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To clarify, I'm not asking if you can boot from USB from within VirtualBox.

I would like to make a portable version of Windows 7 that I can run from a USB drive on any machine. I'm putting a distro of Linux on my laptop, but I manage a Windows domain at work so I'd like an easier management solution than trying to use Linux tools to interface with a Windows DC(as RDP to a DC is not always an option).

The reason I'm inquiring about VirtualBox... I plan on carrying this portable installation with me and using it on multiple machines, so I would like to avoid driver conflicts (which I imagine would happen if I only installed Windows on a flash drive).

Basically, I need a way to boot an installation of Windows 7 from USB that still allows me to install/remove/update programs as if it were installed on a standard hard drive, and not freak out over different hardware configurations.

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Virtualbox uses it's own network adapters for example. So that's one install you can't avoid.
Same goes for VMWare.

But as long as you have Virtualbox on every machine you would like to use, there will be no problem running your VM. About the portable thing, you are right. Drivers would get installed all the time. Maybe you could use some "timeback" machine with the portable Windows, so everything would get reverted to the original state. (Except the files you want to keep.)

Hmm. Seems like there IS a portable VBox already available:
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/3445779/is-it-possible-to-create-portable-vm
From that question: http://www.vbox.me/
(However, it still needs those drivers and admin rights.)

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Portable-Virtualbox was one of the solutions I found before posting here. But from my understanding, it has to be ran from within an already-installed OS. I guess that isn't really an issue, just wasn't preferable. I don't see it mentioned on the website, but is it cross-platform? –  bw. Sep 23 '12 at 23:18
    
Nope, it's Windows only. But the portable Windows thing is very real. See the bottom post: communities.vmware.com/thread/235336 | I guess VMWare didn't agree on posting the modified app. But it's a way to start. –  Shiki Sep 24 '12 at 8:53
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Is Windows (8) To Go at all a possibility you can consider?

There are also tutorials available for creating a Windows 7 LiveUSB with the help of WAIK. More details here and here.

As for using the LiveUSB with different systems, the tutorial has this covered:

If you want to connect the USB drive to a different system, you may need to sysprep the drive - otherwise it may crash on boot and also could prevent it from booting on the original system again too (changes/corrupts boot files and registry)!

A Sysprep cmd file should be already present on the Windows Desktop, once the system has booted from the USB drive - if you right-click on this and Run as Administrator it will reset and shutdown the system. You can then boot the USB drive on a different system that has different hardware. This sysprep command should run from an administrator command prompt and uses the command: \Windows\System32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /oobe /generalize /shutdown

Once the computer shuts down, you can boot the USB drive on a different system which has different hardware. If you want to move it to another system again or back to the first system, don't forget to run Sysprep again before you move it!

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