Tuesday, September 02, 2008

How to run Windows XP inside Ubuntu

Beats me.

I found the Windows XP Pro and Home full install .iso's here, but nothing seems really ready to cook that stuff in an emulation layer; for one thing, vague assurances to the contrary, those Microsoft images (with valid Microsoft SHA1's and MD5's) still enforce mandatory activation after 30 days.

So far I've tried Wine (a.k.a. "Grape Juice" or more likely "Vinegar" by would-be users familiar with it), CrossOver, VMWare and VirtualBox. No soap, each for its own maddeningly idiosyncratic reasons, at least not on a Dell Inspiron 1525. [UPDATE: Curiously enough, Fallout 1 & 2 both seem to play nice with CrossOver 7 for Linux. Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel also ran, but does not install seamlessly — it leaves a few toolmarks. (Of course, no one plays that one anyway.)]

QEmu does work pretty well, if you can overlook the lethargy not to mention the missing CD drive, sound and internet in the installed OS. That, and the fact that qemu-launcher is plain and undocumented, so you will have to generalize from experience in order to use it.

Because of the Windows activation problem, still unresolved, there's no point wasting my time explaining how "plain and undocumented" really works, but give yourself all morning to install and all afternoon for disappointment, regrets, fury and weeping in your beer.

On the bright side, QEmu implements some simple tricks, like mouse grab, that are supposed to work in VirtualBox, but don't, so the feature is not impossible to implement. Of course, there's always the dual boot, separate partitions option... not my first choice.

There are good and valid reasons to run Windows, of course, no matter what one might think of it privately, the main one being that a lot of truly excellent software was written for that and not for Linux.

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