MobaLiveCD: launch Linux LiveCDs from within Windows

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MobaLiveCD is a free program that can run Linux Live CD’s on Windows in emulation mode without the need to burn the Live CD ISO into a CD and boot into it.

What this program enables you to do is quickly run Linux in virtual mode from within the Windows environment.

I came across MobaLiveCD while researching Slax Linux and tried it out; it works impressively well.

Here are more notes:

  • Installation: MobaLiveCD is a single executable of 16 megs and does not need to be installed; simply unzip and run from anywhere (including a USB).
  • Context menu: can optionally add an entry in Windows’ context menu that enables you to launch any Linux LiveCD ISO file using a right click.
  • How to use: once a Linux LiveCD ISO is launched, you will be inside a windowed Linux environment. Press Alt+Ctrl+F to toggle fullscreen on and off, Alt+Ctrl to access the Windows environment.
  • Performance: compared with actually booting into your Linux environment, MobaLiveCD is significantly slower. Perfectly adequate for testing purposes, but if you intend to work with applications, etc., you might want to boot into Linux instead.
  • Virtualization: MobaLiveCD is based on the open source processor emulator Qemu which, to quote the Qemu entry on Wikipedia “can be run on any PC, even those where the user has only Limited Rights with no
    Administrator access”.
  • Limitations: I tested with two Linux builds and found that I was not able to access my PC’s hard drive for read or write operations, was not able to access the CD drive, etc. (although I was able to access the internet connection). Note that these would have been all readily accessible had I booted into Linux.
  • Creating a local hard disk image file: MobaLiveCD will ask if you would like to create this. Documentation was scarce but from the change log it seems that this is there to enable you to install Linux onto a virtual drive and run it from a USB.

The verdict: an excellent way to test Linux LiveCD builds on-the-fly in a Windows environment without re-booting and without burning ISOs into CDs. There is also the definite coolness factor of running Linux inside Windows (if this is where your interest lies, also check out Ulteo Virtual Desktop).

Version Tested: 2.0

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista.

Go to the MobaLiveCD page to download the latest version (approx 1.4 megs).