Windows 7 gaming machine running on Linux Mint Xen

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Windows 7 gaming machine running on Linux Mint Xen

Postby powerhouse on Sun Sep 02, 2012 5:11 pm

I know this sounds provoking. But let's face it: most games are written for Windows. I'm not a gamer at all but I need Windows (or Mac OS) to run professional photo editing software.

There is nothing but good user experience. People coming from Windows will miss their games or applications to run on Linux Mint. Dual-boot is an option, but if you need Windows to do what you like to do or need to do, then that's a show stopper!

In order to capture a growing crowd of disgruntled Windows users you need to cater their needs. There are almost always some people who want to play games or do other things that aren't supported under Linux natively.

The best solution so far is Xen. Xen hypervisor is supported under Linux Mint 13 (probably earlier versions too). A Xen hypervisor - given the appropriate hardware support for VT-d or IOMMU as well as graphics card support - can run a Windows guest system and provide native graphics card acceleration needed for games and some other Windows applications.

If you search for VGA passthrough or "gaming virtual machine" you will find instructions for how to do it on Fedora, or perhaps Debian Linux. Linux Mint totally lacks the documentation to make it work, nor does it provide some of the scripts and kernel features.

I'll be happy to provide some scripts and configurations I've found and modified for Linux Mint 13, but it needs more active support from the Linux Mint team to better support Xen under Linux Mint.

My suggestion:

1. Create a Xen forum on the Linux Mint forum - that's the easy part. Or even better, create a "Run Windows on Linux Mint" forum.
2. Statically compile xen-pciback into the kernel (when Xen hypervisor is installed).
3. Compile CONFIG_XEN_PCIDEV_BACKEND_PASS=y into the kernel.
4. Post a how-to on getting a Xen HVM Windows installation working with VGA passthrough.

Now it really doesn't matter if you use Xen, KVM, or Virtualbox to make full Windows graphics support work on Linux Mint, but currently only Xen provides the tools to do it.

Summary:

To attract Windows users to Linux Mint, you need to cater their needs. Games (usually on Windows) are a good way. Since Linux doesn't support playing the most popular games, why not allow users to run their games on a Windows VM?

Caveats: Windows licensing is an obstacle. It's not easy to transfer a legal Windows license into a VM. An OEM/actually anyone license would most likely cause troubles on the same computer when running Windows in a VM, as it sees a different hardware. But in any case, Linux is Linux, and Windows licenses are a whole different issue that users may need to resolve with Microsoft. For what I know a regular Windows license (not OEM license) will allow installation in a VM, but I'm no legal expert. Since Linux Mint won't use any Microsoft code and licenses issues are with them I believe that is save to follow the suggestions.
Last edited by powerhouse on Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Windows 7 gaming machine running on Linux Mint Xen

Postby Oscar799 on Mon Sep 03, 2012 3:25 am

Moved here by moderator
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