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My question is: Is it possible to open in Virtualization solution (Virtual-Box, or any other) an installed OS (not the host one of course?

Example: I have Windows Vista in one partition, and I have a Linux installation also. Can I from the Linux one tell any virtualization SW to use the windows partition as its HD so I can have both of my systems running at the same time?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 19 '09 at 17:45

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6 Answers 6

You can take an live virtual image of your Windows OS partition with Microsofts disktovhd, which will take a VM snapshot of its current state. You could then move this VHD file to your linux partition and use Virtualbox to use it as a VM and you will have your Windows OS running in Linux.

This of course will not make any changes to your Windows partition.

Thats what I would do.

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Yes, you can... but it depends on the product you are using.

Parallels for Mac is able to run BootCamp partitions, at least.

I'm not sure of VMWare's capabilities, but I'm fairly confident that it can run and OS installed in a partition. I'm afraid that VirtualBox is behind in the race and still is not able to do it, but it should be checked out.

Hasta luego!

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I think you can do this with VMWare Workstation, and maybe Server, but definitely not with Player. VirtualBox will probably add it sooner or later. –  Joe Internet Dec 26 '09 at 16:12

Yes, but it depends on the virtualisation software.

Typically, when you set the virtual hard disk location, it is possible to use the entire hard drive as the "virtual" hard drive.

However, if you are trying to do what I think you want to do, you will get the same problem as taking out a physical hard drive and sticking it in another physical machine - complete hardware mismatches.

As far as I know, there is no way to have a single copy of Windows that you can use as a main OS and then switch it to use virtually.... Technically you can if you generalise / sysprep the machine every time you want to shut it down, however in practice, this is not very practical at all.

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Check out this post on the VirtualBox forums: Windows XP: In both VM and native (using Linux as host OS); it details the crazy hoops you have to jump through to work around the hardware problems that Wil mentioned. There are issues not only with hardware detection, but with the resulting Windows Activation. But it looks like it might work.

I've successfully done this with Linux that was installed on a drive. Instead of swapping with another system drive, I put the drive in a USB enclosure, attached it to another running Linux machine, set up the raw disk access, and attached it to a new VirtualBox VM. Pretty easy, and it worked great!

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See the articles below for how-tos for Virtualbox and VMware Workstation of using a physical disk partition in a virtual machine:

Access Physical Disk in VirtualBox- Desktop Virtualization Software
Desktop virtualization- Access Physical hard disk in VMware Virtual Machine

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Ofcourse you can run both the OS's at same time.

Use "Sun xvm Virtualbox" as your virtual machine.

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