Qemu Windows XP install

Well, I alluded yesterday to a struggle with installing Windows XP under Qemu. Here are some details on the long and (still winding) road. At this point I have a working XP install running under Qemu but, I’ve run out of disk space (2G) and need more space before I can upgrade it to SP2. Note that I have not installed any third party software, just the base OS. Well…. I did have a long way around to get there….

For starters, as you may know I run linux as my main desktop OS. I find it to be more stable and predictable, less prone to worms, virus (virii) and spyware and it does a much better job of insulating users from each other…. I could go on, but I’ll leave it there for a moment. I do work with all sorts of computers though and my recent articles on Qemu had me curious to experiment some more. Of course, previously I talked about Qemu for linux livecd testing (knoppix, klax, and the like) as well as a small install I did of Windows 98SE (which went very smoothly). I’ve previously used Win4lin for Windows 98, but at this point there is no significant performance difference so, I think I’ll likely be using Qemu from here on.

At one point I thought about buying VMWare since it does support many guest operating systems. The main sticking point there was the expense which was more than I wanted to spend. So, a recent phone call asking me to guide them through something in the Windows XP control panel (which I had to muster from memory), had me looking to install XP in a virtual disk image in Qemu….

What follows is the log of this somewhat excruciating journey.

Started WinXP home install in qemu. I frequently have people ask how to find certain things within XP’s control panel and without a working install it’s hard to conjure up from memory exactly where things are put. To make things worse, I tend to remember the “classic” control panel icons and the nomenclature is different in the “simple view”. First it was an upgrade disc and required proof of a prior Windows version. I had 2 possibilities Win98 and WinME. I swapped the cds and it didn’t recognize them. I tried again and installed windows 98 second edition, then booted from the cd for xp home upgrade. It didn’t recognize the installed OS and asked for the cd again. Finally I booted Win98 and started the install from within there. An hour passed as it copied files. (ntdsapi.dll failed to copy) At 5 AM when I was back up I looked and it had booted into the console mode installer again. Unsure if this was correct I rebooted and it was giving a choice of the winxp setup or win98 for boot options. So, I continued with setup. It spent another 30 minutes copying the install files before booting to finalize setup. At this point there was an error message that setup failed to install the product catalogs. According to http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;q307153 in the MS knowledge base this is a known bug and can happen if setup failed to remove a directory from an existing Win98 or ME install. The remedy was either to boot with a win98 or ME boot disc, or to boot to the recovery console. I had converted to ntfs and so win98 or ME boot discs was out of the question, so I booted to the recovery console. It asked for the administrator password…. ummmm I hadn’t set one (install hadn’t progressed that far.) It doesn’t like a null password and won’t let me in. So now it’s off to find the ntchpasswd (Sorry chntpasswd is the name) boot disc. It’s been 14 hours since I started what I thought would be an easy install of windows into virtual drive. (Windows 98 installed without a hitch I should note.)

This is bringing back MANY memories of why I got off of Windows to begin with.

So, I tried chntpasswd and it couldn’t change or reset password database information because the SAM file hadn’t been created yet, so I tried the option to modify the Recovery Console settings. I was informed that it was changed to not prompt for the password, but I still couldn’t get in (yes I saved the changes and yes windows still repeatedly asked for the password.) I had seen online someone that was a MS MVP suggest that if it’s a blank password to enter a (tab) and then press enter. I tried that as well. SO…. next step, boot the virtual pc from a knoppix disc (old 3.7) and try captive-ntfs?

I did this and got an error that looked as though it was configured incorrectly (captive-sandbox-server complained about not being able to find the captive user in the groups file, I couldn’t add it, etc.)

So, I booted up with a sarge image that I have and installed captive from here….

http://www.kruyt.org/debian/captive-static-1.1.5-1.deb Problems, root filesystem remounted as read-only after trying to use captive.

So I installed Mandriva 2005 on an image. (Still hadn’t tried out those install discs I downloaded a few months back.) All goes well and I install the following rpm.


Ok – the sarge image had errors trying to mount the image so I’m down to a last attempt which is install a Mandriva image and install the above rpm trying to use that to work with the winxphome image and erase the file mentioned in the MS support KB. I guess my other option is to start over with the win98 install keep the filesystem fat32 through the xp install and then if I run into the problem again that would widen the number of ways I could solve it. At this point I’m approaching 19 hours since I started this oddysey and I’m beginning to forget what prompted me to do this to start with. Ok – with Mandriva I was able to get captive working (without the sandbox mode). Renamed the questionable folder.

The install failed giving the same error messages.

So, I went back to a fresh image and installed win95b, XP couldn’t upgrade directly from it so I used a Win98 upgrade disc (not Second edition), then finally did an XP upgrade from there and I’ve got a working desktop. The next journey is patching it to the current updates. Which had me filling the rest of the 2GB drive before SP2 could install. So now, I’m moving things over to a larger disk image before doing the sp2 update and finally being set.

Some of the problems (Windows not detecting the media to upgrade from) could be blamed on qemu in all fairness. I do recall similar file not found problems on past XP installs though. Anyway it’s been churning in the background for a day and 3/4 now and we’re almost done.

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