Ubuntu comes pre-loaded with a lot of software. A LOT of software. As of June 2011 the Ubuntu Software Centre lists 35,920 applications available for free download. Think of it as a sort of AppStore or Android Market, but instead of downloading mini-apps for your hand-held device these are fully-fledged desktop applications for your PC. All 35,920 of them are just a couple of clicks away.
This is fantastic.
But there are Windows programs for which there are no Linux equivalents – nor will there ever be. For example, software that accompanies pieces of hardware, such as the Update Manager software for my Garmin SatNav. I had downloaded and made good use of the Garmin Point of Interest Loader too, back in the Windows world. Is it even conceivable, in your wildest dreams, that these will be ported to Linux? No, not in the slightest. Deal with it.
OK, so, what to do? How do we deal with it?
There are several options. One is to make use of an on-going and mature initiative called Wine. The idea is that Wine provides a background framework for Windows applications to run in Linux. They have an impressive database of applications that they have successfully managed to run under Linux, including big-name graphics heavy games. At the time of writing it lists 16801 compatible applications. The application you want might well be sported by Wine.
Another option is the Internet. Sticking with the SatNav example, I used to use the fabulous and free Point of Interest Editor to edit POI files. I would later load these into the Garmin and my own data points would be shown on the map, and could be navigated to. Necessity being the mother of Googling, I searched and found that there are free sites that offer the same functionality as the POI desktop applications. As a bonus they store a copy of your files in the cloud, providing a safe haven for your data. So if you can’t get a Linux application to do what you want there might well be a web-based solution you can use. I found all I need (as far as POI editing goes) at the aptly named POI Editor site – and it’s free.
A third option is VirtualBox. That topic deserves a post all of its own.