I work as web developer and have Firefox and Chrome installed on my Ubuntu system. However, most of the nightmares for web developers are getting things to work on Internet Explorer, mostly IE7 and IE8. My entire team of developers have switched to Ubuntu and now we're facing a difficult time with testing on IE. I'd like to be able to test from my own desktop, but not install virtualbox on each system, since that would defeat the purpose of moving to Ubuntu. Is it possible to have windows run on a virtual box instance on one server and remotely connect to it from say 5 or 6 systems at the same time? Or even run windows on one box and have my entire team remotely access that desktop?


Just install Windows on a machine ( or virtual machine ) and install a VNC server ( like UltraVnc http://www.uvnc.com/download/index.html ).

On the windows machine you can create the amount of users that you need, then configure the UltraVnc server to permit LogIn with Window Authentication.

Then with any VNC client (like Vinagre) from your Ubuntu desktops you can connect to the Windows machine ( using a different user for each developer ) and enjoy :)

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  • Will this allow multiple developers to use the machine at the same time? – Icode4food Nov 19 '10 at 18:29
  • Sure, why not? But if each developer wants more freedom you should deploy more Virtual Machine ( on the same phisical machine also ) one for each developer. – OpenNingia Nov 19 '10 at 20:29

I do web development on Ubuntu. I think there are three main scenarios.

If you need to keep an eye on IE's rendering of your HTML and CSS, you can use a site such as Browsershots. Browsershots in particular is very exhaustive but quite slow, there are a few faster equivalents that will only do most major browsers. Also, you can use VNC for this purpose. VNC is not really suitable for interaction with websites, but just fine for static rendering checks.

If you need to test interaction with jQuery-style effects and more complex things, you really need a real local copy of IE, especially if you need to see how responsive an UI is. I use VirtualBox for this. Funny ways of installing IE on Linux don't really work because font rendering and options might be different from vanilla Windows installs. If you need to do this right, you need a real Windows machine (and different Windows versions, too). For example, a tricky bit I ran into lately is when using @font-face server provided fonts. These can vary widely from one platform to the next.

And last but not least, you might need functionality testing (i.e. ¿Did this search box break in the last update?). You can do automated testing of functionality using specialized tools like Selenium or the newer Sikuli. With these you can have Windows tests running automatically on a dedicated machine, but you won't get feedback on small rendering glitches and such.

  • I was thinking VNC, because most of what I want is the small quirks like stuff. We do have exhaustive testing done on a Windows machine, but that's not what I'd do for quirks – Nigel Nov 19 '10 at 16:15

Being a web developer myself I see your problem, I have used one of three solutions at various times.

  1. Use a virtual machine
  2. Dual boot
  3. Have a spare machine set up just for that reason, to test your work under the windows environment

There are a few other things you could try, such as remote desktop, which I believe if you use a server you can have multiple sessions at once. I just don't know how many. Or you could take a look at IEs4Linux. One of their goals is to make IE available on Linux for web developers. The biggest drawback to it is it doesn't support IE 7 and up.

  • I'm looking at something like remote desktop. Is that practical? Would Windows let me login into it at the same time with say 10 users? – Nigel Nov 19 '10 at 16:13
  • I don't think it is a lot, maybe 2 users? I think that maybe OpenNingia's suggestion of using VNC, would be the optimal solution if this is the route that you want to take. – TheXed Nov 19 '10 at 17:09
  • Looks like that's the way to go. But I'll present all of them and see what the team wants to go with. – Nigel Nov 19 '10 at 17:46
  • VNC overcomes the 2 log-in limit and I'm sure there is more scope for sharing a desktop, something that can come in handy. – Neil Trodden Nov 19 '10 at 21:50

You could install IE7 with PlayOnLinux, and everyone could have their own IE install.


If you prefer testing within Ubuntu, then I advice you to use WINE to install IE.

You can read the guides here:

http://www.wine-reviews.net/wine-reviews/applications/ie-7-on-linux-with-wine.html http://www.wine-reviews.net/wine-reviews/microsoft/internet-explorer-8-on-linux-with-wine.html

If you need older IE you can use IEs4linux - http://www.tatanka.com.br/ies4linux/page/Main_Page


Also consider linie, a new project aiming to make it easy to install MSIE on Linux, using wine. That's not the same as testing on an actual Windows box or VM, but it'll get halfway there.

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