Generally, to use coLinux, one performs the following steps:

  • Download coLinux and run installation
  • Use the included terminal to log in
  • Use the most foolproof method to get network connectivity (usually slirp)
  • Update the system using apt-get or emerge
  • Install xterm or a complete desktop like GNOME or KDE
  • Install an X Server or VNC on the Host
  • use telnet, ssh, or a VNC client to connect to the Guest and start xterm, etc.
  • use scp, putty, cofs/smb, etc., to copy files between Host and Guest

Download and Installation[]

See also README on SourceForge.

Go to the Downloads on SourceForge. Download and run the most recent executable installer.

  1. Although the installer doesn't default to it, "c:\coLinux" is a good install location.
  2. During the install you are prompted to install WinPcap. This can be done with the coLinux installer open, or later.
  3. The TAP-Win32 Virtual Adapter device driver will be installed.
  4. There is harm in installing both WinPcap and TAP-Win32.

For the latest development binaries and source, see snapshots

If you uninstall coLinux from one location and install it to another, the following procedure will update the Windows driver accordingly:

colinux-daemon.exe --remove-driver
colinux-daemon.exe --install-driver

Filesystem Download[]

From the main download site, also download a filesystem which includes an operating system. Debian-3.0r2.ext3-mit-backports.1gb.bz2 on SourceForge is a good choice. It expands to 1GB when decompressed. This has a basic Debian image on it with everything you need to get started. Save/extract this in the coLinux directory. Here is a partial list of programs which can extract the image, which is compressed using bzip2:

Run bzip2 on Windows command line:

bzip2-102-x86-win32.exe -d Debian-3.0r2.ext3-mit-backports.1gb.bz2


coLinux can be configured using parameters on the command line, or with a configuration file like default.conf. These are very similar in syntax. For command-line options, see colinux-daemon.txt on your installation directory.

Here are the contents on an example file called coLinux.bat ("^" is the line continuation character in Windows).:

Uses eth0 as SLiRP for simplest Internet connectivity and eth1 to talk to Hosting OS

colinux-daemon.exe kernel=vmlinux initrd=initrd.gz ^
cobd0="c:\coLinux\Debian-3.0r2.ext3-mit-backports.1gb" ^
cobd1="fs_768Mb" ^
mem=512 ^
eth0=slirp ^
eth1=tuntap ^

Uses eth0 for bridged Internet connectivity and eth1 to talk to Hosting OS

colinux-daemon.exe kernel=vmlinux initrd=initrd.gz ^
cobd0="c:\coLinux\Debian-3.0r2.ext3-mit-backports.1gb" ^
cobd1="fs_768Mb" ^
mem=512 ^
eth0=pcap-bridge,"Local Area Connection",00:ff:75:39:D3:C1 ^
eth1=tuntap ^

Use ssh (port 22) or VNC (port 5901) to connect to coLinux guest system via SLiRP port forwardings, eth1 is still usable on host only

colinux-daemon kernel=vmlinux ^
cobd0=Debian-"c:\coLinux\Debian-3.0r2.ext3-mit-backports.1gb" ^
cobd1="c:\coLinux\fs_768Mb" ^
mem=512 ^
eth0=slirp,,tcp:22:22/tcp:5901:5901 ^
eth1=tuntap ^

The "cobd" options represent partitions. They are actually mounted under /dev/cobdn, where n is given by the index passed to it, and the path is fairly straightforward. Make sure that the first one (index="0") points to your root filesystem (e.g., the Debian image).


You may want to disable the swap device for now; it's not strictly necessary and will be described later.

Remove the line cobd1="c:\coLinux\swap_device" from your batch file or config file.

The other options will work as-is.


You can take a quick look at the


line and adjust it to fit your system. This is the physical amount of RAM you are going to allocate to coLinux, and you need to keep some for Windows.

System MemorySuggested Memory Setting for coLinux
128MB RAM or lessDon't bother with coLinux. Well, OK, try 32MB...
160 to 256MB RAM64MB
256 to 512MB RAM128MB
512MB or more256MB or more

Those values are based on personal experience; your mileage may vary. Note: This is non-swappable memory, so using too much can do bad things to your computer (while coLinux is running; as soon as you reboot, everything will be fine). It used to default to 29MB which was sufficient for most things, now it seems to default to 64MB. If you have less than 256MB of RAM you probably want to make it smaller. Realistically, unless you want to use X Windows (described later) or use a very memory-intensive program, 32MB or even 16MB may be enough.

Oh, if you want, you can also tell coLinux your keyboard is not US with a command line like loadkeys fr-latin1. (For remapping your keyboard check coLinuxKBD)

Then you have to configure the network. This is not strictly necessary to enjoy coLinux but you need it to:

  • download new software: the image you downloaded contains only a basic system, much like a bare Windows installation
  • use ssh and PuTTY, a nice terminal since you will find the console too uncomfortable
  • launch X applications and run VNC and see the results on your Windows screen

Running coLinux[]

ok I have so little experience with ms-dos that I need to know how to actually get colinux up and running specifically on cmd.exe from winxp that starts from the Windows 'Home' path.

C:\Documents and Settings\my user name> cd \coLinux
C:\coLinux> colinux-daemon.exe @example.conf

or, to use a command shell as the terminal:

C:\Documents and Settings\my user name> cd \coLinux
C:\coLinux> colinux-daemon.exe -t nt @example.conf
  • Some errors can be disregarded. Currently, errors that will appear when running a correctly-installed coLinux:
Disabled Privacy Extensions on device c02bf040(lo)
eth0: duplicate address detected!
  • To enable a double-click start, create a short-cut to the daemon (right-click and select Create Shortcut), and then right-click on that new shortcut and select Properties. In the Target box (under the Shortcut tab), add the following to the end of the existing text (after the double-quote, and don't forget the space before the @):  @example.conf and click OK. You can now double-click the shortcut (perhaps copy it to your desktop) to run CoLinux. If you would like to start the console minimised, select Minimized from the Run drop-down box.
  • Alternatively, you can put the following into a bat file such as coLinux.bat which you can double click:
    start "coLinux" /Dc:\colinux /min colinux-daemon.exe @example.conf
    Remove /min if you want to see the boot messages.
    Change the /D<path> to point to your coLinux dir.
  • The login for the debian image is root/root, you should change this.

In another few seconds, a colinux-console should pop up. And after a few more seconds, it should stop and give you a login prompt. Since the Debian image by default has no other users, you must log in as root:

  • 2.4 distros - blank password
  • 2.6 distros - "root" as password

Now you can use adduser to add another user for normal use, or passwd to set the root password. And you have Linux!

Brushing the Dust off a Downloaded Root FS[]

The Debian Root filesystems are a little long in the tooth. DebianRootFsImages is a procedure to bring the system up-to-date so that it is actually usable.


coLinux doesn't start[]

  • check the path to the uncompressed filesystem image
  • in the line with
add ro after root:
and be ready to remove it if it doesn't help. You can keep it. It is harmless in most cases (some distributions need it)
  • finally, take a close look at your text editor. It may have converted the text silently to UTF-8, adding an invisible marker at the beginning of your configuration file. Switch to hexadecimal mode or to another editor and check the top of the file. If you see the UTF-8 marker, erase it.
  • in case of a error similar to
daemon: exit code 84a08401
daemon: error - CO_RC_ERROR_ERROR, line 33,
 file colinux/os/current/user/file.o
Repeat the following dance:
colinux-daemon.exe --remove-driver
colinux-daemon.exe --install-driver

If that doesn't work you can check your parameters in the config-file. Look for an incorrect or missing image filename, vmlinux path, or swapfile path. Comment out all unneeded config-file parameters to see which might be incorrect.

  • If none of these things work, you can try Nitin Jain's install notes[1]. Very good step-by-step directions

Using Other Linux Distributions in coLinux[]

The vanilla Debian may not be to your liking, or it may just seem a little hard to set up. You can find the instructions for configuring a specific distribution to use coLinux here: ConvertingDistributions. If you would like to use the Gentoo Deluxe 2 GB image look here: GentooDeluxHowto, or if you would like to use Topologi Linux look here: TopoHowTo. You can also download via BitTorrent a pre-configured coLinux setup based on coLinux-0.6.0 and the Debian filesystem - just download, extract, install, run.

More official image files can be find after selecting "View older releases in the Root FS Images - 2.6.x-based package" on SourceForge file releases page.

Adding Swap Space[]

To add swap for use in your coLinux environment you need a filesystem file with the correct size of swap you want. Here is a location of a number of sizes of empty partitions. Name the file you downloaded per the line below in your default.conf file. Be sure to set the path too. cobd1=c:\coLinux\swap

  1. Boot into your coLinux system.
  2. Login as root
  3. Add the line below to /etc/fstab: /dev/cobd1 none swap sw 0 0
  4. Run "mkswap /dev/cobd1"
  5. Run "swapon -a"

Alternative way to get swap file[]

You can create your own swap partition file if you have colinux installed - with the following command: dd if=/dev/zero bs=1k count=512k of=swap_fs

The 512k will mean creating 512k blocks of 1k size - this is 512Mb of swap. Alter these numbers for more/less swap to suit your needs. It is recommended that it be at least twice the size of the memory you have configured colinux to use.

Important Note for Gentoo Users[]

Gentoo requires configuration of a swap file. Follow the instructions at AddSwapPartition


see Network#Recommended_Setup

See Network#The_WinPCAP_driver

See Network#TAP

See Network#Slirp

Graphical Interface (Xserver)[]

The article XCoLinux explains how to run an X server on the Host and xclient applications in coLinux

External Resources[]

Evan Danaher's notes 2005 or earlier.
Cristian Popescu's install and configuration notes - debian from scratch from 2007
- is for version 0.6.4 with changes for 0.7.1 and you can apply these notes to the latest version too.