I'm trying to run a virtualized Ubuntu environment on a physical partition on top of Windows 7, using VMware Player's physical partitions feature, which creates a .vmdk file that points to a physical disk. Windows 7 and Ubuntu are on different partitions of the same physical drive. When I set VMware Player to allow the VM access to the entire physical disk, everything works, though this is rather dangerous since a partition could be accidentally mounted in the host and guest concurrently.

When I set VMware Player to only allow access to my Ubuntu partition, the VM crashes before the initial Grub screen with an error message of "A virtual CPU has entered the shutdown state...". When I create a virtual disk using individual partitions but manually select all available partitions the result is the same (still crashes).

What does VMware Player do differently when creating a .vmdk using the entire disk vs. individual partitions that would account for this behaviour? Is there any easy workaround?

2 Answers 2


I had this same problem.

The steps I took to solve this was to

  1. Download boot-repair.iso http://sourceforge.net/projects/boot-repair-cd/files/

  2. Set your VM to use the boot-repair.iso

  3. Start the VM and press F2 while the VMware "BIOS" screen is still visible

    It isn't up for long so you must be quick (remember to click in the window first to pass mouse and keyboard input to the VM)

  4. Follow the instructions given by the boot-repair.iso and you should be good to go. It worked for me.


I was experiencing the exact same problem and tried posting in both Ubuntu and VMware forums with lots of views and no replies in both. I believe the issue is caused by an inability to access the MBR since it only has a view of a single partition. After quite a bit of playing around with it, I have finally gotten it working. My solution isn't elegant and wastes a couple GB of space, but with most modern hard drives this shouldn't be an issue.


  1. Add a second hard drive to the Virtual Machine

    • Go to "Edit Virtual Machine Settings"
    • Choose "Add" then "Hard Disk"
    • Choose "Create a new virtual disk" and configure as desired, making large enough for a Ubuntu install
  2. Load a Ubuntu install CD in your CD drive and configure the VM to connect to the drive at startup (or configure to use an ISO)

  3. Start the VM and press F2 while the VMware "BIOS" screen is still visible

    • It isn't up for long so you must be quick (remember to click in the window first to pass mouse and keyboard input to the VM)
  4. Configure the VMware boot options to boot from CD first, then hard drives

    • Expand the hard drives and move the SCSI device (the new virtual disk) ahead of the IDE device (the physical partition)
  5. Save changes and exit

  6. Boot from the CD and install Ubuntu to the new virtual disk

    • IMPORTANT: When Ubuntu asks what you want to do, Choose "Something Else" so you can configure partitions yourself.
    • Choose the device that corresponds to the new virtual disk (/dev/sdb in my case)
    • In the drop down for where to install GRUB make sure you choose the same device you are installing Ubuntu to (again, this was /dev/sdb in my case)
  7. Complete the install.

  8. You should now be able to remove the CD and start the VM successfully.

    • The Grub boot screen should show the newly installed Linux as well as the Linux that is installed on your physical drive.
  9. Choose the Linux install on the physical drive and you should be good to go.

As I said, this isn't the most graceful solution and will waste the amount of space required to install Ubuntu on the virtual disk. I believe that more playing around with GRUB installation/configuration and the overall partitioning scheme could eliminate the need for the work around. However, I have it working and intend to leave it as is until I have some other reason that it needs to be done over again.

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