Installing Debian GNU/Hurd in a virtual machine

I decided to give a try to Debian GNU/Hurd, name that I will shorten to Hurd, by installing it in a virtual machine on my Gentoo. This is a summary of the hardware and software used:
  • Core i5 @2.4 GHz with 4GiB of RAM
  • Gentoo x86_64 multi-lib with KVM-enabled kernel (v3.2)
  • qemu-kvm 1.0
  • Debian GNU/Hurd 2012-02-21 installation CD

I wrote this post over the course of several days, experimenting with different options for installing Hurd in a virtual machine.

First problem

Right after selecting an option in the GRUB menu, the kernel was crashing with the very vague message:

Loading ...
out of range pointer 0x8f790200
Aborted. Press any key to exit.

It happens that I was using the "-vga std" option and somehow it messed up the whole boot sequence. Upon removing it, GRUB started using a graphical background and the kernel booted correctly.

Second problem

I initially created a 5GiB disk image using qcow2. That was a big mistake, the disk I/O was awfully slow, and it took several minutes to just format the hard drive. The solution was obvious, I switched to a raw image format. The disk I/O remained slow however, it took hours to install the base system.

Actually the system is so slow that when it starts downloading the repository databases, the download pauses while the files are saved on the hard drive...

After several hours

The system is finally up and running! I installed the minimum set of packages to have a usable machine, and the next step will be to try and see if I can optimize the disk I/O somehow.

For the record, I'm starting my VM using the following command:

$ qemu-system-i386 -enable-kvm -m 512 -hda hurd-raw.img -cdrom debian-6.0-hurd-i386-NETINST-1.iso -net nic,model=ne2k_pci -net user

Creative Commons License This work by Malina Sulca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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