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I installed VirtualBox on my Ubuntu Hardy Heron installation, and I would like to use it to virtualize Windows for those rare occasions that I actually need to do something there.

Unfortunately, I don't have an installation disk at the moment, but I do have Vista already installed on a partition (it came with the machine).

Is there a way I can easily copy this partition into a .vdi virtual image?

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5 Answers 5

You can download the free version of vmware converter which can do a physical to virtual machine conversion. I believe VirtualBox can run vmware VMs.

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I'm in the process of doing this myself.

As Ferruccio says, vmware converter is one option. This will not work if your windows boot.ini is also loading another operating system, even if vista is the default.

There's a VirtualBox guide just for this but it was written for XP. Still but may be worth trying.

This "create new partition, xcopy stuff in" approach" guide (specifically post 5) is what I was planning on trying next.

Good luck, keep us updated!

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You can do this if you're using Microsoft's virtualization program, but I don't know that you can pack Windows into a .vdi file, but there is a way to run Windows as-is off of your physical partition:

http://dotneverland.blogspot.com/2008/08/running-your-physical-windows-xp.html

There's an old version of Dot Net Rocks that was all about running Virtual Machines. A lot of it is not relevant to your specific situation, but it's a good listen, and they talk about this type of migration (ie, the tools you'll need to run on the physical machine to migrate it, etc).

http://www.dotnetrocks.com/default.aspx?showNum=114

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I don't think I've actually seen exactly that from any of the virtual machine vendors. The reason, I think, is simple (assuming that the majority of virtual machines run are going to be Windows): you can't simply take an existing Windows installation and move it whole-hog onto a new machine (even onto a new virtual machine). Swapping out important components (motherboard, for example) will make the installation extremely unstable; Windows, when installed, is installed to work with the components that were there when it was installed, and moving it without a significant amount of driver prep among other things (which the MS migration tools are designed to address) will leave you with a mess.

This is amplified when you move a physical machine to a virtual machine (where you are, in effect, swapping out every hardware component).

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It's perfectly possible, even if windows is indeed a dog about the whole thing. virtualbox.org/wiki/Migrate_Windows –  RJFalconer Aug 14 '09 at 12:17
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In fact, Windows has Plug&Play built in since Windows 2K (98 had it too but wasn't that stable). The risky thing is the video drivers (e.g. NVidia or ATI specific ones) which wouldn't run on the VBX (VirtualBox) video card. To solve that : just press F8 at start up, choose "Run Windows in Safe Mode". Then press "WindowsKey + Pause", go in the "Advanced" tab and click on "Hardware manager" right click on the video card adapter driver and click uninstall. A default "640x480x16 colors VGA" will be automatically selected on next reboot. Just reboot only with VirtualBox and Windows will autoadapt ! –  Michel Nolard Oct 5 '12 at 12:26
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Another option is to access the raw partition using vbox.

http://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=20793&p=89806&hilit=raw+partition+vista#p89806

edit: Sorry missed DannySmurf's reply.

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