Barrel - Play Windows games on OS X

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by thanoulas, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. thanoulas, Aug 13, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013

    thanoulas macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2013
    Hi everyone! My name is Thanos and I'm the developer of Barrel, an application that lets you play and manage games designed for windows on OS X, by leveraging the power of Wine and the OS X.

    The project is open source, and available on Github. You can download it at the website

    The application offers a very easy and friendly user interface, which was forked from OpenEmu. It makes installing and playing a wine game on mac as easy as possible, by offering simple drag and drop functionality for installation and setup, and automatic bundle building. The bundles that are generated are fully portable, which means you can create an .app bundle of a windows game, that you can copy and transfer across your macs like you would with any other native mac application! No installation is needed, no wine compiling or anything like that.

    The application is currently released in its second beta, which means that there are a lot of bugs that still need ironing out, but its main features are fully functional. You are welcome to visit the website, download and play around with the app, report your bugs or even take part in the project if you're interested! It's licensed under the MIT license, so you can also fork the project if you'd like. The git repository is here:

    Let me know what you think, all feedback is appreciated!

    Attached Files:

  2. thanoulas thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2013
    Barrel 0.9B4

    The new version of Barrel, v0.9 Beta 4 has been released. It is getting really close to a final 1.0 release now, so I would appreciate all feedback from anyone who might be using it.
    There are many new features in this new release, like a completely re-skinned theme to differentiate from OpenEmu's interface.
    Other major new features include the ability to create empty bundles, run external windows .exe files and change the executable path, as well as many bugfixes and improvements.

    Most importantly, though, there is now a User manual on what the application does, and how you can use it, whether you're comfortable with Wine, or not. You can find it here:

  3. joedemax macrumors newbie

    May 9, 2012
    This is really really cool. I'm going to give it a shot when I get home. Keep doing what you're doing!
  4. sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    This is cool, Im going to try it out over the weekend. But question though, will this work with PC versions of games on steam? or is this designed more for use of PC games with physical disks?
  5. thanoulas thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2013
    (Kinda) Works with steam!

    Hi sonicrobby,
    for the time being it offers automatic wine configuration for disk / disk image / GOG or .exe versions of games. I'm trying my best to add as many titles as I can, until people start adding their own to the database.

    Now about steam, I plan on fully supporting it, but the issue about steam is that the game must be downloaded inside steam by the user. I'll figure something out. I'm planning a new update either today or tomorrow, where you should be able to create an empty bundle, though. So, you'll be able to give it a try over the weekend. The process that you need to follow will be:

    Create an empty bundle, right click and run winetricks, install steam, and then install the games you want in there. You might need to configure some more winetricks if the game requires it, but you should be able to play your games.

    What kind of steam games are you looking to play with Barrel?
  6. kamuix macrumors regular


    Feb 9, 2011
    Hey Thanoulas, I must say that this app you have is the coolest. It would be awesome if steam apps would be implemented. There were a lot of new releases on steam only for PC that really had my mouth water. I'd like to give it a try when I have the time over the weekend.

    The game I really wanted from steam was Saint's Row 4 and Payday 2. I've been using other wrappers for individual games from other people, which involved mostly steam app games. Right now the only way I can get Skyrim going is using a wrapper that was made for Tomb Raider 2013. Basically it's almost what you have in mind, where the wrapper opens up Steam. From there I log in, download the game and run it. It works fine, but of course there are bugs where it'll crash here and there. Also when I quit the game, it always crashes lol.

    I like the vision you have going and I can't wait to see what else you have in stored. It makes me wish I had my old window games cds and try installing them with your app. Remember, "No one lives forever?"
  7. sonicrobby macrumors 68020


    Apr 24, 2013
    New Orleans
    Excellent news! Looking forward to it!
    Right now maybe some Just Cause 2, Dead Island, Prototype, and Dishonored. Possibly some Saints Row 3
  8. thanoulas thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2013
    Hey kamuix,
    thanks for all the good words. Steam support should be implemented by the first stable release. It won't support all games (not all games can run in Wine, for a few different reasons, like the fact that Wine supports DirectX9 for now, has poor .NET support etc.) but it will let you play a lot of games that were never released for OS X. The list is very long, and the support keeps getting better with time, there are quite a lot of games that are 100% playable in Wine with no defects whatsoever.
    The crashes that you experience are a side effect of wine. Some games are not 100% there yet, or some ports that you may find on the net are not put together carefully. We'll be trying to moderate all the ports on the database, to ensure that there is 100% functionality on all of them. If a game is not stable enough, it won't be supported, until it is. You will also be able to rate the games, app store-style and write a review. This way you will know if there are issues are people are experiencing, and how you can possibly solve them.

    Now about the games that you mention, Skyrim, Payday 2 and No one lives forever, will be soon added to the database! You can buy old games really cheap on (I'm not affiliated in any way), and you'll find that Barrel supports most of their catalog! I do special requests, too ;)
  9. thanoulas thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2013
    I can already tell you that Dishonored and Dead Island are working very well on my Macbook Pro 2010 15" (nVidia GT330M 256MB). Saints Row 3 is unfortunately unplayable in Wine for now.

    If you need any help installing them in Barrel through Steam over the weekend, let me know and I'll do my best to help!
  10. Cougarcat macrumors 604

    Sep 19, 2003
    How is this similar/different than Crossover? (other than being free, of course.)
  11. thanoulas thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2013
    It follows a different approach to wine, than crossover. Barrel creates application bundles (.app) folders for each game you install, with its own wine engine inside it. This allows for easier management of each game, as well as continuous support through automated updates. The bundles that Barrel creates, are completely portable. This means that you can copy the bundle you created, and copy it to another Mac. Even without Barrel on the other Mac, the game should still work fine. Furthermore, it doesn't require anything to be installed on your system, as it comes pre-bundled with all libraries that are needed to run the game (except for X11, but that is optional, as bundle uses wine's native mac driver).
    Finally, it's designed to be user-driven, rather than being supported by a company. This means that you, or me, or any user, can try to install a game that is not in the database. If they succeed, they can just push the "recipe" to the server. Next time someone tries to install said game, the process will be automatic and he/she will be able to play the game without having to go through winetricks or other complicated stuff!

    Plus, you called it, it's free. And it's got an awesome User Interface.
  12. mcmacker4 macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2012
    I just got the program but I didn't manage install Terraria, but, anyways, I don't understand how to manually install games, I'll have to practice a bit.
    But I'm here to ask something: Can we install Steam games already? If so: How do we do so?
  13. CylonGlitch macrumors 68030


    Jul 7, 2009
    I would love for it to work with Steam games, because that's mostly what I have. And I really want to play Dead Island but I don't want windows. :(
  14. thanoulas thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2013
    I'm currently working on steam support, once it's done, I'll push an update, and you'll be ready to go! Hopefully today, if not, tomorrow!


    Terraria seems fairly complicated, I'm afraid. It's playable in Wine, but it needs extensive configuration to run. It'll be supported soon after Steam is implemented.
  15. Matchy macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    Will this application support directx 11 games? :D

    This app looks exciting, I am really looking forward the steam support.

    Hopefully there will be Retina Support in the near future
  16. thanoulas, Aug 23, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013

    thanoulas thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2013
    Wine currently supports DirectX 9 games pretty well. DirectX 10 is currently being worked on as far as I know, so I don't think it will support DirectX 11 in the near future. It will, eventually, support it I hope!

    Retina support is already in the todo list, should be fairly easy to implement, so in a couple of releases.

    Steam Support:
    A first take on steam support has just been pushed through the update server. To make sure you have the latest version, run Barrel, and on the menu click Barrel > Check for Updates. A lot of bugfixes and new features have also been implemented. Check the update log for details.
    Happy porting!
  17. wrldwzrd89 macrumors G5


    Jun 6, 2003
    Solon, OH
    Now this looks cool. I'll check it out when I'm at a Mac next.
  18. mcmacker4 macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2012
    I still can't manage to get steam a games on Barrel. If I try to download a pc game from steam it tells me the game is not available on my platform (Mac). Can you post some step-by-step instructions on how to do so? Maybe on your website? Thanks :)
  19. thanoulas thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2013
    Yes, I'm planning to add a guide in the manual.
    You have to create a new bundle inside Barrel, instead of running the native Steam app you have. Open Barrel, go to File > Add Steam game to Library and follow the instructions. You will have to do this for every game you want to install. If you install many games inside a bundle, chances are that most of them won't work.
    You will have to do a manual import for now, as there are no steam entries in the database for now.
  20. Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000


    May 17, 2012
    This looks very cool. It seems to be an evolutionary step forward from Wineskin in its design.

    There is an issue you are going to run into with Steam if you haven't already and I am not sure how you'll address that with Barrel. The issue is with Steamguard. With Steamguard enabled (which all users should do for security) each time you use Winetricks to install Steam it is going to see the new app it is inside of, as a new PC. This triggers a validation request which it does via an email to the user with a code that they must then input to Steam to proceed in logging in and using it for the first time on that installation.

    Now, the problem as you can imagine becomes needing to do this for each Steam game one sets up. It is minimally an inconvenience but more importantly, there may be a limit to how many machines Steam allows you to be able to login to in total. Let's just guess that number is 20. You can see the problem there. I haven't looked into this but I doubt very much the number of machines allowed is very large, never mind infinite. So this needs to be addressed somehow and I agree with you that trying to install all Steam games with one steam client in one "app" is not wise.

    My solution to this as an end user of Wineskin was to simply create a default Steam app with nothing else installed in it. The copy of Steam in there, I logged into triggering Steamguard and then I got the code and validated it. Now I've got a working app for any Steam game. All I need to do for openers is to copy that template app to a new file and rename it to the name of the game I plan to port from Steam, fire it up, it logs in automatically, download, install, tinker, done.

    That works just fine for an individual user and only consumes one Steamguard access. I wouldn't call it elegant but it works. The question is, how do you get around this for users of your app? You might actually do the same thing. Have the app create a generic Steam app and save it to disk someplace (where Barrel lives?) and then whenever the user wants to install a Steam game, the first thing that happens is this validated Steam install is copied to a new file, fired up, etc. You'd have to have users set this file up one time initially and then it would be available indefinitely although the older it got, the more likely Steam would need to update itself before anything could be installed after login.

    I am curious. Did you already consider all of this with Steamguard and come up with some similar or different solution for implementing Steam games support in Barrel?
  21. Dirtyharry50, Aug 23, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013

    Dirtyharry50 macrumors 68000


    May 17, 2012
    I thought I'd add some more feedback as this looks very nice and I'm sure you've been working hard on it. It is good of you to do so and share the fruits of your labor with the rest of us.

    I like the look of the UI. It reminds me of the Boxer approach for DOSBox games where they are all accessible in one Window, separate from your native Mac games. I guess some might prefer more integration with Launchpad and separate icons per game but I've warmed up after using Boxer to the idea of segregating games for DOS and Windows and my Launchpad has quite enough icons as it is - too many games!

    I really, really like the implementation of a system whereby work is reused and those less technically inclined can benefit from "wrappers" already tweaked by those with the talent and inclination to do so. That is a very nice and significant touch to this app. Even for someone who knows how to fiddle around with Wine, research AppDB for hints, google for more, etc., etc. it sure is nice to be able to just grab an already working configuration and go play instead of work for it. That was a great idea.

    I like the rating system too, like the App Store. I see this as another very cool and useful feature.

    Limiting the system to stuff that works and weeding out stuff that does not would be a real blessing as well. I imagine you've already given some thought to this but I'll mention too that it would be really welcome and in my opinion an elegant feature to inform the user on install if the game is already in the database with a working solution ready to go, if it is not in the database and it is up to you to get it running if possible and then upload it or if it is simply known to not work with any current version of Wine. For example, we know anything requiring DirectX 11 does not work. There are plenty of titles in AppDB that are known to be garbage too sadly. So hopefully over time the database could grow to incorporate all this info and offer feedback to users drawing from it.

    By the way, who the heck pays for the database, the server it is on, the bandwidth? It seems like that could be a significant expense if this takes off but I have no experience in that area.

    Don't mind me rambling. Those were just some thoughts coming to mind as I typed along here.

    I'll download this today and play with it soon so I can give more educated feedback if you want it once I've tried using it some. I actually have a first pet project in mind. I'd like to get Fallout 3 GoTY Edition (on Steam) running in Wine so I don't have to reboot for it. I've heard this title should run okay with Wine. I'll have to see if Barrel is ready for it yet. ;-)
  22. mcmacker4, Aug 23, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013

    mcmacker4 macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2012
    [Nevermind, I found out. It was because I was using an secondary HDD for my libray and this hard dribe couldn't be read by Wine]Still don't manage to install any games... My problem now is that every time I try to install Planetside 2 from Steam by simply going to File>Add Steam game i am told to put a name and the wine engine. I simply select the default one because I don't know what that means. Then I get a message that says that Steam is going to be installed and it may seem as it gets stuck but it really won't. I accept.
    Finally, when the game is installed I do a Debug Run by right-clicking and Advance Options. It tests it and a second later it tells me it finished and asks me if I want to view the log. I say yes and here is what the log says:

    wine: cannot find L"C:\\windows\\system32\\Steam.exe"
    So... Am I doing something wrong??
  23. thanoulas thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2013
    Of course I have! I wouldn't cause any trouble to you guys :)
    Look here:

    Excerpt: "Is there a limit to the number of machines that can be authorized at once?
    No, there's no limit. Steam Guard is aimed to protect the value that is yours, not limit your access to your stuff. As always, you can access your Steam account and library from as many machines as you'd like."

    I've done quite a few myself testing this app, trust me!

    Thanks for the suggestions and the good words. I'll transfer this post over to github for discussion, there are some good ideas in here. I like, for example, the part where the user would be notified that a game he/she is trying to install is incompatible.

    Regarding the server, I have a small dedicated VPS for my projects, which I currently use for wine. Not many resources on it, but it has unlimited bandwidth. Barrel is also trying to be "smart" bandwidth-wise, so all "recipes" for games are nothing more than plain little xml files, tiny (KB) in size. The engines can also be cached locally to save bandwidth, and the database is a simple little RESTful service, nothing more. I'll have to reconsider server usage once it starts to gain traction, for now it is really tiny.

    This is really weird, it should point to system32. Try changing the executable path to C:\Program Files\Steam\Steam.exe
    If you get the same message, check your running processes to make sure that wine is not stuck (it happens sometimes). Go to spotlight > Activity Monitor and look for either "Wine" and "Wineserver" processes, or Barrel[random number here]Wine*
    If you find any stuck processes there, select them and force-quit them, and then try again.

    Can I please ask that all support requests go through Github? (
    This way I'll be able to answer to all your issues and track any possible bugs you guys may find, it's a beta release after all! Thanks in advance!
  24. mcmacker4 macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2012
    I managed to make it work by just finding the Steam.exe inside the file system that was created to simulate windows inside drive_c. Select it and run :)

    This app is working completely fine for me (although I haven't tried to add a non-steam app). I will eventually try, but for the moment, playing Steam Windows-Only games on mac is quite awesome :D

    Thank you very much Thanos :)
  25. thanoulas thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2013
    That's great to hear! If your game runs fine, and you've added a nice conver image, don't forget to "Upload Bundle", so everyone else can play, too! You'll get a nice entry, with your username on the server (soon, this is WIP)

    Happy gaming!

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