IEs4Linux – Internet Explorer 5.0, 5.5, 6 & 7 on Ubuntu Linux

Posted by on Mar 5, 2008 in Programming, Technology, Ubuntu, Web Development12 comments

IEs4Linux LogoI do a lot of Web Development, and try to build W3C Standards Compliant web sites – that’s why I always develop a website for Firefox first, and it’s also why I despise – with absolute passion – Micro$hite Internet Explorer (including version 7, which although is closer to following W3C’s standards than any previous version, is still crap), because I invariably have to spend twice as long as it took to design and develop the site, hacking CSS and JavaScript code to get it looking anywhere near as good as it looks in FF, in IE. That was a rather long sentence, that, had I been using M$ Word to write this, it would have probably suggested I revise and fragment it. positioniseverything.net has some great articles on IE specific CSS Bugs…

Also, as a Lnux user, and despite the fact that I have a dual boot system, I really resent having to reboot my laptop into a substandard operating system, to test my websites with a substandard web browser. Also add to this the fact that it’s a real pain in the arse to get more than one version of IE installed in XPoo. That’s where IEs4Linux comes in to play…

Admittedly, it borders on Heretic to install such dismally poor software in a Linux environment (I’m talking about IE here, not IEs4Linux!) , but for web development, it’s an unfortunately necessary evil. IEs4Linux works with Wine, and is a small set of scripts which automatically downloads and installs the IE 5.0, IE 5.5, IE 6, and with the latest beta version of IEs4Linux, IE 7 binaries. It also requires cabextract – a small application used to extract M$ Cabinet files.

I already have Wine, and cabextract installed on my Ubuntu, but if they’re not present, they are easy to install:

sudo apt-get install wine cabextract

So, I downloaded the IEs4Linux package to my ~/Documents folder – it can also be downloaded using wget:

cd ~/Documents
wget http://www.tatanka.com.br/ies4linux/downloads/ies4linux-2.99.0.tar.gz

Once downloaded, I unpacked, and entered the new directory:

tar -zxvf ies4linux-2.99.0.tar.gz
cd ies4linux-2.99.0

Within the new directory is an executable, ies4linux, which if run:

./ies4linx

IEs4Linux GUIopens a GUI for installing the Internet Explorer binaries. Via the GUI, it is possible to select the IE versions to install (for IE 7, the option is in the Advanced section), along with the Adobe Flash plugin, and also the option to install Desktop and Menu icons/shortcuts. Unfortunately, I ran into a couple of problems running the GUI, and IE didn’t install correctly. Thankfully, however, it is also possible to run the ies4linux executable with command line options, and bypass the GUI all together, with the –no-gui flag. Now, since I didn’t have the GUI to select the extra options, I had to set a bunch of other flags to install everything I wanted, including IE 5.0, 5.5, 7, core fonts, and no desktop shortcuts:

./ies4linux --no-gui --install-ie55 --install-ie5 --beta-install-ie7 --no-desktop-icon --install-corefonts

IE 6 and Adobe Flash are installed by default, but can be switched off with the –no-ie6 and –no-flash respectively. Running ./ies4linux –full-help displays a list of all the options available.

I actually had to run the script a couple of times, since the downloads from the M$ servers timed out, but the script detects what’s already been downloaded, and continues as necessary. Other than that, it was a simple, painless process! I now have IE 5.0, 5.5, 6 and 7 polluting my system, which can be accessed via the menu Applications -> Internet -> IE. The only thing I’ve noticed so far, is that IE 7 is a little clunky and slow, and the Adobe Flash plugin doesn’t always work with IE 7, but other than that, it works well. For IE…

Now, I only wish there was an easier way to get a Standards Compliant website code to work in IE…

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