Copyright (C) 2010 David Given
LBW is a system call translator that allows you to run unmodified Linux
ix86 binaries on Windows.
It is not virtualisation; only one operating system is running, which is
the Windows one. It is the equivalent of WINE, but in reverse, translating
Linux system calls into Windows ones for execution. It is not emulation; the
Linux applications run directly on the processor, resulting in (theoretically)
full native performance.
Currently it is in a proof-of-concept stage and is no way suitable for doing
real work on --- it's full of bugs --- but currently it's good enough to run
a Debian chroot, install packages with apt and dpkg, compile and run programs
using gcc, ssh into remote terminals, and even run some basic X clients.
Both static and dynamic binaries are supported (using Linux's own user-space
dynamic binary loader).
Right now it's known to work on Windows XP (because that's where I do my
development). It is known not to work on Windows 7 --- I don't know why
(assistance appreciated). I have no access to other Windows versions. Please
let me know the results if you try it.
LBW is released under the MIT open source license; please see the file
LICENSE in the installation directory for the full text.
*** BEWARE ***
LBW is EVIL.
Lots of things in LBW don't work!
Lots of things will *never* work!
IT WILL CRASH.
Back up your data, keep your system secure,
and above all else:
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
The distribution package will (if you let it) set up a simple little chroot
using BusyBox. You can run this from the Start menu. This can be used to
run static binaries. If you want to run dynamic libraries, see the section
below on running Debian. (Or you could install the libraries in the BusyBox
shell, but you'll have to do this yourself.)
/proc is not supported yet; some applications will fail due to its absence.
/home is symlinked to point at your Windows home directory;
"/home/My Documents" and "/home/Desktop" will work, for example.
Your Windows drives can be found in /dev/fs.
You *can* run Windows software directly from inside LBW --- make sure the
.exe is executable and just run it.
You can run as many LBW shell sessions as you like.
LBW can be run manually from the Windows command line. The syntax is:
posix /c "C:\PathWhereYouInstalledLBW\lbw" \
[<LBW options...>] <executable> [<Linux options...>]
There is a bug in Interix where the above won't work if the executable is in
a path containing spaces --- such as C:\Program Files. The 'posix /c' works
around this. And yes, the lbw executable is *supposed* to not have a .exe
LBW can *also* be run manually from an Interix or LBW command line. In this
[<LBW options...>] <executable> [<Linux options...>]
It's perfectly safe to run LBW from inside LBW --- in fact, that's what
happens normally when you run programs.
LBW supports the following command line options:
--help Displays brief usage information.
--fakeroot Enables a simple fakeroot mode.
Note that this is not a real fakeroot; all it does is
force getuid() to return 0 and make chown() etc ignore
errors. It's just enough to keep Debian happy.
--chroot <dir> Set up a simple chroot.
This is not a real chroot; it's entirely not suitable
for security purposes, and some of the semantics
--warnings Show emulation warnings.
Normally when LBW sees something it doesn't handle
properly it won't warn the user (as it gets really
annoying when you just want to get stuff done). This
option will cause LBW to spam you with all the info.
If you want to run a full Debian chroot, you will need access to a real Debian
32-bit x86 machine to contruct a filesystem. (For legal reasons I cannot
distribute a Debian filesystem with LBW, and cdebootstrap doesn't work yet.)
On your Debian system, become root, and then do:
deboostrap lenny debian
tar cvjf debian.tar.bz2 debian
Transfer the debian.tar.bz2 file to the desktop of your Windows machine.
On the Windows machine, start the BusyBox shell and do:
tar xvjf "/home/Desktop/debian.tar.bz2"
Once it's decompressed, you can start the Debian chroot with:
fakeroot chroot debian /bin/sh
You probably next want to teach Debian about the console by doing:
apt-get install python
Bear in mind that the system is not fully initialised, and it will require
some tinkering to make work. Also, LBW simulates Linux *processes*, not a
Linux *machine*; whenever Debian tries to do system management, such as
adding users or trying to run init, it will fail.
Plus, various things do *not* work, some things crash, some things fail in
really weird ways that confuse the package manager, etc. I have to wipe and
reinitialise my Debian chroot on a regular basis as things go wrong with it.
On the other hand, lots of stuff works, so if you're careful, you can get a
Please see the website at:
...for more information, including a discussion of the things that don't
work (which I'm not going into here, because there's just too many).
Prime Mover was written by me, David Given. You may contact me at
email@example.com, or visit my website at http://www.cowlark.com. There may or
may not be anything interesting there.
2010-04-01: First version released to an unsuspecting world. Many thanks to
Jayson Smith for being the first guinea-pig to try this *ever*. He's a brave
man and a lucky one.