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I have a system image in VirtualBox as a .vdi file. I am aware of how to convert this to other formats of VM using VBoxManage.

I'd like to boot this image locally on a number of clients which currently have no OS installed.
What's the simplest way to boot into this VM from bare metal?

I'm willing to install some minimal OS if necessary. Is this even possible?
Maybe there's something out there along the lines of VDI Blaster that will load a locally stored VM?

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If you convert it to Microsofts VHD image format, using a native VHD boot should be possible. AFAIK that means you use the MS bootloader (aka boot.ini) to have it boot from a local VHD file containing a disk image. Converting is possible using VirtualBox's command line tools.

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This looks like a good solution but only for Windows 7. I'm interested in a process to boot arbitrary OS images. – Josh Apr 6 '12 at 13:10

Have you considered simply imaging the drive inside the running VM using somehting like TrueImage or CloneZilla? It requires hand-holding each client to restore the image, but it most certainly would make the VM content run on bare metal.

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My brief research indicated that this type of approach would run into some of the same barriers as p-to-v in windows. The virtualized OS would be looking for different hardware than was presented by the physical machine and thus may not run. I'm willing to give it a try tomorrow though. I'd still appreciate other suggestions in the meantime. – Josh Apr 5 '12 at 20:19
That is correct, it could fail to work. Using commercial tools like TrueImage, you have the option of what Aronis calls Universal Restore. It fixes (among others) the most problematic part of restoring: Adding missing drivers for the new host's disk subsystem. – Paul Apr 5 '12 at 20:35

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