Printing from Wine on OS X

by kai on 15/01/2012

The flight planning software I use is Windows-based and unfortunately Windows-only. It’s a really powerful tool and there’s nothing comparable for OS X (at least not for Australia and New Zealand), so I’m happy to go the extra mile making it work.

The easiest way would obviously be to install the software in a virtual machine and to run just Windows in such a VM with VMWare Fusion or Parallels. That’s what I usually do whenever I need to run a Windows system for development or for a certain client setup. With this flight planning software it’s a bit different as it’s really just a stand-alone software I’d like to run within OS X. So, I thought I’d give Wine a try.

Wine is a software that emulates a Windows environment via X11. It’s available for various *nix platforms and also via Macports for OS X. The installation is quite simple if you have Macports already installed (if not, follow this great tutorial from David Baumgold on how to setup Wine with Macports from scratch):

sudo port install wine

That’ll give you a working installation of Wine and you should be able to run/install Windows software (note: not every software might work easily within Wine) with:

wine whatever.exe

All that went good and well. The only issue was that I wasn’t able to print from the flight planning software. For obvious reasons I wanted to be able to print the flight plans/maps I’ve created to take them on the plane. I did some investigation and some people suggested installing CUPS-pdf. CUPS-pdf is basically a “Print to PDF”-feature for CUPS-based printing systems (as OS X is). It’s actually quite cool as it also allows one to print to PDF from the command line. CUPS-pdf is part of Macports as well and can installed by the same mechanism via port install.

Unfortunately that didn’t solve the issue. There’s a bug report on issues with Wine and OSX printing with the resolution of it being an issue in the Wine bundle within Macports not being configured for CUPS. I uninstalled Wine and installed Wine-devel instead (which is supposed to be on a version where the bundling is fixed). Still no solution for printing.

At this stage (and because I found a few more reports from people having issues with the particular combination of Macports and Wine) I resorted back to using Wineskin. Wineskin is a tool that essentially creates a Mac application wrapper around your Windows application by using an embedded version of Wine. It’s actually quite cool because it makes the experience of running a Windows application even more integrated with your Mac.

The welcome surprise – within Wineskin, I automatically had access to the pdf printer installed by CUPS-pdf and happy flight planning is on the way 🙂

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