Setting up a Windows development environment

This tutorial explains how to quickly set up a Windows development environment in which you can build Windows applications and device drivers. This is useful when you want to develop the S2E guest tools for Windows (e.g, the s2e.sys guest driver) or simply want to build and run various Windows applications in S2E.


This tutorial is not about how to compile and run S2E itself on a Windows machine. We do not support running S2E on Windows hosts yet, but we got reports that S2E builds and runs in the Windows 10 WSL environment or in a docker container.

Throughout this tutorial, you will use various scripts located in the ~/s2e/env/source/s2e/scripts/windows directory. This folder contains scripts that simplify the setup of Windows development VMs. Most scripts assume you have a Linux host and want to setup a clean Windows VM for development (e.g., building Windows-specific components of S2E, such as the s2e.sys guest driver).


  1. You have a working S2E environment on a Linux host machine

  2. You have a working hypervisor (VMware, Virtual Box, etc.)

  3. You have access to a 64-bit Windows 10 1909 ISO (e.g. through MSDN)

  4. You have an Internet connection (the installation will download several GBs)

  5. You have enough disk space and free memory (you will need at least 60 GB of disk and 4 GB of RAM for the VM).

1. Provisioning a Windows development VM

First, you need to build a Windows VM. At the end of this section, you will have a Windows 10 VM with Visual Studio 2019 Community Edition, the Windows Driver Kit, and an SSH server. Visual Studio will be installed with all C/C++ development options (support for XP, 7, 8.1, 10). You will be able to SSH into this VM, rsync files, and do remote builds.

  1. Install a Windows 10 VM. Use 60GB of disk and 4GB of RAM for the guest. Any 64-bit Windows 10 version should work, but it is recommended you use the latest one (the scripts were tested with version 1909).

    Preferably use s2e as login for the admin user. Most scripts assume s2e as default user name, so you will not have to override this user name later. Other than that, a vanilla installation will do.

    When you get to the Windows desktop, take a snapshot so that you can restore quickly in case of problems later.

  2. Provision the guest. Open PowerShell with admin rights and run the Setup-DevHost.ps1 script. You will need to access this script from the guest, e.g., by mapping your host directories to the guest using shared folders on VirtualBox/VMware.

    Wait until the script terminates. It is fully automated, no manual intervention is required.


    Do NOT run the provisioning script on your host Windows environment. The script assumes a fresh Windows installation in a VM and may damage your existing Visual Studio environment if you already have one. If you still wish to run the script on your host (e.g., you do not have Visual Studio or want to set up SSH), carefully examine its content to make sure it will not interfere. Delete problematic sections if necessary.


    The script requires Internet access to run successfully. It mainly uses the Chocolatey package manager in order to install software.


    You may install any additional packages that you want in the guest. Chocolatey comes with a vast list of supported Windows applications. Just add choco install -y package_name to the PowerShell script.

  3. Check installation correctness. Open Visual Studio and try to build the S2E guest tools in x86/x64 debug/release combinations. You should not get any errors.

  4. Check remote connection. Check that you can SSH into the VM. You should get a Windows command prompt.

  5. Finally, do not forget to take a snapshot.

2. Building Visual Studio projects remotely

In this section, we explain how to build Visual Studio projects in the VM that you built in the previous section.

a. Copy your public SSH key into the guest VM. This is important, as the remote build script would ask you to type the VM password several times, which is not convenient.

$ cd ~/s2e/env/source/s2e/scripts/windows

# This script resembles the normal ssh-copy-id but is designed to work for Windows remote machines.
# Adapt the user name and address accordingly.
$ ./ [email protected]
  1. Checkout some Visual Studio projects to your Linux host. For example, like this:

$ cd
$ git clone
  1. Choose some project to build remotely, e.g., filesys/miniFilter/scanner:

$ REMOTE_HOST= REMOTE_FOLDER=myfolder ~/s2e/env/source/s2e/scripts/windows/ \

This command copies the contents of Windows-driver-samples/filesys/miniFilter/scanner to c:\users\s2e\myfolder on the remote machine, then launches msbuild in that folder. Finally, it rsyncs back the remote folder into the local one. You can customize the target build directory, the host address, the user name, and other options using environment variables (see the script header for details).

When this command completes, you should have all the build artifacts locally, in the Windows-driver-samples/filesys/miniFilter/scanner folder. Look for *.exe and *.sys files.

3. Use case: building and running a Windows device driver

This section assumes that you successfully built the Windows-driver-samples/filesys/miniFilter/scanner solution. If no, go to the previous section.

First, we need to create a few symbolic links to the the project binaries, as follows. This is needed because s2e-env looks for the driver’s binaries in the same directory as the driver’s inf file.

$ cd Windows-driver-samples/filesys/miniFilter/scanner
$ ln -s filter/x64/Debug/scanner.sys
$ ln -s filter/x64/Debug/scanner.sys.lines
$ ln -s user/x64/Debug/scanuser.exe
$ ln -s user/x64/Debug/scanuser.exe.lines

The *.lines files above contain debug information in JSON format. The S2E coverage tool expects them to have the same name as the binary with .lines appended.

Then create the project, run it, and get code coverage. For more details, please refer to the Windows driver testing tutorial.

$ cd ~/s2e/env
$ s2e new_project ~/Windows-driver-samples/filesys/miniFilter/scanner/scanner.inf

# ... edit projects/scanner/ to start the driver ...
$ cd projects/scanner
$ ./
# ... wait for the analysis to complete ...

$ cd ~/s2e/env
$ s2e coverage --sympath ~/Windows-driver-samples/filesys/miniFilter/scanner/ lcov --html scanner

It is important to add the symbol search path to the coverage command, otherwise the driver’s source will not be found and the HTML coverage report will not be generated. In principle, the *.lines files already contain paths to the source, however these paths are valid only on the build machine. The coverage command will therefore try to match these paths against the given search paths.