What Would You QEMU?

Lightning talk presented virtually at the 2021 BitCurator Users Forum.

QEMU (Quick EMUlator) is a powerful open-source program for emulation and virtual machine management. In this lightning talk, I discuss its potential application in digital archive and curation workflows, including: running BitCurator in a virtual machine; running Windows and/or MacOS virtual machines inside BitCurator; running legacy software systems and applications for use in file assessment and migration; and as a delivery vehicle for access to born-digital materials on “incompatible” systems. I summarize this utility with a brief case study, in which I worked with another Yale colleague to assess the contents of a Windows 98-era file using a stand-alone QEMU-based virtual machine that could be shared and run on any Windows 10 machine, no administrative access or installation necessary. Ultimately it is my hope to encourage more familiarity with QEMU in the BitCurator Consortium, and draw attention to the need for more, accessible documentation and a community of practice around this tool’s use in digital preservation workflows.