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Installing coLinux

coLinux will only work on what the coLinux developers said will work. That means you need to be using Windows 2000, XP, Vista, or 7 on an Intel compatible system (32bit only). Otherwise, you will need to install Linux for real.

If you have a virus scanner with on-access scanning, you should make sure that it is disabled or doesn't touch the directory where you want to install coLinux.


It is important to remember that coLinux itself is just a kernel. The coLinux project does not maintain any distributions (all of the programs running in user space). That means that any files they provide will be just the modified Linux kernel. You will still need to obtain a file system image of a distribution and create an appropriate configuration file for your setup.

For this reason, we have repackaged the standard coLinux installer to automate much of the initial setup process. If you're new to coLinux or you are not comfortable with doing these low level steps yourself, this is where you should get started. This installer uses a Debian system as its base.

You can obtain coLinux from a variety of sources:

    • Bare installer - just the kernel -- useful for upgrading an existing install
    • Lite installer - the kernel and automated system setup -- for people just getting started
  • some other place

This guide will take you through the Lite installer. The assumption is that if you use any other installer, you should know what you're doing already.


A complete coLinux system is composed of few important pieces.

  • The Windows coLinux driver
  • A coLinux patched Linux kernel (e.g. vmlinux)
  • One or more file system images
    • Root file system (e.g. adi-rootfs.img)
    • Swap file (e.g. adi-swap.img)
    • Other file systems
  • A configuration file (e.g. adi.conf)

A few optional helpful programs are also included in case you don't have them already:

  • Putty -- suite of programs to make secure connections to coLinux
  • WinPcap -- low level driver for accessing the network stack directly
  • XMing -- run graphical programs under coLinux but display them in Windows


In order to install coLinux, you will need administrative access. This is because coLinux installers some kernel-mode drivers.

In order to run coLinux, you will either need administrator access or you can run coLinux as a service. The latter method is not currently documented here.


To start the installation procedure, launch the coLinux installer. If all goes well, you should receive a welcome screen that looks like this:

Simply click Next and agree to the license on the next page.

Now you'll be presented with choices as to which components you wish to install. If you're unsure, simply click Next as the default values are fine.

You should now be prompted for the install location. Remember that you'll need something in the range of 6+ gigabytes free in the location you choose.

A few pages will now show up to assist in configuring your system. The recommended fields should give you some guidance as to the range of feasible values. Be aware that these are for a system which will be building releases only. If you plan on building the toolchain or otherwise working with live source trees, you will likely need to reserve even more resources. These values will be translated into a coLinux configuration file which you can later change at any time, so don't sweat having to get this exactly right.

Keep in mind that all of these resource settings are dedicated. That means that when coLinux runs, it will claim the specified RAM amount for its own use. Once you quit coLinux though, the memory in question will of course be released back to Windows. For a smooth running system (both Windows and coLinux), you really should have gobs of memory at your disposal nowadays.

The network settings are for the private dedicated high speed connection between Windows and coLinux. Unless the network segment selected by default is already taken in your system, the defaults should be fine (talk to your local IT support if you don't know what this means). If you want to be able to talk to use a serial port from under coLinux, select the appropriate COM number. Remember that when coLinux runs, it will need dedicated access, so make sure you disconnect any other programs that may be accessing it.

Congratulations! You're past the hard part, but now you're to the sit back and wait part. The installation steps are:

  • install coLinux files
  • execute selected helper installers (Putty/XMing/etc…)
  • install TAP (virtual networking)
  • configure coLinux file system images
  • tweak default settings according to your choices

Whenever any of the helper installers pop up, you can simply pound on the Next button as all of the defaults should be sane. You are of course free to customize things however you like as coLinux will not rely on any of the defaults.

If this is your first time installing, then an ugly sort of window will pop up. This is the coLinux console and it shows you the progress of setting up your initial system. Once it finishes, it will close automatically and the normal installer will finish up.


Assuming you installed the shortcuts, you should now be able to launch coLinux from the Start Menu.

Start -> Programs -> Analog Devices -> coLinux -> coLinux

If you opted to not install the shortcuts, you will have to run the coLinux program by hand.

colinux-daemon.exe @adi.conf

Then just ssh into the system by using putty and the uclinux user.


See accounts for more information.


If you're unhappy with coLinux and wish to remove it from your system, simply use the Uninstall shortcut. This will remove all of the default files of coLinux from your system (including its drivers).

You will also be given the option to run user-customized files (like file system images and configuration files), as well as run the 3rd party uninstallers that were included with the install process (such as Putty and Xming). If you decline any of these, the files will obviously be left behind and it'll be up to you to clean up later (either by removing the files by hand or manually running the 3rd party uninstallers).