One disadvantage of developing websites/web applications on Unix (in my case Ubuntu) is that it’s hard to test things on Internet Explorer. Yes, you have IEs4Linux but that’s just not the same thing.
For real testing with the different versions of Internet Explorer Microsoft makes images available so you can test your websites/web applications in Microsoft Virtual PC. Unfortunately it’s not easy to use them when you develop on Unix.
So I wanted to see if I could convert these images into VMware images, since VMware player can run on Ubuntu. And it seems this is possible. Even though I’m not entirely sure I don’t break any EULA’s with this… To get it all working you need a Windows machine (with administrator rights) on which you need to unpack and convert the images. This conversion is not needed when you use VMware workstation. This conversion needs to be done every 6 months or so, since the windows version on the VPD has an expiry date.
Installing VMware player
Download VMware player tar.gz unpack it and run the installer as root.
When you are installing it you might get the following error (if you have a newer kernel):
include/asm/bitops_32.h:9:2: error: #error only <linux/bitops.h> can be included directly
But long live people who blog about their experiences, here is the solution for this problem. The writer forgot to put sudo before some of the commands and he assumes you came on his site after it failed and you didn’t try to remove the partially installed VMware player. Here are the steps with all the sudo’s:
- cd /usr/lib/vmware/modules/source
- sudo cp vmmon.tar vmmon.tar.orig (if you want to be able to undo your changes)
- sudo tar xvf vmmon.tar
- sudo vi vmmon-only/include/vcpuset.h
- change line 74 from:
- sudo rm vmmon.tar
- sudo tar cvf vmmon.tar vmmon-only/
- sudo rm -rf vmmon-only/
- sudo vmware-config.pl
Then you have a working VMware player.
Getting the Virtual PC Images
Microsoft makes VPC images available for IE6 and IE7, and now also the IE8 beta 1. Just download them and unpack them on a windows machine.
Converting the Virtual PC images
Get VMware converter to convert the free Virtual PC images to VMware images. Before you can convert them you first need to make a VPC image for the VHD. This can be done by running Virtual PC 2007. After that you can put the image in VMware converter and convert it into a VMware virtual machine. This is the part where I’m not sure if it’s legal or not. When converting the image, don’t forget to set the checkbox for the VMware tools.
Using the Virtual PC images
Because we use VMware player, we don’t have the VMware tools package. Lucky for us you can download the VMware workstation evaluation copy and unpack it. Then you need to copy the iso images in there to make sure that the VMware tools can get installed (you might get a message about inserting the windows xp sp2 cdrom, but if you just cancel those, the virtual machine still works good enough to test IE). You might wonder if this is legal, but according to this thread it should be ok. The following command I used to copy them, but you need to be in the directory below the one where you unpacked the workstation evaluation copy.
sudo cp -r vmware-distrib/lib/isoimages /usr/lib/vmware/
After that you are ready to use the Virtual PC images with VMware tools.
Other nice things to do
Using your existing windows partition
Other thing you can do is use your dual boot windows partition. For now no blog post about that, since I didn’t try that out myself. But here are some links about it:
- Using windows apps in ubuntu
- Ubuntu forums post about it
- VMWare blog post about it
- Another post about it
- And yet another post about it
When you use the same windows install from disk and from VMware, you will run into problems with the Windows hardware based activation. But also for that problem a a solution exists and is blogged about. It’s pretty simple, if you know it. It seems that windows activation creates two files that contain the activation information. If you just keep both versions of the activation information available and copy them into the right place at the right time, all should work well
Running things outside the VMware scope
If you want the Internet Explorer in a window outside your virtual machine, you can do that using rdesktop. Some information about that can be found on the following sites.
A side note
Unfortunately, while writing this post I encountered one problem with referring to other articles which contain the HOWTO for your problem. When you google for Run Existing Windows Installation on Ubuntu with Vmware Player you will find a lot of referrals to one specific article, which is no longer available. This is the main reason why I copy/pasted the steps to install VMWare player, in stead of only linking to them.