virtualization -- how do I use an existing windows installation ?

brian fedora at
Tue Nov 3 19:15:18 UTC 2009

On 11/03/2009 01:24 AM, steve wrote:
> Hi,
> I recently installed windows 7 on my laptop, on a separate partition,
> making it dual boot. Now, I would like to boot into this installation
> without having to reboot. A casual google shows me that one can in fact
> boot off an existing physical partition using any of the commonly
> available virtualization tools on linux -- qemu, VirtualBox & VMPlayer.
> So my question is, has anyone tried doing this and what were your
> experiences if you did ?
> I am not averse to the idea of simply reinstalling windows 7 in a
> 'proper' virtual environment, but just curious whether reusing the
> existing installation is easily doable. I would be using the windows
> installation just to test portability of code that i write. I don't
> really need to boot into it often, neither do i expect it to be
> lightning fast.
> cheers,
> - steve

I used to do this with a Win2K install and RH7 (or so). The trick was to 
edit C:\boot.ini to offer 2 modes: normal and virtual. However, I can't 
remember precisely the steps required. Search for "dual 
boot +vmware" and trawl through the hits.

Obviously things will be different between Win2k & Win7 but this page 
from 2006 appears to describe the same process:

Unfortunately, the server hosting the article that *that* article 
references appears to be dead.

Anyway, this might set you in the correct direction. Just be sure to 
consider this quote from the article:

-- snip --
VMware's own instructions insist that the procedure is "unsupported." 
I.e., you can trash your disk if you make a mistake. So before you start 
it is worth stopping to think about what you are doing.
-- snip --

Having said that, I'll mention that I used this procedure on at least 3 
machines-two of them laptops--and never encountered any problems.

UPDATE: here's a newer article.
How To run your native WinXP in VMware in Fedora 7 (avoiding Dual Booting)

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