I have a laptop which came with a license and software for Windows Vista. I get tired of it already, and I'm going to move to Kubuntu. I'll need Windows anyway, to use Adobe and Corel software for my work.

Having the Windows Vista backup on my HD (as a hidden partition), is there a linux-based Virtual Machine software that can take that windows installation and install it as VM?

I'd like to keep the license of Windows I have, for that matter.

  • Do you have the installation disks for Windows? It would be easier that way than to mess around with recovery partitions. – alex Nov 9 '09 at 21:33
  • It came only with a drivers DVD and a recovery disk – yoda Nov 9 '09 at 21:45

I was successfully able to use CloneZilla to move an existing Windows install into a VirtualBox VM under Ubuntu. Note that I did NOT use any Windows install disks to get this working.

Here's an overview of the steps:

  • download VirtualBox for WINDOWS - you'll use it for a proof-of-concept.
  • download CloneZilla, burn a CD
  • boot it and use it to backup Windows to an external USB hard drive
  • run VirtualBox for windows, create a windows VM.
  • make sure to make the virtual HD as big as your real HD.
  • make sure to "enable IO APIC" (at least I had to, to get past a hang)
  • start the VM and boot to the the CloneZilla CD
  • restore from the external HD.
  • reboot the VM after the restore and verify Windows will work in the VM.
  • woohoo your backup of windows can be used to make a working Windows VM in VirtualBox
  • install Kubuntu on your machine
  • add VirtualBox package
  • make a windows VM under VirtualBox for Ubuntu
  • boot CloneZilla CD in that VM
  • restore from the external HD
  • reboot the VM after the restore and verify you now have Windows running in a VM under Kubuntu

I may have omitted a step or two, but that's the gist of it. Hope this helps!

  • Looks interesting. Thanks for sharing this, have been wanting to do something similar for a while. – Abhinav Nov 11 '09 at 7:00
  • +1. Thank you very much for sharing these detailed instructions. – Peter Mortensen Jan 1 '10 at 21:19
  • You're welcome! They're going into a corporate knowledgebase as well. If I missed anything please let me know! – pbr Jan 6 '10 at 4:05

VirtualBox. It's free. Just set one of it's virtual hard drives to that physical drive. Here is a guide.

Just a warning: If your Vista is an OEM version, it may not install in a VM.

  • Yes, it is OEM. Does that mean the license isn't valid? – yoda Nov 9 '09 at 21:37
  • @yoda (hmm, nice name :P ) "Basically no. OEM licenses are licensed to the machine they were supplied with." ( via - channel9.msdn.com/forums/Coffeehouse/… ) – Sathyajith Bhat Nov 9 '09 at 22:15
  • +1 for virtualbox. On Linux there is a "free" as well as "non free" version, where the non-free version has access to shared folders (on the host machine) etc. The free v/s non-free nomenclature is misleading, as I guess some source code is not available. That is the only difference - financially both cost 0. – Abhinav Nov 11 '09 at 7:00

Indeed there is software for this, VMware Converter. It has a Windows and a Linux flavour, whichever suits you best.

Automate and simplify physical to virtual machine conversions as well as conversions between virtual machine formats with VMware vCenter Converter. Use the intuitive wizard-driven interface of VMware vCenter Converter to convert your physical machines to virtual machines.

  • Convert Microsoft Windows and Linux* based physical machines and third party image formats to VMware virtual machines
  • Complete multiple conversions simultaneously with a centralized management console
  • Easy to use wizards to minimize the number of steps to conversion
  • As far as I can see, it will create an image of my current OS installation with all the configurations, so that when running under VM, it recognizes the hardware, correct? – yoda Nov 10 '09 at 20:20
  • you are correct – John T Nov 10 '09 at 20:34

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