Sunday, August 30, 2009

ChemSketch on Linux? Maybe not ...

Ever since I started using Ubuntu last Spring I have been looking for a Chemical Structure Drawing program that runs on Linux. On Windows, I have been using ACDLabs ChemSketch ever since version 1.0 in the 1990's. They are up to version 12, and every new release has lots of good stuff. It's available as a free download for educational use, I recommend it to my students for writing their lab reports.

When I realized that they had put out a Linux-compatible version I was really excited. ChemSketch is about the only program I use that I need Windows to run. Unfortunately it doesn't look like that's going to work out.

After you register to download the Linux installation program, you get an exe file. Unless you read carefully you may have missed the reference to CodeWeavers Crossover. EXE files don't run on Linux systems, but you can run them with a Windows Emulator which is what Crossover does. Crossover is not a free program, but it is based on a program called Wine, which is free.

I have tried both Wine and Crossover (as a free trial version) and ChemSketch seems to work pretty well with both. There is a problem though: After installing ChemSketch I can run the program just once. When you start ChemSketch you see a splash screen displayed, then a CheckBox describing ACDLabs products appears. Once you click the OK button, the CheckBox goes away and the ChemSketch window opens. In addition to the ChemSketch window, the ACDHost runs as an icon in the top panel.

The second time (and every other time) I try to run ChemSketch on Ubuntu, that icon is the only sign that ChemSketch has started. I see the splash page and CheckBox as usual, then nothing happens. I get the same result whether I use Crossover or Wine to install and run ChemSketch. The only thing I can do is right click the ACDHost icon and choose "Close All" to exit the program.

It's puzzling and quite frustrating. Obviously the program will run (once) and everything seems to work the way it does under Windows. The System Monitor shows processes for ACDHost and ChemSketch with their status listed as Sleeping. What do I have to do to wake them up? There may be a simple answer to this, but I'm still really new to Linux and I haven't figured it out yet.


ChemSpiderMan said...

I used to be the product manager for ChemSketch until I left 3 years ago. I'll let the Linux expert at ACD/Labs know of your problem and see if he can help you.

Steve W said...

Thanks a lot!

baoilleach said...

It's been a while since I used Wine, but I'm guessing that the software is running but it's off the screen. To get it back, you could try hitting ALT+Space, X (for maximise). Test it on Notepad or something first.

Jon said...

Yeah, at a guess, this is probably some sort of focus issue. But I'm not really a tech support type, and that's just a guess. If ChemSketch wanted to drop a smallish sack of cash on our desks, we'd be quite cheerful to fix this issue. ;-)


-jon parshall-

dragly said...

I don't know if you've solved this on your own yet, but I thought I should share the solution I found here:

You may start Chemsketch maximized by using the command


You might have to change the path to CHEMSK.EXE depending on where it was installed.

You could make a shortcut on your desktop with this command in Ubuntu.