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I would like to switch to Linux, but I need some stuff on my Windows XP install. I know that VMWare Workstation can convert a physical machine into a virtual machine, but it's $189. :-/

Are there any more cost-effective options? I don't mind paying a bit for it. I just am not willing to part with $189 for it.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

You can use the Vmware P2V - http://www.vmware.com/products/converter/overview.html , then the free VM player

http://www.vmware.com/download/player/

Some other VM software also supports the VMWare images.

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Virtual Box is free, and the latest version has full support for accelerated 3D graphics.

There is a forum post about creating a VDI image from an existing Win XP system here: http://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?t=1404

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What you want to do is better known as a "Physical to Virtual" migration, or P2V in short.

I have done this once manually and I know it didn't go very smoothly. Don't remember the exact steps I took, but it was something like this:

  • Take a clone of your windows xp system harddrive (I used a Bart PE bootable cd with ghost on it).
  • Install a virtual server of your choice and create a virtual machine in it.
  • Restore the clone of your harddrive into the new machine (also booting it with Bart PE to do that).
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1  
I used Vmware's converter utility (link in my answer) and I have to say it was perfect! On my old laptop, I ran the utility with a external hard drive in and it converted it without any down time. I then was able to boot the VM from my new laptop flawlessly (other than reactivating windows due to hardware change). I would recommend Vmware Converter to anyone! – William Hilsum Aug 9 '09 at 17:59

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