April 16, 2010

Can You Install and Run Ubuntu on Microsoft Virtual PC 2007?


Ubuntu Desktop 9.10 running on Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 SP1/Windows XP Professional SP3

Installation Notes

The installation went smoothly as far as my experience is concerned and there isn't much to write about except the following:

  • You should update Microsoft Virtual PC to the latest version (2007 SP1 at the time of writing) before attempting to install Ubuntu. Ubuntu fails to install on earlier versions.
  • Microsoft Update/Automatic Update Service can patch Virtual PC to the latest version. Check the "Add or Remove Programs" control panel applet to see if you already have the required version.
  • Choose the "Safe Graphics Mode" to install Ubuntu.

Post Installation Notes

There are few issues that you will notice after installing/running Ubuntu on Microsoft Virtual PC 2007. The following instructions might help you workaround the most common ones.

Garbled Console Problem

It's very likely that the Ubuntu boot screen and console (CTRL+ALT+F1 through F6) will appear garbled on Microsoft Virtual PC, something like this:

Garbled Ubuntu dmesg on Virtual PC

Garbled Ubuntu console on Virtual PC

The garbled/corrupted display renders the console absolutely useless. To work around this problem, you should disable the buggy s3 frame buffer driver and resort to safer drivers. For this, you must edit the /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-framebuffer.conf file and make necessary changes. To edit this file as root using gedit, enter the following commands in the terminal:

$ gksudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-framebuffer.conf &

The required changes are highlighted below:

# Framebuffer drivers are generally buggy and poorly-supported, and cause
# suspend failures, kernel panics and general mayhem.  For this reason we
# never load them automatically.
#blacklist vesafb
#blacklist vga16fb
blacklist s3fb

After making the above mentioned changes, save file and reboot. The garbled screen problem should be gone.

Fixed Ubuntu dmesg on Virtual PC

Fixed Ubuntu console on Virtual PC