Use Wine when Windows fails

Last night I faced a real-world problem: My girlfriend and soon-to-be wife made the finishing touches on a photobook of her and wanted to upload it to the printing service. She used her sister's old Windows XP laptop to build it since the software (Rossmann/Fuji Photo Service) is for Windows and Mac only.

Trying to login with her email and password triggered an update mechanism which forced an upgrade of the whole software, additionally to the normal price update. The download took some 15 minutes (38Mib!) on our directed UMTS connection and afterwards the software tried to update itself and told us to restart.

Starting up the software failed since it told us the update corrupted something and we had to reinstall everything. So I manually downloaded the whole package again, this time using my browser - spending another 15 minutes - uninstalled the old cruft and reinstalled it. Now it really opened itself! Just that the new software wasn't Windows-only anymore and should theoretically work on a mac, too - which somehow made it really, really slow and had it using double as much memory than before. Whatever.

We opened the checkout file and were told that the photo book had some things in it that could not be read but were corrected automatically. Inspecting the pages we noted that quite a bunch of picture effects and texts were missing - which we had to redo manually. Oh teh technology.

Now that this had been done, we tried to upload the book again (with the most recent version!). Guess what? Yep, it tried to update itself again. But it failed to download anything and gave us an error 1504, with no additional specific textual message. What to do now? Last rescue was the burn-CD functionality which could also create ISO-9660 images you could burn on a different computer and bring into a local retail store (doubling the time it takes to get the book printed, but a book 2 weeks late is better than no book). And yes, it also failed by crashing. Oh my.

Jana nearly lost her nerves, thinking that everything she made in the last weeks was lost now that we couldn't get it out to the service. I remembered that I tried that software on Wine and succeeded by loading some native XML lib - although it crashed when trying to burn the ISO CD image. I gave it another try, this time with Wine 1.1.10.

I was positively surprised that the software opened much faster than on Windows XP. It also opened the photo book file without complaint. Now I tried the burning facility that failed last time and actually got it to generate an ISO - which was instantly burned via K3B! Happy! To strain my luck, I also tried uploading it to the online service center using the built-in upload facility. And - it worked! Out of the box! No software update necessary, just the prices got updated as they should and in an instant the upload progress bar (47kiB/s) was showing!

Ten minutes later, the upload was finished, we had the confirmation mail in our inbox and were happy. What a sick world - or better, sick operating system - this must be to need an alternative API implementation to get native programs work correctly.

Written by Christian Weiske.

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