Sometime ago, I committed myself to Linux and Wine, with the promise that I would sincerely abandon Microsoft Windows by not dual booting my system nor installing any virtualization software. Well, it is now tax-time and the Federial goverment wants their "fair share" of my income. Will my prefered tax software package, TurboTax, run with Linux & Wine? All the evidence I have gathered (see Wine's ratings for one data point) on the web leads me to believe I will be very disapointed. I can't find any success stories! Never the less, I will use this as a learning opportunity. I'm going to plung forward and try to get TurboTax working with Wine, .... and it it fails me, resort to VirtualBox, which appears to have at least some success stories.

Installing and Configuring Wine

Wine can be installed via the following:

# installing wine
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wine
sudo apt-get install cabextract
sudo apt-get install winetricks

winetricks is a script which automates the installation of various useful packages, offering a friendly interface to do so. The cabextract package is a native Linux application that extracts Microsoft Cabinet files (CAB). ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa will get the latest versions for Wine and keep it updated with new releases. This is important since the Wine support team is frequently fixing and twecking it to get Microsoft Windows software working. To test if you got things installed properly1, execute one of the already installed Microsoft Windows packages. Try the following: wine notepad.exe.

Installing TurboTax with Wine

Wine is complex and large. I don't have the patience for hours of configuring and testing; particularly if in the end I can't print or electronically email my tax return. I'm going to plung into installing TurboTax via Wine, and see if I can get things running with minimal effort.

So, I put the CD in the drive, right clicked on the setup.exe file, picked the menu item "Open With Wine Windows Program Loader", and got a error screen titled "We can't install TurboTax on your computer just yet...". Appears that TurboTax doesn't like Wine's version of the .NET Framework. A little research surggested that I should install .NET 4 via this command:

# install .NET
winetricks dotnet40

After this, I still got a .NET related error. Specifically, the TurboTax installer was looking for the netfx40testapplication.exe. Another quick search brought me to these bug report: #1 and #2. I have had enough ... on to VirtualBox!!

Installing TurboTax with VirtualBox

VirtualBox is being setup with Microsoft Windows (specifically Windows 8.1) as a the Guest OS and with the native Linux (specifically Ubuntu 13.10) as the Host OS. VirtualBox version 4.3 has added Windows 8.1 support, so that is the version I wish to install. I initially installed VirtualBox via Unbuntu's software center (eqivalent to using sudo apt-get install virtualbox virtualbox-qt), which installed version 4.2.16-dfsg-3, and I had to back it out. Instead, I install VirtualBox from the Oracle maintained repository, following the procedures outlined by Oracle. I added the following lines (for the approprate linux distribution; mine is saucy) to the /etc/apt/sources.list file:

# Oracle's software repository for VirtualBox
deb http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian saucy contrib

Downloaded the Oracle public key for the software:

# get the public key for VirtualBox's repository
wget -q http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian/oracle_vbox.asc -O- | sudo apt-key add -

Now install VirtualBox:

# install VirtualBox
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install virtualbox vde2 virtualbox-guest-additions-iso virtualbox-ext-pack

Configuring VirtualBox and Installing Windows 8.1

It appears you can install 32 or 64 bit Windows (assuming you have virtualization suporting processor). I choose the 64 bit version. As to the installation steps, I was guided by the posting "Windows 8.1 in VirtualBox", and the steps are basically the following:

Configure VirtualBox

  • Fired up VirtualBox, clicked the "New" button, and used the Wizard to create a virtual partition for Window
  • I gave the virtual machine the name "MS Windows"
  • I allocated to the virtual machine the maximum amount of RAM, that being 3.584GB
  • I created a 50GB virtual hard drive with a VirtualBox Disk Image (VDI). I Choose to have the virtual drive to grow dyanamically.
  • I opened up "Settings" and under "System" > "Processor", enable "PAE/NX". I also increased the CPU Cores to the number supported on my box (i.e. 4).
  • Under "Display" > "Video", I increased the Video Memory as high as I can, disable 3D Acceleration but enabled 2D Acceleration.

Install Windows 8.1

  • Still in the "Settings" window, go to "Storage" and under "IDE" where it shows "Empty", click the disk next to it and installed Windows 8.1 64-bit DVD into the drive.
  • Still with "Storage", click the disk icon right of the "CD/DVD Drive" and select "Host Drive ...". Also check "Passthrough". Click "OK".
  • Select the "Start" button om the VirtualBox Manager window.
  • At this point, a window should pop up and you see the Windows 8.1 install process begin.

Installing TurboTax on VirtualBox

This is easy. Fire up the "MS WIndows" vitual machine, and load TruboTax like you would any other Microsoft Windows application.

Conclusion

Everything seems to be working perfectly within TurboTax using VirtualBox! I believe VirtualBox is destine to stay load on my Linux box. As to Wine, .... we'll see.

Sources

Getting Wine Working

Getting TurboTax or Quicken Working

Getting VitualBox Working


  1. NOTE: Use the utility winecfg to configure Wine and change settings like sound, graphics, Windows version, and so on. 


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