How do I get 32-bit only software to work on Windows 7 x64?
March 23, 2011 6:54 PM   Subscribe

I have a piece of software that works on Windows 7, 32-bit, but not on x64 versions. Is it possible to get it working on my computer, perhaps in a VM? I also have the linux version of the software.

I was recently provided a copy of Topspin, a piece of technical software chemists use. It isn't officially supported on Windows 7, but has been found to work on the 32-bit version. For some reason it will not run on the 64-bit version, possibly due to the heavy use of JIT bits (Java and Jython at least from looking through the install folder).
I would very much like to install it on my laptop, and was hoping that someone here would help me make it work.

I was thinking that some sort of virtual machine might work. It has to have access to the network so that it can log into the uni server and confirm that a copy of the floating license is available however. I know nothing about running a VM though, and I've heard most of the software is expensive. I also have no idea were I would get a disk image.

I do also have the linux version, and I recall hearing about a version of Ubuntu that could run on a windows file system (Wubi or something like that?), but I recall at the time that it would corrupt your hard drive if you used NTFS or did something wrong, so I would want to hear from someone familiar with it before attempting that.
posted by Canageek to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Best answer: What flavor of Win 7 x64 are you using? Professional or Ultimate? Get XPMode. Takes all the steps out of it, follow what's on the screen, and it just installs the VM and gives you a nice Start Menu shortcut.
posted by deezil at 7:00 PM on March 23, 2011

Best answer: If you have Win7 Pro or Win7 Ultimate, you can download and install XPMode without paying any more. If you have one of the lesser versions, you can download and install it, but it will refuse to run.

XPMode creates a 32 bit virtual machine and installs WinXP on it. It's intended for ultimate backward compatibility.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:00 PM on March 23, 2011

Great minds, chocolate pickle, great minds.
posted by deezil at 7:01 PM on March 23, 2011

Best answer: XPmode as suggested above is probably your simplest method, but if you wanted to play with Linux, you could install the free version of virtualbox on your 64bit Win 7 host and create a 32bit virtual machine (or several) on which you can install any other supported OS without difficulty.

Networking the VM is not a problem - you'd probably want to 'bridge' it for simplicity. There's plenty of good documentation and user support forums etc.
posted by dirm at 7:13 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm installing XPMode now: I'm embarrassed that I'd forgotten about it as I'd read an article on using it in line of business applications a few months ago. I'll let you all know how it goes.
posted by Canageek at 7:17 PM on March 23, 2011

Response by poster: I'm getting errors when I try and install Topspin that look like so:

(copied from the log file)
+Registry get(SOFTWARE\Bruker\TOPSPIN\2.1|ProgPath)=> Error: Key does not exist
+ GetDir: dir = default (return -1):
+ GetDirAttr (szVarName=XWINNMRHOME): target disk=C:
+ Registry get(SOFTWARE\Bruker\TOPSPIN Setup\RestartOnce|MainTargetEntry)=> Error: Key does not exist
+ GetDirAttr (szVarName=XWINNMRHOME): svDefault=C:\Bruker\TOPSPIN"

I know that installing to C:/ is a bad idea, I think Topspin requires it however.
Does anyone know why this is happening? Could it have something to do with the fact I'm installing it to a virtual hard disk?
posted by Canageek at 8:01 PM on March 23, 2011

the C: drive in XP Mode is actually the Virtual Hard Drive file that XP Mode installs.

If it's giving you these errors during install, it almost looks like it is looking for a previously installed version. Make sure you aren't doing some sort of upgrade...

That's an idea. Might contact the Topspin folks / the people that gave you the copy.
posted by deezil at 8:30 PM on March 23, 2011

Sucks that XPMode isn't working out. You mentioned other options you'd consider, so here's my take on them:
  • You can download the lastest version of Ubuntu, then download the latest version of VirtualBox and the Extension pack, install VirtualBox, and use it to install/run Ubuntu. If your computer is powerful enough and has sufficent RAM this works like a charm. VirtualBox is free and it is easy to give virtual machines network access through your computer.
  • I've only tried Ubuntu Windows Installer, aka Wubi, once, and it worked perfectly. It is very easy to install and uninstall and didn't affect my Windows installation at all. It'll also be faster than using a virtual machine, if your computer is a tad slow. It cannot corrupt your hard drive because Wubi installs one massive file in a directory and modifies your computer's boot up parameters to use it, but I'd make an up-to-date backup of your data before using it - just in case.

posted by asymptotic at 5:44 AM on March 24, 2011

For the installer, have you tried running it as Administrator? (right-click, Run as admin). It's possible that the file path c:\bruker requires admin rights, and the Win7 UAC (user account control) is silently blocking it.

Virtualbox is also a good idea if you have an extra license and the media for a 32-bit version of Windows. You can simply install it within VBox and boot it up within your 64-bit environment. (albeit with a bit more memory overhead than Linux would require)

For Linux, here is some more info on how to get TopSpin 2.1 working in Ubuntu.
posted by samsara at 11:46 AM on March 24, 2011

Or, for simplicity's sake, you can just install Ubuntu in a dual-boot. The install process is really simple, it comes with basic productivity software, software management is easier than with Windows, codec support is better, it doesn't get viruses, it stays stable without needing to reboot frequently, it's bloody fast, ssh access...

There's a learning curve, sure, but for something like this the install defaults would probably be suited to your present needs. And, once you get some familiarity with Linux in general, I guarantee you it's more fun than using Windows.
posted by fifthrider at 8:46 PM on March 24, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I don't think I have enough time to sink into this right now, but I will probably work on it during the summer. I don't mind working with linux, but duel booting would be too much of a pain as other software I need is windows-only.
I don't have any extra windows licences, and would prefer to keep everything legal so that I can get help from my departments tech people. I'll probably be asking more specific questions in various places this summer, thank you for all of your help.
posted by Canageek at 10:02 AM on March 26, 2011

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