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I'm a .net developer at work, but I'm doing more and more development in ruby on rails at home and I'm considering switching to Linux as my primary OS at home. However, I won't be able to totally give up Windows (I wouldn't want to really) so I'm wondering if this setup is possible:

  • Dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 7
  • The Windows 7 instance boots to a virtual hard drive
  • While running Ubuntu I want to be able to use Virtual Box or some virtualization host to boot Windows 7 to that same VHD and run within Ubuntu so I don't have to restart for one small thing

Is this setup possible? It seems to me like it should be, but I've not messed with the boot to VHD feature at all so I don't know.

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I wouldn't have thought it would be (easily) possible.

The reason is, booting from VHD is simply a feature that allows you to do testing, and various other activities, then like a snapshot, delete/rollback/whatever the vhd file and it will still work.

However, the files on the VHD are still a normal installation of Windows and are tied to one set of hardware.

(Rewritten the next paragraph about 4 times and it still doesn't sound right - if anyone else has anything better, please edit!)

That being said, when you mount this VHD as the virtual machine hard drive - the HAL will get tied to the virtual machine - the only way around it would be to copy the VHD file into another virtual machine hard drive (VHD, VMDK or other), mount that new one as the virtual machine then install the Windows boot loader so you can launch the actual VHD as a VHD Windows... (However, I have never tried, but I assume this should work).

Lastly, as I have written in a few other answers, the only real way around this would be to run something such as sysprep with generalise every time you shutdown/reboot your machine which should remove the hardware ties - however, this is time consuming when you restart and is not very practical.

... Honestly, if you have a fast machine and unless you really need a graphically intensive application, you are much better off just completely running Windows virtualised - or two separate instances and a shared file space.

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I wasn't even thinking about the hardware ties. Unless someone knows something we don't, I'll probably just run it completely virtual. Thanks – Max Schmeling Dec 31 '09 at 15:55

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