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I'm hoping to do something similar to the way you can install Windows on a Mac's 'Boot Camp' partition, but then you can also open that partition as a Virtual Machine using Parallels or VMware from within OS X. That way for the quick stuff, you just fire up the VM, but for the more 'intense' things, you can boot into Windows natively. The difference here being I want to use Ubuntu instead of Windows. (Don't care if I use Apple's 'boot camp' mechanism or a third-party boot manager either.)

I have current licenses of Parallels, VMware and I also am running Virtualbox 4, but I don't see docs with any that describe this scenario. So can it be done?

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You might find this interesting: stackoverflow.com/q/3269792/70482; of course, your target is a little more than that. –  nik May 14 '11 at 7:05
    
Yeah, that looks like it's changing from a VM to a bootable image. I basically want to use an existing bootable partition in a VM like you can with Boot Camp. (Actually, I'm going to update the title to make that more clear.) –  MarqueIV May 14 '11 at 7:08
    
It is clear. I was not mistaken. I hope that SO answer will give you a brief on the activities involved and hence the complexity. –  nik May 14 '11 at 7:24
    
I can understand there being very much complexity converting a VM to a boot partition as that article clearly discusses, but there shouldn't be complexity booting an existing image as a VM, just as it's trivial to create and boot a new VM from a Boot Camp partition, but going the reverse I don't even think is possible without a reinstall. Again, other direction. Still, was a good read. Thx. –  MarqueIV May 14 '11 at 7:47
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QEMU can do something like this, where you would boot like qemu -hda /dev/sdaX to boot off of a physical partition. I don't know if the tools you mention have an equivalent. –  new123456 May 14 '11 at 23:13
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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

There are two issues to tackle: 1) Reading an ext3/4 file system in OS X 2) Mounting that disk in a VM.

There are drivers out there for the first, but being a native Linux guy, I don't have any experience with those.

I believe what you are looking for in #2 is referred to by VirtualBox as "raw disk access". It is possible to create an "image" that is just a pointer to the physical disk. The process is outlined here: http://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch09.html#rawdisk though your mileage may vary.

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Haven't actually attempted this yet, but per the comments on that page, I think this is exactly what I'm looking for so I'm marking this as accepted. I'll come back and add more if I'm successful, or more importantly, if it doesn't actually work. –  MarqueIV May 25 '11 at 5:11
    
Sweet--good luck –  Bryan Agee May 26 '11 at 2:54
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