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Booting into a Virtual Machine from a physical installation

(there are a lot of similar questions but I did not find one which seems to fit my scenario):

I have a PC with

  • Windows XP installed on Partition 1,
  • Ubuntu 12.10 Linux on Partition 2 and
  • data (files) on Partition 3 (NTFS).

I'd like to use Ubuntu Linux as the main OS which is booted directly and I would like to use Windows XP in a Virtual Machine (with Freeware like VMWare Player, Virtual Box ...) but I'd like to have the possibility to also directly boot Windows XP from Partition 1.

So: is it possible to use Partition one as the main hard drive for a virtual machine as well as for dual boot alternately?

This seems to be possible with VMWare Workstation (see here: http://superuser.com/a/70003/92184) which however is not free AFAIK - would it also be possible with a Freeware Virtual Machine?

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marked as duplicate by techie007, BBlake, Dennis, 8088, Nifle Nov 1 '12 at 22:04

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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I don't have time to test this for you, so I am not posting it as a full answer, but this looks like what you want, Virtualbox can do it (and I have in the past, but I forget how - if I get a chance tonight and you are un-answered, I will try to get back on): theunixtips.com/… –  nerdwaller Nov 1 '12 at 19:08
    
@nerdwaller: please post this as an answer! With the desciption in the linked page (thanks a lot!!) this is a very helpful answer which deserves credit! (you don't have to test it - I'll do) –  Martin Nov 1 '12 at 19:12
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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Here you go Martin, glad you find it as helpful. I generally try to prove things work before I give people a rabbit to chase!

VirtualBox : Use Raw Disk to load Windows under Linux

Here I explain how to use a Physical disk partition for a guest OS under VirtualBox. This is also called Raw Disk partition use for VirtualBox. My use case was to run WindowsXP as guest OS from a physical installation under Linux and still be able to boot up the system in same Windows installation when needed. My system is running Ubuntu 11.04 on core2 duo, 3GB memory, two hard disks (one with Ubuntu and other with WindowsXP installation), with VirtualBox 4.0.4. Process... (continued in link)

I have run something similar before a few years back, but I do not recall the step-by-step. Virtualbox is highly recommended as a VM program (cross platform as well). Once you get it set up, you may hit a few snags if you boot to physical again since the VM doesn't fully emulate the environment you installed it on (especially if you install the Guest Additions).

Note: Looks like VirtualBox's website is temporarily offline, but it should be in the Ubuntu repos for you if you do not have it.

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Yes, it is possible. You already mentioned Vmware workstation. That has a 30 day trail. And the machines it creates can be used in the free Vmware player.

I am sure other software can do similar things. I just have the most experience with vmware.

However the hardware simulated by your virtual machine will not perfectly match the hardware of your original computer. Thus windows will complain about drivers and it will want to be reactivated. This will change the windows installation on disk. When (if) you boot windows natively it will complain again since the hardware will have reverted to native.

Instead you might consider trying it first with a copy of your installation. Use the vmware converter for this. If that does not work, then:

  1. Make a copy of your current windows installation.
  2. Test the copy.
  3. Run sysprep with generalise (removes drivers)
  4. Create the virtual harddisk.
  5. Optionally restore the original windows from your backup.
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thanks for the hint on the free trial and the possible drawbacks! As I definitely need changes in the real win xp transferred to virtual and vice versa, I'm noz sure if a converted vm would be a good solution –  Martin Nov 1 '12 at 19:15
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