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  • geektime: virtualize pre-installed windows 10?
  • Premier Icon sirromj
    Subscriber

    Thinking about getting a new laptop, preference is for Linux as everyday OS with Win10 within VM.

    Question is, with laptops coming without DVD drives or Windows installation media, is it possible to virtualize an existing Windows installation?

    A Google search suggests it is possible, but I thought Windows sees the virtual environment as different to the original hardware hosting the installation and gets a bit upset and refuses to cooperate?

    Is that still the case? Is there anything to look out for or avoid when purchasing a laptop that would help make it work?

    edit: I use QEMU/KVM/libvirt within Arch Linux on the desktop to run a VM for Win 10 so as to use VT-x (atleast that was the best option a few years ago when I set it up).

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    oh FFS forum formatting is a shitfest isnt it.

    Premier Icon Stoner
    Subscriber

    let’s try again.

    From my bro who knows this stuff:

    **** stupid idea, but okay, the most important thing to know is that Windows 10 is partially virtualised itself which means the installation of the operating system is portable – you can whip the drive out of one physical machine and put it in another and it’ll boot. Equally virtualise it (known as a P2V migration) and it’ll boot fine. It was Windows XP and earlier that’d totally fail if you tried that.
    As for hardware, nothing new will give you a problem – just overspec the RAM and pick a faster clock speed if you’re virtualising (over 2Ghz at least)
    Some laptops skimp on the CPU clock speed for battery performance. With clever tech, that can be okay, but for virtualising it’s not so great
    Oh, and you can download the Windows 10 media and put it on to USB using Microsoft downloads and tools, free. It’ll just ask the license on install. If you buy the Windows OS with the Laptop as an OEM install, the license is embedded in the BIOS chip so you won’t get a key that you can enter on installing the OS. It’ll just find and recognise it.If you P2V you’re fine. If you need to reinstall from scratch directly in to a VM, that might be trickier

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Isn’t that what wine is for?

    But yeah, P2V is a piece of piss in a VMware environment.  How QEMU will take to that I don’t know, though – the only time I’ve used QEMU it was to virtualise another Linux system and I built it from scratch.

    Premier Icon sirromj
    Subscriber

    Ta for the info, helpful. Re the license key, not sure if still the case, but it used to be buried within a key of the Windows registry.

    deadkenny
    Member

    Windows 10, the licence will need re-activation if hardware changes significantly, which it will with a VM, and OEM editions and free upgrades are tied to the hardware. A VM is considered a different computer and official line is you need to buy a full licence. If it was a full, non OEM in the first place, then it’s a portable licence and you can use the key you’d have with it when re-activating.

    Premier Icon oldnpastit
    Subscriber

    I’ve done this with my work laptop; it was fine. But it’s a corporate license so it might behave slightly differently, and also Win7.

    The key lives in the BIOS (well, some magical ACPI registers), and any recent VMWare or VirtualBox will pass the values through for you.

    I’m now actually using kvm+qemu, which also seems to be fine. Performance seems fine (maybe kvm+qemu is slower than VirtualBox, I’m not sure).

    Watch out for VMWare – last time I looked the host kernel drivers were always several kernel versions too old, so you would end up with a choice of either having working VMWare, or a new kernel (with working graphics hardware) but not both. VirtualBox doesn’t seem to suffer from this.

    With Win7 you have to do some magic to make the disk drivers work properly but the comments above suggest that’s now fixed.

    I have to admit I hardly ever use my Windows install these days.

    Premier Icon sirromj
    Subscriber

    Isn’t that what wine is for?

    Yeah, but I have a few devices which the only way to apply firmware updates or change configuration is through Windows software, and in my experience it’s rare this stuff works in Wine but is fine within a VM (and the device redirected to the VM instead of the host).

    Windows 10, the licence will need re-activation if hardware changes significantly, which it will with a VM, and OEM editions and free upgrades are tied to the hardware. A VM is considered a different computer and official line is you need to buy a full licence. If it was a full, non OEM in the first place, then it’s a portable licence and you can use the key you’d have with it when re-activating.

    That’s kind of what I was expecting. My desktop PC for instance I purchased without an OS installed along with a full Windows 7 Home edition just to run in a VM. I remember why now, because I had tried to install Vista from a past machine within a VM within Linux and it refused to work.

    I have to admit I hardly ever use my Windows install these days.

    Same, however, Win10 usage has increased since a major CUPS update has made it difficult/impossible for me to figure out how to get my Linux desktop to act as a print server for our Brother laserjet (USB only, non wifi) so we could print stuff from the laptop. If only we just used Windows and forgot all about Linux eh?

    Premier Icon oldnpastit
    Subscriber

    major CUPS update has made it difficult/impossible

    CUPS. What unbounded joy that software brings.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Wasn’t CUPS dead like a decade ago?

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