What Is OpenGL® for WINE®?

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  • Written By: Eugene P.
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2019
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The Open Graphics Library (OpenGL®) for the Linux Windows® Emulator (WinE®) is a way to execute programs under the Linux operating system that were originally designed to run natively under Microsoft® Windows®. OpenGL® for WinE® attempts to provide all the graphical functionality, including direct hardware support, that is provided under Windows® in a way that is mostly transparent to the user. Technically, a user should be able to download WinE® and automatically have support for OpenGL®, but this might not always be the case and some complications can arise. These problems with OpenGL® for WinE® are further exacerbated by the fact that some high-end graphical programs written for Windows® actually rely on tricks and optimizations that are based on proprietary or bugged implementations of standards that are not replicated or recognized in WinE®. For most programs, the OpenGL® for WinE® libraries do work well, but programs that are highly optimized and use exacting metrics can malfunction or simply not run under the framework.


The task that OpenGL® for WinE® attempts to solve is to run a program under a different operating system in the same way that it would under a native Windows® environment. This task is difficult partly because areas of the Windows® operating system are hidden and proprietary, and partially because of the security restrictions that Linux systems impose on the programs it runs. For these reasons, the OpenGL® implementation under WinE® has some areas in which the emulation is not implemented in the exact same way that it is under Windows®.

The complexity of emulating software from another operating system aside, OpenGL® for WinE® is predominantly used, as is OpenGL®, by the video game and three-dimensional (3D) graphics industry. These programs are written with the utmost care to pull every last bit of processing power and optimization out of the computer system and compiler. The results are programs that can have trouble even running natively under a true Windows® environment. This is made more complex by the fact that Windows® provides its own native graphical libraries known as DirectX® that are supported by most graphics cards. Emulating calls to DirectX® by rerouting them to OpenGL® calls can create extra steps that can reduce the performance of a program.

The OpenGL® for WinE® emulation system is very effective for a high percentage of programs. It can run a large number of Windows® applications without any problems. For new software, especially software that uses very low-level access and tricks to increase performance, the problems that can be encountered using an emulator might make a program unusable outside its native environment.


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