Using Windows as Guest VM on ACRN

This tutorial describes how to launch Windows as a Guest (WaaG) VM on the ACRN hypervisor.

Hardware setup

The following Intel Kaby Lake NUCs are verified:

Platform Model BIOS Version BIOS Download Link
NUC7i7DNHE DNKBLi7v.86A.0052.2018.0808.1344 link
NUC7i5DNHE DNKBLi5v.86A.0060.2018.1220.1536 link

ACRN Service VM Setup

You may refer to the steps in Getting started guide for Intel NUC for Intel NUC to set up ACRN on the KBL NUC. After following the steps in that guide, you should be able to launch the Service VM successfully.

Setup for Using Windows as Guest VM

All the patches to support WaaG have been upstreamed; you can download them from the acrn-hypervisor repository.

Build ACRN EFI Images

  1. Follow the steps described at Build ACRN from Source to set up the build environment.

  2. Use the make command to compile the acrn.efi and acrn-dm:

    $ git clone
    $ cd acrn-hypervisor
    $ make FIRMWARE=uefi BOARD=kbl-nuc-i7
  3. Get the outputs from:

    $ build/hypervisor/acrn.efi
    $ build/devicemodel/acrn-dm
  4. Replace the acrn.efi and acrn-dm on your NUC:

    1. Log in to the ACRN Service VM and then mount the EFI partition to /boot

    2. scp the acrn.efi and acrn-dm from your host:

      # scp <acrn.efi from your host> /boot/EFI/acrn/
      # scp <acrn-dm from your host> /usr/bin/
      # chmod +x /usr/bin/acrn-dm && sync

Build Service VM Kernel

  1. Follow the steps described at Build ACRN from Source to set up the build environment.

  2. Follow the steps below to build the ACRN kernel:

    $ WORKDIR=`pwd`;
    $ JOBS=`nproc`
    $ git clone -b master
    $ cd acrn-kernel && mkdir -p ${WORKDIR}/{build,build-rootfs}
    $ cp kernel_config_uefi_sos ${WORKDIR}/build/.config
    $ make olddefconfig O=${WORKDIR}/build && make -j${JOBS} O=${WORKDIR}/build
    $ make modules_install INSTALL_MOD_PATH=${WORKDIR}/build-rootfs O=${WORKDIR}/build -j${JOBS}

Update Kernel on KBL NUC

  1. Copy the new kernel image (bzImage) and its modules to the target machine:

    # scp <your host>:$WORKDIR/build/arch/x86/boot/bzImage /boot/bzImage
    # scp -r <your host>:$WORKDIR/build-rootfs/lib/modules/* /lib/modules/
    # cp /boot/loader/entries/acrn.conf  /boot/loader/entries/acrngt.conf
  2. Modify acrngt.conf to the content as given below:

    title The ACRNGT Service VM
    linux /bzImage
    options console=tty0 console=ttyS0 root=/dev/sda3 rw rootwait ignore_loglevel no_timer_check consoleblank=0 i915.nuclear_pageflip=1 i915.avail_planes_per_pipe=0x010101 i915.domain_plane_owners=0x011100001111 i915.enable_gvt=1 i915.enable_conformance_check=0 i915.enable_guc=0 hvlog=2M@0x1FE00000


    Change /dev/sda3 to your file system partition.

  3. reboot the Service VM and select The ACRNGT Service VM from the boot menu to apply the ACRN kernel and hypervisor updates.

Create Windows 10 Image

Create a Windows 10 image which includes two steps:

  1. Re-generate an ISO that includes virtio-win drivers and the Windows graphics drivers that were pre-installed from the original Windows ISO.
  2. Install Windows 10 onto the virtual disk.


  • Download Windows 10 ADK according to your working Windows 10 version.


Win + R to open the Run window. Key in winver to get your working Windows version.

Install Windows 10 ADK

  1. Double click adksetup.exe to start the installation.

  2. Click Next.

  3. Select Deployment Tools and Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE), and click Install to continue the installation.


    You need to install Windows 10 ADK only once.

Pre-install drivers and re-generate Windows ISO

  1. Create a folder on the C: drive called WIM, so you have a folder C:\WIM

  2. Create a folder on the C: drive called Mount, so you have a folder C:\Mount

  3. Right click the downloaded virtio-win-0.1.141.iso and select Mount. The ISO will be mounted to a drive; for example, drive D:

  4. Use 7-zip or similar utility to unzip the downloaded Windows graphics driver dch_win64_25.20.100.6444.exe to a folder, for example, to C:\Dev\Temp\wim\dch_win64_25.20.100.6444

  5. Right click the downloaded Windows ISO, for example, windows10-17763-107-LTSC.iso, select Mount, the ISO will be mounted to a drive; for example, drive E:

  6. Copy E:\sources\boot.wim and E:\sources\install.wim to C:\WIM

  7. Depending on your Windows ISO image, more than one image may be included in the WIM. Run dism /get-wiminfo /wimfile:C:\WIM\install.wim with administrator privileges. Select the Index you want. For windows10-17763-107-LTSC.iso, there is only one Index; it is 1

  8. Create a batch file named virtio-inject-boot.bat [1] to modify boot.wim to inject drivers (using the mounted Windows ISO drive (D:), image Index (1), and folder where the unzipped Windows graphics drivers were placed, from the previous steps (update this batch file as needed):

    REM virt-inject-boot
    Set IDX=1
    REM Modify boot.wim file to inject drivers
    dism /Mount-Wim /WimFile:C:\Wim\boot.wim /Index:%IDX% /MountDir:C:\mount
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\balloon\w10\amd64\balloon.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\NetKVM\w10\amd64\netkvm.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\viorng\w10\amd64\viorng.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\vioscsi\w10\amd64\vioscsi.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\vioserial\w10\amd64\vioser.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\viostor\w10\amd64\viostor.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\vioinput\w10\amd64\vioinput.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:c:\Dev\Temp\wim\dch_win64_25.20.100.6444\Graphics\cui_dch.inf"
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:c:\Dev\Temp\wim\dch_win64_25.20.100.6444\Graphics\HdBusExt.inf"
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:c:\Dev\Temp\wim\dch_win64_25.20.100.6444\Graphics\iigd_dch.inf"
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:c:\Dev\Temp\wim\dch_win64_25.20.100.6444\Graphics\IntcDAud.inf"
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:c:\Dev\Temp\wim\dch_win64_25.20.100.6444\Graphics\msdk.inf"
    dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:c:\mount /commit

    Run this virtio-inject-boot.bat script in a command prompt running as administrator. It may take 4-5 minutes to run, depending on your Windows system performance.

  9. Similarly, create another batch file named virtio-inject-install.bat [1] to modify install.wim to inject drivers (and verify the ISO drive, image Index, and drivers folder):

    REM virt-inject-install
    Set IDX=1
    REM Modify install.wim to inject drivers
    dism /Mount-Wim /WimFile:C:\WIM\install.wim /Index:%IDX% /MountDir:C:\mount
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\balloon\w10\amd64\balloon.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\NetKVM\w10\amd64\netkvm.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\viorng\w10\amd64\viorng.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\vioscsi\w10\amd64\vioscsi.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\vioserial\w10\amd64\vioser.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\viostor\w10\amd64\viostor.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:d:\vioinput\w10\amd64\vioinput.inf" /forceunsigned
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:c:\Dev\Temp\wim\dch_win64_25.20.100.6444\Graphics\cui_dch.inf"
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:c:\Dev\Temp\wim\dch_win64_25.20.100.6444\Graphics\HdBusExt.inf"
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:c:\Dev\Temp\wim\dch_win64_25.20.100.6444\Graphics\iigd_dch.inf"
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:c:\Dev\Temp\wim\dch_win64_25.20.100.6444\Graphics\IntcDAud.inf"
    dism /image:C:\mount /Add-Driver "/driver:c:\Dev\Temp\wim\dch_win64_25.20.100.6444\Graphics\msdk.inf"
    dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:c:\mount /commit

    Run this script in a command prompt running as administrator. It may also take 4-5 minutes to run, depending on your Windows system performance.

  10. After running these two scripts the files C:\WIM\boot.wim and C:\WIM\install.wim will be updated to install these drivers into the image:

    • Virtio-balloon
    • Virtio-net
    • Virtio-rng
    • Virtio-scsi
    • Virtio-serial
    • Virtio-block
    • Virtio-input
    • Windows graphics drivers
  11. Use 7-zip to unzip the downloaded Windows ISO to a folder; for example, into C:\Dev\Temp\wim\windows10-17763-107-LTSC

  12. Delete C:\Dev\Temp\wim\windows10-17763-107-LTSC\sources\boot.wim and C:\Dev\Temp\wim\windows10-17763-107-LTSC\sources\install.wim

  13. Copy C:\WIM\boot.wim and C:\WIM\install.wim to C:\Dev\Temp\wim\windows10-17763-107-LTSC\sources

  14. Download and unzip to a folder; for example, to C:\Dev\Temp\wim\

  15. Create a batch file named mkisofs_both_legacy_and_uefi.bat containing (update folder names as needed to reflect where the referenced files are located on your system, and inputdir, outputiso and mkisofs.exe path, downloaded by the previous step):

    set inputdir=C:\Dev\Temp\wim\windows10-17763-107-LTSC
    set outputiso=C:\Dev\Temp\wim\mkisofs_iso\windows10-17763-107-LTSC-Virtio-Gfx.iso
    set label="WIN10_17763_107_LTSC_VIRTIO_GFX"
    set biosboot=boot/
    set efiboot=efi/microsoft/boot/efisys.bin
    C:\Dev\Temp\wim\\mingw\mkisofs.exe \
      -iso-level 4 -l -R -UDF -D -volid %label% -b %biosboot% -no-emul-boot \
      -boot-load-size 8 -hide boot.catalog -eltorito-alt-boot \
      -eltorito-platform efi -no-emul-boot -b %efiboot%  -o %outputiso% \

    Run this mkisofs_both_legacy_and_uefi.bat script. The resulting ISO will be generated in outputiso location you specified.

Create Raw Disk

Run these commands on the Service VM:

# swupd bundle-add kvm-host
# mkdir /root/img
# cd /root/img
# qemu-img create -f raw win10-ltsc-virtio.img 30G

Install Windows 10

Currently, the ACRNGT OVMF GOP driver is not ready; thus, a special VGA version is used to install Windows 10 on ACRN from scratch. The acrn.elf, acrn-dm and OVMF binaries are included in the tarball together with the script used to install Windows 10.

  1. Uncompress install_by_vga_gsg.tar.gz to the Service VM:

    # tar zxvf install_by_vga_gsg.tar.gz && cd install_by_vga_gsg
  2. Edit the acrn-dm command line in if your configuration is different.

    • Change -s 3,virtio-blk,./win10-ltsc-virtio.img to your path to the Windows 10 image.
    • Change -s 8,ahci,cd:./windows10-17763-107-LTSC-Virtio-Gfx.iso to the ISO you re-generated above.
    • Change -s 9,ahci,cd:./virtio-win-0.1.141.iso to your path to the virtio-win iso.
  3. Run and connect to the Windows guest using a vnc client.:

    # vncviewer <IP-OF-HOST-MACHINE>:5900
  4. Input exit followed by ENTER

  5. Select Boot Manager

  6. Select UEFI ACRN-DM SATA DVD ROM ACRN--F9B7-5503-A05B, which is using the PCI slot 7. This is what we configured in the script for the Windows ISO cdrom.

  7. Select ENTER followed by any key press to be prompted to the Windows installation screen.

  8. Connect again after Windows guest reboots. Use vncviewer <IP-OF-HOST-MACHINE>:5900.

  9. Connect again after Windows guest reboots a second time. Use vncviewer <IP-OF-HOST-MACHINE>:5900.

  10. Perform a few configuration steps. The Windows desktop appears.


Boot Windows with GVT-g on ACRN

  1. Modify the /usr/share/acrn/samples/nuc/ script to specify the Windows image generated above.

  2. Download OVMF.fd binary to the directory in Service VM: /usr/share/acrn/samples/nuc/.

  3. Run the and you should see the WaaG desktop coming up over the HDMI monitor (instead of the VNC).


    Use the following command to disable the GNOME Display Manager (GDM) if it is enabled:

    # sudo systemctl mask gdm.service


    You must connect two monitors to the KBL NUC in order to launch Windows with the default configurations above.


    The second monitor must include the Weston desktop. If you have set up Weston in the Service VM, follow the steps in GPU Passthrough on Skylake NUC to set up Weston as the desktop environment in Service VM in order to experience Windows with the AcrnGT local display feature.

ACRN Windows verified feature list

  • Windows 10 Version:
    • Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise, 10.0.17134 Build 17134
    • Microsoft Windows 10 Pro, 10.0.17763 Build 17763
  • Windows graphics driver:
    • dch_win64_25.20.100.6444.exe
Items Details Status
IO Devices Virtio block as the boot device Working
  AHCI as the boot device Working
  AHCI cdrom Working
  Virtio network Working
  Virtio input - mouse Working
  Virtio input - keyboard Working
  GOP & VNC remote display Working
GVT-g GVT-g without local display Working with 3D benchmark
  GVT-g  with local display Working with 3D benchmark
Tools WinDbg Working
Test cases Install Windows 10 from scratch OK
  Windows reboot OK
  Windows shutdown OK
Built-in Apps Microsoft Edge OK
  Maps OK
  Microsoft Store OK
  3D Viewer OK

Known Limitations

  • The cursor is not visible with the GVG-g local display.
  • The Windows graphic driver version must be dch_win64_25.20.100.6444.exe; the latest version dch_win64_25.20.100.6577.exe cannot be installed correctly.

Device configurations of acrn-dm command line

  • -s 3,ahci,hd:/root/img/win10.img: This is the hard disk onto which to install Windows 10. Make sure that the slot ID 3 points to your win10 img path.

  • -s 4,virtio-net,tap0: This is for the network virtualization.

  • -s 5,fbuf,tcp=,w=800,h=600: This will open a port 5900 on Service VM which can be connected to via vncviewer.

  • -s 6,virtio-input,/dev/input/event4: This is to passthrough the mouse/keyboard to Windows via virtio. Please change event4 accordingly. You can use the following command to check the event node on your Service VM:

    <To get the input event of mouse>
    # cat /proc/bus/input/devices | grep mouse
  • -s 7,ahci,cd:/root/img/Windows.iso: This is the IOS image used to install Windows 10. It appears as a cdrom device. Make sure that the slot ID 7 points to your win10 ISO path.

  • -s 8,ahci,cd:/root/img/virtio-win-0.1.141.iso: This is another cdrom device to install the virtio Windows driver later. Make sure it points to your VirtIO ISO path.

  • –ovmf /root/bios/OVMF.fd: Make sure it points to your OVMF binary path


[1](1, 2) These virtio drivers injecting batch script are based on Derek Seaman’s IT blog about injecting VirtIO Drivers into Windows.