Linux kernel 3.14 is one of the latest versions available, but it looks like this particular build has managed to break Wine for all the applications that were running in Windows 9x mode.
Linux users need Wine to run applications from the Windows platform, but the bulk of apps accessed in this way is actually quite old. Sure enough, it's possible to run newer software as well, but most users need Wine for much older stuff.
One of the latest updates for Linux kernel 3.14.x brought some modifications and users found out that they couldn’t run Wine configured as Windows 9x, which is actually an important option.
“Recently a security issue was fixed on Linux 3.14 kernel for x86_64 (and is being backported to previous versions as well). The security fix unfortunately caused win16 software to stop working, but 32 bit software is supposed to not be affected. The problem is configuring Wine as Windows 9x causes this error to appear even when trying to run 32 bit Windows applications: if you use a kernel with this security flaw fixed and configure Wine in Windows 9x mode, nothing works anymore, not even winecfg,” reads just one of the bug reports for the Wine project.
This is actually an upstream problem from the Linux kernel, and the Wine developers can't really do much about it. In fact, Linus Torvalds and the leader of the Wine project are talking about this issue, and a solution might be found eventually.
“Are there people actually using 16-bit old windows programs under wine? That's what matters,” said Linus Torvalds. The response from Alexandre Julliard was pretty straightforward. “Yes, there is still a significant number of users, and we still regularly get bug reports about specific 16-bit apps. It would be really nice if we could continue to support them on x86-64, particularly since Microsoft doesn't.”
So far, the problem seems to be contained within Linux Kernel 3.14, which means that only a small number of people have been affected, but it's possible that the change might be backported to older versions of the kernel and more Wine users will be unable to run 16-bit applications.
Alexandre Julliard made a very good point about the usefulness of Wine. Microsoft is no longer supporting 16-bit applications that were released for its Windows operating system, but Linux users can run them without any major problems.
You can download the latest version of Wine, 1.7.20, right now from Softpedia.
Remember that this is a development release and it should NOT be installed on production machines. It is intended to be used for testing purposes only.