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Conversion of harddrive partition
 into virtual machine

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There are several ways to convert Windows partition to VM and you can use either real harddrive partitions or files to store the image on a new computer (or the same computer).

  1. By changing setting on your machine to make it VMware/Microsoft Virtual PC compatible and created Ghost 9 image. That includes but is not limited to (you might need to experiment):

    Then load the ghost image upon VMware Boot.  If it boots OK and do not blue screen you will need to call Microsoft to re-activate your OS. Otherwise you need to perform another iteration.  Look at the boot log to find what caused the blue screen.

  2. By using VMware Converter for workstation to virtual pc and virtual machine migration - VMware(Ghost 9)
    VMware Converter can be run on a wide variety of hardware and supports most commonly used versions of the Microsoft Windows operating systems. With this robust, enterprise class migration tool you can:
    • Quickly and reliably convert local and remote physical machines into virtual machines without any disruption or downtime.
    • Complete multiple conversions simultaneously with a centralized management console and an intuitive conversion wizard.
    • Convert other virtual machine formats such as Microsoft Virtual PC and Microsoft Virtual Server or backup images of physical machines such as Symantec Backup Exec LiveState Recovery or Ghost 9 to VMware virtual machines.
    • Restore VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) images of virtual machines to running virtual machines.
    • Clone and backup physical machines to virtual machines as part of your disaster recovery plan.

    Choose from two available editions of VMware Converter

    • VMware Converter Starter is a free download available to everyone. It is an easy to use product for single conversions.
    • VMware Converter Enterprise is a robust, enterprise-class product for managing and automating large scale conversions.

    Learn more about the two editions.

  3. A plugin specifically created to import ghosted images into a virtual machine. Please see this thread:

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[Jan 19, 2011] How to create .iso image of running dedicated Linux box



How to create .iso image of running dedicated Linux box? Dear All,

I need to create .iso image of dedicated linux box running on Debian 5. I need to create a new Xen VM using that image.

I have tried clonesys script which created the .iso image but it ended up with kernel panic error as it was unable to mount root partition.

Please share your experience.

Regards, Karan

Dan Frincu

I've been using this successfully for a couple of years now, it makes an bootable ISO with the operating system and all of the installed software and configuration files. It basically makes a rsync of the installed directories containing data, creates a compressed image and then makes the bootable ISO using information from the LiveCD the OS was installed from. This is the high level view of it, it's inner workings are more complex.

There are several options you can use when creating the ISO, the built-in help will explain more on that. I use the backup option myself.

One thing to keep in mind is that the size of the ISO will be in direct relationship to the size of the installed OS. I've made a setup for users in the company, where new installations (Ubuntu) are done through an image made with the remastersys script, but it's a setup containing just the OS and the necessary software and settings, without any additional data, to take up less space, and the ISO is still almost 2GB in size.

If the ISO size exceeds 4.3-4.4GB, and want to perform an installation of something else than a Xen VM, then I would recommend setting up a PXE server. That's what I've done, but due to the fact that network installations are easier to perform on a large scale deployments. Also on Xen, I use the PXE as well, even though I have setup the ISO library :)

Hope this helps.

Regards, Dan

Sergiy Khohlov

Question is not fully correct. 1) Are you use this didicated server as VM ? In this case you should create a backup using lvcreate 2) If you have dedicated server (real PC) answer is not so simple a) create snapshot of used partitions b) create VM based on Debian c) Add created snapshot to lvm d) update config of xen VM using information from your server

Keith Myers

I have to also agree with Dan, remastersys does appear to be a very solid tool. I have managed to use Remastersys to turn a physical machine into a live boot USB (remastersys=>unetbootin)

Mike Pellatt

If the system's panicing at boot because it can't mount the root filesystem, then most likely all that needs doing is updating initrd to load the correct drivers and mount the correct root filesystem device node. RedHat/Centos systems can do this nicely by booting the install system in recovery mode, chrooting into the "live" system, and doing a mkinitrd from there. I know Debian can do the same, but don't remember offhand how to. 10 mins with man and google should track that down for you.

Randy Ison

Ubuntu's USB Startup disk creator can incorporate a remastersys .Complete System Backup .iso file and restore an image to a hard drive in a few minutes to a system that supports USB boot. The image can also be restored to a variety of different pc and laptop makes and models. This is helpful in build and test environments where an intensively configured environment can be imaged and then propagated to other systems.

[PPT] VMware Converter Best Practices

Convert Physical Windows Systems Into Virtual Machines To Be Run On A Linux Desktop [Archive] - MEPISlovers Forums

kmathern 06-12-2007, 02:02 AM ronnielsen1,

That vmware converter mentioned in one of the earlier links doesn't work for Win9x versions. (The description of it say its for NT, 2k & XP)

I've have gotten my physical install of Win98SE (on partition hda1) to run in a virtual machine using vmware-server.

In the add hardware wizard portion of vmware-server where you create/edit your virtual machines you can add a harddrive to your vm. When your adding the harddrive you are given 3 choices

a) create a new virtual disk,
b) reuse an existing virtual disk
c) use a physical disk

I chose the physical disk option.

You then specify which physical drive (in my case just one - hda) and whether the entire disk or just certain partitions (I chose the entire drive). When I boot the vm I actually get the same grub menu as I get on a real boot.

You have to let windows re-detect all the virtual hardware versus whats really on your system. This can take a long time and many reboots (virtual).

You will be asked many times during the hardware detection for the location of the different .cab files from the windows system disk.

In my case it seemed better to have the contents of my windows system disk easily accessible in a folder on one of my windows drives versus the real cd drive or a mounted iso file.

I'm probably in trouble if I want to go back and and run it in the normal manner (although it was'nt working that great anyway - i had'nt done a real boot into it since a motherboard replacement a couple of months ago)

Convert Physical Windows Systems Into Virtual Machines To Be Run On A Linux Desktop HowtoForge - Linux Howtos and Tutorials

Does not work for SATA

Submitted by FracturedSingleton on Thu, 2007-02-22 23:04.

Just an FYI here. The converter will not work if the only drive you are converting is SATA. It creates a VM that will not boot.

Disappointed with VMware Converter and Fusion So Far - O'Reilly Mac DevCenter Blog

After hearing and reading so many good things about VMware Fusion, I was really eager to try it out. So I pre-ordered it last week to get the discounted price and then installed the production version (Build 51348) this evening.

I also decided to try out the VMware Converter and was a little annoyed to discover it only runs under Windows. So, I installed it on a PC running Windows Vista Business Edition and tried to convert Microsoft Virtual PC CentOS 4.4 Linux VHD file. No luck. It claimed the file is corrupted (it is not). Then, I tried to convert a Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition VHD file. This time it said it could not identify the OS. I moved over to a PC running Windows XP SP2. Same problem with the CentOS 4.4 Linux VHD file. But, it recognized the Windows Server VHD file this time.

Ed Burns's Blog Knoppix, Partimage, VMware, mmmm

I wanted to convert the OSes installed in my real hard disk partitions into VMs. Here is the high level process I will use.

  1. Install VMware Workstation 5.5 under the Windows XP OS, using an external disk for extra space and to contain the VMs for the guest OSes.
  2. For each OS on a real partition on my disk
    1. Use a Knoppix 3.7 CD I had made years ago to boot the Toshiba laptop. Once booted into Knoppix, use partimage to create partition images of all the OS partitions on the machine. Swap partitions needn't be imaged, for obvious reasons, and data partitions needn't be imaged because they can simply be copied. I stored the partimage files on an external disk.
    2. Create a VM for that OS, storing it on an external disk.
    3. Boot the VM into Knoppix
    4. Install VMware tools into the running Knoppix instance so I can access the partimage files using the "shared folders" feature of VMware.
    5. Use partimage to restore the OS partition into the virtual hard disk of the VM.
    6. Re-install the appropriate boot loader for that OS to enable that OS to boot.
  3. Once VMs had been created, on an external disk, for all the OSes on real partitions, completely and totally wipe, defrag, and re-install from factory media the laptop. After the factory restore has completed, run Windows update however many times I need to get the machine totally up to snuff and current. Re-install virus protection software and other essential goodies. Note, on the core, non virtual OS, I plan to install very little real software, just stuff that absolutely has to have access to the real hardware.

MakeVM Virtual machine and virtual disk management and conversion utility for VMWare, Parallels and Virtual PC

Convert exsisting Windows install into VMWare - IT WORKED. - Topic Powered by eve community


Wise, Aged Ars Veteran

Tribus: Hackersack, NJ

Registered: September 05, 2003

Posts: 468
Posted December 17, 2005 17:21 Edit or Delete Message

Anyone have any good tips on how to do this?

I want to take an existing install of w2k, and using ghost move it to a vmware image.

I guess that this will be sort of like trying to move an exsisting windows install to a different motherboard etc.. because all the stuff will be different. VMware will emulate a totally differnt disk controller, video card, motherboard, bios, pci etc.

I tried to move the image directly using ghost and when I boot up vmware I get a INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE blue screen right now.

Is there a good method on how to do this properly in w2K? I especially would like to leave my exsisting install intact if possible on the other partition.

Any ideas?

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Milo_Hoffman, December 18, 2005 14:59

Ars Scholae Palatinae

Tribus: REM ReplaceToken

Registered: July 24, 2001

Posts: 4032
Posted December 17, 2005 17:30 Hide PostEdit or Delete Message

Milo - Hat Monster posted something while back about how to change motherboards. I actually am in the process of finishing up a doc on it as well.

ON your old system, open up control panel and change all your Bus drivers to "standard"
Change anything AGP to "standard" as well.

If you want, Shoot me an e-mail and I might be able to get this doc out tonight to you.

Before you ghost your system, I recommend removing the hardware as well. Then load the ghost image upon VMware Boot. Its actually pretty simple.

/edit and you are from jersey as well.. My home state,

Ignored post by dim posted December 17, 2005 17:30 Show Post

"Tinkerer from Hell"
Ars Tribunus Militum
et Networking Matrix Moderator
et Subscriptor

Registered: January 10, 2001

Posts: 4135

Posted December 17, 2005 17:56 Hide PostEdit or Delete Message

This is the VMware supported way of doing this:

Windows partition into a virtual machine

Dual-booters: You can turn your physical Windows partition into a virtual machine that can be run from Linux. Tech site oopsilon runs through the process which requires Windows XP, Linux partitions and VMware Player. The process is not beginner-friendly, as it requires a decent amount of terminal work. Although the tutorial is written for Gentoo, it should be applicable to any Linux distro. Be sure to backup both operating systems before trying this tutorial as it requires modifying your master boot record (MBR) which can be a bear to restore if anything goes wrong. Looking for a similar (and simpler) tutorial for Windows and Mac? We've got you covered.

Convert Physical Windows Systems Into Virtual Machines To Be Run On A Linux Desktop [Archive] - MEPISlovers Forums

I have not tried this how-to (, but I thought some people here might find it interesting.


06-10-2007, 11:57 PM

I HAVE tried this! It's awesome. Here's a link to a discussion on the pclinuxos forums...
I've not run it in Mepis, so I can't say how well it'd work there, but it worked very well on my PCLinuxOS partition.

Here's a couple shots of WinXP Pro running in vmware player inside of Simply Mepis 32 6.5 :)

Are those screen shots of your actual XP install? ( running you actual hard disk install) I am looking around for verification that this works. I really have no use for it myself but know some people who would.


06-11-2007, 02:38 AM

Are those screen shots of your actual XP install? ( running you actual hard disk install) I am looking around for verification that this works. I really have no use for it myself but know some people who would.

They ARE actual screenshots of an actual install of WinXP Pro. I found the information about this for Windows software on th PCLinuxOS forum. A BUNCH of GREAT folks over there as well! I like to "tinker" and this was another of those types of toys for me. I'm SURE it could be very useful to some. What the software does is make a .vmx file of your Win install. I saved mine across to a networked box and then copied it to my Linux install. VIOLA instant cool!
I hope this helps!

MSFN Forums How to convert Ghost Images

Hopefully you can help me. I need to convert several ghost images of older PCs into some format that can be run in either Microsoft Virtual Machine 2004 or VMware. I know that you can link virtual machine and VMware to iso CD images. That would be ideal. If there is some way to convert them into actual virtual machines, then even better.

I've already tried using WinImage. It's great at creating virtual images of existing PCs, but I have images I need to convert. Any ideas? All help would be greatly appreciated.



Jun 26 2006, 09:13 AM

Well VMware Esx uses a product called P2V (physical to Virtual). As far as the microsoft work around it's kinda annoying, but it can be done.

You use ghost to capture the snapshot of the drive to your *.gho file. Used ghost to create a bootable diskette. Get a full copy of WinISO and create a bootable CD using the ghost bootable diskette you've made. Or go to and copy ghost into the disk.

Next copy the *.gho file into the Bootable cd iso you made with WinISO. Make sure that ghost is on there. Now Mount the iso as your "CD" in the virtual machine and boot. Ghost the VM disk as you normally would on the VM.



Jun 26 2006, 10:23 AM

There's a simple work around. Restore the image within vmware with somethin like Live state recovery desktop which can restore a ghost image to different hardware or virtual machine.

if you used sysprep on the images before you captured them and added the hdd drivers using sysprep then you can just create a large enough virtual disk and drop your image into the vm.

You also need to ave compatiable HAL's though that is not as critical to the VM as it is to a real system.

You can also do this in reverse, capture your vm with ghost and deply it to a rela machine. just be sure to have the ide controllers and a compatible HAL installed.

The Open Source Advocate VMware Converter and Microsoft Licensing

I have been happily using Ubuntu for quite a while now, and I don't really use the Windows partition on my hard drive. The only thing I have ever needed was my Groupwise archive that contained some old emails.

Recently, I heard about a new tool called VMware Converter. This free tool can be used to create a VMware image from a real installation of Windows. I thought it would be a good idea to convert my Windows partition into a virtual machine so that I could simply fire up Windows while I am running Ubuntu.

I booted into Windows, downloaded the VMware Converter, and followed the wizard. After a few hours of processing, I had a VMware image of my Windows installation. Everything appeared to be working, so I booted into Ubuntu and fired up VMware Player and started the new virtual machine I had just created.

Everything looked good as Windows started to boot inside the virtual machine. However, I quickly ran into a brick-wall. Licensing. Yuck! Windows told me that I didn't have a valid license for my operating system. What? This is the same legal copy of Windows that I was using just a few minutes ago! Apparently the change in hardware made Windows think I had illegally copied it to a new system. This is so frustrating. Some people have suggested that I call Microsoft to have them re-activate this OS, but I don't think I will do that. Instead, I will consider this another reason NOT to use proprietary software.

I shake my head in disbelief when I watch fellow colleagues spend hours of their time installing and configuring a "Licensing Server". Can you believe they even have such a thing? Those servers don't even serve a real purpose or function!

Posted by Tristan Rhodes at 8:25 AM

Labels: Open Source, Ubuntu


nirvdrum said...
To each his own. I shake my head in disbelief when I watch colleagues spending days doing things that are trivial with non-free software. There is a balance somewhere.

FWIW, the call to Microsoft only takes a few minutes. I've had to do it a couple times. Annoying for sure, but simple.

4/25/2007 2:25 PM
Claudio said...

I have a windows laptop from work (Windows). I installed Ubuntu to use it as my home computer.

I use Windows to connect to my work vpn (checks if anti-virus is up to date and some soft installed). I found it a little silly to have an untouched windows partition and waste the space on a second windows install in vmware.

The Raw disk funcionality of vmware solved my probs! Just import your real windows install in a new vm and you'd be accessing the raw partitions directly. Howto's can be found @ vmware (in fact no more the creation of an extra hardware profile in windows and an advanced vm creation). However, make a backup and follow the howto. It's works like a charm for already 2 years on this laptop, but I have seen people lose their windows data when taking shortcuts on the Howto.


4/25/2007 2:50 PM
Anonymous said...
Yeah right, having to make a 30-60 seconds long phone call is absolutely horrible! Instead of that you spent like 15 minutes on writing a meaningless and biased rant..
4/25/2007 4:30 PM
Anonymous said...
Boy, the Microsoft astroturfers are out in force today!

The call to Microsoft only takes a few minutes. Except when they no longer will give you license keys or just flatly refuse you....

4/25/2007 4:45 PM
nirvdrum said...
If you've had Microsoft refuse to unlock your key, I'm sorry to hear that. It hasn't been my experience, which is the only thing I can draw from. I've had to do it several times, and while annoying, it never lasted more than a few minutes. My guess is that the people on the other end of the phone realize it's bull and don't want to have to deal with it either.

If the only thing you have to call me an astroturfer is a recounting of my own experiences, then I guess I'm an astroturfer. I don't work for MS, never had, and don't make money selling MS solutions, however. So, that's an awfully broad definition you have.

4/25/2007 7:01 PM
Aaron said...
You have to be careful when trying to move Windows into a VM or even load the Windows partition in a VM using Raw Disk if you have any software that checks for hardware configurations also. I made a few attempts at creating a way to boot my Windows partition both in a VM and natively (mostly for ipod syncing before I discovered that there are open source alternatives) and somewhere along the way the music I bought off iTunes decided that I had enabled it on 4 different computers (5 are allowed), and since they were actually the same system, 3 of these are irretrievably lost.

I've since stopped buying DRM music and haven't booted into Windows for at least a month now that I managed to get Photoshop to work in Wine.

4/25/2007 9:50 PM
dmp said...
well, there is another option here...


i snagged a copy of their virtualization tool, installed it pretty easily (quicker and easier than Parallels which costs $$ and never completely worked correctly) and once I got a bootable Windows 2000 install CD built (get nLite! for that job) i very quickly installed Win2000 on VirtualBox.

VirtualBox works and is free.

i now can run win2k in a window on ubuntu for those bits of software i just can't give up...Photoshop CS2 and VideoReDo for frame accurate MPEG editing...

in fact i like the combination so well i am thinking about buying a really big flat screen, a new well supported video card and switching my desktop boxes over to ubuntu and just using VirtualBox to handle the non-free, still-runs-in-Microsoft stuff....

check it out... it rocks.

4/25/2007 10:32 PM
Anonymous said...
Calls to Microsoft licensing "only a couple of minutes" ?? Yeah right. I'm a consultant who often has to place such calls for my clients. It's NEVER 2 minutes... more like 20, often more than that.

The record so far: 3 hours! Non-stop bounces and apologies from licensing to tech support and back because the geniuses could not figure out their own system...

My Mac & Linux clients are laughing...

4/26/2007 2:44 AM
nirvdrum said...
My heart bleeds for you.
4/26/2007 12:02 PM
Chuck said...
The thing I don't get is that people find it acceptable that you should have to call to ask permission to re/install software on your machine that you've already purchased a license for.
4/27/2007 5:05 PM
RamaSubbu SK said...
What you are trying to convey here?
5/01/2007 7:05 AM
Anonymous said...
Microsoft says a new licence is required for every VM.

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Convert Physical Windows Systems Into Virtual Machines To Be Run ...

How Convert Physical to Virtual This document lists steps required to create a virtual machine in VMWare
from an existing physical machine. These instructions were originally written for the VMWare ESX Server product, but have been tested and verified by the writer on one single conversion in VMWare Workstation v4.0.

How to Convert a Windows 2000 TS to a VM

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