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Can wine as a whole or the windows applications installed via wine pose some kind of risk to an Ubuntu installation? This question arose in my mind when I read this answer to my earlier question Accessing IE only sites:

Try installing PlayonLinux from playonlinux.org and install IE via PlayonLinux. and use IE only for those pesky sites :) - Received 1 downvote

And enjoying the risks of IE? No thanks - This comment received 2 upvotes

I believe this PlayOnLinux works as a frontend to wine making installing tasks easier.

In totality, I want to know if it is safe to install Internet connecting applications like IE via Wine? Is there any remote possibility of being subject to more online attacks and virus threats this route. I plan to use IE only for browsing websites not accessible with other browsers, like the one in earlier question.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Wine is just a compatibility layer, programs run in it have the same privileges as the logged in user.

From their FAQ:

10.2. How good is Wine at sandboxing Windows apps?

Wine does not sandbox in any way at all. When run under Wine, a Windows app can do anything your user can. Wine does not (and cannot) stop a Windows app directly making native syscalls, messing with your files, altering your startup scripts, or doing other nasty things.

Also read 10.1, especially:

  1. Never run executables from sites you don't trust. Infections have already happened.

Wine has to possibility to share your documents (or even your home directory or /) with the application. Even if programs are not malicious, it could still put junk on your system, like desktop.ini (controls the view of folders in Explorer).

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Viruses that are run in wine will generally stay within the C drive which wine creates, however, they can still cause harm to your system through startup entries and other method used by malware. However, they generally will not affect specifically Linux portions of your computer. This does not mean that it is impossible. A virus can be made specifically for wine to infect unprotected Linux binaries or attempt to escalate privileges on your system.

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Using Wine with Internet Explorer or other programs will only have potential malware reach your wine "drive", which is a folder structure inside of ~/.wine, as well as any other mapped folders.

And regarding viruses. The viruses may infect only those Windows' files, but Windows viruses do not run on Linux effectively - i.e. they won't infect your Linux system files unless its an actual Linux virus.

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/ is a mapped folder (`Z:`), so this is quite misleading. And since Wine can run Windows services, being infected with some Windows malware really could be a serious concern. –  Eliah Kagan Oct 28 '12 at 15:30
    
True, although i thought sudo requirements for / still applied? –  Thomas W. Nov 1 '12 at 13:10
    
The user running Wine certainly has access to some things contained within / but not within ~/.wine, such as all of ~. That could be a big problem! Besides that, Windows malware running as a limited user via Wine would have the same limitations of any program running as a limited user on an Ubuntu system. (Except there is a lot of Windows malware out there, and while this will almost certainly change in the future, right now there is very little malware written specifically to target Ubuntu and other GNU/Linux operating systems.) –  Eliah Kagan Nov 3 '12 at 13:55
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