IE8 Development on Linux

As an open-source advocate and Linux developer, I sometimes face the problem on creating websites that do not work correctly in IE because it is a borked browser. While IE is fast losing its market share to other browsers, it is still the dominant PC desktop browser and needs to be supported by any web applications that I develop.

To that end, I need to make sure that my code works on IE and these are the two steps that I recommend.

Firstly, use the X-UA-Compatible meta tag to ensure that IE works in a more standards compliant mode. This meta tag can be set either by the web-server or it can be set in the HTML header section itself. It is simple, just stick the following code in the header section of any HTML page:

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=8">

There are a number of parameters that are possible and these are described in the appropriate knowledge base page. The important thing is to ensure that your site adheres to web standards and to set the compatibility mode to IE8, which is the most standards compliant IE browser at the moment.

The next gem that I recently discovered is the availability of IE8 testing images from Microsoft. Turns out that Microsoft provides VPC images that can be used to run special VMs that can be used to test websites under IE8 rendering. Since I do not use VPC, I had to tweak things a little and run things under VirtualBox instead.

Even then, there are a couple of gotchas to note:

First, it is essential that the network drivers be installed when the VM is first booted. This is to allow the VM to activate itself online. Otherwise, on a second bootup, the VM will not allow the user to login because it is not activated, and will not be able to activate itself because it is not online – an infinite loop.

To do this, once the VirtualBox machine is booted and the Guest Additions disc is inserted, run the following command:

D:\VBoxWindowsAdditions-x86.exe /extract /D=C:\Drivers

Immediately after that, use the Windows Add/Remove Hardware wizard to detect the new network card and specify the drivers manually. They will reside in the earlier subdirectory. Once this is done, bridge the VMs network to your existing Internet network and ensure that the network settings are all working. Launch an instance of IE8 to see if the site works correctly.

Then, after a reboot, the VM will insist on activating itself online. If the network was working correctly earlier, just proceed with the activation. It works after that like any normal Windows except that it will display an “evaluation” notice on the desktop.

This is a good solution to work with IE8 development on Linux.


Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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