We can run linux and similar unix kernels uing qemu -kernel parameter. Is there any way to do the same with NT kernel? I could not find a way to test even reactos kernelwith qemu.

Also can .efi files be run? In that way I can try bootmgr.efi to load ntoskrnl.exe.

  • I’m voting to close this question because it doesn't seem to specifically concern reverse engineering. May 16, 2021 at 0:01

1 Answer 1


Linux kernel can boot mostly on its own by probing the hardware and using the linked-in drivers. The NT kernel requires an environment such as UEFI or legacy BIOS and relies on it, for example, to load additional drivers. It also expects to be loaded in a certain manner by the pre-loader (winload.efi) while Linux has less strict requirements.

This is why QEMU can provide built in support for booting Linux - it’s much simpler to implement. For Windows you need to prepare a disk image with the file system and a UEFI environment such as OVMF. The Windows kernel uses registry (BCD - Boot configuration data) for configuration instead of command line arguments so it’s trickier to implement.

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