What about XP?

date:Feb 6, 2009 @ 14:26

Ubuntu is all well and good, but what if you really, really want to run XP on the Mini9?

Here is the first of a number of suggestions.

Solution 1 - using a virtual machine

It is possible to run XP as a virtual machine on the Ubuntu hosted mini9. Here’s one way to do it.


A version of VirtualBox, by Sun Microsystems Inc., is provided for using with Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) and you can obtain a copy from here:


Want to know more about VirtualBox

VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it is now the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software.

More details at


So it should be straightforward right? Well yes and no.

Start off by downloading the distribution mentioned above and double click on the .deb file to start the installation.

Then noticed a message similar to

Compilation of the kernel module FAILED!

VirtualBox will not start until this problem is fixed. Please consult /var/log/vbox-install.log to find out why the kernel module does not compile. Most probably the kernel sources were not found. Install them and execute /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup as root.

Hmm, so it’s normal to have to rebuild the OS kernel when installing applications.

It is Linux after all - a hackers paradise, but what would a normal users reaction be away from the relative cosy confines of Windows.

This issue is overcome by installing the necessary linux header files. I used the Synaptic Package Manager

System…Administration…Synaptic Package Manager

to do this but you could do it equally well from a command line interface if that’s your preferred mode of operation.

So to ensure a trouble free installation do the following steps:

  • Install the necesary headers
  • Run the VirtualBox installation

From the command line enter

apt-get -i linux-headers-lpia
apt-get -i linux-headers-lpiacompat

Then install, again from the command line, enter

dpkg -i -force-architecture virtualbox-2.1_2.1.2-41885_Ubuntu_hardy_i386.deb

and hey presto, you now have VirtualBox installed.

On my machine it’s installed as

System Tools…Sun xVM VirtualBox

Now it only remains to create a Virtual Machine and install a copy of XP. I won’t go through all the specifc details here, it’s fairly straightforward.

NOTE: you may want to specify a different Host key to the default right-ctrl which doesn’t exist on the mini9.

I used XP Professional (SP3) and created a couple of virtual hard disks, one of 10Gb for the main boot partition and one of 20Gb for Data, on an externally attached USB drive - didn’t want to gobble up the scare resources of the machines solid state drive.

Specified 512Mb memory for the vm, but this is probably right on the limit.

Installation of XP was slow, but otherwise presented no issues and you can see it running in the above screenshot. You’ll notice that I also installed the full Office suite which runs with no problems.

Also look at installing/using the VirtualBox Guest Additions for better display drivers, mouse pointer integration, seamless windows etc.

So now you can have the pleasure of running Windows XP applications from within a Virtual Machine running in your host Ubuntu environment.

Is this the best combination though for having both Ubuntu and WinXP available?

Other References

Some external references which may be of some use