Monday, 6 August 2007

Emulating Windows on a PowerPC Mac

My father-in-law has a small problem with his Powerbook, it doesn't run Microsoft Money and as a lot of people in the Mac community will tell you, most people coming over from Windows use Money.

Anyway I thought I would help him out by installing an emulator for him, so I looked around (unfortunately being on a powerpc it immediately ruled out Parallels or VMWare) and came across iemulator, which I thought used to be free but is now commercial and Q (Quemu), which is freeware.

I bet you can guess which one I went for right? :)

Installing Q wasn't a problem, it was a simple case of drag and drop and presents a control panel a little similar to VMWare. I set up a new virtual machine, chose Win2K as the operating system, purely so it wouldnt need as many resources as XP does and would hopefully be useable and started the installation with a Win2k SP3 disc that I have.

The installation was slow - it took around 2.5 hours which surprised me, of course I expected it to be slow but it was longer than I expected. After a reboot windows started up and then immediately gave me an error "MSGina.dll failed to load", which is a known issue.

After following the steps in the guide it still didnt work and I realised that it was due to my own stupidity as I was trying to replace the DLL with the one from the CD and as it was a slipstreamed disc was basically the same file.

At this point I saved the virtual PC while I went to look up the error and work out a way around it. Unfortunately afterwards when I came back to it I had a lot of issues with getting the virtual PC to start/boot from the CD. It kept crashing and freezing the powerbook so badly that I had to hard shutdown by holding the power button down. (The whole computer was unresponsive and the mouse cursor frozen).

It took a lot of fiddling but the solution in the end was to leave the CD out after a reboot, try to start without the CD which of course would fail. Shutdown the virtual PC and Q, put the disc back in, wait for it to mount and then to start Q again, then in the options for the virtual PC to set it to boot from the CD. Afterwards it finally booted and I could get to the recovery console again. Though this still left the msgina.dll problem.

To get around it I went to the Microsoft site and downloaded service pack for for Win2k, I then booted into parallels on my Macbook Pro and used Winrar to extract the msgina.dll file and copied it onto a usb disk.

Back on the powerbook I created a blank disk image in Q, renamed it to .img (note Q uses .qcrow or .raw which arent recognised by the disk utility in OS X), mounted the image formatted it as DOS and then copied the msgina.dll file onto it.

Then I booted the virtual PC from the CD, went into the recovery console and using expand, "expanded" the file and over wrote the version that was there. I mounted the image in the virtual PC as a floppy disk image, initally once the virtual pc was at the recovery console DOS prompt but this didnt work, I ended up having to put it in the virtual pc options.

After a reboot the virtual PC finally started and I got to the Win2k desktop.

Great I thought - I'll just install the Q provided Win2k drivers, so I started the .exe file from the image that comes with Q and it promptly crashed the virtual machine and the powerbook so badly that I had to reboot again.

After the reboot and once Id started Win2k again I decided to leave things as they were, Windows seemed to be ok and I thought it would be enough for my father-in-law.

I then decided to install outlook as he has a lot of problems opening .msg files (if any of you know a way to open these on a mac please let me know). So I put my office CD in, started the install, enter the key and then the installer bombed out. Tried it a couple more times with the same result.

So thinking it might be something to do with the CD reading via an emulator I copied the contents to the virtual PC and tried again but same result, it bombed out. I thought it might be because it's office 2003, so I found my old office 2000 cd and tried that, again the installer bombs out. In every case no error message is generated it just simply closes.

I tried downloading the latest release of Q as opposed to the stable version which I was using but still had the same problems, so now although I have a windows installation I cannot get office to install or find anything on the net to help, even in their own forums and/or wiki.

Anyone out there have any ideas as Im lost at the moment, Ive posted on the Q forums too and Im hoping someone will know something.

Thanks in advance

Update :

After doing some searching on the forums, I found out that with Windows 2000 you still need to update the installer. I tried to download the installer from microsoft within the virtual pc but it failed the Microsoft verification test, so I ended up downloading it via XP from within Parallels.

I then tried to get it into the virtual pc by using a 2.5mb floppy image but it reported that the downloaded archive was corrupt despite it opening fine in xp when I tested it. So long story short I ended up burning the file to cd and running it from the cd in the virtual PC, which worked.

After the the installer had finished updating I tried the Microsoft office install again and this time everything worked out fine.

So I now have a working Windows 2000 install with office running under Q, sometimes its a little slow, but it is running on a PowerPc so I guess it can be forgiven. Otherwise the only problems remaining are USB support and a bug that prevents you from running the virtual pc for a second time after its been shut down. If you try to run it again, the whole powerbook freezes and needs to be hard powered off.

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