Musings of a PC

Thoughts about Windows, TV and technology in general

Installing CentOS under Windows Virtual PC

I’ve been thinking about installing a Linux distrib for a while now, for a few reasons:

  • I want to take a closer look at Drupal, with a view to rebuilding the Papillon Pictures web site with it, and perhaps also a web site that I’ve been working on for a friend of a friend. From what I’ve read so far, it will be easier to do this under a Linux OS than under Windows, and hosting companies seem more willing to support it that way.
  • I want to ensure that my Unix admin knowledge doesn’t fade away.

CentOS is a community-supported version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. I downloaded the 5.5 DVD using a torrent file and run Virtual PC to build a new VM. I accepted the default values, directly attached the ISO and started the VM. The CentOS bootstrap worked straight away and without problems. The only thing that caught me out was that, after using the process to validate the disc, the ISO became “detached” from the VM and the installer reported that the disc wasn’t there. Thankfully you can change this setting while the VM is running so I just reattached the file and the installation process continued.

By default, it seems that the installation process was to run under X windows in 24-bit, which doesn’t work (well?) under Virtual PC. The recommendation is to start the installer with this command:

linux vesa=1024×768 depth=16

That worked OK with one exception – the mouse wasn’t being captured by the VM so although there was a mouse pointer, it wasn’t connecting to my physical mouse. Not a problem during the installation if you can cope with using the cursor keys, TAB and Return. A bit more digging turned up this blog entry:

This is a good blog as it captures not only the settings for getting the mouse to work but also includes the setting you need to change in order to fix the clock problem under Virtual PC.

The process of installing CentOS went very smoothly. The graphical installer is clean and keeps you informed as to the progress being made. After the installation completes, you reboot, get taken through a few more prompts (firewall, security, date/time, user creation, additional CDs) and then it is all done. Since I still didn’t have a working mouse, I pressed CTRL+ALT+F1 to drop out of X windows and get a command prompt. I then proceeded to follow the changes outlined in the above blog. Not all of the changes were necessary – my installation of CentOS was using vesa instead of fbdev and seemed to have configured itself OK for the resolution I wanted. I did – just to be on the safe side – change the occurrences of “24” to “16” even though I seemed to have a working GUI.

One reboot later … and it seems to be working properly! I get a nice reminder from Virtual PC that the mouse is going to be “captured” and how to release it.

There were 29 packages that had updates! Reminds me of working with Windows Updates 🙂 The good thing, though, is that it shows that the networking configuration is working without any need to change anything.

All in all, a very smooth installation process.

Next step is to download and install Drupal.

2 responses to “Installing CentOS under Windows Virtual PC

  1. Ryan February 3, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I am a huge fan of Virtual PC because of its small footprint and have been settling for CentOS 4.7 because of the video error I hit during the install. I’m installing Cent 5.5 on my laptop and have to go with 5.5 for software compatibility testing.

    linux resolution=1024×768 wasn’t enough to fix it.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  2. osssmanrlos June 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Good point. It worked perfect for me. I hope i find u before investing 1 hour on googling.

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