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ARM64 Linux on Win10

Below are the steps to get an ARM64 version of Ubuntu running in the QEMU emulator on Windows 10.

Install QEMU

Install for Windows from (I used qemu-w64-setup-20181211.exe)

Put C:\Program Files\qemu on your PATH, and run the below to check it's working (which will list out the CPUs the AArch64 emulator can emulate):

qemu-system-aarch64 -M virt -cpu help

Copy the Firmware and OS images

Into your working directory...

Create the configuration data image

The Ubuntu server images require configuration data be provided as an image, such as setting auth credentials.

The tool used to convert the config text file into an image file only runs on Linux, so I've attached a user-data.img file (and the text file used to create it) in a zip file to this Gist. Extract the user-data.img file to the working directory.

The user-data.img file was created for password authentication as outlined in

Launch the emulator from the working directory

Run the below to boot the image, you will some some benign errors at startup. Wait until the output settles down (even after you see the login prompt, as the post-boot config may not have completed yet).

qemu-system-aarch64 -m 2048 -cpu cortex-a72 -smp 4 -M virt -nographic -bios QEMU_EFI.fd -drive if=none,file=ubuntu-16.04-server-cloudimg-arm64-uefi1.img,id=hd0 -device virtio-blk-device,drive=hd0 -drive file=user-data.img,format=raw -device virtio-net-device,netdev=net0 -netdev user,hostfwd=tcp:,id=net0

To break down these lines:

  • qemu-system-aarch64 -m 2048 -cpu cortex-a72 -smp 4 -M virt -nographic - run the ARM64 virtual platform emulator with 2GB RAM and 4 Cortex-A72 cores with no GUI support.
  • -bios QEMU_EFI.fd - use the firmware downloaded above.
  • -drive if=none,file=ubuntu-16.04-server-cloudimg-arm64-uefi1.img,id=hd0 - use the Ubuntu image file
  • -device virtio-blk-device,drive=hd0 - mount drive from above as a block device
  • -drive file=user-data.img,format=raw - use the configuration data image file
  • -device virtio-net-device,netdev=net0 - create a virtual network device
  • -netdev user,hostfwd=tcp:,id=net0 - set up the networking stack and forward the SSH port

Then from a good Terminal emulator (I recommend the new Windows Terminal app with one of the Powerline fonts) you can connect over SSH with the below, and the configured password (asdfqwer):

ssh ubuntu@localhost -p 2222
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