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QEMU is a free x86 emulator for Linux and Windows.

Note: First of all, make sure you have read Installing ReactOS article.

Installing ReactOS on QEMU

  • Create a drive image, on which ReactOS will be installed, by typing:
qemu-img create -f qcow2 ReactOS.qcow2 1200M

1200M stands for 1200 megabytes - that shall be enough. It shall be greater, if you plan to install some application to try under ReactOS.

  • In *nix only, type:
sudo umount /dev/shm
sudo mount -t tmpfs -o size=144m none /dev/shm
  • Type:
qemu-system-i386 -m 1G -drive if=ide,index=0,media=disk,file=ReactOS.qcow2 -drive if=ide,index=2,media=cdrom,file=ReactOS.iso -boot order=d -localtime -serial file:ReactOS.log
  • -m 1G stand for 1 GB RAM
  • -boot order=d instructs QEMU to boot from the CD-ROM. Without -boot order=d it will boot from the hard drive image.
  • ReactOS.iso is the image of the installation CD, which can be downloaded from https://reactos.org/download/

Note: Currently only 0.4.14-dev build supports QEMU 4.2.0 and above. If you are using an older version of QEMU, you can grab the image from the above link. You can get the 0.4.14-dev version from here: https://reactos.org/getbuilds/

When reinstalling ReactOS, perform steps 2 (if necessary) and 3 only.

If you want to copy some files to ReactOS, you could create an CD-ROM image and mount it on QEMU. You can run QEMU this way:

qemu-system-i386 -m 1G -drive if=ide,index=0,media=disk,file=ReactOS.qcow2 -drive if=ide,index=2,media=cdrom,file=Applications.iso -localtime -serial file:ReactOS.log

Setting up Sound

Using AC97 emulation (QEMU 0.10.1 or later)

  • Set emulation to AC97: -device ac97
  • Install the drivers using Downloader! (You need to reboot twice)
Known Issues
  • Audio sounds glitch when changing the audio stream with a high sample rate to a stream with low sample rate

Using ES1370MP emulation

  • Set emulation to ES1370: -device es1370
  • Install drivers from here [1]
  • Create a file named import.reg with the following contents

  • Import those settings by starting cmd.exe and regedit import.reg
  • Reboot

If you don't hear any sound in QEMU 0.10.x, you'll have to set QEMU_AUDIO_DRV=fmod (available: dsound; fmod; sdl; none ; wav (dump to file) – see QEMU documentation for information.

Known Issues

After starting first audio stream, you need to leave QEMU and re-enter (seems to be a QEMU bug)

Setting up network

Networking should work by itself using the -net nic,model=ne2k_pci and -net user switches with QEMU.

Network card models that should work out-of-box as of 0.4.15-dev builds are:

  • e1000 - Intel 82540EM (PCI, e1000.sys driver)
  • e1000-82545em - Intel 82545EM (PCI, e1000.sys driver)
  • e1000-82544gc - Intel 82544GC (PCI, e1000.sys driver)
  • ne2k_pci - Realtek RTL8029 (PCI, ne2000.sys driver)
  • pcnet - AMD PCnet Am79C970 (PCI, pcnet.sys driver)
  • rtl8139 - Realtek RTL8139 (PCI, rtl8139.sys driver)
  • virtio-net - Red Hat VirtIO (PCI, netkvm.sys driver)

Using ReactOS LiveCD on QEMU

  1. Move to the previously created directory with the cd command.
  2. There, type in the following command:
qemu-system-i386 -m 64M -drive if=ide,index=2,media=cdrom,file=<filename>.iso

Grabbing debug messages

By default, ReactOS debug messages are sent to the serial port (COM1) of the guest machine. For grabbing that output, you need QEMU version 0.6.1 or later, in which you can specify the -serial option.

Valid arguments to -serial include file names, pipes, COM Ports and more. Those arguments could be:

-serial file:"C:\roslog.txt"
-serial pipe:"\\pipe1\"
-serial COM4

Redirect to a file

If you're using the QEMU virtual machine and want to redirect the serial output to a file, add the following to your QEMU command line:

-serial file:FILENAME

Replace FILENAME with the name of a file, into which the debug output shall be written.

Redirect to the console

The method above redirects the output to a file. If you want to redirect it to the console, there are two different methods. They depend on the operating system you run QEMU under.

  • Under Windows, add the following to your QEMU command line:
    -serial file:CON
  • Under a Unix-based operating system, add the following to your QEMU command line:
    -serial stdio

Serial port connection using com0com

Setup the com0com driver like explained in this com0com guide.

Add the following option to your QEMU command line

-serial COM4

Write "COM4" with capital letters otherwise QEMU won't use the serial port at all!

Open your terminal program and start a new connection to your second virtual port. If that port is not listed, try COM4.

Another option is to use the ReactOS Test Environment instead of setting this up manually.


If you feel that QEMU is too slow for you, consider using the KQEMU module.

Please bear in mind that it just works with QEMU up to 0.11 and isn't maintained anymore.

Tutorial by mikedep333

See also

Virtualization software‎ to run ReactOS on
Windows Bochs | Hyper-V | PCem | QEMU | Virtual PC | VirtualBox | VMware
ReactOS Bochs | PCem | QEMU | Virtual PC
Linux Bochs | PCem | QEMU | VirtualBox