Using IE For Fun And Profit

Just Kidding. The title should actually be “Using IE Because You Have To.”

Internet Explorer (IE) is almost always required to be a supported browser for today’s web applications, but many technology workers develop on Mac or Linux where IE is not immediately available. There’s nothing fun or profitable about coding for IE, but with a little help from our friends at Microsoft, at least it’s less painful to run IE on non-windows platforms.

Microsoft provides virtual machine images of different versions of Windows and IE, and you can run these on the platform of your choice. Let’s begin!

  1. You can download them virtual machine images here: These are large multi-gigabyte downloads so you might want to download them overnight.
  2. You need to install an unrar tool and Oracle’s VirtualBox to run these so run the following commands to install them and unzip the rar files.
    sudo apt-get install virtualbox unrar
    unrar e [filename.part1.sfx]
  3. import the resulting .ova file (virtualbox -> file -> import appliance -> open appliance)
  4. accept defaults and finish the import. This takes a while, do not be alarmed! Feel free to delete all the .rar files if you want to. You probably want to.
  5. Make changes machine settings
    • After installation it helps to have the clipboard shared between the guest and host machines. In VirtualBox Manger, click on Machine -> Settings -> General -> Advanced
      Set Shared Clipboard to “Bidirectional”
      Set Drag n Drop to “Bidirectional”
      Click OK
    • After installation, we need to ensure that the Network Adapter is configured correctly.
      Open up the “Oracle VM VirtuaBox Manager” (or leave it opened after the VirtualBox installation guide).
      Right click on the new Virtual Machine
      Select Network on the left hand side
      Enable Adapter 1 by ensuring that the “Enable Network Adapter” check box is checked
      change the “Attached to:” drop down to select “NAT”
    • Correct any “Non-optimal settings” noted at the bottom of the dialog, such as insufficient video RAM.
  6. install the guest additions: from a running machine, go to Devices -> Install Guest Additions… (this requires a restart)
  7. Now start up the VM and open up IE!

The Windows XP VM expires after 30 days (the others expire after 90 days of uptime). If you have already installed the IE VM and you want to reset it, use VirtualBox to delete the VM (files and all). You should still have the .ova file available from the initial installation. Use VirtualBox to just import this file as an appliance, and reset the settings as described above. Voila, your machine is recreated!

As a final note, there are Vagrant VM’s available for use which would probably ease the download and installation of the VM. The only difference is that you would still have to install guest additions yourself.

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