Being fed up with VMware (because it's so slow and using half of my memory) I turned to Wine. But Wine appears to be very difficult to set up. Typical Linux. It will work but unless you spend a whole week you don't get it working. That's where the Corssover Office application comes in. It's just a bunch of helper applications to make setting up wine easy. That is with certain Windows applications and most Windows applications are not supported. So I got a demo version of Crossover Office and started installing (as root). The application installed without problems. After installation I started the Crossover Office Setup application. That is the place from where you install your Windows applications. So I wanted to try Microsoft Office XP (as it is licensed for the whole university). I made the mistake to select "Install everything". The installer forced me to install also Microsoft's Internet Explorer and a bunch of other crap. Than the Office XP installer stopped to respond in the middle of the process. Waited for 2 hours but the progress bar didn't move and there was no disc activity. So I had to cancel the setup and leave a mess behind. A second attempt to install failed as well. So I thought to use the Windows uninstaller. Failed as well. Uninstalling from within crossover office failed also. So I thought to uninstall the whole crossover office (there is an uninstall script in the bin directory of crossover office which is hardly mentioned anywhere in the documentation). That worked but apparently didn't uninstall everything. I still had to manually remove several directories, but worst of all the Gnome menu entries were not deleted. The gnome menu entries are quite a tricky thing since they are not located in one place. Gnome uses some "virtual folder" (vfolder) system to create the menus. That is the menus are assembled on the fly based on several xml files located in several places. But I guess I found all of them and removed the entries manually. I must have made a coding mistake since after this the whole menu was gone. Apparently the mistake was in my ~/.gnome2/vfolders/applications.vfolder-info file. Of course I didn't have a backup, so I copied the same file from /root/.gnome2/vfolders into my home folder.
After that I reinstalled crossover office and only installed Microsoft Word XP and that worked! An nice entry was visible in the menu "Windows Applications/Programs/". Then I installed Adobe Photoshop 6.01. Installation was painless, but after that, the Microsoft Word entry in the menu had disappeared. Also there was no Photoshop entry under "Windows Applications/Programs/Adobe". There was only an ImageReady entry. It appears that every newly installed application erases the menu entries of the previously installed application. However the hierarchical folder structure remains, only the last entry ins gone and replaced by a dot in the last menu folder. BTW Photoshop worked as one can start it up from within ImageReady.
Both Office XP and Adobe Photoshop are applications that are "supported" by the Crossover Office. Now I tried to install an unsupported application, i.e. the Gene Construction Kit 2.5 (GCK2.5). The first thing was that the Crossover Office complained that the installer CD has some hidden files and that I have to make some changes to the fstab entries as root to enable reading these files. I did that and continued installation. The installer finished and there was a menu entry under "Windows Applications/Programs/Gene Construction Kit 2.5" which was named "Uninstaller". I concluded that the Uninstaller program had been installer after the GCK2.5 application and thus erased the latter entry. Even more strangely after logging out and in again even the Uninstaller item was gone from the menu. Also all other program entries had disappeared.
I figured that all the menu entries are single files in the directory /home/jeltsch/.gnome2/applications. They have the extension .desktop and are xml files with a relatively easy structure. One example:
> more Internet\ Explorer.desktop
Exec=/opt/cxoffice/bin/wine "C://Program Files//Internet Explorer//IEXPLORE.EXE" X-Created-by=cxoffice Icon=/home/jeltsch/.cxoffice/dotwine/fake_windows/Windows/Icons/9d75_iexplore.-32528.xpm
[jeltsch@mcblpc2 applications]$ more CXTree-Windows_Applications-Programs-Internet_Explorer.desktop
Exec=/opt/cxoffice/bin/wine "C://Program Files//Internet Explorer//IEXPLORE.EXE" X-Created-by=cxoffice Icon=/home/jeltsch/.cxoffice/dotwine/fake_windows/Windows/Icons/9d75_iexplore.-32528.xpm Categories=Application;X-cxoffice;X-CXTree-Windows_Applications-Programs;
It appears that all entries that were made by the Crossover Office Installer are still present in this directory. Now I just have to figure out why they don't show up. Of course I can start the applications by just typing the entry under Exec into the command line but that is somehow cumbersome. To test GCK2.5 I started it from the command line and it really came up. First it asked for the installer CD (some kind of copy protection mechanism). It was in the drive but somehow I had to eject it and insert it again to make it visible. That worked fine and the dialog appeared where I entered my name and organization. But then it miraculously complained: "Could not start the application because there is not enough memory".
Now I have to tackle this problem, because GCK2.5 is probably the most important application for me that has not Linux equivalent.