Key Medical Workstation Client Runs on Linux

As many as 98,000 people die each year as a result of preventable medical errors which Free and Open Source electronic medical records software could reduce. A contender in this area is the Veterans Administration (VA) public domain VistA codebase and large community. In a major advance for FOSS in medicine, Joseph Dal Molin of WorldVistA reports success in getting the VA Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS) VistA client running on Linux using WINE and Crossover office. The CPRS client formerly ran only on the Microsoft Windows operating system and is widely deployed on thousands of workstations within the United States VA system. Read more for details of this development and a screenshot.

VistA and its CPRS client is a vast amount of public domain software which runs the only functional national electronic health record infrastructure in the United States. The client component running on Linux is a major advance that puts the last large piece of the entire system on a Free and Open Source base.

After many past tries, Dal Molin worked on a hunch that the latest release of the WINE Windows compatabilty layer (which is not a Windows emulator and uses no Windows software) as well as Codeweavers Crossover Office might work better than it had before. He finally succeeded in running the CPRS client on Linux with only a few problems. Previous releases of WINE could not run the client at all, but last fall things started to improve when William Wong, a colleague from Malaysia’s PCDOM organization, was able to launch CPRS for the first time using WINE. According to Joseph Dal Molin: ‘Something changed under the covers of WINE that made it possible. A few releases ago, this did not work. Now it does.’

While not perfect and still giving some errors, the GUI can query the VA VistA demo site. A screenshot of the client querying the demo site can be found here.
‘There are some problems with Report and Lab tabs but most of it works. We would love to have folks chip in and sort out the
last few bugs. It is easy to install. You just need the latest version of Wine or Crossover Office….’

Dal Molin states that you can run the client as follows: ‘…You need to run the app from the command line, this is how I did it from inside the /cxoffice/bin/ folder:

./wine /usr/VistA/cprs/CPRSChart.exe CCOW=disable p=23

In the above example, it hits the VA demo server.

Encouraged by this development, Joseph and Nancy Anthracite, another WorldVistA volunteer, couldn’t wait to try the Linux CPRS client with her Linux based VistA server. Not only did it work but they also discovered that Nancy’s Debian client running WINE worked better than the Mandrake client Joseph was using. ‘But as I said there are some issues to resolve still. However, it’s very close to completely working from what my pea brain can tell.’


12th Annual VistA Community Meeting Info.

Sourceforge VistA Project Page


Hardhats community website and discussion list

WINE Windows compatabilty layer (which is not a Windows emulator and uses no Windows software)

Crossover office

VA VistA demo site

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *