Installing CentOS 5.0 Linux in Virtual PC 2007/Server 2005

by Todd Ogasawara

A number (all?) of virtualization products from Microsoft, Parallels, and VMware are having problems with recent Linux distro releases such as CentOS 5.0 (Red Hat Enterprise Linux clone) and Ubuntu 7.04. The main visible problem seems to have to do with the X11 windowing software. CentOS 5.0 appears to install correctly but X11 does not display. Instead, you get a text prompt that gets you to the shell. Manually attempting to start X fails too.

Here's what worked for me though. I installed the older CentOS 4.4 first. Then, I booted from the 5.0 ISO and upgraded the 4.4 system. I've tried this twice: Once using Virtual PC 2007 and once using Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Release Candidate. Both upgrades completed successfully and left me with a functioning X11/Gnome environment. Be sure to run "yum check-update" and "yum -y upgrade" after the upgrade. There are a bunch of components that need to be updated after CentOS 5.0 is up and running.

Ubuntu 7.04 Linux is another story. Although I've read reports of people getting this to install and running under Virtual PC 2007, I have not as much luck as them. I was able to get it installed but the X11 login screen was unusable for further work. I even had problems getting Ubuntu to run on a physical computer. I took an old Dell Latitude L400 currently running Ubuntu 6.10, wiped it out, and installed 7.04. However, a long series of kernel error messages is displayed on boot and the system never comes up correctly. It does, however, appear to install and run ok on an old Dell Dimension 4000 desktop PC. It is nowhere near as clean as the upgrade from 6.06LTS to 6.10.

I tried the upgrade path method with Ubuntu by installing 6.06LTS in Virtual PC 2007 first and then upgrading using gksu "update-manager -c" too. That resulted in a bunch of errors related to access issues to Gnome icons and OpenOffice files. Ultimately, the upgrade process appeared to fail and abort with a message about an unstable system. However, Ubuntu does boot into a normal looking X11 login screen. But, as noted in various web bulletin boards, the mouse does not work and you can't effectively navigate Gnome's GUI.


2007-05-15 10:49:44
You can however navigate the initial menu structure via keyboard and turn on keyboard-mouse. This will allow you to use the numeric keypad as a "mouse" until the PS-2 emulated mouse detection in the latest linux kernel is fixed or the emulation mode for the various virtual pc programs is adjusted. Not a great solution, but better than nothing (maybe).

Also, if you start Ubuntu using "safe graphics mode" on virtual pc it should work ok and appears to remain in that mode when you install after running it on the live CD in that mode.

2007-06-10 10:46:02
To add a touch of detail: you cannot install CentOS 5.0 on Virtual PC 2007 in graphical mode; you must use text-mode (type "linux text" at the installer boot screen) else the video is garbled when the installer GUI starts. Additionally, do not install the Virtualization feature else you will never get the CentOS installation to boot (the VM crashes when the virtualization module attempts to load at boot).
2008-04-14 02:37:45
Success install "Linux CentOS 5.1" on "Microsoft Virtual Server SP1" in text mode!

Install will crash on GUI mode... But in TEXT mode is OK...
GUI(X Window)will don't work and after installation...
You can work only from console...

Install Webmin :) ...

2008-06-11 00:20:02
Install Centos5/RedHat5 in text mode. Then use in console "system-config-display" util to change color depth in thouthand colors.
Also you can change this in /etc/X11/xorg.conf
Enjoy all full X mode :)
2008-07-03 11:46:33
After reading this I was able to get centos 5.2 installed on ms virtual pc and looks great. IN Centos 4.6 everything was working great so I upgraded to centos 5.2. The upgrade went great in text mode and centos 5.2 did boot and was able to login and get a desktop. But now I have no mouse at all, before I login and after. Bbefore the upgrade from the centos 4.6 to centos 5.2 the mouse was working fine. Any Ideas how to get the mouse working in MS virtual pc using centos 5.2?
Todd Ogasawara
2008-07-03 11:51:05
Chris: I did a bit more research after writing this blog post. You can find my detailed follow-up commentary on my personal blog: Red Hat 5/CentOS 5.1 and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1
2008-08-13 07:58:27
Hi all.

I tried to install centos 5 on Virtual PC 2007. Currently i'm using as a host enviroment Vista Ultimate SP1, and the machine is an AMD X2 5600+ with 4Gb of RAM. I've tried your suggestions but didn't work. In text and graphical modes it freezes always with this message:

"powernow-K8 BIOS error - no PSB or ACPI _PSS objects"

and a few lines after:

"ACPI: (Supports S0 S5)".

Someone knows what is happening?


2008-08-13 08:13:47
Well, i fixed. I had disabled in bios the cool 'n' quiet feature. Need to learn some basics about linux from now on. Hope this helps someone else.