:
Ubuntu is a completely different system than MS Windows. Not only it looks differently, but it also uses different mechanisms for its core functions.
The problem with .exe files is that they are specific to Windows. No other system is capable of running them, because their contents are designed to work on a Microsoft's system. Linux uses different standards, different concepts, and therefore Ubuntu applications need to be adapted to them to work correctly.
If you have just migrated from Windows and are doing your baby steps with Ubuntu, you may be indeed surprised that .exe files fail to run. There may be different symptoms, either an error message may appear, or there may be no effect at all when double-clicking an .exe. This all happens, because Ubuntu has no idea what should it do to run that file. Ubuntu is not knowledgeable about how MS Windows works "behind the curtain", and therefore it can't execute the code that's within them. In technical jargon, one says that Windows and Linux executables are not binary-compatible.
Looking for alternatives
The first thing you should do is to realise that most likely you do not want to run that .exe file. Most Windows applications you are used to have their Ubuntu alternatives in Ubuntu Software Center.
Therefore the very first step when you try to run an .exe file is to check whether there is a Ubuntu version of the same application (like Firefox - it has both a Windows and Ubuntu edition), or a close alternative, which is not the same app, but does 99% the same stuff. For example, if you want to compose a document, instead of MS Office you will want to use LibreOffice.
How can I find an alternative?
Here are some tips.
Okay, but not all applications have alternatives. There are a number of cases where you will want to run the .exe program anyway. Examples include:
Luckily, you can get .exe files to run on Ubuntu.
Running .exe files on Ubuntu with WINE
What is Wine? Well, technically it's a compatibility layer. What it means is that it provides an environment similar to Windows to any .exe application you try to run. Therefore, with WINE .exe files will run on Ubuntu.
WINE is not installed by default. You can get it either by:
Details on installing WINE can be found in this question.
Okay, so I installed WINE. Now what?
Proceed to launching your .exe file! Double-click it, and with a bit of luck everything will seem like on Windows. Voilà!
WARNING: Not all applications will behave correctly when run with WINE. WINE is by no means perfect, and because it pretends to be a Windows environment instead of actually being a real one, some applications may malfunction. Common problems may include incorrectly displayed fields, fullscreen issues with video games, copy-protection problems. Some of them can be solved with litte hassle, make sure to check the WINE application database and use google to find hints in case your .exe does not work correctly.
Running Windows applications on Ubuntu with PlayOnLinux
There is another tool you may like which aids you in running Windows applications.
What it does is it runs a specific version of Wine which is known to work best with the application you are willing to run. It also installs additional paths to provide maximum compatibility with Ubuntu. But you don't need to know about that; everything is done automatically.
Because of that, PlayOnLinux tends to provide the best results in case of running a widely known piece of software, including many video games.
Instead of double-clicking the .exe (which launches it with WINE), run PlayOnLinux application. Select "Install" button on the toolbar, and choose what application you wish to install. PlayOnLinux will guide you through the installation process (of course you will need installation media).
Once it's done, your installed application will be displayed in PlayOnLinux main window. Double click to launch it!
If you are not satisfied with WINE, there are some commercial softwares that runs Windows applications on Linux. One of the most well-known is CrossOver. In some cases it has significantly better results, yet it is not available for free.
You should be aware that Ubuntu is a totally different OS to Windows. The file structures are incompatible. So .exe files are designed for Windows, not Linux. Therefore they won't work.
Having said that, there are some .exe files that work well in Linux (Ubuntu) through a program called "WINE". The latest stable version should be in the software centre.
My strongest recommendation though - before installing WINE - is to go to the developers website and familiarise yourself with what it can and can't do, and what windows programs are known to work with it.
Finally, there are 1000's of apps that are designed for linux that do much the same things that windows apps do. Many are cross-platform, like VLC, Firefox to name a couple.
I hope this helps.
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Well windows 'exe' file won't run on linux it's different breed of operating system. You could install wine an then try again. Works very well in most of the cases.
And give ubuntu a fair chance, you don't need Windows in most of the cases. You are just under impression that this is necessary part of computer experience.
Maybe a proper error message should tell you that .exe files are specifically create to run in a Windows environment. There are plenty exciting ways to handle this situation but they all need a little time and effort to get informed and understand. If you anyways plan to use Windows which is perfectly fine because you are free to chose then it might be advisable to just wait for your Windows installation and then you can run your .exe files.
In case you decide differently and want to learn more about Ubuntu and how to run executable files you should know that there are
Good luck and decide carefully!