Downloading Dreamspark Microsoft Windows on Ubuntu

Dreamspark is Microsoft’s name for providing discounts to educational and research institutions, like schools and universities. At my institution (and I don’t know how many others), we have access to Windows, Word, etc… through As a big open-source fan, I usually run Ubuntu on my laptop and desktop, but occasionally need to use Windows-only applications for work. My usual solution to this is to use VMWare or Virtualbox to run Windows without having the mess of dual-booting.

Unfortunately for me, onthehub uses a “Secure Download Manager” (SDM) to download the ISO needed to install Windows. And that SDM will only run on Windows or Mac. Now, I could just hvae gone to a Windows-using colleague and have them download it for me, but, well, I’m stubborn. In the hopes of helping someone else (or just me) out, here’s what you have to do to download Windows Dreamspark from onthehub.

This only works if you are already able and authorised to download Windows from such a service. It doesn’t get you a pirate or illegally-shared copy of Windows, it only allows you to run the service’s download-management software on Ubuntu.

1) ‘Buy’ the software you want from the store. You should end up at a page entitled “Get Your Software in 4 Easy Steps” (heh heh) that looks a bit like this:

You’ll notice that if you click on Download SDM, you’ll download a .pkg file. This is intended for mac, and is no use to you.

I used to have a complicated method here, using User-Agent Switcher in Firefox to trick the site into thinking you’re on a windows platform.Thanks to JO, who found a much simpler way to perform this step.What you need to do is just change the link — mine is to If your link is different, just change the last part.

Now we can use  WINE to allow us to run this Window-only file. WINE is a software package that allows most many some windows applications to run on Linux. Get it through

apt-get install wine
on Ubuntu

But, we want to use IE6 as our browser in WINE — the SDM just works with this and not with IE9. So, also get the winetricks package
apt-get install winetricks

Then, setup wine.

export WINEARCH=win32
export WINEPREFIX=~/.wine32
winetricks ie6

Now, install the SDM.

cd directory-where-you-saved-SDM.msi
wine msiexec /i SDM.msi

Click through the installer. I suggest changing the install directory to C:\SDM\ or something similar

Now you need to get the .sdx file from (the second download link you’re given). Save it. The file is named something like 100001234.sdx.

Now, we put it all together with

wine ~/.wine32/drive_c/SDM/e-academy\ Inc/SecureDownloadManager/SecureDownloadManager.exe 100001234.sdx

Remember to change the name of the sdx file and the path to the executable, if necessary.

The SDM should then “just work” and download your .iso. Congratulations!

Updated February 27th 2013 with corrections, thanks to Benjamin
Updated June 21th 2013 with a small correction, merci à
deguipi, and thanks to Francesco

Updated December 8th 2013 with a better method to get the SDM, thanks to JO.


56 thoughts on “Downloading Dreamspark Microsoft Windows on Ubuntu

  1. trontic

    I can’t belive the coincidence. My XP installation is corrupted, so I started Ubuntu and tried to download XP from Dreamspark. I saw this .pkg file and thought how nice, Microsoft thought of Linux users and let them download Microsoft OS. Soon after I realized that .pkg file isn’t Linux file. Few more searches in Google and there it was, this article, step by step tutorial just what I needed. Really weird coincidence, Google says it was 10 minutes old in search results.

    Anyway, thank you for this. I’m going to follow this now. Hope it works. 🙂

  2. Benjamin

    Two things that I needed to do differently:

    1. Set the architecture BEFORE creating the new prefix
    2. Use “win32″ as archtiecture instead of “32bit” as you suggested

    Otherwise great, thanks!

      1. Nat

        This is a wonderful help, but im stuck on the final part:

        wine ~/.wine32/drive_c/SDM/e-academy\ Inc/SecureDownloadManager/SecureDownloadManager.exe 100001234.sdx

        I dont seem to be getting the file path correct, could you please assist?


      2. threadsofscience Post author

        You need to find where both SecureDownloadManager.exe and the .sdx file are saved and make sure that you’re using the right paths. Otherwise, it should word.

      3. Andrew

        This is killing me, I’m stuck on the same step as Nat. I can’t seem to find the SecureDownloadManager.exe anywhere. When I run the SDM.msi and assign the path, I go back into the directory and am unable to find anything the SDM should have installed.

      4. Iain Elder

        @Andrew Don’t accept the default installation path. If you do, the SecureDownloadManager.exe is missing from the folder!

        If you change the installation path to C:\SDM, then you will get the file.

  3. deguipi

    Merci beaucoup, très bon tuto !!!
    Ca marche nickel.
    J’ai juste changé la ligne “wine msiexec SDM.msiexec” par “wine msiexec /package SDM.msi”.

  4. Francesco Giovannini

    Great job!
    The only thing which did not work for me was: “wine msiexec SDM.msiexec”
    Probably this is due to my file being .msi rather than .msiexec. I had to use “wine start SDM.msi”.

    1. threadsofscience Post author

      Hi, I can’t reproduce it — I just started with a clean .wine folder and followed my steps and it works — the installation procedure for ie6 has changed slightly, but you just have to follow the instructions.
      Have you tried starting from a clean .wine folder? Is there any more information in the command line about the “error”?

  5. Titi

    I have wine 1.6 and I get the following error when I try to start SDM :
    wine: Call from 0x7bc4e0a0 to unimplemented function urlmon.dll.CreateUri, aborting

    Any idea?

      1. Titi

        Thanks for the answer. I already saw this solution. And changing the urlmon.dll did not fix the problem. I just got a white screen instead of a crashing app.

  6. r3ddr4gOn

    Hi, i just tried to do this with wine1.7.2 and it does not work because ie6 can´t be installed in wine >1.6. After a bit of testing i was able to download windows 8.1 iso by installing msxml3 and ie8 with winetricks. During the ie8 Setup i unchecked “install updates” and at the end i hit “restart now”.

    winetricks msxml3
    winetricks ie8
    cd directory-where-you-saved-SDM.msi
    wine msiexec /i SDM.msi
    wine /SecureDownloadManager.exe .sdx

    Thanks for pushing me in the right direction with this article and i hope i could help.

  7. Christian

    Hey! Thanks a lot!
    Your post (and the answers) helped me, but I had to make a change to get it working:
    1) The hint of r3ddr4gOn to use msxml and ie8 were necessary.
    2) The path to the installed SDM was different. For me it was stored in ~/.wine32/drive_c/users/MyWineUsername/Local Settings/Application Data/e-academy Inc/SecureDownloadManager/SecureDownloadManager.exe

    Then it worked. Again thanks a lot!

  8. Parikshit Khanna

    I’m new to Ubuntu.Can anyone tweak the last line and post the exact thing to be entered,
    My sdm and sdx files are placed in my home folder ,In my home folder the sdm file reads SDM_EN.msi…..P.SI have wine 1.5

  9. JO.


    its much easier to change the download link from …/SDM.pkg to …/SDM_EN.msi or …/SMD_DE.msi than changing settings in browser.

  10. Peter

    Hi! First of all, thanks a lot for this article! Everything worked like magic, until…
    I got through the entire install, SDM is up and running, BUT it tells me to enable Active Scripting in IE. Now, I tried getting to these settings through Wine, but somehow I can’t get to them. I searched around a bit, couldn’t find anything.
    Am I missing something basic here? Simply ignoring the warning and hitting Download hasn’t worked (too bad). It seems odd to me that nobody seems to have a problem with this, so I decided to simply ask. I guess the solution is obvious to most of you, but alas, not to me.
    Thanks anyway for these great instructions!

    1. Peter

      OK, I circumvented the problem by downloading the EN version of the msi file (I misteriously had the DE file), and this one doesn’t ask me to enable Active Scripting. I thought I’ll share this for future readers having the same problem.
      BUT sadly my download still won’t start. Hitting “Download” produces nothing. I’ll keep looking, though.

  11. Chris

    I am having the same problem as the guys above, I can get to the SDM and have it grab the SDX file, but when I hit download, nothing happens.

  12. Joselito


    Thanks for putting out those SDM download links, it was driving me crazy. I had the sdx files but not the SDM installer, and I had lost access to my dreamspark account. Now I have the ISO I wanted up and running :)))

  13. d

    it does not work because the wine iexplore has no javascript support. the ie runs as a component in the sdm, it shows the html without javascript funtionality.

    This is all whole major crap. MS, Linux, Wine all suck together.

  14. d

    Delete my last posting.
    Forgot to install the IE6 with winetricks.
    And after reloading the spx file (mine was generated for the macos SDM-Version) it loads the page in sdm without errors.

    1. ama

      I had the same problem, but the proble persist although I’ve installed ie6 with winetricks. It won’t start downloading, all I get is message that I should enable Active Scripting, which I can’t in ie6.

  15. helmeloh

    with win32, I get: you have a 64-bit architecture
    with win64: This package does not work on a 64-bit installation …
    so I tried to install my old w2k: blue screen
    Thank you for the tutorial, but now I don’t know, whether I really need Windows again, because it’s anyway just for learning purposes. Otherwise Linux is sufficient for me.

  16. Marcin (kaka)

    Hi, I’ve got couple of questions:
    1 – “Click through the installer. I suggest changing the install directory to C:\SDM\ or something similar”
    I “forced” program to take this path (i type it in window). After instalation this folder is showing, but it’s empty. What is going on?

    2 – “Now you need to get the .sdx file from (the second download link you’re given). Save it. The file is named something like 100001234.sdx”
    Download by wine’s IE, or by ubuntu? Should I copy this to file with SDM in Wine?

    Please response,

  17. Jonathan

    Hi, thanks for this guide. Everything has gone swimmingly, up to the last step. I input the final command and SDM opens with this text in the window:
    ‘<input type="hidden" name="__VIEWSTATE" id="__VIEWSTATE" value="/wEPDwUJMjkwNjQwNjg1DxYCHgZGYXFVcmwFVi9XZWJTdG9yZS9BY2NvdW50L1NkbURvd25sb2FkRmFxLmFzcHg…..'
    When I click in the SDM window, my terminal says: 'fixme:seh:_abnormal_termination (void)stub'. I have to close SDM. Any clues?

  18. Stew

    I’m getting a series of errors one the “wine msiexec /i SDM.msi” step that look like this: err:msidb:get_tablecolumns column 1 out of range

  19. ama

    SDM asks for enabling Active Scripting in IE6, which I can’t do, there is no option, and therefore it won’t start downloading. I use wine 1.6.2 32 bit and Ubuntu 14.04.

  20. matt

    Thanks to this tutorial I have been able to download and run the SDM, but it does not work for downloading the .sdx file. With ie6 I got a broken page that did not have download links and with ie8 I get nothing at all. Does anyone have any further tips on how to trouble shoot this? Thanks.

  21. Matthew Stevenson

    With Linux Mint 17 and wine 1.7 using IE8 I am able to get the file (MS Office, not Windows .iso) downloaded, but when I click “LAUNCH” it gives the error that “Newer version of Windows is required.” Setting wine to use anything after XP results in no download, setting it to XP results in the newer version needed error. Any ideas around this?

  22. Alexandra

    Hi, thanks for your help! I want to download and install Windows 8 (from the dreamspark platform) on my ubuntu PC. I haven’t tried it yet because i was hopping i could download the file from an other computer which has already windows, then put it on my own computer (Ubuntu). Do you think it’s possible? I have only one shot to get the file i don’t want to ruin it
    Sorry for my english!

    My message in french may be clearer :

    Bonjour, merci pour ton aide! Je voudrais installer Windows 8 depuis la plateform dreamspark sur mon pc ubuntu. Je n’ai pas encore essayé ta technique car je me demandais s’il était possible de le télécharger depuis un PC ayant déjà windows puis le transférer ensuite sur mon PC? Je n’ai droit qu’à un téléchargement, je ne veux pas le louper!
    Merci d’avance!


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