Microcap in Linux

So you're like me, stuck with windoze because of a bunch of proprietary programs that obviously don't come with the source code, and you don't have much room to complain. While I explore other GNU circuit simulation programs, I will leave you with one easy way of using Microcap in Linux using WINE. (If you use the student version, like me, this is going to be very easy. I am yet to try the professional version on Linux.)

For the uninitiated, WINE is an emulator of Windows for Linux machines. It is now available for almost every Linux distro, but you can always get the source code and compile it for yourself if you can't find a package out of the box for your distro. Over the years, WINE has evolved into a flexible and easy to use environment, and so even for beginners or people with minimal exposure to command line Linux/Unix, it'll be an easy route to accessing Windows/16-bit executable programes without much ado. And this should also beckon people who keep talking about the lack of flexibility in Linux…look, now you can use all those sorry applications from Windows which do everything for you, from within a powerful and stable OS like Linux.

I prefer to call this a zeroth order solution because (a) this is the least adventurous solution and (b) Microcap isn't (yet) available for Linux. In fact these arguments prove that there can be no higher order corrections to get Microcap to work in Linux, unless (b) ceases to hold.

The test system was a Fedora 10 box with the default kernel setup (though this shouldn't affect you much). But what follows below will be applicable to all Linux distros, except for minor modifications to step 1.

Step 1: Install WINE

In Fedora this is easy if you use yum. Just do

su -c 'yum install wine'

This will take care of all dependencies automatically. But if you're the more adventurous kind, you can go to WineHQ (http://www.winehq.org/site/download) and get an appropriate file and install it manually. (And anyway, if you don't have yum, this is a better route.)

Step 2: Get Microcap (I won't tell you how, just get an evaluation version from Spectrum Software: http://www.spectrum-soft.com/demodownnew.shtm).

Step 3: You probably got Microcap in a .zip format. Use

unzip demo.zip

to unzip the files into the same directory that contains demo.zip.

Step 4: Now, simply run

wine setup.exe

and coast through. Microcap has been installed in "C:\Program Files\Spectrum\ Software\MC9DEMO". This points to a virtual "C:" drive that Wine sets up to allow itself to fool the installer of any windows-based program. The actual location of Microcap in this case is

~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Spectrum\ Software/MC9DEMO

Here ~/ points to your home directory (to go to ~/ you just have to type "cd" and press Enter, wherever you might be.) So effectively your "C" drive insofar as Windows applications installed from within Linux are concerned, is the path

~/.wine/drive_c/

or

~/.wine/dosdevices/c:/ (this is actually a symbolic link to ~/.wine/drive_c)

Step 5: Run Microcap.

This is easy. You can change directory to ~/.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Spectrum\ Software/MC9DEMO first, using

cd ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/Spectrum\ Software/MC9DEMO

Note that I have placed a backslash after Program, followed by a space. This is to tell the shell that there is a space between Program and Files (you cannot use "cd Program Files" here because the shell would then interpret this as the command "cd Program" with "Files" as an argument to it, obviously resulting in an erroneous outcome.) The \ followed by a whitespace, is an escape sequence, in the terminology of shell programming. This 'rule' applies when you have to access directories with white spaces in their identifiers.

Now, run

wine mc9demo.exe

Equivalently, execute the command

wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/Spectrum\ Software/MC9DEMO/mc9demo.exe

sitting in any other directory.

Step 6: Enjoy circuit design!

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