Wineskin: running Windows apps without Windows

Over the last few months I’ve been making use of an app called Wineskin, which lets you run Windows applications on a Mac without running Windows.  It utilises Wine, an open-source project which attempts to duplicate all the functionality of Windows libraries thereby enabling Windows executables to run on Linux/OSX/etc.  This doesn’t work with everything, but definitely with enough titles to make it useful.

The particularly cool thing about Wineskin though is that it installs all the Wine binaries inside a normal .app OSX application package.  You then install the software you want within this ‘wrapper’, thus enabling it to run on any Mac without requiring Wine or anything else to be installed first.  This is very handy in a school, as I can create wrappers for all the different Windows applications I want to run and then just drop them into the Applications folder of various Macs, via Apple Remote Desktop.  The user then just launches the app and starts using the program.  This makes for a much smoother experience that clicking on a VMWare Fusion shortcut, waiting for the virtual machine to start, clicking through the various ‘Download update!’ and ‘Buy the new version of Fusion!’ messages and then finally getting to your application.  Well I think so anyway.

Today I tried getting it to work with a BBC Active CD-ROM about ‘Rites of Passage’ in RE. It seems to function ok, although I’m having trouble moving the Wineskin ‘wrapper’ between computers.  The weird thing is that you can preview the whole piece of software online using Flash, which makes me just a little bit annoyed why they didn’t make a Mac version while they were at it.  I guess it can’t have be worth their while. And if they’re making and selling CD-ROMs, they are clearly not trying to be at the cutting edge of technology, especially as you would be increasingly hard-pressed to find a Mac with an optical drive anyway…

The Great iPad Reset

I’ve finally conceded defeat that 6 iPads per class isn’t working.  6 iPad is just not useful in your average classroom as it’s difficult to use as a whole class and involves careful planning to make use of them in small groups.  Compared to the daily use in Foundation Stage, the KS2 iPads were just sitting in cupboards. Which isn’t great!

So, we’ve decided to turn those 30 iPads into two class sets, one for upper KS2 and one for KS1.  Ideally, I’d love to have a proper sync/charge box, but there isn’t the budget for that at this time of year.  So instead it’s a case of wiping (which is easy, thanks to Apple Configurator) and then an old-school iTunes sync. We’re going to charge them in some IKEA lockable cabinets and then sync them with iTunes over wi-fi. We’ll then have a plastic box which teachers can transport the 15 charged iPads to their classes.

Let’s hope that increases their usage!