I’ve been using PlayOnLinux over the standard wine installation for managing my windows games, PlayOnLinux has a similar approach as crossover office, as it puts the applications into different containers called prefixes so that each application is self contained and doesn’t interfere with other applications, this makes it very easy if you wish to remove an application. Another benefit of this is that the applications don’t necessarily have to run the same version of wine.
The separation of prefixes came in useful when I “upgraded” the version of wine that I use for Warcraft 3 to version 1.3.19 I found whilst playing that I was not able to select multiple troops using the mouse, it was simple to revert back to 1.3.16 and the other applications I have installed were not affected.
PlayOnLinux is useful for office apps and I am currently running the windows version of Evernote on PlayOnLinux. The only real issue I have with PlayOnLinux is the handling of Icons within applications, it doesn’t often pick them up. But a quick search on google images normally shows a suitable icon for it. PlayOnLinux allows you to choose from a list of pre-defined applications or an unsupported application, for a predefined application it will use a “recipe” to create the best environment for the application in the form of a .pol file. you can easily change the version of wine from version 0.9.7 through to as at today 1.3.20, plus if you are feeling brave the daily snapshots are available too.
Compare this approach to a standard wine installation which works just like windows where applications are added in a single fake windows environment. So the registry file gets larger and then if an application fails to install and you need to remove the entries from the registry it is time consuming and I have trashed my registry file with over zealous editing resulting in me having to re-install the software, as like many people I never think to make a backup of the .wine folder before installing new software.
PlayOnLinux is a mix of Python and bash scripts to manage the installation of software and provide a friendly interface. I like the product a great deal, the nearest product to it is the Crossover series of software from Codeweavers (http://www.codeweavers.com), where applications are stored in bottles which you are required to purchase after a trial period. But supporting codeweavers does mean that you are helping the development of wine.
PlayOnLinux can invariably be found in your distributions repository but the latest version can be downloaded from the PlayOnLinux Site. http://www.playonlinux.com they have instructions for adding the PlayOnLinux repositories to the various Debian and Ubuntu versions so you can upgrade or install using synaptic or they have download links or installation instructions for other distributions.