I'm trying to run an old piece of software in a VirtualBox VM running Windows XP. My host system is Debian.

I have the CD-ROM image in MDF + MDS format (which I believe is an uncommon format created by Alcohol 120%). I converted it to ISO, but unfortunately that breaks the copy-protection on the image, which the MDF format presumably retains, so I'm prevented from running the software after installation.

The ideal solution here would be to somehow mount the image in its original format and map the drive so VirtualBox can mount it (it doesn't support MDF + MDS natively, clearly).

I may have to convert the image first. The problem is retaining the copy-protection, held in the MDS file. Does anyone have experience with this?


  • 2
    What about to install Alcohol 120% on the guest system and the image from within? – Hastur Apr 26 '17 at 17:15
  • @Hastur This is the kind of out-of-the-box (or in this case, in-the-box) thinking I lack. Will give it a go! – Archimaredes Apr 26 '17 at 17:17
  • 1
    @Hastur No cigar - Alcohol 120% installed fine and mounted the image fine; I still get the message about the disc being copied. It may be that the program isn't emulating a CD drive accurately enough (despite the level of detail in the image). Or, the disc wasn't copied accurately enough to start with, despite the image format's capabilities! Hard to know. :( – Archimaredes Apr 26 '17 at 17:31
  • If I should bet a penny I choose the second you said. BTW with enough memory available you may try to install on a ramdisk a real (not virtualized) window XP (or you can do it on a pendrive), then again install Alcohol 120% and try to mount the image. So you can determinate if it was accurate enough. – Hastur Apr 26 '17 at 17:51
  • @Hastur I meant Alcohol 120%'s emulated drive, so no matter what machine, virtual or not, I'm running the guest OS, that wouldn't make a difference :/ – Archimaredes Apr 26 '17 at 18:02

In few words

If the image was correctly done you can install Alchool 120% in the guest system (in the virtualized Windows XP) and mount your image from there.
If it doesn't work (and it is a working image), then we have to deduce that the hardware emulation layer introduced by the virtualization is not accurate enough to deal with Alchool 120% and the "special sectors"...(with a pun: Alcohol 120% run less then 100%).

Some words more

If your virtualized environment doesn't allow to mount that format natively, you may try more way to convert the image in a more common format, e.g. an ISO. (The OP tried with no success).
You need to put particularly attention doing a byte for byte copy and not a simple copy of the data.
It may be needed to copy even the read only sectors and to check if there were sectors of different (special) sizes...

How to check if your Image was correctly done

To check if your image was correctly done

  1. If you have another computer with Windows Xp not virtualized, try to install there the image via Alchool 120%.

  2. If you do not have another computer with Windows Xp you may install also Alchool 120% and mount the image in

    • a Windows Xp system created on a USB pendrive
    • a Windows Xp starting disk that install the system on a ramdisk
    • a little partition where you install Windows Xp

If with one of the previous solutions the image works, it means that the image was correctly done and you can start to search for other program/options in order to convert it in a format that VirtualBox can mount.

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