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How to run Linux under Windows 7's Windows Virtual PC

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  bjepson's Photo
Posted Oct 02 2009 11:09 AM

Windows Virtual PC is an optional add-on to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate that lets you run operating systems within Windows, including Windows XP Mode. You can also use it to install Ubuntu Linux and other operating systems. From Windows 7: Up and Running:

When you install Windows Virtual PC and the XPM package, you get the Windows XP virtual machine free of charge so that you can run your legacy Windows XP applications. However, besides running the free Windows XP virtual machine, you can also install other operating systems on Windows Virtual PC. This section will show you how to install another operating system on Windows Virtual PC. For illustration purposes, I will install the Ubuntu Linux OS.

First, launch the Virtual Machines window by going to Start>All Programs>Windows Virtual PC>Virtual Machines. The Virtual Machines window will be shown. This window will display all the virtual machines that you have installed on your computer.

To create a new virtual machine, click the menu item "Create virtual machine." You will be asked to name the new virtual machine as well as specify a location to store the new virtual machine file. Click Next.

In the next screen, you need to specify how much memory to allocate to this virtual machine. You will also indicate whether you want the virtual machine to make use of the current computer's network connection for network access. Click Next to continue.

Finally, you will be asked to create or use an existing hard disk image file for the new OS. If you are creating a new image, select the first option and click Create.

Once the virtual machine is created, you will see it shown in the Virtual Machines window.

To start the new virtual machine, double-click it. The virtual machine will attempt to perform a network boot, and will eventually fail. As you have not installed the OS yet, press the Esc key now and you will see a message asking you to reboot or insert the boot media in the selected boot device.

To install an OS on the virtual machine, you will need the installation disc for the OS you are going to install and you must let Windows Virtual PC know how to locate the installation disc. To do so, select Tools>Settings and choose DVD Drive from the list of settings.

If your OS comes on a physical disc, insert the disc (CD or DVD) into your CD/DVD drive now and select the "Access a physical drive option" (Figure 7-11). Choose the drive letter that corresponds to your disc drive. If your OS is saved as an ISO file, choose the "Open an ISO image" option and specify the path containing the ISO file. Click OK to continue.

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Click the menu labeled Ctrl-Alt-Del in the virtual machine window. The virtual machine will now attempt to boot up. If the bootup is successful, you should see a bootup screen like Figure 7-12. You will now proceed with the usual steps to install the OS.

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Windows 7: Up and Running

Learn more about this topic from Windows 7: Up and Running.

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9 Replies

 : Feb 23 2010 02:10 PM
Every time I launch the installer the VM shutsdown. Tried 2 different machines and a friend is also having the same problem. All these systems have been x64 though. What are we missing?
 : Feb 23 2010 06:48 PM
@HaloFX, are you getting any error messages when it shuts down? If you can't get Virtual PC to run, you may want to look into VirtualBox, which is free virtualization software that works well. See http://www.virtualbox.org/
 : Jun 02 2010 06:27 AM
@ bjepson: That was the most useless reply to someone, especially since you wrote the article. What kind of a suggestion is that? Did you install and boot-up the Ubuntu OS? If so, then perhaps you could have put a bit more thought or helpfulness to your response.

@ HaloFX: If you are having shutdown problems from the virtual server, ie "Windows Virtual PC" then it could possibly be the graphics mode for the XServer configuration. You may try the alternative text-based installer to install the guest OS in 16-bit. If that doesn't help then it maybe the incompatibility with the Host 64-Bit "Windows Virtual PC" and the 32-Bit Ubuntu installer. Try the x86_64 distribution. I have a test machine that I will try to simulate the problem you're having and provide a resolution; if found.
 : Jun 02 2010 06:39 AM


@bjepson: That was the most useless reply to someone, especially since you wrote the article. What kind of a suggestion is that? Did you install and boot-up the Ubuntu OS? If so, then perhaps you could have put a bit more thought or helpfulness to your response.

@noexcuses: Yes, I installed and booted up the Ubuntu OS. Without more details on the error I didn't have enough information to diagnose the problem, much less duplicate it.

Perhaps I should have been more clear in my reply. I was asking HaloFX to try both things: let me know if there are any errors and give VirtualBox (which, like Virtual PC, is free) a whirl. If VirtualBox works and Virtual PC doesn't, that not only gives us another diagnostic data point, but also opens an alternative tool that HaloFX can use.

Thanks for your suggestion--that may be just what is needed.
 : Jul 11 2010 06:17 PM
I tried repeatedly to install Linux Xandros on the Virtual PC in Windows 7, using both the disk and the image (ISO) file, but was unable to complete the installation. The installation starts, it checks for peripherals, hardware, etc. and then it stalls into a black oversized screen. Am I missing something? What should I look for? Why does it end into an oversized black screen instead of progressing with the actual installation of Xandros?
 : Jul 11 2010 06:39 PM
@pinkfloyd1965: does Xandros offer the option to switch the display resolution or color depth when you boot the installer? If so. then @noexcuses' suggestion should help you (try a 16-bit color depth for the display resolution). If Xandros has a text-mode installer, that may work as well.
 : Jul 12 2010 01:31 PM
hi everybudy :) firstly i'm new on like this work but i installed linux ubuntu and pardus on virtual pc then it worked :) i created a new virtual machine on virtual pc and part a new side on my harddisk then i i put linux ubuntu cd on cd/dvd room.. then i started the new machine which as named "ubuntuM" (i didint do any changin' on settings like cdroom way or iso finding way to virtual machine ubuntu) then it found ubuntu's boot cd then installed succesfully.But i've an problem when i started the virtual machine ubuntu it worked on windowed screen not fullscreen (like virtual xpm) what's the solution on this? (may screen bit settings 32 or 16 bit??) i dont know how i can ?? can u help ??
 : Jul 12 2010 01:34 PM
and my system have x64 professional win 7 and x64 virtual pc ...
 : Jul 12 2010 01:56 PM
@soundmind: This thread at the Ubuntu forums has some suggestions for taming an Ubuntu installation under Virtual PC, though I don't know if the suggestions will help. I no longer have the Ubuntu virtual machine up and running, so I'm not able to test at this time.