Flexible and all as the Linux operating system is there are a few drawbacks that make the experience less than perfect. One of the main reasons I didn’t go Linux 100% of the time was that there was always one or two applications that I couldn’t live without that only ran on Windows. The main one was Internet Explorer, or more specifically a few websites that I use that were designed to only work with Internet Explorer. The websites in question are my bank’s, NIB and the Irish revenue website ROS. In fairness to NIB they do offer a workaround but it involves using an a calculator like device to generate a unique token each time you logon to their website.

As it happens, getting Internet Explorer to work in Linux is relatively straightforward. The tricky bit it pulling the various pieces of the puzzle together.

Install Wine and Internet Explorer

Because the problem of not having access to IE within Linux is such a common problem, some nice people have put together an install process that installs both Wine and IE with minimal fuss. It’s called IEs4Linux. To make the process as painless as possible there’s a step by step guide available here. The most important thing to remember is to carry out the install as a normal user, i.e. NOT the root user.

If you’re running Ubuntu Gutsy then for step 2 add the following lines to /etc/apt/sources.list

deb http://de.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu gutsy universe
deb http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt gutsy main

When asked if I wanted to install IE5.5 or IE5.0 I said no. That meant that only IE 6 was installed. Installing all three isn’t a problem but I had no need for 5.0 and 5.5.

Once the process has finished you should have an Internet Explorer icon on your desktop.

Installing the Java Runtime Environment Plug-in for IE

This was the part that I was a little unsure about. I thought getting IE to run was an achievement but I never thought the IE JRE plug-in would work. As luck would have it I came across this post by Ranjit Mathew that was exactly what I needed.

Following Ranjit’s post here are the steps I carried out…

  1. Go to the Sun website and download the latest version of the Windows 1.5 JRE. The reason for using 1.5 and not the latest 1.6 is that the ROS website states that they only support Sun 1.5 on IE6. The 1.6 version may work but I didn’t want to tempt faith.

  2. Open a command prompt and execute the following lines,
    export WINEPREFIX=$HOME/.ies4linux/ie6
    wine jre-1_5_0_13-windows-i586-p.exe
  3. I was having some problems with the entire screen blacking out when I’d visit a page with a Java applet on it. If you have the same problem open a command prompt and execute these commands…
    export WINEPREFIX=$HOME/.ies4linux/ie6

Go to the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\JavaSoft\Java2D\1.5.0_13 and set the property “DXAcceleration” to 0.

Installing The ROS Software

When you visit the ROS website for the first time you’ll have to install the KCrypto software. KCrypto is the Java code that handles the secure transfer of data between your browser and the NIB servers. The first time I tried to install it it failed. The second time it worked fine.

Installing your ROS Certificates

Your ROS security certificates are held in the folder C:\ROS on your Windows machine. Copy this entire folder from your Windows machine into the folder $HOME/.ies4linux/ie6/drive_c. When you restart your IE browser you should see your user id appear on the ROS logon page.

Installing you NIB UserID File

  1. Logon to your NIB account on your Windows machine
  2. Click on “Settings” at the top of the page and then “Security” in the left hand menu
  3. Select the function “Back up user ID” and click OK
  4. On the next screen click OK. Take the file that’s downloaded and go back to your Linux machine
  5. Start up IE and go to the logon page
  6. Select “Search for user id” just under the userid and password fields. Browse to where you have the file downloaded in step iv, select the second radio button (i.e. copy to a local location) and click OK

That’s it. One step closer to going Linux full time.