IE6 and 7 on OSX
Some design work recently necessitated running both IE 6 and 7 for testing purposes. But I don't always have access to a Windows machine, and I haven't seen the need to purchase Parallels or VMWare's Fusion — I've been running the latter's beta trial version, but even that requires, theoretically, a licensed version of Windows.
Fortunately, Microsoft come to the rescue with free VirtualPC images designed specifically for browser testing. The only trick, then, is getting them working on OSX. VirtualBox is the answer there. With a little Googling I found The Mozmonkey Blog, which had instructions for getting the VirtualPC images converted and running. It seems that since that page was written VirtualBox has developed the ability to run VPC images without jumping through hoops, so it's slightly easier. The main problem I'm still having is that MS's IE6 image doesn't work. There's a solution to that though, it just means going back through some of those hoops.
So, the complete steps to running IE 6 and 7, completely free (as in beer):
- Download the WinXP/IE7 image from Microsoft
- The download is an EXE, so if you don't have access to Windows at this point, download p7zip; get the source version and build it using the OSX Makefile provided; then just run
7za x IE7-XPSP2_VPC.EXE
- That'll extract a VirtualPC file. VirtualBox can actually run these now, but if you want to use VirtualBox's
clonevdicommand to get a copy to run IE6, we're not done yet. Download and install Q - [kju:]. You don't need Q, you just want to be able to convert VPC images. So run
/Applications/Q.app/Contents/MacOS/qemu-img convert -O raw -f vpc XP\ SP2\ with\ IE7.vhd xpie7.raw(requires 16GB or so of free space, but you'll get those gigabytes back in the next step)
- Download and install VirtualBox; run it once. Then
VBoxManage convertdd xpie7.raw xpie7.vdi
- Move the xpie7.vdi file to your user's
Library/VirtualBox/VDIfolder (you may need to create it)
- Open VirtualBox, go File > Virtual Disk Manager, hit Add, select the new xpie7.vdi file
- Back in VirtualBox, hit New; select WindowsXP as the operating system; the MozMonkey Blog article suggests allocating 350MB memory, and that's worked well for me; select the newly registered xpie7.vdi virtual disk
- At this point it's worth running the virtual disk to verify all's well. You'll get Windows asking for an install disk, just hit Cancel on all those dialogs. Once you're booted up, go to VirtualBox's 'Devices > Install Guest Additions'. After a restart you should be mostly okay. If Windows still wants a driver, go for the "select location" option and browse to the fake CD the Guest Additions process leaves there.
- Once you're happy with the Windows setup, back out of VirtualBox and into the terminal again; run
VBoxManage clonevdi xpie7.vdi xpie6.vdi
- Back into VirtualBox and repeat the Add/New process using the xpie6.vdi file. Windows will be ready to go this time, as it's just a copy of everything you did in the IE7 instance.
- Boot into your IE6 instance. Go to the Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs and uninstall IE7. Windows will rollback to the default, IE6. Useful additions like the Web Developer Toolbar are already installed and work with IE6 as well, though you may need to 'repair' that installation.
- Clean up after yourself! Get rid of the stray VHD and RAW files; those are just taking up space.
VirtualBox has its tradeoffs — it's not as well-rounded as Fusion. The graphics support isn't as good — I get the occassional rendering glitch while scrolling in the browser. 'Seamless Mode' is nowhere near as good as Unity (or Coherence). And I can't get DHCP working using their bridged networking. But the NAT networking is fine for testing on localhost, and gets out to the outside world without a hitch. And I can setup a fixed IP for the internal network. For a home user without a network, the default settings would be fine. With VirtualBox continuously being worked on (the bridged networking is only a new feature on OSX) and the unbeatable price tag, I'd say Fusion and Parallels will soon have their work cut out for them justifying their price.
I've been running these images for a couple weeks now on my MacBook Air, and it's perfect for testing. The images boot up in seconds, meaning I don't need to keep them running and can just load up IE6 or 7 when I need to test. Even Command-tabbing between OSX and Windows feels snappy, so I can make a change and hit Refresh without waiting.
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