Question(s): I currently have a dual boot: Win 7 x64 Pro & Ubuntu 10.04.1 x64. Is there a way to boot Win 7 as a virtual machine under Ubuntu without reinstalling anything, in addition to maintaining the ability to dual boot? In other words, is there a visualization package (Xen, KVM,..?) which will allow me to run Win 7 in two hardware configurations, but that are as similar as possible: (1) bare metal and (2) visualize on top of Ubuntu? And if there such a package, do you know of a tutorial that would explain how to configure it?

Background: I have a dual boot system with Windows 7 installed on one partition in a Raid 5 and Ubuntu 10.04.1 installed in a separate partition (actually split across three) in the same Raid 5. I have a Core i7-930 with 6GB of RAM. I'd be happy to provide any other hardware specs.

I require Windows 7 x64 Pro for only a small number of things, basically just VS 2008 / VS 2010 so that I can use nSight from nVidia to debug CUDA / OpenCL projects.

I must be able to dual boot because (and this is more just my suspicion) I don't want any more between the software and the three graphics cards that I have installed than is absolutely necessary. If it means anything, when in production mode where I'm running without virtualization, I have two cards set to exclusive mode and one set to prohibited mode (to drive the display). I'm worried that running nvidia-smi under either Ubuntu as the host OS or Win 7 as guest OS might bollux things up.

I don't know much about Xen, KVM, etc. I've played around a bit with them, but I'm more than willing to use any virtualization software as long as it's free and it can accomplish what I want. Note that I'm a student -- this is all non-commercial development.

I can, if absolutely necessary, reinstall everything, but I had many, many problems just getting the dual-boot up and running as well as getting the CUDA environment to work under VS 2010 -- I installed/uninstalled/reinstalled VS '08 & '10 so many times that it corrupted the Win 7 registry and I had to start over from scratch. Now that it's working as a dual boot, I'd really like to avoid starting from scratch a fourth time.

Ps. I asked this question over on Unix and Linux -- there is a bit of discussion which might shed some light on the question, but I was told that this would be a more appropriate forum.

  • I had the exact same question... Came across a few solutions online but apparently you always end up running into some issues. – haylem Dec 14 '10 at 0:21

I asked for something similar here, and one thing that I was told was that this way there would be licensing/activation issues that might cause problems. You can try the steps given here, though I never actually did that.

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Have you looked into VirtualBox? I believe it is capable of using a secondary partition as a mountable disk for a virtual machine though it can cause issues.

The only other thing I could think of is to convert the physical disk to a virtual one. It's messy but I did it for a developer once to maintain an old system. It works but I wouldn't do very much serious work on it. VMWare makes a disk to vmdk utility which you then can add to a virtual machine.

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