Boot a normal Windows installation as a virtual machine

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I got this info from this thread

This is a guide for booting a partition with a normal Windows installation on it, as a virtual machine running on Ubuntu.

Software used:

  • Ubuntu 7.10
  • VMware Server 1.0.4 build-56528
  • "Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 with all updates up to maybe a few weeks ago. I used Offline Update to install the patches. Lume 07:00, 24 February 2008 (CST) "
  • XOSL (boot loader)


  • Dell Inspiron 530 Core 2 Quad (might explain ACPI problems - the Quad CPU uses a different motherboard than the Dual. The Dual is sold with Linux pre-installed.) SATA hard disk, USB keyboard and mouse
  • 3GB RAM
  • The factory installed (but optional) NVidia video card (I guess this might have something to do with the ACPI problems.)


[edit] Risks

  • There is a chance that Microsoft will not allow you to re-activate Windows or send the SWAT team to have you arrested. You have to re-activate Windows each time you switch or use the hack discussed below. At least Microsoft has lifted the licensing restriction against running Windows Vista Basic and Premium Edition in a virtual machine [1].
  • The VMware developers recommend installing the guest OS as (only) a virtual machine and call the booting of an existing partition "advanced". "After cloning one partition to another BOTH these partitions no longer boot as virtual machines. They still boot normally without any obvious problems. Lume 03:45, 1 March 2008 (CST) "
  • I only tested this with XOSL as the boot loader. One user reported a problem trying to boot with GRUB but the author of the guide apparently did not have a problem with GRUB. I'm not sure if it makes a difference whether GRUB is installed to the MBR or the Linux partition. GRUB is installed on the Linux partition on my machine.

[edit] Prerequisites

  • An e-mail address for registration of VMware Server
  • A browser with flash, to watch a YouTube video
  • You need to know what partitions your boot loader and Windows installation are on

[edit] Windows Activation

This shows how to keep Windows Activation from tripping [2]. I'm not sure if this is forbidden by Microsoft's EULA or if it is illegal to do in your country. (Does software that emulates hardware count as "new hardware"?) Hacks like this might cease to work after a Windows update. I'm not sure if it makes any difference if Windows Genuine Advantage is installed. You can alternatively go through the usual activation process each time you switch from booting Windows inside the virtual machine, to booting Windows normally, or vice versa.

I'm not sure if activation is necessary if you are using an OEM version of Windows with a computer from a major manufacturer.

[edit] Installing VMware Server

Completely uninstall (purge) any installations of VMware you currently have installed.

[edit] Ubuntu

("I don't know if this is necessary but on my machine I have all the repositories enabled. Go to Synaptic > Settings > Repositories > Ubuntu Software then check off main, universe, restricted, and multiverse. Lume 03:45, 1 March 2008 (CST) ") Install VMware Server with Synaptic.

[edit] Registration

Go here to get serial numbers for VMware Server. It will send a verification to that e-mail address which will give you a link to the serial numbers.

[edit] Configuring VMware, file sharing

Follow this guide (skipping the VMware installation) until you get to step 12. When you get to step 12, remember you're simply selecting any partitions that you want read/write access to.

"I do not think that you're supposed to write to the same partition with more than one operating system that are running at the same time. If you want to do that you're supposed to use one operating system to share the partitions with network file sharing. I don't think you should have the partition mounted in your host OS if your host OS is Linux, but I can't test that idea right now because I lost the ability to boot my partitions : ) Lume 03:45, 1 March 2008 (CST) "

[edit] Configuring Windows

Continue following the guide with these execptions:

  • When you are configuring the hardware profile select "Wait until I select a hardware profile".
  • You don't need to install or download VMware Tools. There is an easier way to get the latest VMware Tools, later. Do install the SCSI drivers.

[edit] Starting VMware Server

Everytime you want to boot an existing partition as a virtual machine, you have to start VMware from the command line. In Ubuntu this is the command:

gksudo vmware

Once you get Windows booted as a virtual machine you will need to know that pressing CRTL + ALT will release the mouse so you can use it outside the virtual machine.

[edit] Fix USB mouse

The first time I booted it my USB mouse was not working. I thought the USB keyboard wasn't working either because I was trying to use the arrow keys to make a selection in the first dialog box that appeared, but I was able to use the tab key to make that selection. After rebooting Windows the mouse worked also. You might have to use the Windows Key to reboot, but I think the prompt allowed me to do so.

[edit] Install VMware Tools

After booting Windows as a virtual machine, go to the menu at the top of the VMware Server window, select VM, then "Install VMware Tools".

[edit] Enabling USB devices

To enable USB first go to "Edit virtual machine settings" click "Add" then "USB Controller ". While you're running your virtual machine, click VM / Removable Devices / USB Devices. If you don't see any of your USB devices see fixes for USB problems with virtual machines.

In any case you need to dismount any USB devices in Ubuntu before you should enable them in your virtual machine. Otherwise I get an "unsafe removal of device" warning.

[edit] Enabling sound

To enable sound input and output, first go to "Edit virtual machine settings", click "Add" then "Sound Adapter".

( Sound does not always work with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.)

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