Getting MWS to work on a Mac

March 30, 2009

Getting MWS to work on OSX

This post describes, in detail, how I got Magic Workstation (MWS) running on my MacBook. There are few reasons that I would want to use anything Windows-Specific on my Mac, but playing Magic is one such reason. And until the Vintage community adopts an open-source, or at least cross-platform, program, MWS is what we are stuck with for playing against a wide field of opponents.

The basic problem with getting MWS running on a Mac is that it is a Windows-based program, designed to run on PCs. Now, there are several ways to get a Windows program running on your MacBook. The first, of course, is to run Windows itself using Bootcamp or a similar strategy. In these solutions, you are actually running Windows on your MacBook. There are also third party programs which let you emulate Windows on your MacBook. You basically are running a pretend version of Windows, and in this simulated world, your Windows programs happily run.

While those solutions are fine if you need to do a lot of Windows-Based computing, I'd rather find something that is Free, has a low footprint on the machine, and doesn't require that I boot into a separate operating system. And as always, being Open Source is a nice plus too. The solution that I wanted was WINE. WINE is a set of APIs which lets your Windows programs hook into your Mac computer. In non-technical terms, WINE acts as an extra layer between your Windows program and your Apple operating system to enable them to talk to one another.

Unfortunately, as with many open-source projects, getting this running properly on your Mac requires several steps. In fact, WINE is actually designed for Linux computers, so getting it working on your Mac will take a bit more effort than usual. I'll guide you through those steps, and you can be running MWS on your Mac after a little bit of effort. I'll try to make this light on technical jargon and easy to follow.

1. Run "Software Update" on your Mac. Always a good step before starting a new project like this.

2. Get X11 Installed. X11 is a windowing package used in Linux. If you have Leopard, there's a copy of it on your Install disk on the Developer package. If not, or if you just don't feel like digging up that disk, you can grab a copy from here: http://xquartz.macosforge.org/trac/wiki

3. Get Darwine installed. Darwine is a OSX port of WINE. It was dropped for a while, but it appears that someone has starting maintaining it again. Here is where I got my copy (version 1.1.18): http://www.kronenberg.org/darwine/

4. Run the Trix.app that comes with Darwine and grab a copy of the different Fonts that are available, and the different rendering packages. You'll need those to make sure things like your life total are visible.

5. Test that your WINE installation works. Inside the Darwine folder that goes on your Application folder, there will be a number of small test applications. Make sure that the clock works and that you can type in Notepad.

6. Windows, in general, will think of itself as living in what it calls a "C:" drive. In the mind of Windows programs running under Darwine, they live in "C:" while your Mac components live in "Z:". You'll probably want to navigate the area that your Windows programs consider the C: Drive. Here's how to do so. Go to your home folder. Now go there using Terminal, the command-prompt program. If you go to your home folder in Terminal and type "ls" you will be given a list of the folders that you are also viewing in the finder. Now type "ls -a" which indicates that you want to view hidden folders as well as the standard ones. Notice that you can now view a folder called ".wine". This is the hidden folder which your Windows programs will consider the C: Drive. In order to create a link to it, type in the Terminal "mv .wine wine". Now, you can see a folder called "wine" in your home folder in the Finder. Create an Alias for it, calling it something like WineHome. Then change the name of the folder back by typing in the Terminal "mv wine .wine". You can now browse your C: directory in the Finder by opening the alias.

7. Install MWS just like you would on a PC. Its default behavior will be to install itself on your WineHome folder, which it thinks is the C: drive, under "Program Files". Note that you can't just copy your preexisting MWS folder onto your PC, because MWS demands that it modify your registry in order to run. While Macs are too well-designed to have a Registry, WINE lets the MWS installer think that it has modified the registry. In actuality, it appears that WINE maintains a virtual registry for use by the Windows programs. This means that if you have a folder for MWS that you want to use from another machine, you can download and install a new version of MWS. Then Copy and Paste your old files to overwrite the new files. Your registry is then modified, and you get to keep using your old, up-to-date files. Installing MWS can be a bit tricky even on a PC, but that's outside the scope of this discussion. There's plenty of help online for that already.

8. If you have registered MWS, Copy and Pasting the old files won't mean that your new copy is registered. However, you can type in your old Registration code and that will work fine.

And that's it. Best of luck with this. Please let me know how it works.

Rich Shay