Developers have popped the cork on a new stable release of Wine, the open-source compatibility layer that lets you run Windows apps and games on Linux.

Wine 9.0 release’s cup runneth over with enhancements, refinements, and enablements touching on every part of the Wine experience, from app compatibility to performance through to user-interface polish.

As you’d expect.

During the past 12 months Wine developers have poured in considerable effort. Indeed, the Wine 9.0 released is made up more over 7,000 individual grapes changes.

Of course, those of you who sup on the twice-monthly dev releases —hic!— will have sampled the bulk of the changes shipping here, in Wine 9.0

But for everyone else, here’s a swift run-through…

What’s new in Wine 9.0?

Wine Wayland Driver

Wine 9.0 includes an experimental Wayland graphics driver — hurrah!

Now, Wine’s Wayland driver is considered a work in progress and is not enabled by default. That said, already supports basic window management, multiple monitors, high-DPI scaling, motion events, and Vulkan support.

If you want to enable the Wayland driver in Wine 9.0 you modify a registry key and unset the DISPLAY environment variable. .

Wow64 Work

The Wine 8.0 release in 2023 was notable for improving the Wow64 mode (which lets 32-bit apps run without 32-bit Unix libraries being present), and further work on that is included in the latest release.

But what’s more interesting is that Wine 9.0 includes the new Wow64 mode. This makes it “possible to run 32-bit Windows applications on a purely 64-bit Unix installation […] as opposed to the old WoW64 mode where 32-bit applications run inside a 32-bit Unix process.”

While new WoW64 mode is not enabled by default it can be enabled during configuration. Wine devs expect most apps to work in new WoW64 mode but caution that it will result in reduced OpenGL performance, and lacks support for 16-bit code.

Finally, new WoW64 mode will once again allow 32-bit Windows apps to run on modern version of macOS, which no longer support 32-bit Unix processes.

Changes at a glance

A top-level overview of these and other changes in Wine 9.0:

  • Wayland graphics driver
  • New Wow64 mode
  • Windows version for new prefixes set to Windows 10
  • Continued work on Wine for AMD64, including PE/Unix separation
  • Direct3D buffs
  • Vulkan driver supports v1.3.272 of Vulkan spec
  • GdiPlus functions tweaks to improve graphics performance
  • LFH implemented to improve memory allocation performance
  • DLS1 & DLS2 sound font loading
  • Windows Media Video (WMV) decoder
  • DirectInput action maps
  • URL/URI protocol associations exported as URL handlers on Linux
  • Unicode character tables are based Unicode 15.1
  • Dark theme option added to WinRT theming
  • Built-in GUI apps now report errors using a message box

For a more thorough overview do check the official change-log for Wine 9.0.

Getting Wine 9.0

You can download Wine 9.0 source code and compile it by hand or, if that sounds like effort, go to the official Wine website to details on binary packages for various Linux distributions alongside the relevant repos/requirements needed to get them.

Since Wine maintains its own Ubuntu repo for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and above it is relatively easy to install the latest Wine release on Ubuntu.

While I can’t remember the last time I had need to use Wine (I am not a developer or a gamer) I do appreciate that the technology is there, ready should I ever have need to.