My machine is dual-boot windows 7 and ubuntu 10 on different partitions of the hard drive. Normally, I boot into Ubuntu if I want to use Ubuntu. However, when I need to run in Windows I'd like to be able to start ubuntu from within windows 7. Can I do this with VMware or some other virtualization technology?

  • Basically yes, but BACK IT UP FIRST.
    – Hello71
    Jun 23, 2010 at 1:28

3 Answers 3


Yes, VMware workstation 7 offers this functionality.

Create a new VM
Custom (advanced) -> Next
-> Next
I will install later -> Next
Linux -> Next
-> Next
-> Next
-> Next
-> Next
-> Next
Use Physical disk (for advanced users) -> Next
Use individual partition -> Next

note: I may have a few too many or few nexts in the middle there. There's a TON of screens where you just click next.

  • Possible with the free VMware Player? Jun 22, 2010 at 23:39
  • Nope, VMware player lets you run a virtual machine which was already created. Essentially all you are doing is creating a new machine but setting the target hard drive to one of the physical partitions. One of the open source virtual machines such as VirtualBox may allow you to do this same sort of thing but I haven't used it so I can't guarentee it.
    – Daisetsu
    Jun 23, 2010 at 0:40
  • 1
    VirtualBox might be worth looking at, I think it might be able to do that. I've tried going the other way (running a Windows partition within a Linux host) but I didn't get it to work; however I think Linux is more tolerant of being booted on different hardware configurations.
    – David Z
    Jun 23, 2010 at 0:58
  • 1
    i have that exact same setup running with virtualbox Jun 23, 2010 at 15:29
  • Mungen, can you post details? I can't figure out how to select a pre-existing partition. Jul 2, 2010 at 21:07

This post describe doing what you want on VirtualBox, Ive just done it here and it works. I don't know if it can be done on VMware(or, as the comments suggested, in the free version of it). I'd like to try it there to see how is it's speed in comparison, but having it on VirtualBox is quite convenient already.video showing the steps of the post

Ps.: Important to note, this could be dangerous, do read the post before doing it as it's possible a mistake could mess with your HD


Hm…I used to do the reverse of that (kind of) using a Mac and VMWare Fusion; I had a Windows drive created via BootCamp and I could point Fusion as it and Fusion would just use that as its drive instead of the standard VMDK (I’m sure it was doing more stuff on the backend, but for simplicities’s sake).

I’m 99% sure you can use VMWare Workstation, create a VM, and simply point it at the physical disk you have in place (you have to do the advanced config so it doesn’t try to auto install things). Unfortunately that’s as far as I can get; i don’t have a machine configured in such a way I can tell you more, but technically I think its possible, moreso because you’re trying to do it with the Linux OS, which is much more tolerate of having the entire hardware set swapped out between boots than Windows is. There still could be issues though, I wouldn’t try it on any drives or partitions that have things you care about and haven’t backed up lately...

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