Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I would like to know if the Ubuntu OS can run Windows applications.

Such as .exe, .dll files.

Or games like Call of Duty.

Without needing to download any application such as wine.

My guess is it doesn't but just to be sure I'll ask.

share|improve this question
Possible duplicate of How can I install Windows software or games? – steeldriver Jan 17 at 0:54
This isn't really a duplicate of that question, as it isn't asking how to install Windows software. – dobey Jan 17 at 1:10
@steeldriver I'm not looking for how to install it, I just want to know if windows applications work on ubuntu. – BiiX Jan 17 at 1:22
Applications that specifically are made for Windows will work only in Windows. That's obvious. Now, there are ways to make some apps work in Wine which is a Windows compatability layer. There's also options to install Windows as virtual machine under Ubuntu and use apps there, but you have to buy Windows license . Best of all is software made in Java , which works everywhere on x86_64 cpus – Serg Jan 17 at 1:39
up vote 3 down vote accepted

It is not as simple as that. While software written for Linux generally does not use the .exe extension, and dynamically loaded libraries typically have .so, more often with a version after that for stable libraries, there are some pieces of software which do use the .exe or .dll extensions, though they are not necessarily programs for Windows. For example, things written in the C# programming language, will have these file extensions.

You cannot directly run Windows programs on Ubuntu (or other versions of Linux). Some may be usable through the Wine translation layer that can be installed and used. However, more and more applications are becoming available for Ubuntu, and Linux in general, every day.

share|improve this answer
So, not all applications that are available on windows works on ubuntu? – BiiX Jan 17 at 1:21
Correct. Windows applications are for Windows. In some cases the developers of those applications may have made them available for Linux as well. For example, Steam is usable on Linux, but not all games in Steam on Windows are available on Linux. – dobey Jan 17 at 1:38
Ah, thank you. That's the answer I was looking for. I guess I'll wait some more before I actually install Ubuntu since I want my games to work perfectly... :P – BiiX Jan 17 at 1:40

Well, it's always tough to explain Linux to Windows newcomers. First tip ever: forget Windows. Linux is not and will never be Windows, just as Windows is not and will never be Linux. They are different. Period. Now the whole thing:

  • Linux is an Unix-like system. What? Unix-like? Unix is an ancient operating system born in the 60's, when computers were huge and men were men, writing their own hardware drivers. Unix had a singular file system scheme and an amazing set of utilities. Unix-like systems are the ones that follow these characteristics. Nowadays Unix is extinct, but its soul is held in lots of Unix-like systems, such as the BSD's, Apple's Mac OSX, Minix and Linux. We can say most of the existing OSs today are either Windows NT based or Unix-like.

  • Windows systems need file extensions to handle their files. They simply do not know what to do with a file without an extension. Those include .exe (binaries/executables), .txt (text), .bat (batch scripts), among lots of others.

  • Most Unix-like systems do not need any file extensions. Instead of relying on the filename, there is a thing called "MIME" (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension). It's basically a bit of code written directly in the beginning of every file. It tells the system how to handle it. However we do use extensions sometimes just to tell the user if a file is, e.g., either a shell script (.sh) or a text file (.txt), even though it's not necessary.

  • There is a thing called kernel. A kernel is a piece of software which makes the "translation" from software language to hardware language and vice-versa. It's essential to any Operating System: no kernel, no OS. Windows uses the NT kernel, while Ubuntu uses the Linux kernel (that's why it's a Linux distribution). When a developer makes a program he uses a programming language, and this language must be translated to binary (computer language) before this program can run. This process is called "compiling". But each kernel has its own way of translating a program to computer language, so programs compiled for NT can't run natively on Linux, and vice -versa.

  • There is a very popular program for Unix-like Operating Systems called "Wine". Wine creates a compatibility layer so these OSs can run Windows programs. What Wine does is translating the program's requests to Linux language. You can install it in Ubuntu through the Software Center or through command line with the command sudo apt-get install wine. Right-click the .exe file you want to run and click "open with Wine". Note that some applications may not work.

  • And last, but not less important (actually the most important one), there are ALWAYS free, open-source, native alternatives and solutions for Windows programs in Linux. Don't forget that!!!

P.S.: sorry for so much "language" and "translation" examples, it's the best way I found to explain.

share|improve this answer
Unfortunately, there are not always FOSS applications native on Linux that can replace Windows applications. – dobey Jan 17 at 1:39
This is a great post, however I do have a few questions : Will "wine" work on all applications, such as : Visual Studio, Unity3D, and games like COD ? Will I lose performance when using it? Can I run GTA 5 on ULTRA without any loss of performance? :P – BiiX Jan 17 at 1:39
@BiiX Whoah, calm down buddy. First, no, Wine cannot run all Windows programs (specially the ones that use directx11/12, which Wine does not support yet). I would say Wine runs most of them. As I said, you can always find native alternatives, such as Blender instead of Unity3D (even though Unity3D has a beta version for Linux). Games run pretty fine with Wine, but do not expect the newest games to run. GTA 5, for example, won't. About game performance, it's relative, (continue on next comment) – Eduardo Cola Jan 17 at 1:44
Some games work better under Wine than under Windows itself, such as CoD 1, 2 and 4:MW (didn't test the others), 18 wheels/ETS. Other games run but don't have the same performance as on Windows, such as GTA 3/VC/SA/IV (they run, but not flawlessly). Wine has an application database at . Always search for your Windows applications there before trying to run them. (next comment) – Eduardo Cola Jan 17 at 1:48
But there are also great games which are native for Linux. You can install Steam in Ubuntu and enjoy ALL valve games natively (Half-Life series, Counter-Strike series, Portal series, Dota series, Left 4 Dead series, Day of Defeat series among lots of them). Other great non-valve titles are The Witcher 2, Batman: Arkham Knight, Saint's Row IV and the latest Street Fighter. – Eduardo Cola Jan 17 at 1:50

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.