I recently upgraded to Windows 7 (from Windows Vista). I assumed, unwisely, that because it was an upgrade it wouldn't need to screw around with the MBR. However, it apparently did, with the result that my Linux partition is now invisible until such time as I reinstall LILO.

I don't really want to do that because I was planning to virtualize my Linux partition anyway. I also don't really want to nuke the partition, create a VDI from my backup, and recreate the partition with it - I can if that's the only option, but I'm hoping someone can give me an easier way to directly import the existing partition. To add insult to injury, whenever I search for this on Google, I get instructions on virtualizing an existing Windows partition, which begin by talking about how it's much harder to do this for Windows than for Linux.

So - anyone? What's the easiest way to do this? (Note: the soon-to-be guest OS is Debian 64-bit, if that's relevant.)

1 Answer 1


This is documented in the VirtualBox help files ("Advanced topics", then "Using a raw host hard disk from a guest"). Since it's hard to link within the help file, I'll give you a brief description of what you need to do.

First, run VBoxManage internalcommands. The actual internal command you need is createrawvmdk, but the syntax is described in the help text generated by that command, so I won't repeat it here.

Once you've created the raw .vmdk, you need to go to the Virtual Media Manager inside VirtualBox and add it.

You will then probably need to boot off your Debian CD/DVD in rescue mode, so you can adjust the /etc/fstab and /boot/grub/menu.lst (or /boot/grub/grub.cfg) appropriately.

Good luck!

  • Excellent! I knew there had to be instructions somewhere... it does look as if these instructions are meant for use on Linux hosts, though. On a Windows host is there an analogous way of doing it, or do I need to boot off a LiveCD?
    – Arkaaito
    Jan 25, 2010 at 0:09
  • It works for Windows hosts too, in that createrawvmdk can refer to raw Windows partitions too. See the help text for more info. :-) Jan 27, 2010 at 4:02

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