Everything Linux - Review of WABI for Linux v2.2
WABI v2.2 for Linux

WABI v2.2 for Linux by Caldera

Last updated on December 3rd, 1997

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Word on the street is that WABI is DEAD. Sun is no longer developing WABI whatsoever, citing that there are other alternatives to running Windows apps under UNIX. Hence, Caldera won't be releasing anything further either, which would explain the bargain rate of $99 for WABI these days...

So, why buy a dead product so that you can run yet another dead product? If you happen to dig Win3.x programs then read on, as WABI v2.2 is still pretty cool. If you don't give a toss about Win3.x stuff, then move on, pardner. This horse is dead.

It should be noted that links and info on the net will be drying up along with this program, so links below may no longer function correctly...

One word... WHOA!

WABI for Linux v2.2 is just too cool! Below you will find a quick run down of my experience with WABI on a RedHat v4.1 (Vanderbilt) system running on a computer with a 166MHz CPU, 160MB of RAM and an Imagine 128 4MB video card. Basically, if I had to some it up in a paragraph, it would sound something like this...

WABI for Linux v2.2 by Caldera/Sun is an amazing product. The installation and use of the program is very simple and I had no problems at all. Performance is incredible, and most all programs ran -- even the "unofficial ones" that aren't on the approved applications list.

Strictly for the record, I do not work for, nor do I derive any benefit from this review from Caldera, Sun, RedHat and certainly not Microsoft. This information is a completely neutral review of the capabilities of the program solely done for my own, as well as for your enjoyment and information only. Nothing is hype or inflated. Hmmmm. Anyone out there need a "disclaimer lawyer?" ;>


Well, if you're running RedHat or Caldera, then installation couldn't possibly be simpler! Pop the CD into the CD-ROM drive, mount it and run the install-wabi program and it's straight forward from there. In short, I experienced no problems whatsoever!

One thing you may want to do is make a little shell script or apply the suggestion that Caldera provides; adding the directory to your path. I simply made some shell scripts under /usr/local/bin/ that correctly maps the WABIDIR environment value (as I have mine setup on a Jaz cartridge, rather than the default location in your home directory) and runs WABI from it's location in /usr/opt/wabi/bin/. A little hacked, and you certainly won't have to do this. I only did it this way, as I didn't much more room left on my root drive for all this stuff, so I setup WABI on my Jaz drive temporarily. Don't forget to do a "chmod 755" on these scripts to make them executable. Here's my wabi script:

# WABI script to setup a non-default WABIDIR (on Jaz drive)
export WABIDIR=/Jaz/wabi
/opt/wabi/bin/wabi &

Another thing I have done is make two shell scripts, called "win" and "nowin" (hhhmmm, a nowin situation?) that do some fancy switching of the Xaccel.ini file from my AcceleratedX installation, which customizes the screen resolution, virtual desktop size and of course, bit depth down to 8-bit. I've found that WABI/Windoze works best when there's no toolbar, icons, etc. on the screen that can steal from your 256-color colormap. So in the near future, I'm going to hack up those scripts to switch the .fvwm2rc95 scripts to enable/disable the taskbar and icon panel you normally see on my desktop.

Basically what I'll end up with is a stripped-down X windows at 1024x768 running nothing but Program Manager, just like the real Windoze, and another setup that runs my normal X windows at 1152x900x65K with the toolbar and icon panel. Sure, you can them all at the same time, but I find 8-bit colors for X windows a little cramped. It's no big deal because if you need to run something from your custom WABI setup, just pop up an xterm and run whatever you want! I just like things to be sano. To quit and restart in the other mode is trivial, speedwise. It's like going from Windoze v3.1x to NT in five seconds... ;>

Here are my two scripts, win:

# WIN script to run WABI in "Windoze Mode"
ln -sf /etc/Win_Xaccel.ini /etc/Xaccel.ini

and nowin:
# NOWIN script to run WABI in "Normal X Windows Mode"
ln -sf /etc/X_Xaccel.ini /etc/Xaccel.ini

Other than the above (or in your case, probably not) then the install worked correctly, smoothly and otherwise just plain perfect!

The next step, once you are ready to run WABI, is to make sure your X server is in 8-bit mode. It will not work in 15/16 bit modes, nor 24-bit mode. There is a way to do it under 24-bit mode, but I haven't hacked it yet.

Fire it up with the command "wabi" and the first step is to install Windows. Best bet is Windows v3.11 and not Windows for Workgroups, as you can't use many functions like networking (perhaps you can, with NCPFS installed on your Linux box, I haven't tried yet). I've seen it running TCP/IP on someone's system, as it was running mIRC!

Don't freak about the C:\WINDOWS directory! It's actually a subdirectory under your ~/.wabi directory! The first time I saw this (admittedly before reading the manual!) I almost freaked, thinking, "well, there goes Windoze95..." ;>

Now What?

Now that WABI is setup and Windows installed, you can proceed with loading up all those crazy Microsoft Windows applications you couldn't live without. That IS why you bought WABI, right? ;>

There's no wallpaper as it's really the X window's root window. Also, while you might be able to run a screensaver, don't. Other than that, the printer, com ports and so on are pretty much fine the way they are. Double check them, of course.

So far, I've installed MS Word and Excel and they installed and ran perfectly, without a single hitch. I also installed Video for Windows, despite Caldera's warning to the contrary. Indeed, it doesn't work.

I'm going to desperately try to get any version of Adobe Photoshop to run, as then I could just get rid of Windoze95 altogether... ;>

Also, I'm going to pop in Adobe Pagemaker, Lotus Organizer, Pegasus Mail, Microsoft Internet Explorer and some other things to run. Through the use of DOSEMU you can enable your MS-DOS prompt icon to fire that up... COOL! I want to get Autodesk 3D Studio R4 to run under Linux! It just doesn't get much cooler than this, lemme tell ya.

The thing works transparently with drives. The old "A:" drive maps right to /dev/fd0 and the "C:" drive maps to your WABIDIR environment variable's path. The "R:" drive is conveniently mapped to your Linux's root directory. Sweet.

Printers are awesome here. I haven't played with it yet, but I'm thinking you could setup a raw Postscript driver (or save PS to a file) and utilize Ghostscript's awesome power (especially with Epson Stylus printers) to give your Windoze printing some serious oooomph! It does translate transparently to the Linux lpr system. Under RedHat, it's just magic.

Now then, I can run UNIX/Linux and MS-DOS/Windows apps under Linux now, so maybe I'll get Ardi's Executor next, just so I can run Macintosh apps under Linux too! =8)

"Unofficial Progams" that Run

I can't leave well enough alone sometimes, so I decided to push WABI and see how far it could go. I installed a whole bunch of different apps, and here are the ones that I've gotten to work so far (which is almost every program I tried):

Programs that don't work so far (may be due to a lack of a "fresh" install):

How Fast is it?

Not much to say here, except FAST AS HELL! In running Windows for Workgroups v3.11, Mirosoft Excel v2.0 and Microsoft Word v2.0c so far, it simply flies. I've never run Windoze v3.1x on this 166MHz Pentium, so I don't know how fast it would be natively, but I've got to say, WABI pretty much has it tweaked! Remember the days when windows opened instantly? Well, they're back folks. Excel and Word both pop up in a split second and overall, system and video performance are blazing. Of course, the fact that I've got a quick CPU, tons of RAM and a smokin' video card may help, but I've heard stories from folks that say it's darned fast on their systems as well!

CHECK THIS OUT! I ran the Ziff Davis WinBench v3.11 benchmark program, and scored a whopping 15,321,146 WINMARK's! I don't know if you remember this "old" system of benchmarking, but put it this way... That's d*mn quick! By comparison, an old Compaq 486/33 with the QVision graphics card at 800x600x256 scored 7,478,559. Don't forget, I'm running at 1152x900x256. When I ran at 800x600x256, I got a score of 14,716,231. Not too bad, considering everything is emulation! The funny thing is, my video card, the Number Nine Imagine 128 w/4MB VRAM is optimized for a 16/24-bit display, not 256 - I've proven this under Windoze95 benchmarks. Plus, don't forget that Windoze v3.1x is a LOT "snappier" than Windoze95 on the same hardware, so the results are quite amazing.

Just a quick note on this; from typing the command "wabi &" at the command line to having Program Manager fully up and running takes three seconds! (this is equivalent to a fresh boot on a PC, and loading up Windoze v3.1x!) It would be even quicker, but I've put a Windoze startup sound in (coicidentally, it's Data from Star Trek : TNG saying, "Ahhh, I have Access." Coincidence? Maybe!) Note that this is from the cache. I have to check what the "cold start" load time is. Of course, if you're running an Ultra-SCSI drive instead of my SCSI-2 internal Jaz, then your times may well be much quicker.

Some day I'll setup RAID 0 on my Linux system just to see how fast this thing can go... Right now, SCSI-2 or EIDE drives are my only choice, but I hope to get multiple Ultra-SCSI's going soon. That's a *theoretical* limit of 80MB/s with RAID 0. Of course, you'll never obtain anything close to that, but compared to the normal theoretical rate of about 10MB/s to 13MB/s it's something to seriously consider...

Linux 2.1.x Kernels and WABI

I have tried to run WABI under the 2.1.43 Linux Kernel last night, and it didn't work. The error was:

Warning: The memory size is less than what is recommended for Wabi.
0 Mbytes are available, 24 Mbytes are recommended for Wabi.
Wabi performance may be affected.
Warning: There is not enough swap space on your system to run Wabi.
0 Kbytes are available, 20000 Kbytes are required.

My thoughts are that there's a problem with the way WABI reads memory parameters from /proc/meminfo, as even the normal "free" command doesn't work.

An important thing to note here is that I haven't tried very hard (read: not at all) to get it to work. I will in the near future check out the Caldera WABI website (which I might add is *quite* stale these days) and see if there's some mention of this with a workaround, hopefully.

The Future

According to Sun Microsystems, the developers of WABI (Caldera just ported it to Linux) in June 1997, WABI v3.0 was supposed to be out. Now this is something to really get excited about! It will run Windoze95 applications!

I don't know about you, but my Windoze v3.1x stuff is buried under tons of stuff, the least of which is not dust! I'd love to be able to run all my Windoze95 stuff under Linux! If and when that's possible, then the only thing I'm running is Linux. It's like NT; if the Windoze subsystem goes down (i.e. crashes just like the real Windoze) then you can kill the WABI process(es) if they don't end on their own, and Linux keeps on ticking.

So, I don't know if Caldera will port v3.0 to Linux as they did with v2.2. I've asked them each time I spoke with them, and either no one is willing to admit anything, or they honestly don't know. Let's hope they do!

I'm already drooling at the thought of being able to run 3D Studio Max v1.2 and Photoshop v4.0 under Linux...

WABI v3.0?! An Update

Well, at least as of December 1997, WABI is officially and irrevocably DEAD. Sun is no longer developing WABI *at all* as they state "there are other methods to run Windows apps..." which also means that Caldera won't be getting a new WABI anymore, either. Hmmmm, could that be why they're selling it at a "bargain rate" of $99? I say give it away free, as it's a dead product that runs yet another dead product...

All images are (C) 1994-2005 by Michael Holve