Running Linux in a Virtual Machine using QEMU on Windows

Follow the steps below to run Linux Mint in a VM (“virtual machine”) using QEMU on Windows.

  1. Download and install the QEMU binaries. As of this writing, the latest binaries for a 64-bit Windows system are linked at the URL “”.
  2. In any convenient location, create a new directory named “LinuxOnQemuTest”.
  3. Download Linux Mint as an .iso file into the newly creted LinuxOnQemuTest directory. As of this writing, the latest version is available for download via the URL “”.
  4. To simplify later steps, rename the newly downloaded iso file to “LinuxMint.iso”.
  5. Open a command prompt window and navigate to the LinuxOnQemuTest directory.
  6. In the command prompt, run the command “qemu-img create Disk.img 20G” to create a blank hard disk image file of sufficient size to install Linux Mint (>12.7 GB).
  7. Run the command “qemu-system-x86_64.exe -boot d -cdrom LinuxMint.iso -m 4G -drive file=Disk.img,format=raw -accel whpx,kernel-irqchip=off”. (Note that this command was tested on a Windows 10 machine with hardware virtualization enabled. If the -accel switch and its argument are omitted, QEMU will run the VM without hardware acceleration in “pure software” mode, but this will likely be too slow for any serious use.)
  8. On the Linux Mint boot menu that appears, make sure the “Start Linux Mint” item is selected, then press the Enter Key. (As noted in the title bar of the QEMU window, you may have to press Ctrl-Alt-G for the mouse pointer to be released from the window. When you click back on the VM window, make sure to line up the host’s mouse cursor with the guest VM’s mouse cursor, or it will be impossible to move the cursor to some parts of the guest VM window.)
  9. Verify that Linux Mint starts up correctly.
  10. If possible, install Linux Mint to the hard drive image file by double-clicking the “Install Linux Mint” icon on the desktop. Follow the prompts to install.
  11. Once a message is displayed Linux Mint has been installed, close the VM window and run the command “qemu-system-x86_64.exe -m 4G -drive file=Disk.img,format=raw -accel whpx,kernel-irqchip=off” to re-run the VM without booting from the .iso file.
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