…using kvm, that is. But wait, you say, why come from freedom and subject ourselves to this:
The thing is, after reading that the SABDFL himself seems to like the recently released Windows 7 beta 1, I somehow felt compelled to try it out, too. Like Shuttleworth points out, it’s nice to have some competition, and of course it doesn’t make sense not to be aware of what that competition looks like.
While I won’t have time in the next few weeks to play with this beta a lot, now was the time to download it, because MS are taking it offline on 10 February. You’re provided with an activation key for the installer, and the installed system remains accessible until sometime in August. In case you’re getting curious too, the download page is here – note that the iso to download is rather substantial at 2.5GB. To avoid too complicated issues, I opted for the 32-bit version.
On the Guest Support Status page on the kvm wiki I found an entry stating that Windows 7 has been tested on the amd64 architecture, with kvm-62. Guess what? That happens to be exactly the version of kvm that’s in the Hardy repositories. It’s actually been a while since I installed kvm (note that kvm needs hardware support in your CPU and your BIOS by the way, otherwise look up qemu, but I’m not sure if you want to run something big like this in that case), but off the top of my head you can install it in Hardy (please correct me if I’m forgetting anything crucial) by a simple
sudo aptitude install kvm sudo adduser username kvm #replace username
and then a reboot (well, you could go without rebooting and then modprobing etc, but this is the brief version…). The adduser line allows you to use kvm as a normal user. As always, I’d like to add that you should know what you’re doing when running with root privileges (sudo), and at the very least read the man pages to any commands pasted from some random guy’s blog… there, I said it again.
The kvm wiki entry also lists the settings with which Windows 7 was tested; there’s one issue here and that is that the usb-options to kvm don’t work on Hardy. So, omitting those, we can install with the following two lines:
qemu-img create -f qcow2 win7.img 15G kvm -localtime -std-vga -m 2048 -cdrom win7.iso -boot d win7.img
I think I’ll skip explaining the switches – seriously, read the man pages. Well, actually, the kvm man page doesn’t contain much, so look at the one for qemu instead. Obviously, you can drop the -cdrom and -boot options on subsequent runs.
The installation ran buttery-smooth here, but then I’m a bit spoiled with an Intel T8100 CPU and 4GB of RAM. Anyway, I think it was mostly a disk-performance limited affair (it’s all on an encrypted LVM volume on a slow laptop harddisk…), but still I was looking at a completely installed and also fully patched system (yes, kvm/qemu takes care of passing-through your network connection) within 45 minutes. At this point, the disk image takes up 5.1GB of space.
Finally, although I took umpteen screenshots during installation, I now decided I won’t put them up here; partly because I might get shot by the users of ubuntuweblogs.org (“Hello all, I’m the new guy who just joined, and I’m plastering your RSS readers with Windows screenshots… ;)”), partly because the web is flooded with Windows 7 screenshots already, and partly because I’m hoping you’ll try it out for yourself. Have fun!
Edit: it seems I haven’t been keeping track of my friends’ feeds properly. Shawn wrote about this already over a week ago. Also, he did post his screenshots…