Van Dale dictionaries on linux

After several rant mails to the Vandale publishers house, I finally gave in/up. About a year ago, I complained that I couldn’t buy a linux version of my favorite Dutch dictionaries (not that there is a choice when it comes to digital Dutch dictionaries). Online dictionaries don’t cut it for me, I always need the words (or expressions) that free online ones don’t provide. 😉 The answer was that there does not exist a linux version. So I asked when the linux version would be released. The communication stalled but apparently it got escalated and I got an answer by another person telling me there was no linux version planned, however he was delighted to announce the availability of a Mac version within only 3 months!

You know this smiley banging its head against the wall? That’s me, banging my head… How can they be so stupid to port to another platform and not take cross-platform toolkits into account?? I couldn’t help myself, so I started to lecture “cross-platform 101”. 😉 I am not sure if I was able to get through to him, but I hope at least a few fragments stuck in his mind. 🙂

In the meantime, they do have a mac version. I never received a reply to my plea. So I decided to give it a try under wine. Surprise, surprise (not), it works! (using the win2k installer patch). Sometimes, wine can really be a godsend. For the occasion, I created a few desktop icons since the original ones suck badly.

I created them by drawing bezier curves with the original icon from the website in overlay. It actually sounds easier as it sounds. 🙂 I had to tweak my beziers quite a bit to have a somewhat appealing result. Since this will probably be the last time I will take a KDE3 screenshot (still on my suse 10.3), I decided to post a screenshot of the icons with my desktop in full glory 😉

Vandale icons

Also spot the home-made icon for Cave Story, but that’s merely a rip from the game resources 😉
Here are the icons in case you want them too:
vandale icon Englishvandale icon French

15 thoughts on “Van Dale dictionaries on linux”

  1. Matthias …

    Someone Stateside sent me the link to your weblog article on Van Dale under Linux! Small world coming almost full geographic circle …

    I would have preferred to have my Van Dale NL/EN dictionary installed on a Linux netbook … afterall, when I was ready to buy another computer, I did not want to buy a Windoze machine. I too contacted Van Dale and asked them about a Linux release. And I had to settle for buying a netbook running Windows XP. That was earlier this year.

    I use my Acer Aspire One netbook exclusively for Van Dale. The only other aps I have on the computer are a browser, Notepad and AVG virus protection. Nothing else. This computer is my portable electronic dictionary.

    I need it in my translation work, and it is very handy as a portable device to travel to and from the public library, clients, offsite offices, and about the apartment and the neighbourhood.

    There is nothing better than Van Dale in my work, and it is not possible to do this work without it. Plus the new version of Van Dale is a huge improvement over the previous versions.

    I use my principal Windows workstation computer for all my other applications … and I am glued to Microsoft Windows because Autodesk has not built a release for any other platform for many years now (I used to work for them, and I use many of their products: AutoCAD, Autodesk VIZ, 3D Studio Max and so forth).

    I plan on buying another netbook (perhaps the new Acer Aspire One AO532h which was just released in the States), and I would be interested in doing what you have done to run Van Dale on Linux platform.

    I would be most appreciative for any advice you could share about your installation, and thanks for posting graciously posting the icons.

    Thanks …

  2. Hi Dave,

    Clearly, my needs are much lower than yours.. 🙂 So, in my case, it was simply a matter of installing wine, and launching the vandale installers as you would under windows. I do not need the word integration or anything else. Only the dictionary itself.

    You mention, the new version is much improved over the previous one. I would have no idea since I am using the ’97 version with windows 2000 patch.. 🙂 So I cannot comment on any other version, YMMV 😉 But I guess it could work as well. Give it a try in a VM with the distro of your choice..

    Please let me know if it works, I might consider buying the new version after all..

    About your workstation apps: the only thing that comes to mind is Blender, which you probably already know. It is quite powerful although comes with a quite steep learning curve. As for the other apps, you’re probably stuck to windows, indeed.

  3. Matthias …

    Dropped by to check up on your response, and happy to see it—thanks!

    Info coming from others about netbooks and running Linux on them with some VM to accommodate aps requiring Windows is being corroborated. I am happy to hear this.

    About the new Van Dales … now you don’t have to run separate sessions for separate language pairs or separate sides of the target. Everything runs in one session. Very convenient. It is also faster. But, it is slower on load. A slight irritant is sales alerts telling you about upgrades. Grrrr … maybe I can switch that off.

    What is unfortunate is the there is no plug-in for OO to allow you to mesh automatically with your word processor or other OO component (I don’t use Microsoft Office … kak! spit! gak!) … I phoned Van Dale and asked why not. They said they were working on it. That was a few months back.

    Thanks for tips.


  4. hi Dave,

    that’s some very interesting info you have there concerning OOo integration! But I wouldn’t hold my breath though 😉

    In the meantime, I was able to test a newer Vandale version (2003) on linux and initially I had a problem that the window disappeared after some time of usage. I then upgraded to the latest wine release and it was fixed..

    btw, you can subscribe to this post so you get email notification when someone replies 🙂

  5. Mattie …

    Cheers thanks a lot for the email notification notification. (dumb smiley thingie here) …

    The Van Dale I am talking about is 2009.

    BTW was in your neck of the woods, so-to-speak … hopped an IC and went down to see how the restoration of the Atomium turned out. Whauw! (that was how “wow” was spelled on an ad in the Métro around Beekant station).

    Tot kijk …


  6. lol @whauw. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be dutch or french, but I would definitely write it without “h” in dutch 🙂 btw, I use “wow..” (in flemish) when I mean “wait a minute..”

    I didn’t know there was a Vandale version released last year. It seems they are much more actively developing their software then they used to. So not all hope is lost? 🙂

  7. I am running the Van Dale dictionaries German-Dutch and Dutch-German (2002) versions under Wine in Ubuntu. If you want everything to work like in Windows, including Word integration, the Grammar-Compendium and so on, install a Virtualbox, install Windows in the virtualbox, and install your Van Dale or any other windows software in your virtual Windows. The only thing is, you need enough RAM for Virtualbox as it takes some memory from your host system. For me, it is the best solution to run software you really need but which are not available for Linux (I have a IBM T60p + Intel DualCore 2GHz with 2GB RAM and have no speed problems).


  8. @Dave
    which 2009 version do you mean exactly?
    if so, do you have any information on the integration possibilities of this one in a CAT-tool?
    at the moment i am using the vandale 2002 and 2005 versions for several languages and have integrated them with shortcuts in my wordfast. I also use Omega T, but can’t integrate the dutch dictionaries.
    if you use another CAT-tool that enables the integration of the new Van Dale, I am looking forward to hear about your experiences and how to integrate them.

    thanx in advance!

  9. Yolanda …

    The Van Dale I am using is:

    Van Dale Elektronish groot woordenboek 2009
    application: Egx2009 v1.0.0.12
    For Windows XP
    (This version was released in 2008)

    I run it on Windows XP SP3.

    I was running a previous version of Van Dale. And unlike that earlier version, the newer version of Van Dale that I now have does not display in separate windows for English and Dutch. Both languages display in the same window. I found that much better than the earlier cluttered operation (too many windows !)

    I also use Wordfast Pro and the Open Office suite. There is no integration between Van Dale and Wordfast Pro or Open Office Writer. I do it all manually. It works OK for me, but I too would like some integration. Perhaps there has been so progress … I have not checked.

    You should be aware that Van Dale Elektronish groot woordenboek 2009 has integration with Microsoft Word. However, I did not feel that was sufficient reason for me to move to the Microsoft Office suite.

    I would still very much like to move completely to Ubuntu, but I do not want to run things like Wine in that OS. Ideally I would want Van Dale and Wordfast Pro to all run as native applications in Ubuntu.

    I should add that 2008 is now some time past, and I would about this time be thinking of updating. Someone in California informed me that Van Dale was available on the iPad for a mere $US50. But, I cannot confirm if that is an abridged version of the dictionary, or even if it is the NL-EN dictionary or some other dictionary. I suppose someone might use an iPad like that in the same way that I use my little Acer Aspire One Windows netbook: purely as a portable, compact electronic NL-EN Van Dale dictionary. (I have Van Dale installed on my PC desktop workstation and on my Windows netbook).

    I hope that helps.

    Dave Cooper
    Republiek van Limburgië

  10. Yolanda …

    I posted a reply to your query, but I received an error when I submitted it.

    Go to my website and send me an email via my contact form and I will post you the reply.

    Perhaps Mattiesworld has a character limit on responses.

    Republiek van Limburgië

  11. Hi Dave,

    sorry for the delayed comment publishing. Apparently, comments on an old post like this get more easily held for moderation and I don’t check the moderation queue every day 😉 It seems nothing got lost though.

    btw, I have started an open source project to read and consult Prisma dictionaries (not as good as Van Dale, but at least they make it easy to write other front-ends). It will run on Mac/Win/Linux. It is already in a quite usable state, but there are still a few kinks to work out to announce to the public.


  12. Matthias …

    If your Prisma dictionary will run on my Dell Latitude 2100 Ubuntu 10.04 netbook, then I would be very interested. I would prefer to use the Ubuntu device over the Windows netbook because it is faster and because it makes me feel good to use it, whereas using the Windows device makes me feel dirty and wrong.

    It is OK that I use something other than Van Dale on other machines because I have to say that I have come across things NOT in Van Dale and yet they are in other sources, and sometimes I do not agree with the English words suggested by Van Dale … I have come to realise that Van Dale is actually NOT the word of God.

    Republiek van Limburgië

  13. I used to have an XP machine. My new W7 ASUS box is not able to load my dictionaries. VD replies thay are not W7 compatible. So I would have to buy new dictionaries. I’d rather go back to paper dictionaries. What is that policy anyway? Now I tried running virtual XP with Oracle VM Virtualbox. Their Alladin stuff took the whole system down and blue screens are once again on!
    Maybe it’s just I have to config the VM environment better. Can anyone help?

  14. So how did you get it to work? By installing the MAC version in Wine? I wonder if the Windows version (even though they don’t sell the off line version anymore) will also run under wine.
    I’m expecting some second hand CD’s soon, so I can test it…

  15. Hi Arjan, it’s been a while, but I used to simply run the windows version under linux with wine. First it was some version from 1999/2000 with the Windows 2000 patch. Later, I succesfully ran the 2003 version. In general: the older, the more chance it will work out of the box under linux/wine 😉

    you can also check the wine app database for compatibilty and tips: (the first results are ads)

    The best thing is to simply try it

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