Monday, August 11, 2008

Boot into a physical windows partition, virtually

While we were discussing virtualization in Bahrain LUG's meeting a couple of days ago, I promised the attendees to show them how I relieved myself from the hassles of dual booting into Windows XP and Linux by using the free vmware server on Linux to boot virtually into my physical Windows XP partition. I encourage you to make proper backups of both systems before you embark into the following procedure just to be on the safe side.

  • Dual boot system with Windows XP and Linux
  • vmware server 1.0.6 or above on Linux. Here is how to install it on Ubuntu Hardy
  • Unmount the Windows XP partition under Linux if it is mounted


Hardware Profile
  1. Boot normally into the Windows XP partition and create a new hardware profile by going to Control Panel-->System-->Hardware-->Hardware Profiles, and clicking on Copy to copy the current profile. Name the new profile "vmware"
  2. Log out of windowx XP and boot into Linux.
Vmware on Linux
  1. Run vmware server's wizard for a new virtual machine
  2. Choose Windows XP and follow the steps in the wizard until you reach the hard disk allocation step then un-check the options of allocating space and splitting and finish the wizard
  3. Go to the Edit Settings screen of the new virtual machine and delete the current virtual hard disk
  4. Press Add to add a new hard disk and choose "use a physical disk" and choose "use entire disk"
  5. power up the virtual machine and boot into windows XP in Grub, then choose the "vmware" hardware profile
  6. Cancel the new hardware detection pop-ups then install vmware tools then restart the virtual machine.

  • The virtual machine will boot into GRUB, so make sure you don't start your Linux partition into the virtual machine. Doing so will FUBAR your Linux partition.
  • I've done this sometime back and there might be some little tweaks that I can't recall right now so give it a try and update me.
  • SCSI drives may not be supported. I've done this with IDE
  • DirectX is not an option in the virtual Windows XP so forget about playing games in the virtual machine
  • The overall performance is slower compared to a physical partition boot, but with enough RAM, you won't feel handicapped.


Nathan said...

Cool! I was trying to figure out if this could be done. Can you still physically boot into your Windows partion, or is it only bootable via vmware after you make these changes?

BuZain said...

Yes you can Nathan by choosing Profile1 hardware profile while booting into Windows XP physically