"In het verleden behaalde resultaten bieden geen garanties voor de toekomst"
About this blog

These are the ramblings of Matthijs Kooijman, concerning the software he hacks on, hobbies he has and occasionally his personal life.

Most content on this site is licensed under the WTFPL, version 2 (details).

Questions? Praise? Blame? Feel free to contact me.

My old blog (pre-2006) is also still available.

See also my Mastodon page.

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Running an existing Windows 7 partition under QEMU/KVM/virt-manager

I was previously running an ancient Windows XP install under Virtualbox for the occasional time I needed Windows for something. However, since Debian Stretch, virtualbox is no longer supplied, due to security policy problems, I've been experimenting with QEMU, KVM and virt-manager. Migrating my existing VirtualBox XP installation to virt-manager didn't work (it simply wouldn't boot), and I do not have any spare Windows keys lying around, but I do have a Windows 7 installed alongside my Linux on a different partition, so I decided to see if I could get that to boot inside QEMU/KVM.

An obvious problem is the huge change in hardware between the real and virtual environment, but apparently recent Windows versions don't really mind this in terms of drivers, but the activation process could be a problem, especially when booting both virtually and natively. So far I have not seen any complications with either drivers or activation, not even after switching to virtio drivers (see below). I am using an OEM (preactivated?) version of Windows, so that might help in this area.

Update: When booting Windows in the VM a few weeks later, it started bugging me that my Windows was not genuine, and it seems no longer activated. Clicking the "resolve now" link gives a broken webpage, and going through system properties suggests to contact Lenovo (my laptop provider) to resolve this (or buy a new license). I'm not yet sure if this is really problematic, though. This happened shortly after replacing my hard disk, though I'm not sure if that's actually related.

Rebooting into Windows natively shows it is activated (again or still), but booting it virtually directly after that still shows as not activated...

Creating the VM

Booting the installation was actually quite painless: I just used the wizard inside virt-manager, entered /dev/sda (my primary hard disk) as the storage device, pressed start, selected to boot Windows in my bootloader and it booted Windows just fine.

Booting is not really fast, but once it runs, things are just a bit sluggish but acceptable.

One caveat is that this adds the entire disk, not just the Windows partition. This also means the normal bootloader (grub in my case) will be used inside the VM, which will happily boot the normal default operating system. Protip: Don't boot your Linux installation inside a VM inside that same Linux installation, both instances will end up fighting in your filesystem. Thanks for fsck, which seems to have fixed the resulting garbage so far...

To prevent this, make sure to actually select your Windows installation in the bootloader. See below for a more permanent solution.

See more ...

0 comments -:- permalink -:- 18:13
Using runas with explorer

It feels a bit weird to write about windows, but perhaps other people have some use for this.

At Inter-Actief, we normally log in with non-privileged accounts. Every now and then, we (the sysadmins) want to do something with privileges. For this, we use the runas utility, which is included with Windows XP by default. It runs a given command with different privileges (after entering a password, of course).

One of these things is browsing the file system and copying files. In other words, you want to get an explorer window with privileges. Simply running

runas.exe /user:Administrator explorer

Doesn't work. This will notice there is already a running explorer process and let that existing process open a new window instead (which will not have privileges).

Previously, we misused Internet Explorer for accomplishing this. Internet Explorer is really just another face of explorer (But with a different process name), so if you would start a new instance of Internet Explorer and navigate to "C:" instead of an url, you'd get a perfectly usable explorer, running as Administrator.

For example,

runas.exe /user:Administrator "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe C:\"

gets you a fancy new explorer window, but only when using IE6. Internet Explorer 7 dropped all those explorer-like features (which is a good thing, btw), but now this trick doesn't work anymore.

Some googling around gave me Aaron Margosis' blog who describes some trick with setting a "run explorer windows in separate processes"-flag for the Administrator user.

This is all nice and fancy, but I won't be logging into every client here to set that bit, only to do it again (or more annoying, forget it) whenever we reinstall a machine.

Fortunately, badri commented another trick: Use the /separate flag to explorer. This forces explorer to run as a seperate process, ignoring any already running instances. This gives a command line such as:

runas.exe /user:Administrator "explorer.exe /separate,C:\"

Be careful to include the "," there, between /separate and the path. I'm not sure why it is there, but it doesn't work without.

This ended up as bit longer post than I intended, but at least I'm writing again.

0 comments -:- permalink -:- 15:50
Copyright by Matthijs Kooijman - most content WTFPL