OT: Virtualisation of dual-boot partitions

D. Hugh Redelmeier hugh at mimosa.com
Mon Jun 26 17:10:26 UTC 2006

| From: John Austin <ja at jaa.org.uk>

| On Sat, 2006-06-24 at 11:00 +0200, J.L. Coenders wrote:

| > Perhaps a bit OT, but I was wondering if there is a virtualisation
| > system available that lets you boot a dual-boot partition instead of a
| > virtual partition.

| http://www.vmware.com/products/ws/
| >From VMware Workstation Manual - ws55_manual.pdf
| "Many users install VMware Workstation on a dual-boot or multiple-boot
| computer so they can run one or more of the existing operating systems
| in a virtual machine. If you are doing this, you may want to use the
| existing installation of an operating system rather than reinstall it in
| a virtual machine."
| Note: VMware Workstation supports booting from physical disk partitions
| only on IDE drives. Booting guest operating systems from physical SCSI
| drives is not supported. For a discussion of the issues on a Linux host,
| see Configuring Dual- or
| Multiple-Boot SCSI Systems to Run with VMware Workstation on a Linux
| Host on page 257.
| Setting up a physical disk configuration for a virtual machine is more
| complicated than using a virtual disk. Virtual disks are recommended
| unless you have a specific need to run directly from a physical disk or
| partition."

Wow.  That is impressive.  I've really wanted this feature but assumed 
that it wasn't feasible.

The instance (installation) of WinXP needs to be runnable both in the 
virtual machine and native.  Since WinXP (as I understand it) doesn't like 
hardware seriously changing between boots (at the very least, I expect it 
to call out the licensing police), that means the VMware must 
virtualize/emulate a whole bunch of real I/O devices. The video card, for 
example, ought to be extremely hard (I had assumed that they just emulated 
a single model of video card).

I would expect that a Linux guest might be easier -- it isn't actively
trying to fight you.  Even then, kudzu might ask a bunch of questions 
to reconfigure whenever you changed between kinds of boot.

Since the quoted VMware documentation suggests I'm wrong about WinXP,
can somebody explain how VMware manages to avoid this problem?  Do
they emulate a whole bunch of video cards (and network cards, and
...)?  Is WinXP more flexible that I give it credit for?
The answer to this may indicate how easily the OSS systems can follow

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