Today was D-day (disaster day) for my XP box. It caught a trojan – Backdoor.Win32.ZAccess.xpv – which apparently is a nasty piece of cake. According to SecureList it was first detected August 13, 2012, but there is no description of it. My Kaspersky virus scanner went mad and ran in loops, but never managed to get rid of it. I spent some four hours trying. Google was not helpful either, so it was proper bricked.

Using it was not an option, as older and more well-known trojans from that family are known to download additional malware, use up lots of processing power, and steal passwords, credit card numbers, installs a key logger, and the like.

A new install was not an option, either, as the XP box runs all the nice and clever software I need for work, Office, Adobe Acrobat, but also IrfanView, Panorama Studio, Garmin GPS software, GIS, CAD, virus scanner and what have you. It would have cost me day to install all that from scratch, dig up registration numbers, etc.

Had I run my laptop on the original Windows 7, i would have been stuck (to avoid a suitable four letter word). Luckily, the XP box is only a virtual machine running on my Linux openSUSE 12.1 laptop, and I remembered I had made a backup of my data including my virtual machines only two weeks ago. Since I had only installed two minor pieces of software since then, I simply dug up the external hard drive, copied the 50GB backup over the infested machine in less than half an hour, et voilá!

I am running an openSUSE 12.1 Linux on my laptop (Fujitsu Lifebook A Series), and installed Oracle’s VirtualBox on it. VirtualBox is a very powerful x86 and AMD64/Intel64 virtualisation software which is freely available as Open Source Software (GNU General Public License – GPL – version 2). It runs on Windows, Linux, Macintosh, and other OSes many so-called “guest operating systems”, such as most flavours of  Windows (DOS/Windows 3.x, NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7), Linux, OS/2(!) and others (see screenshots).

Resurrected: my Windows XP box

Simply spoken, Virtualbox is a piece of software running on a host operating system and pretending to be a PC. If you have the suitable installation media, you can install your favourite or second most needed operating system into the software. Virtualbox creates a virtual harddisk from which the guest operating system can boot and run.

As I have become used to working with MS Office for the past 20 years or so, and other software refuses to work on Linux or Wine (the native Linux Windows emulator) and runs only on Seattle based OSes, I cannot afford to abstain from Windows completely. But now I am where I dreamed of being 20 years ago, when I installed my first Linux on a PC (Slackware with kernel 0.99.15).

Virtualbox virtually saved my day.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, I also have a virtual box running Widows 7 with all my stuff that runs nicely on a 64 bit Windows. .

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