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Deployment of Wine

The project is to build a Linux Mint machine to have the identical functionality and ergonomics as the existing Windows 10 machine.
Having established that there is no way to migrate fully from Windows to Linux, the project now needs to consider running Windows apps in Linux.This is a big change to the strategy of the project.This is a big change to the deployment of a Linux workstation, a crushing admission of failure, and the opening of a whole new world of risks to an otherwise secure operating system. Environment & required functionalityFor this blog post, Wine was tested on: The Linux Mint Xfce 19 virtual machine "Bilbo", on host Windows 10 laptop "Saruman"The Linux Mint Xfce 18.3 virtual machine "Gimli", on host Windows 10 host "Legolas".
Alternatives There are alternatives to Wine/PlayOnLinux, notably the paid software Crossover. Software selection Wine and PlayOnLinux are present in Linux Mint by default.  If uninstalled following advice fr…

Google Earth

The project is to build a Linux Mint machine to have the identical functionality and ergonomics as the existing Windows 10 machine.

This stage relates to Google Earth.

Environment

Google Earth needs to be used on the following machines:
  • The Linux Mint Xfce laptop "Gandalf";
  • The Windows 10 laptop "Legolas";
  • Another Windows 10 machine, "Albertsquare", used exclusively by another user.
The synchronisation agent is Google Drive in Windows 10, and grive2 in Linux Mint.

Because of the known limitation in scope, another Linux Mint machine was created, named "Gimli".  Gimli is a Linux Mint Xfce 18.3 Sylvia 32-bit virtual machine running in Oracle VirtualBox on Gandalf.

Required functionality

Google Earth is a useful desktop-based tool by which to design walking routes, to capture results of the pilot walk and to document required changes to the route's design.

The routes range from 6 miles to 12 miles and use public rights of way.  These are marked on maps published by the Ordnance Survey, in turn based upon the Definitive Maps produced by the county council (the Highway Authority, in English law).  Ordnance Survey maps are visible for free via Streetmap (for example, Perry Green, Hertfordshire, UK).  The green dotted/hashed lines are the public rights of way for walkers, horse riders and cyclists.

But the signposts ("waymarkers") can be a bit haphazard.  Whereas the counties' local authorities are responsible for ensuring public rights of way are open to the public, landowners (and their tenanted farmers) are responsible for maintaining the public rights of way, as part of the cost of owning the land.  The counties of Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire are pretty good at this and have engaged landowners positively.  The county of Essex, however, is not so good: in Essex, landowners and tenant farmers seem to think they are entitled to sabotage rights of way, or remove waymarkers, or crop over the footpath, with impunity.

To guard against these risks, especially on walks between 10 and 15 miles, a good tool is a GPS machine.  This can tell you where you are, but not where you are going.  To tell where you are going, you need to plot a route.  Ergo, Google Earth.

Limitation in scope

When Gandalf ran Win7x64, the last version of Google Earth that worked on it was v7.  It once auto-updated to Google Earth Pro and immediately failed. Gandalf's video process was too old to handle the graphics that Google Earth Pro demanded.  An older, non-auto-updating version of Google Earth remained on Gandalf and worked well.

All things being equal, it would be unreasonable to expect Gandalf running Linux Mint Xfce 18.3 to achieve better than Win7x64 on the same, old hardware.

Alternatives

Google offers two alternatives to Google Earth for Desktop:
Both are good products for their intended functionality, but they do not match Google Earth for Desktop.  Required functionality includes:
  • drawing routes, using satellite images to check the likelihood that a line on the Ordnance Survey map, or the local authorities' definitive maps, is useable;
  • measuring its elevation and length;
  • noting points of interest;
  • marking up hazards encountered on pilot walks; and
  • importing GPS trials of the actual walks into Google Earth to compare actual against plan.

One website that does the job probably better than Google Earth: PlotARoute.Com.  This meets all of the above functionality, and enables uploads & downloads in formats GPX and KML.  This requires no software be installed on the machine, so if Google Earth fails on Linux, then there is a viable alternative for use on a Linux machine.  That said, its free use is limited to 5 private routes, so there is an in-built bias towards publishing intellectual property rights free of charge to the whole world.  The paid version is GBP 14pa and permits 500 private routes.

Beyond Google and PlotARoute.com, there are some other alternatives, but none listed as at Jun2018 appear to provide the functionality listed above.

Upon return from a walk, the GPS data needs tidying up before use.  The sole application available to do a competent and semi-automatic job is the Java applet GPSPrune (blogged here).  GPSPrune, and its functionality, is outside the scope of this blog entry.

Software selection

Google Earth is the sole candidate for selection.

Installation experience

Linux Mint's software repositories include a DIY version of Google Earth.  Software Manager lists its name as "Googleearth-package", description "Utility to automatically build a Debian package of Google Earth."  As one of the comments says of 27Apr2018, "Do you guys ever learn?  Installed and no-where to be found.  This kind of stupidity is going on for 20 years now."  Yup.  That's the nature of freedom... at least in the Linux community! And the user has to find instructions about how to use it: they're here.

Worse, the Googleearth-package is largely redundant in Linux Mint.  The app has pre-complied .deb packages for Ubuntu, on which Linux Mint is based.  So quite why Linux Mint's repositories point to Googleearth-package is a mystery.

A Windows user wouldn't waste time with this nonsense and would rightly revert to "normal" practice: go to Google Earth's download website, download the installable file and run it.  In fact, given Gandalf's known incompatibility with Google Earth Pro for Windows, the direct installers page was the appropriate source for all of the software in this test.

On Gandalf, a 64-bit machine, there was no v6 of the software available for Linux.  Google Earth Pro v7 installed successfully and nearly worked.  The only bit of the app that didn't work was the main pane, the bit with the world & satellite images on it.  A bit of a fundamental fail.  But this was expected: Google Earth Pro didn't work on Gandalf when it was Win7x64, so no surprise to see it fail on Linux Mint.  If anything, Linux Mint was more stable, because Linux did the bits it could and just carried on running.

On Gimli, a 32-bit virtual machine running on a more modern machine Gandalf (with the right hardware!), Google Earth Pro v7.3.0.3832 installed and worked absolutely fine.  With a more generous allowance for the video memory, Gimli might have run Google Earth more quickly, but the proof-in-concept was present and succeeded.

User experience

When Google Earth worked on Gimli, its functionality was identical to that of Google Earth on Windows.

Having successfully grived data from Google Drive, Gimli's Google Earth successfully opened existing files.  No further tested deemed required.

Conclusion

Google Earth works in Linux Mint.

Completed Jun2018.

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