Theological Applications for Unix

Bible Software

Native applications
Not much is available. Sunsite has 3 Bible search programs (for the KJV), a program to calculate the date of Easter, and tklosung, a program to "Display Bible verses (known as 'Losungen') for each day of year." You can find these programs here. As I have time and inclination, I'll try these programs and write mini-reviews, and do the same for other programs I find.

The OpenBible Project

The goal of this project is to produce a full-featured free Bible program for Linux. You can read more at the project's web site here. Check it out. This is just the kind of thing Linux needs to become appealing for theological work. I'll keep you up to date here as I learn more.

Non-native applications

Most theological software has been written for non-Unix platforms, and most often that means Microsoft. Yet you can run some of this software under Unix--in particular, Linux--via emulators and virtual machines.

An emulator is a program which simulates an operating system. DOSEMU, for instance, acts like MS-DOS. It can load and run a DOS program, and (ideally) the program doesn't know that it isn't running under the real thing. Linux has emulators available for a number of different computer systems, including DOS, Windows, and many more.

If you have any old DOS theological software, give it a try under DOSEMU. I have used QuickVerse under DOSEMU for several years with no problem, and even used WordPerfect 5.1 for a while. These DOS programs ran very well.

Most of the Bible software currently available has been written for Windows. While it won't run under Linux directly, some of it has been tested under Wine, a Windows emulator. Well, it isn't exactly an emulator. The Wine site describes Wine as "a free impllmentation of Windows on Unix" and "a Windows compatibility layer." Wine translates Windows program system calls to Unix calls, so that you can run your Windows programs in your Unix environment. You can find the Wine list of applications which have been run (with varying degrees of success) here.

I would expect good results from other Windows software running under VMware. VMware isn't just an operating system emulator, but seeks to emulate an entire PC in software. You can install VMware in Linux, then install Windows in VMware. In Linux, you open up a VMware window, boot Windows and run your Windows programs.

Another possibility is a new Windows emulator called Win4Lin from TreLOS. This software has not yet been released.

If you have successfully or unsuccessfully tried any software not listed here, please let me know and I'll update this list accordingly!
ApplicationTested UnderTested By
BibleWorks 4.0Wineme
Quickverse 1.0DOSEMUme
Online Bible
PC Bible
Bible Illustrator for

Information on running specific software

BibleWorks for Windows

On July 27, Mark Rice of Hermeneutika sent me an email pointing to the fact that BibleWorks will run on a Mac under a PC emulator, and suggested that it might do the same in Linux. I suggested to him that it might work with Wine or VMware. Has anyone tried this? BibleWorks is a serious scholarly tool, and it'd be great to see this software running under Linux! For more info, click here.


Hermeneutika graciously sent me a copy of BibleWorks 4 and asked me to try running it under Unix. Preliminary results with Wine are good. Read more here.

Update II

I've written up a few pages on the intricacies of getting BibleWorks 4 to run under Linux/Wine. Check out the details here.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library

The CCEL is a collection of public domain theological texts which have been converted to electronic format. You can browse the collection online with any web browser here. You can also get a CD with these texts at a very reasonable price. The CD contains a search engine which only works with Windows and Mac, however. The maintainer of the library, Harry Plantinga, writes concerning the CD:

"The 2000 edition has a slight problem with linux (and in any other unix that treats ISO 9660 filenames as case sensitive). Two of the html files use upper case names, whereas linux converts all filenames to lower case and will only match lower case names.

"In that case, a workaround is to copy revised versions of those two files to your hard drive and edit the links to point to the CD-ROM. If anyone would like me to provide these files, I will."

SAGE Digital Library

Some research on the Ages Software site shows that this digital library uses Adobe's .pdf format for its files. This means that you can use these CDs comfortably with Unix using Unix versions of the Acrobat reader. Ages Software seems to provide only Windows and Mac versions of the reader on its CDs, but you can download Unix versions here.

Personal opinion: Although this library has far too few Bible tools and far too many Calvinist/Reformed books for my taste, Ages Software must be congratulated for using .pdf files and for not locking its library. These products can be used just as readily under Unix as under Windows.

Do you know of any other theological software which runs under Linux? Let me know!

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