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Is it possible to create a VM in VMWare that does not write to the host's hard disk? I want the VM to boot a Linux live disk only.

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Yes. Assuming your goal is to simply boot a virtual machine with a Live Linux disc then you need to do 3 things:

  1. Obtain an .iso of the live Linux disc.
  2. Create a new virtual machine with no hard disks and one CD drive which you will assign the .iso file to.
  3. Boot the VM from the virtual disk.

The only data written to the host’s hard disk will be the virtual machine’s metadata and virtual swap space.

  • I've done this many times with various versions of Knoppix and I can confirm it works well in Virtualbox. – Charles Burge Aug 14 at 5:08
  • Why is the virtual swap space needed? Do live disks typically use swap space outside of a VM too? (Such as on a physical machine.) Also, how do I create a VM without a virtual disk in VMware Workstation 15 Player? I do not see such an option, and the program complains when I set the disk size to 0 bytes. – posfan12 Aug 15 at 1:23
  • @posfan12 It’s not a swapfile that the operating system uses. It’s swap space that VMware uses to suspend the VM or to provide extra virtual RAM to the VM when the physical host doesn’t have enough available and as memory for the management of the VM. – Appleoddity Aug 15 at 1:26
  • I would still like to disable it if possible since I have no need for suspending the VM. Further, VMware is also not letting me create a VM with no virtual hard disk. – posfan12 Aug 15 at 1:35

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