Sunday, February 14, 2010

IE VPCs on Ubuntu

I love the fact that Microsoft makes these Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Images available, but I hate the fact that they're so darn hard to setup on linux. Plus the last few times they've rev'd the images, they've packaged them in a way where the licensing breaks if you don't run them in Microsoft's VPC software (obviously available for Windows only). And of course, each of the different VPCs (for ie6, ie7, and ie8) use the same disk uuid, which doesn't play nicely with VirtualBox. So this is what I end up doing:

Initial Setup

1) Download the latest VPCs.

2) Install unrar to extract the images:

sudo apt-get install unrar

3) Extract each image:

unrar e -o+ IE6-XP-SP3.exe

(I also move and rename them to something convenient, like ie6.vhd.)

4) Install VirtualBox:

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose virtualbox-guest-additions

Rinse and Repeat

After 3 days or reboots of the image, these VPC images will stop working in VirtualBox, so if you're not careful you'll have to repeat these steps fairly often (fortunately, VirtualBox's snapshotting capabilities can help here). Keep massaging the scalp until you've produced a thick, luxurious lather:

5) Clone the vhds, to give them universally unique uuids (apparently Microsoft doesn't quite get the meaning of uuid). Also, this'll give you a pristine image when you need to repeat the process:

VBoxManage clonehd ie6.vhd ie6cloned.vhd

6) Fire up the VirtualBox ui:


(I actually usually do this via the desktop menubar: Applications > Accessories > VirtualBox OSE.)

7) Add each of the vhds (you can also do this via VBoxManage commands, but I'm too lazy to figure them out):

  1. Click the New toolbar item. Click Next.
  2. Enter a name (like ie6) and click Next.
  3. Select the Base Memory Size (256 MB for ie6/7; 512 MB for ie8), click Next.
  4. Select Use existing hard disk, click the little Folder icon.
  5. Click the Add toolbar item.
  6. Browse to the (cloned) .vhd file, select it, and click Open.
  7. Select the vhd you just added, and click Select.
  8. Click Next, then click Finish.

8) Run each image (select the image, click the Start toolbar item).

9) After XP boots, click No to the Windows Product Activation prompt, then ignore all the other whiny messages (resist the temptation to freaking close them already!), and select the Devices > Install Guest Additions... menu item from the image's menubar (the linux window's menubar, not XP's — to get out of XP, press the right-control key). Click the Continue Anyway when Windows tells you that installing this software will usher in the End Times. Don't reboot when it finishes — fix a few other things first.

10) Because I use the Dvorak keyboard layout, the first thing I do in XP is change the keyboard layout, via the Start > Control Panel > Regional and Language Options control panel; flip to the Languages tab, click Details...; then click Add..., select Dvorak, click OK, make it the Default, OK, OK, OK already!

11) Next I get rid of XP's screensaver, via the Start > Control Panel > Display Properties control panel. Flip to the Screen Saver tab, and select (None) from the Screen saver drop down (and click OK when you're done with the display settings). Also choose a larger screen size (Settings tab) and try to find a desktop background that doesn't make you want to puke.

12) Still ignoring XP's whimperings, open a command prompt (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt), and enter:

D:\VBoxWindowsAdditions-x86.exe /extract /D=C:\Drivers

13) Now find one of those Hardware Update Wizard dialogs that XP keeps popping up. If you couldn't take it and closed them all, open Start > Administrative Tools > Computer Management, then click Device Manager, then double-click Ethernet Controller, and finally click the Reinstall Driver... button. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the No, not this time radio-button, click Next.
  2. Select the Install from a list or specific location (Advanced) radio buton, click Next.
  3. Select the Search for the best driver in these locations radio-button, unselect the Search removable media check-box, select the Include this location in the search check-box, and type in C:\Drivers\x86\Network\AMD (or browse to it, if you're visually inclined).
  4. Click Next, click Finish.

Now we're finished with non-ie stuff! Ignore any other Hardware Wizards or other Forces of Darkness that XP sends your way.

14) For ie7, run the Install the IE Explorer 7 Readiness Toolkit item on your desktop.

15) Finally, run ie! You should see some crappy Microsoft home page — this means you've got the networking stuff hooked up right. Select Tools > Internet Options, and click the Use blank button so you never have to see this again. Then flip to the Advanced tab, and unselect the Disable script debugging (Internet Explorer) check-box, so the debugger will come up whenever you run across a javascript error.

OK, now reboot Windows. You've only got one more boot, so don't ever restart again! Once you boot up, save a snapshot with VirtualBox so you can always go back to this happy place.

See Also

Lots of other people have already gone down this road; especially helpful are:

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