Wine can indeed be a cruel mistress; the morning after the night before, after the
sudo apt-get install has faded away and left you nothing but a jiggered system that won’t run even notepad.
I speak of course not of the mighty grape and what she gives us, but of wine (Wine Is Not an Emulator), the Win32 translation layer for Unix/Linux that does an excellent job of allowing Windows programs to run natively on Linux, often at great speed and without problems.
And sometimes with problems. If you run Ubuntu or Fedora, you’ll be blessed with recent updates from the 1.3 beta versions of wine, while the official stable version has languished at 1.2 for what seems like an eon. If you use Debian, then
apt-get will only provide you with the even more Jurassic 1.0.3 version from the current stable (squeeze) repositories.
The reasoning behind Debian’s exceptionally cautious nature and glacial pace of rolling out updates is well known and well founded, and wine is hardly a core package. But that doesn’t help in the slightest when you really, simply, absolutely have to install and run Deathspank right now.
Ah, the joys of package management. Every linux distribution flavour has it’s own package management tool to ensure the otherwise near-impossible task of installing programs and their dependencies and updating them to the latest versions is made possible for mere mortals. Even the venerable Slackware.
Ubuntu, based on Debian, uses the same apt-get and dpkg tools. But as the pace of development at Ubuntu is much quicker and has a broader reach of users and developers than vanilla Debian, Canonical introduced PPA – personal package archives – on its Launchpad service to allow developers to create and maintain their own packages that can be accessed by Ubuntu users through
apt-get, without having to bring them into the Ubuntu official release package tree itself.
While built for Ubuntu releases specifically, these packages can be used with Debian – and therefore Crunchbang – without much hassle. Two things are needed: firstly the location of the archive, usually an http:// or https:// web address; secondly the GPG encryption key that is used to sign the .deb packages, ensuring that the software you are installing on your computer with root permissions is, at least to a point, trusted.