Automated installation of the Microsoft IE App Compat virtual machines

View the Project on GitHub xdissent/ievms


Microsoft provides virtual machine disk images to facilitate website testing in multiple versions of IE, regardless of the host operating system. With a single command, you can have IE6, IE7, IE8, IE9, IE10, IE11 and MSEdge running in separate virtual machines.

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Just paste this into a terminal:

curl -s | bash


NOTE Use ievms version 0.2.1 for VirtualBox < 5.0.


1.) Install VirtualBox and check the Requirements

2.) Download and unpack ievms:

3.) Launch Virtual Box.

4.) Choose ievms image from Virtual Box.

The OVA images are massive and can take hours or tens of minutes to download, depending on the speed of your internet connection. You might want to start the install and then go catch a movie, or maybe dinner, or both.

Recovering from a failed installation

Each version is installed into ~/.ievms/ (or INSTALL_PATH). If the installation fails for any reason (corrupted download, for instance), delete the appropriate ZIP/ova file and rerun the install.

If nothing else, you can delete ~/.ievms (or INSTALL_PATH) and rerun the install.

Specifying the install path

To specify where the VMs are installed, use the INSTALL_PATH variable:

curl -s | env INSTALL_PATH="/Path/to/.ievms" bash

Passing additional options to curl

The curl command is passed any options present in the CURL_OPTS environment variable. For example, you can set a download speed limit:

curl -s | env CURL_OPTS="--limit-rate 50k" bash

Disk requirements

A full ievms install will require approximately 69G:

Servo:.ievms xdissent$ du -ch *
 11G    IE10 - Win7-disk1.vmdk
 22M    IE10-Windows6.1-x86-en-us.exe
 11G    IE11 - Win7-disk1.vmdk
 28M    IE11-Windows6.1-x86-en-us.exe
1.5G    IE6 - WinXP-disk1.vmdk
724M    IE6 - WinXP.ova
1.6G    IE7 - WinXP-disk1.vmdk
 15M    IE7-WindowsXP-x86-enu.exe
1.6G    IE8 - WinXP-disk1.vmdk
 16M    IE8-WindowsXP-x86-ENU.exe
 11G    IE9 - Win7-disk1.vmdk
4.7G    IE9 - Win7.ova
 10G    MSEdge - Win10-disk1.vmdk
5.1G    MSEdge - Win10.ova
3.4M    ievms-control-0.3.0.iso
4.6M    lsar
4.5M    unar
 69G    total

You may remove all files except *.vmdk after installation and they will be re-downloaded if ievms is run again in the future:

$ find ~/.ievms -type f ! -name "*.vmdk" -exec rm {} \;

If all installation related files are removed, around 47G is required:

Servo:.ievms xdissent$ du -ch *
 11G    IE10 - Win7-disk1.vmdk
 11G    IE11 - Win7-disk1.vmdk
1.5G    IE6 - WinXP-disk1.vmdk
1.6G    IE7 - WinXP-disk1.vmdk
1.6G    IE8 - WinXP-disk1.vmdk
 11G    IE9 - Win7-disk1.vmdk
 10G    MSEdge - Win10-disk1.vmdk
 47G    total

Bandwidth requirements

A full installation will download roughly 12.5G of data.

NOTE: Reusing the XP VM for IE7 and IE8 (the default) saves an incredible amount of space and bandwidth. If it is disabled (REUSE_XP=no) the disk space required climbs to 95G (49G if cleaned post-install) and around 22G will be downloaded. Reusing the Win7 VM on the other hand (also the default), saves tons of bandwidth but pretty much breaks even on disk space. Disable it with REUSE_WIN7=no.


Clean Snapshot

A snapshot is automatically taken upon install, allowing rollback to the pristine virtual environment configuration. Anything can go wrong in Windows and rather than having to worry about maintaining a stable VM, you can simply revert to the clean snapshot to reset your VM to the initial state.

Guest Control

VirtualBox guest additions are installed after each virtual machine is created (and before the clean snapshot) and the appropriate steps are taken to enable guest control from the host machine.

Resuming Downloads

If one of the comically large files fails to download, the curl command used will automatically attempt to resume where it left off. Unfortunately, the modern.IE download servers do not support resume.

Reusing XP VMs

IE7 and IE8 ship from MS on Vista and Win7 respectively. Both of these images are far larger than the IE6 XP image, which also technically supports IE7 and IE8. To save bandwidth, space and time, ievms will reuse (duplicate) the IE6 XP VM image for both. Virtualbox guest control is used to run the appropriate IE installer within the VM. The clean snapshot includes the updated browser version.

NOTE: If you'd like to disable XP VM reuse for IE7 and IE8, set the environment variable REUSE_XP to anything other than yes:

curl -s | env REUSE_XP="no" bash

Reusing Win7 VMs

Currently there exists a bug in VirtualBox (or possibly elsewhere) that disables guest control after a Windows 8 virtual machine's state is saved. To better support guest control and to eliminate yet another image download, ievms will re-use the IE9 Win7 image for IE10 and IE11 by default. In addition, the Win7 VMs are the only ones which can be successfully "rearmed" to extend the activation period.

NOTE: If you'd like to disable Win7 VM reuse for IE10, set the environment variable REUSE_WIN7 to anything other than yes:

curl -s | REUSE_WIN7="no" bash

NOTE: It is currently impossible to install IE11 without reusing the Win7 virtual machine.

Control ISO

Microsoft's XP image uses a blank password for the IEUser, which disallows control via Virtualbox's guest control by default. Changing a value in the Windows registry enables guest control, but requires accessing the VM's hard drive. A solution is to boot the VM with a special boot CD image which attaches the hard disk and edits the registry. A custom linux build has been created based on the ntpasswd bootdisk which makes the required registry edits and simply powers off the machine. The ievms script may then use Virtualbox guest controls to manage the VM.

The control ISO is built within a Vagrant Ubuntu VM. If you'd like to build it yourself, clone the ievms repository, install Vagrant and run vagrant up. The base ntpasswd boot disk will be downloaded, unpacked and customized within the Vagrant VM. A custom linux kernel is cross-compiled for the image as well.



None. (To quote Morrissey, "take it, it's yours")