Tip: Run KDE Konqueror natively from Windows in three easy steps

Tip: Run KDE Konqueror natively from Windows in three easy steps


I’ve tried a few wasy to get Konqueror running on Windows: installing Linux through VMWare, using a pre-installed image from ThoughtPolice and installing KDE on Cygwin. The last one is still running its installer, while I’m typing this post using Konqueror after I installed andLinux.

Who needs Konqueror on Windows and why’s it so hard?

If you are a serious web developer and you want to occasionally test your web pages or in the event that you’ve created a javascript library and you need to be sure that it either degrades gracefully on unsupported browser or you want to test its full potential, you simply need it. Just as you need different versions of Firefox, virtual machines with Windows to truly test Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 (because you know that the hacked versions that run together internally call into the shared libraries even though they claim the contrary), at least the last two version of Opera, a Chrome and a Safari version, you also need Konqueror as being the sixth largest browser and very much in active development.

Serious developers know that Safari uses KHTML as its core, but that it was independently further developed, the original KHTML is still in Konqueror. The same developers also know that Chrome is mixture of the best of (so they say) Firefox’s Gecko and Konqueror’s KHTML. When you track a bug in your design and you believe it to be a rendering bug, it helps to compare the major engines and the derivatives or origins. Again: a need and a reason to have Konqueror installed.

The issue

The problem with Konqueror is, there’s no direct port for Windows. All other major browsers have ports, but Konqueror decisively only runs with KDE (or some other Linux / BSD desktops). Getting it to run on Windows traditionally required installing a virtual machine or dual boot systems, because simply recompiling is not an option because of the many dependencies. Then came andLinux, which is still in beta, but stable enough to run on your Windows Vista or Windows XP desktop.

The beauty of andLinux

Where virtualization software runs a full operating system inside your operating system and naturally adds a huge overload, and where Cygwin is a recompilation of all core Linux components to run against the Cygwin DLL, which also adds a ton of overhead, andLinux takes another approach and allows you to run Linux programs directly from Windows without modification, recompilation or starting a complete operating system or virtual machine. AndLinux simpl;y adds a ring-0 memory driver to your system which manages the memory management for Linux applications.

You just turn Windows into a multi-OS, capable of running both Windows and Linux programs, even the graphical ones that traditionally required a full Linux installation or Cygwin!

Quick solution: three simple steps

If you read the intro and haven’t already done the downloading and installation, here are the three steps that you must take to get Konqueror on Windows running. Forget Cygwin, coLinux, VMWare or dual boot systems, just:

  1. Download the KDE version of andLinux (more then 500MB);
  2. Install andLinux, there’s no need to restart, but I recommend doing so, see this about installing as a service;
  3. Click the Konqueror icon in the QuickLaunch bar.
konqueror on quicklaunch

konqueror on quicklaunch after installation of andLinux

That’s all there is to it. You’re now running Konqueror as you would’ve run if from a KDE desktop, no recompilation, just Konqueror in its native environment, but seemingly from Windows.

Step by step solution

In a not so distant future, I’ll include a step by step instruction here. I need to reinstall and create the necessary screenshots. The installation page about andLinux provides excellent step by step coverage as well. For now, I’ll only include some more detailed instructions about the following:

To service or not to service

In the second screen of andLinux installation you are asked whether or not you would like to run andLinux as a service. Personally, I don’t like too many services running, but that’s just me. If you run this as a service, you can choose between automatic and manual. I prefer manual, as I don’t need Linux application running every hour of the day so I prefer to turn it on and off when I need it. When you choose automatic, it will run automatic at startup.

My only issue with andLinux is that it hasn’t been around long enough and that it includes a ring-0 driver (which is why you need to be an administrator to install it in the first place). It’s easy enough as it is to crash a Windows installation and each new Windows version seems more vulnerable then the previous. When it comes to drivers, especially ring-0 drivers, I just tend to be a bit cautious. Don’t run it when you don’t need it, is my device, there’s enough bloat on any typical development machine anyway.

Running from command makes it a bit more hassle. Whether you choose Manual Service or run from command prompt, the shortcuts created for you in the start menu will include a “Start andLinux” and “Stop andLinux” which will do the necessary magic to get the whole thing going whenever you want it.

Regardless of your choice, the KDE launcher, which sits in your system tray, will be loaded on startup. You can change this manually later as well, but it is rather fast.

Problems

Could not load Konqueror

Could not load Konqueror

If you encounter the following message or similar (IP address will vary):

Could not launch 'Konqueror':
    could not connect to
    192.168.24.150:2081

then your firewall is blocking you. The Could not launch error followed by an address (local) and a port (varies) is a sign that your firewall does not like the TAP-Colinux interface. What usually helps is placing your firewall in “learning mode”, run one or two applications (like Konqueror or KWord) and then putting your firewall back in normal protection mode. Since there are so many different firewall around, I cannot help with specific instructions. If you are in doubt whether your firewall is causing this or not, switch it off fully, try to open Konqueror and see if it works now. Then switch it on again.

Conclusion

In one word: excellent! Chapeau to the team of andLinux. This is such a beatiful solution and it runs so smoothly on Windows Vista and Windows XP that I’m still silent about it. Haven’t seen such a painless Linux+Windows related install in years, if it isn’t the first. Can it be true, can Linux really be easy to use, even from a Windows environment? Thumbs up!

History

Because I have the habit of updating my posts regularly, I tend to keep a little history, in case you are a returning visitor and would like to know whether anything has changed.

2009-10-02 added screenshots , navigation, shorter three-steps, added section about services and andLinux
2009-10-01 initial version

– Abel –

  • yeah

    sadly I am getting the “could not launch…” error
    just to run one web browser I need to d/l 500mo and it’s not even working

    • http://undermyhat.org Abel Braaksma

      See the text in the last paragraph: your firewall is giving you problems.

      Suppose you’d want to run Windows Media Player on Linux: you’d have to “download” a Windows VM image of 2.5GB. Same story. Remember that you’re trying to run something of another operation system and that you’re basically downloading all its functionality. 500mb is a small price then.

  • fyanardi

    “The problem with Konqueror is, there’s no direct port for Windows.”

    There was not, but now there is. windows.kde.org is the answer. It provides native (yes, native) binary for KDE apps for Windows (like Konqueror, dolphin, KOffice). You can test the current stable (4.3) or the trunk (soon to be 4.4). It is currently in alpha / beta stage, but from my experiences, it works quite well.

    Now KDE is available on all major platforms natively: Windows, Mac OS X, Unix (including Linux).

    • http://www.undermyhat.org Abel Braaksma

      That’s interesting, but isn’t that the same as what I’m doing now? Running andLinux gives me all KDE apps right from the taskbar with one click. I only wanted Konqueror, but got everything.

      Is your implementation radically different, i.e., not based on coLinux?

      • fyanardi

        Hello Abel, from technical point of view, yes they are different. As far as I know, andLinux still uses Windows version of Linux kernel and X server.

        KDE for Windows is entirely different project, aims at porting all KDE 4 applications to Windows natively. They do it by recompiling the apps as Windows binary. So you don’t need a Linux + X environment anymore. KDE applications just run natively on your Windows, like any other Windows applications.

        But andLinux is also a very cool and amazing project.

  • EdenMar

    Do you have another MS Windows system available, where you could install Portable Ubuntu Remix, and give us a report?
    http://portableubuntu.demonccc.com.ar/

    A comparison article giving similarities and differences between ‘andLinux’ and ‘PUbuntu Remix’ would be of great interest. Try the latest releases of Remix version 2.0 (listed as DOS, for TWO), trying both the ‘Lite’ and full-size installs.

    Check not only installation and operation, but also the uninstallation, and condition and operability of of MS Windows, at that point. I am, of course, especially thinking about the condition of the Registry.

    • http://www.undermyhat.org Abel Braaksma

      I don’t have a spare ready (well, I do, but not one that I can experiment with), but I can try installing it on one of my vmware Windows servers. Note that this article is primarily on making it easy to use Konqueror from Windows. I know that you can do a lot more then that.

      I see that your Portable Ubuntu is based on coLinux as well and that you use the same “run Linux application from Windows as a normal application”, so it’d be fair to make a comparison indeed. It’ll take a bit of time to setup the vmware though, I’ll give you a ping when I update things (or follow me (Kandura) on twitter, I’ll notify updates there).

      • EdenMar

        Thanks! I see Konqueror is listed in Synaptic on Portable Ubuntu Remix, so I’ll see if I can get it loaded. I don’t think I got an E-mail from your response (should I have?) so I’ll make a note of the Twitter link.

Get Adobe Flash player