Most Linux users would be appalled by the idea of attempting
to contaminate a Linux installation with any Microsoft product, especially
Internet Explorer. However, many Web sites don’t render properly using regular
Linux browsers, such as Firefox or Konqueror. Other sites
either require ActiveX controls or are designed to work only with Internet
Explorer. Also, how can you test your new Web design and JavaScript
for IE if you’re an Apache and Linux maven?

For those who may have the need for Internet Explorer
without the need to move to another machine or reboot, there is a solution for
you: an extremely useful project aptly named IEs4Linux. In this article, I will
describe how to install and begin using multiple versions of Internet Explorer
using Wine and IEs4Linux.

What’s IEs4Linux?

IEs4Linux is a small shell script that can be run via
console on any Linux machine with Wine installed. As the title suggests, it
allows you to quickly and easily install that most infamous of Microsoft
products: Internet Explorer.

The creator of IEs4Linux is Sérgio
Luís Lopes Júnior, a 21
year old Brazilian student and self-proclaimed lover of Linux and OpenSource. Naturally, being open source, IEs4Linux is
free. However, as with many people working on open source projects, Sérgio’s funding comes from the community; if you found
IEs4Linux helpful, you can PayPal him a few dollars to continue development of
the project.

IEs4Linux relies on the Wine project to supply an implementation
of the Microsoft Windows API. The IEs4Linux script actually downloads the
required CAB files directly from the Microsoft site; then, using cabextract, copies the files to a new Wine profile. This
way, your existing Wine profiles are not affected, and any other software you
have running will be just fine. In addition to installing Internet Explorer
versions 5, 5.5, and 6, IEs4Linux also can install Flash 9 for you from Adobe.

IEs4Linux is a GPL product; however, Internet Explorer is a
copyrighted product of Microsoft. This means that you will need to be in
possession of a valid Windows license version greater than 95, although it will
not be asked for during the installation process.

Author’s note

For the purposes of this article, I’ll assume you’re running
the latest version of Ubuntu as your Linux
distribution. IEs4Linux will work with almost every distribution, but the
installation routine varies. This article assumes that you already have Ubuntu Desktop installed and operational.

Depending on how you like to install your software, I have
included two sets of instructions, first the graphical (GUI) method and lastly
the console (CLI) method.

Installing the
required packages

To install all the applications required to enable IEs4Linux
to run properly, ensure that you have the Universe repositories enabled. Open
the Software Sources configuration screen, which can be found under Toolbar |
System | Administration | Software Sources.

Next, you need to select all the repositories for the
CD-ROM/DVD option. You won’t need this option. The online repositories are kept
up-to-date, as shown in Figure A. Press the Close button when you’re

Figure A


the required repositories to install Wine and cabextract.

Now it’s time to begin installation of the required
packages. Go to Toolbar | System | Administration | Synaptic Package Manager.
Once it opens, search for Wine and cabextract. Once
you find them, press Apply, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Wine and cabextract.

it old school with the console

You can also obtain the files from the console prompt. To
begin, open a console. You can do this by going to the toolbar and going to
Application | Accessories | Terminal. In the terminal, run the command: apt-get
update && apt-get install cabextract
The install process will begin after pressing [Enter]. The apt-get process download installs all
the files and packages for wine for you.

Getting down to business

Now that you have Wine installed with cabextract,
it’s time to download the IEs4Linux files. You can either go to the IEs4Linux Web site,
or return to a console to enter this command to download the latest IEs4Linux


Figure C shows what this looks like.

Figure C

the IEs4Linux Installer.

After you have downloaded the latest build tarball, you need
to cd to
the directory where you downloaded tarball to if you did not do so from the console. This can
be done easily with the command cd ies4linux-*.
Next, enter the command tar xzvf
in the console to decompress the tarball and
change directories into the build directory. Finally, to launch the IEs4Linux
script that will begin the installation process, type ./ies4linux.

You will be lead through a text-based series of screens that
will ask you questions about what versions of Internet Explorer you want to
install, as shown in Figure D. The
first question asked will be if you wish to install version 5 and 5.5 of Internet
Explorer; you can make that decision for yourself. In addition to installing
Internet Explorer, IEs4Linux will also install the Flash Player plug-in

Figure D

the IEs4Linux Installer.

After a few minutes, the script will download all of the
required files and install them on your computer automatically. Additionally,
links on your desktop will be created to Internet Explorer making for quick
access. The Internet Explorer launch binaries will exist in the newly created
directory bin in your home directory.
For quick access on command line, run ~/bin/ie6 to launch Internet
Explorer version 6. You’ll see IE run, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

You should now have
Internet Explorer running in Linux.

Congratulations; you have successfully installed Internet
Explorer version 5, 5.5, and 6 on your PC. With the assistance of IEs4Linux, it
is possible to have Internet Explorer accessible to you as a tool on any Linux
system that can run Wine.

Variations in other

The install process for other distributions will be
different according to that distro‘s package system. But the rest is the same after
that. For example, in Gentoo, the series of commands
would be:

emerge --sync
&& emerge wine cabextract.

For Fedora, the commands to install wine and cabextract are:

yum -y install

yum -y install cabextract

For Mandriva, the directions are:

urpmi wine cabextract

For more distributions and instructions, please visit the IEs4Linux site.

Known issues

There are a number of known issues with the Internet
Explorer version installed by IEs4Linux. Some of these include:

  • VML
    does not work.
  • PNG
    transparency does not work even when using hacks (a consequence of the
    “CSS filter” bug).
  • Windows
    Update does not work.
  • JavaScript
    error dialog does not open.
  • Modified
    toolbars are not saved.
  • ActiveX
    may not work with some special cases.

The install of Internet Explorer made by IEs4Linux doesn’t
have the JavaScript debugging enabled by default, which can be quite
frustrating when you know there is a bug on the page, but can’t get the error message.
To get around this, you will need to enable JavaScript debugging.

In the menu bar, go to Tools | Internet Options to open the
Internet Options dialog. Next, press on the Advanced
tab and scroll down to the Browsing section. Uncheck the list item Disable Script