Balsamiq on Debian 8 (Jessie)

I’m getting to the point where I have to start doing some wireframe work, so I can sketch out the UX for PART and some other side projects. One great wireframe tool is Balsamiq. Balsamiq offers installers for 64-bit Mac, and Windows, but nothing for Linux. This is a bit of a problem.

  • Because I am endeavouring to be more mobile, I have to use a laptop; i.e. I can’t be stuck in front of my office computer, which conveniently for Balsamiq is a 64-bit Mac running El Capitan (10.11).
  • I have two laptops at my disposal: one 32-bit Mac, and one 64-bit Thinkpad X200.  Both machines are dual-boot with Debian 8 (Jessie).
  • Clearly, I can’t use the 32-bit Mac, and if I use 64-bit Windows, I lose my development environment.
  • Luckily, Balsamiq runs under Wine.

Now, wtf is Wine?

Wine is a Linux tool that lets you run Windows apps.  Easy enough.  I booted up Debian on the X200 and proceeded to install, only to be faced with:

it looks like multiarch needs to be enabled. as root, please
execute "dpkg --add-architecture i386 && apt-get update &&
apt-get install wine32"
wine: Bad EXE format for Z:\home\tendim\LAKESUPERIOR\Balsamiq_Mockups_3\Balsamiq Mockups 3.exe.

What the hell does all of that mean?

Did some searching… I have 64-bit Debian installed, but it looks like Balsamiq requires a 32-bit windows installation. However, you can’t blindly perform a:

apt-get install wine32

Because then you get this message:

tendim@Carrot:~$ sudo apt-get install wine32
[sudo] password for tendim:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Package wine32 is not available, but is referred to by another package.
This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or
is only available from another source
However the following packages replace it:

E: Package 'wine32' has no installation candidate

Damn it..

Unbeknown to me, there is a wine32 package, but you need to enable multi-architecture; this was the first half of the first error message, “execute “dpkg –add-architecture i386 && apt-get update &&”, which I conveniently ignored.

Anyhoo. Performing:

execute "dpkg --add-architecture i386
apt-get update
apt-get install wine32

Got me what I needed for Wine. Then, I followed the instructions here, and voila!, I now have a working Wine installation.

One final nuance is fonts.. In Balsamiq some text areas weren’t working (i.e. showing garbage symbols instead of actual text). This boiled down to missing fonts. The details are here, but in a nutshell the following got the requisite (minimum) fonts in place:

sudo apt-get install winetricks
winetricks corefonts

Time to get some wireframes going.

Balsamiq on Debian 8 (Jessie)