Trying to install Linux Mandrake 7

Linux Manrake

So I’ve been trying to install and use old Linux distros, mainly to look at the possibility to get older Linux games to work, like Simcity 3000 and Unreal Tournament 2004, all of which run into issues when attempting to play on modern Linux operating systems. First thing I tried was to use a virtual machine to run install the OS into.


mandrake linux install

Not sure if this is an error or if it’s just because the hard disk just uninitialised

linux mandrake install

Why would I enable hard drive optimisations when it could cause data corruption?

linux mandrake logon

So far so good, were at the login screen

mandrake linux dpms


Might be because we don’t have any graphics drivers for the virtual graphics card. At least you would expect a failsafe graphics driver

On VMware

Like on Virtualbox we are able to install as normal, but when it comes to booting the OS,

It seems to have issues detecting the hard disk. Since by default VMWare uses an IDE drive for these old Linux operating systems I though we could try SCSI instead. Unfortunately I was unable to get the installer to detect the SCSI controller.

On PCem

I had better luck using Pcem v17, which actually emulates older PC hardware, rather than using a virtual environment. This has its benefits regarding compatibility but at the expense of performance. Not only must you emulate a slower x86 CPU (In our case an AMD K6 or Pentium, but your host CPU must be able to emulate that older CPU in addition to the video card, chipset and any other peripherals Pcem is emulating. Since Pcem is a single threaded application, having a CPU with a high IPC is beneficial, which is something my AMD FX processor is not well known for. Also depending on the motherboard you emulate in Pcem you may not be able to boot off the CD-ROM directly. Thankfully there was a Linux boot floppy that could be used instead.

The first install went by without a hitch, but when it came to booting the OS it would immediately reboot and would continue to reboot by getting stuck in a boot loop. I fixed this by changing the CPU from a Cyrix to an AMD K6.

The next issue I ran into was with this screen, where it would get stuck at a terminal looking screen with that penguin, where the screen would blink every second. I wasn’t sure what was causing this initially however after changing graphics card in PCem (from a Cirrus Logic 5432? to an ATI Mach, this triggered the Kudzu utility which is used to install system drivers, kind of like the add new hardware wizard in Windows.

Once I selected the correct graphics card, the system rebooted and loaded up the login screen. This helped me understand what was going on previously, either Mandrake did not have the correct driver support for the cirrus logic or PCem is not able to emulate the VGA card properly in Linux. Either way Mandrake was trying to load the X Window system but was failing each time, hence why it was ‘blinking’, the X window system was loading and then crashing.

Unfortunately the speed issues caused a problem with this approach, since PCem would frequently go under 100%, which is the percentage of the speed being emulated by it. Anytime it goes under 100% means the emulator has to slow down in order to catch up. I ended up changing the CPU from an AMD K6 166Mhz to a Pentium 75Mhz, which is below the specification needed for Simcity 3000 and way below what’s needed for Unreal Tournament 2004.

Still at least I was able to boot into a desktop, I guess it’s time for a host CPU upgrade.

11 thoughts on “Trying to install Linux Mandrake 7

  1. Teguh the Farmer

    Thanks for the info,
    I try to run Mandrake 8.0 and Mandrake 8.2 on Virtual Box, but fail on StartX.
    Only Mandrake Move can run on Virtual Box on Kubuntu 18.04
    I want to play the old game from Mandrake 8.0 and 8.2
    i want to feel the nostalgic when the first time i know linux distro and have my first desktop pc ( intel celeron based pentium 3 800mHz, 256MB ram and Vodoo 3 3000 16MB card )

    i will try the pcem.


  2. Arpad

    Today I spent the whole day to instal Mandrake 7.0 in VMware Workstation Pro. I tried all the different settings for the HDD, IDE and SCSI with different LSILogic and other drivers and all of them were failed. The setup recognized the HDD, partition create was OK, I went through the entire setup many times but the first boot always failed:(
    I am very sad, I wanted only the basic system without graphical mode and I failed.


  3. Yang

    Sorry for being too late into the game. Just found out why hda: lost interrupt bugs some of the modern virtual machines. These errors are associated with acpi which was not implemented with very old linux kernel. Append noapic acpi=off to your boot option (lilo or grub) will solve the problem. You will find this useful for all Mandrake 7.x distros.


    1. Arpad

      You are the best! I did it, I installed Mandrake 7.0. The only problem is that the resolution is 640×480 and I am not able to change it:(
      Thank you very much for your support and idea!!!


      1. Yang

        Glad to help. The resolution problem is associated with unsupported VMWare or VBox graphic card by XFree86 server which was extremely buggy at the end of 20th century. A workaround is to use Qemu (any version since 3.1.1 will do, 7.2.0 is preferrable) to emulate a cirrus logic 5446 video card. This card is supported by XFree86 (well, somewhat). Pick this card at the end of installation, set your preferred resolution, do not bother testing, just finish the installation and reboot. You will be greeted with a working X environment with corrupted fonts. It’s ok. press ctrl+alt+f2 to go to a console. Login as root, edit XF86Config in /etc/X11. Find the “Device” section where Cirrus logic is mentioned. Add Option “no_bitblt” and Option “sw_cursor” to this section. Save and reboot. You will end up with a fully operational Mandrake workstation. Do not forget to turn on whpx acceleration if the host is Window 10 and above for the optimal performance. Because the graphic card is natively accelerated by XFree86 and the vm is exposed to host cpu through whpx, the qemu experience with Mandrake 7.0 is the best I have had and very much close to be perfect. Worth a try.

        My qemu startup batch file for installation (qemu 3.1.1):
        ..\qemu-system-i386.exe -M pc-0.12 -m 256 -cpu pentium -accel whpx -nodefaults -rtc base=localtime -drive file=..\img\mandrake7.qcow2 -usb -netdev user,id=net0 -device pcnet,rombar=0,netdev=net0 -vga cirrus -no-reboot -soundhw sb16 -cdrom ..\img\mandrake7.iso -boot d

        Edit it to suit your need.


      2. Arpad

        Thank you, I am a beginner in qemu but I tried it.
        Installed: QEMU 7.2.0, Intel haxm and QtEmu 64bit qtemu_setup_x86_64.exe

        I turned off the Hyper-V and MS related virtualization on Control Panel.

        I created a mandrake7.qcow2 in QtEmu, all the qemu files are OK of the setup.
        when I press the play button it does not pop up any window, nothing happens.

        My command line would be this:

        .\qemu-system-i386.exe -machine q35 -cpu pentium3 -accel whpx -m 256 -nodefaults -rtc base=localtime -drive file=”C:\Program Files\qemu\img\Mandrake7\mandrake7.qcow2″ -usb -netdev user,id=net0 -device pcnet,rombar=0,netdev=net0 -vga cirrus -no-reboot -audiodev id=dsound,driver=dsound model sb16 -cdrom “D:\Linux\ISO\Mandrake 7.0\Mandrake7_1.iso” -boot d

        but it gives back the prompt and nothibg happens.:(

        There is no error.
        I tried your command as well but that is good for 3.1.1 qemu and I use the latest 7.2.0 which is a little bit different.

        I try to find the issue, but I have no idea right now:(

        If you allow may I reach you in email?

        Thank you very much!


    1. Arpad

      This command works and starts the Mandrake 7.0 installation on my side:

      .\qemu-system-i386.exe -machine q35 -cpu pentium -accel tcg -m 256 -nodefaults -rtc base=localtime -drive file=”C:\Program Files\qemu\img\Mandrake7\mandrake7.qcow2″ -usb -netdev user,id=net0 -device pcnet,rombar=0,netdev=net0 -vga cirrus -no-reboot -cdrom “D:\Linux\ISO\Mandrake 7.0\Mandrake7_1.iso” -boot d

      the problem is that in the beginning I get an error about the hda drive:

      hda: no response
      hda: non-IDE drive, CHS=1024/255/63

      and after this the installer asks abot the CDROM:

      What type of CDROM do you have?

      I select ide-cd and the autopeobe does not work and the installer does not move on.


  4. Arpad

    I tried a similiar one:

    .\qemu-system-i386.exe -machine q35 -cpu pentium3 -accel whpx -m 256 -nodefaults -rtc base=localtime -hda “C:\Program Files\qemu\img\Mandrake7\mandrake7.qcow2” -usb -netdev user,id=net0 -device pcnet,rombar=0,netdev=net0 -vga cirrus -no-reboot -audiodev id=dsound,driver=dsound model sb16 -cdrom “D:\Linux\ISO\Mandrake 7.0\Mandrake7_1.iso” -boot d

    and the error is this:
    C:\Program Files\qemu\qemu-system-i386.exe: model: drive with bus=0, unit=0 (index=0) exists

    and the VM does not come up.


  5. Arpad

    Excuse me for the lot of tries above. Finaly I was able to do the installation with this command:

    .\qemu-system-i386.exe -machine pc-i440fx-2.12 -cpu pentium -accel tcg -m 256 -nodefaults -rtc base=localtime -drive file=”C:\Program Files\qemu\img\Mandrake7\mandrake7.vmdk” -usb -netdev user,id=net0 -device pcnet,rombar=0,netdev=net0 -vga cirrus -no-reboot -cdrom “D:\Linux\ISO\Mandrake 7.0\Mandrake7_1.iso” -boot d

    There was no hda or cdrom issue, I was able to select 1024×768 at the end, and I could boot from HDD as well.

    The problem is that I can not use -accel whpx, I get and error like:

    PS C:\Program Files\qemu> .\qemu-system-i386.exe -machine pc-i440fx-2.12 -cpu pentium -accel whpx -m 256 -nodefaults -rtc base=localtime -drive file=”C:\Program Files\qemu\img\Mandrake7\mandrake7.vmdk” -usb -netdev user,id=net0 -device pcnet,rombar=0,netdev=net0 -vga cirrus -no-reboot -cdrom “D:\Linux\ISO\Mandrake 7.0\Mandrake7_1.iso” -boot c
    C:\Program Files\qemu\qemu-system-i386.exe: -accel whpx: WHPX: No accelerator found, hr=00000000
    C:\Program Files\qemu\qemu-system-i386.exe: -accel whpx: failed to initialize whpx: No space left on device

    I added the no_bitblt and sw_cursor parameters to the config file I was able to start the X but the resolution was 640×480 and the mouse cursor was not working.

    I think I am close to the final stage but I need to activate whpx for sure but I don’t knwo how. In Control Panle I set ON for Hyper-V, but it did not help.
    Sorry for the long story and thank you!



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