Page updated:September 22, 2016

Using RR-Track v5 with non-Windows Operating Systems
such as LINUX and Mac OSX

RR-Track is a Microsoft Windows application and as such, makes heavy use of of the Windows API.  It is compatible with Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, and Windows 10.  However, it is possible to run RR-Track v5 using a different host operating system ( OS ).

The two most popular alternate OS’s are LINUX, a modernized version of the old UNIX and the underlying host for most web servers, and the Macintosh OS, which also uses UNIX/LINUX as its underlying framework. For LINUX there are a large number of GUI-based distributions which we will not discuss in depth, one of the most popular is Ubuntu.  The MacOS is currently at 10.9.x Mavericks.  LINUX can be used on a large number of standard PCs ( we use it as an alternate boot OS on a laptop ), while the Mac OS is used only on PCs purchased from Apple.

Without going into details, there are no plans to produce native LINUX or MacOS versions of RR-Track.

Neither of the above OS’s directly support Windows applications but rather natively run applications using the window manager for their system.  In order to run a MS Windows application under either LINUX or the MacOS you must have some other application installed which will take the native Windows API calls that RR-Track generates and translate ( or interpret ) them to the equivalent window system calls for the host OS.  This not a simple task.  However, since there are a large number of MS Windows applications that have no real equivalent in the LINUX or Mac worlds, software has been developed that allows MS Windows applications to coexist to a lesser or greater extent with native applications on other OS’s. 

There are a number of different ways to implement MS Windows on a non-Windows PC but the two most popular are:

  1. Install a real version of Windows to run in a virtual manner using one or another available virtualization applications ( VMWare, VirtualBox, Virtual PC, Parallels ).  In this case RR-Track is installed on the virtual machine (VM) and thinks it is running natively under the Windows OS.
  2. Use an interpreter such as WINE.  WINE is a free, open source system that that lets many Windows applications run on UNIX-like operating systems.  Windows applications are installed in the LINUX user area and used special dynamic link libraries ( DLLs ) to substitute for the real Windows DLLs and translate Win32 API calls to their equivalent UNIX/LINUX versions.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.

Virtualization:  the best VM manager we have used is that available from VMWare, the free VMWare Player for LINUX PCs and the very nice VMWare Fusion application for the MacOS.  We use VMWare Professional ( this is not free ) in order to run virtual versions of MS Windows under a Windows 7 host OS so that we can test RR-Track v5.x in other Windows environments.  With a multi-core processor in the host PC, you can assign the VM to run on one core and see little to no loss in performance.  The primary advantage is that your Windows applications ( such as RR-Track v5 ) are running on real Windows so there are no compatibility issues.  The primary disadvantage is you will need a valid version of MS Windows to install in the VM ( or VMs if you have more than one ); this is generally not free.

WINE interpreter:  we have installed WINE on both an Ubuntu 14.04 LINUX PC and a MacBook Pro using 10.9.2 Mavericks.  If you are not a computer systems geek and don’t want to configure a lot of things yourself you can use the not-free-but-low-cost application Crossover from Codeweavers to set up ‘bottles’ for your Windows applications and configure WINE ( which Crossover installs itself ), or you can use the free application Play On LINUX or Play On Mac to do something similar ( Play On LINUX requires you to install WINE yourself ). The primary advantage of using WINE is cost -- free if you do it yourself or at most $30 for Crossover.  The primary disadvantage is that RR-Track v5 is not 100 per cent compatible with WINE.  There are a number of standard parts of the user interface that are ‘clunky’, such as all of the tab-switching, tearoff menus do not work at all, and opening layout files using what are supposed to be standard Windows file dialogs is problematic.  However, 90 per cent of it does work.

What Do We Recommend?

One of the virtualization applications from VMWare.  On the Mac, VMWare Fusion is a very slick package, will install Windows ( Win 7 in our test ) automatically from an ISO file, allows you to easily configure how much of the Mac resources you want to devote to the Windows VM ( we used 2 of 8GB of system memory ), and lets you run Windows applications in ‘unity’ mode where your favorite Windows applications, like RR-Track, can appear on the finder/launcher just like your Mac applications and do not have to run in an obvious ‘Windows’ window.  Fusion costs about $60.

The same is true for VMWare Player running on a LINUX PC, we show a screen shot of this above.  In this case the VM is running Windows XP Pro SP3, and is running in Unity mode with VMWare Player for LINUX.  We are using Ubuntu 14.04 as the host OS.  RR-Track v5.1 is in the foreground with Windows Explorer behind it, we launched RR-Track by double clicking on a layout file which we made in this environment.  Other native LINUX applications are behind both of this with the application launcher bar on the left.

If you install a version of Windows in a VM for either Fusion or Player, you are not restricted to using just RR-Track v5, you can install any of your other Windows applications as well and get the best of both worlds.

RR-Track for Windows is produced by R&S Enterprises

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