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I need to boot a physical machine using a virtual hard-disk (.vhd). The virtual hard-disk will be created in a hyper-visor like virtual box and will have the operating system installed on it. So, in simple words, i need to be able to make the PC treat the virtual hard disk as a physical hard disk at boot time.

Any pointers on this would be extremely helpful.


Thanks for the replies guys, but I need to be able to boot Linux. And it'll be helpful if we could use GRUB to do it instead of the windows boot loader.

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migrated from May 25 '11 at 20:11

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As long as you've sysprepped the image before deployment and storage controller drivers are available, there shouldn't be any significant issues.

Windows 7 supports native VHD booting as well (Enterprise and Ultimate), so you could just copy the sysprepped image to your target PC, do some magic in BCDEdit, and be off and running.

The internet is full of guides for booting from a VHD, like this one, and this one. There's some limitations too: like these.

Why do you want to boot the VHD, rather than capturing and deploying an image?

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The capability to boot from properly prepared VHDs is actually built in to the Windows 7 bootloader. this article was originally written for a prerelease build of Windows 7 but still applies, and explains the step to get this working. You'll have to use some Microsoft virtualization product to create the image, the free Virtual PC will do.

For Linux, vmlite makes a product called VBoot that's essentially GRUB modified to boot VHDs just like it can currently do ISO/IMG. here are instructions to set it up from an existing Windows install on the machine. Unfortunately support and documentation for vboot seems to be sparse, and I see a lot of people complaining about it.

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