Ever wanted to turn your physical Windows install into a virtual machine? VMware Converter delivers the goods. I recently assisted a co-worker with a dual-boot XP and Kubuntu Gutsy setup by converting her Windows XP partition into a virtual machine (VM). She had never made any backup CDs, and did not appear to have any utilities installed to make them. Her Windows XP install was heavily crudded up as well – she was definitely living on the edge.
She has an HP computer with two SATA drives, one of which has Windows XP SP2 installed, and the other having Kubuntu 7.10. I created a large (80GB) FAT32 partition on the Windows drive, downloaded the converter, and booted into Windows to run it. Pretty simple – I just pointed it to the FAT32 partition to create the files, selected VMware Server as the product that would be running the new VM (it defaults to Player), and let it run overnight to make the 3GB VM (preallocated and split into 2GB files).
The next week, I went back over to finish things up. I had already setup VMware Server, including the sound fix. This caused some problems, however, when I tried to start the new VM. It was complaining about the vmware-vmx binary being used instead of vmware. I had to go back and rename the custom vmware-vmx.real file I had made back to vmware-vmx before the new virtual machine would start. Curiously, however, it started up with sound right off the bat after that, so I left things as is.
Needless to say, she was amazed (she is a doctor, not a geek – but prefers Linux to Windows). She could not get over how cool it was to be running Windows inside Linux. Some things you just have to see to believe…
Anyway, I proceeded to explain to her how to use VMware-Server, and both cleaned up her new VM (this was a serious Windows uninstall-fest) and set up a Linux shortcut to a shared folder on her VM so she can drag-and-drop files back and forth between the Linux host and the Windows guest. I also made sure to take a snapshot of the VM. The VM boots faster than the real thing now, and she is looking forward to just booting into Linux from now on.
And she has a good backup of XP.