Never reboot linux again? Run your existing Windows install in Linux!


I promised before that I would do a write up of a simple way to run an existing install of Windows XP from within Linux. Many people run a virtual Windows install from within Linux which is pretty good but is sometimes a burden if you have an existing physical Windows install because you now have 3 operating systems that you need to move files across and most people want access to the same programs and settings in their virtual install of Windows as they have in their physical install. The process I outline below will be useful for Linux users that have an existing dual-boot setup and want the capability to access their existing Windows OS without having to go through the tedious reboot process.

As an engineering student using Linux, I have realized that some of the programs I need to use like Maple, Matlab, SolidWorks, etc. (I will show you some good alternatives to Maple and Matlab in a later post) are not available for use in Linux. This became quite annoying when I was constantly rebooting my computer and switching OSes. One solution to my problem was to create a virtual copy of Windows XP. I didn’t like this idea because it would require wasting double the hard drive space that the Windows OS files need, reinstalling all the software I need and configuring everything to the right settings. So I began searching for ways to virtualize an existing Windows partition and came across this site: Blackmh. Although this guide provides a lot of useful information for getting started, it did not work on my laptop (might work on yours) . Additionally, I figured many users don’t want to mess with figuring out the location of cylinder heads and what not, so I put together this guide that will help you quickly and easily setup your system.

1. Installing VMware:

The easiest way to do this is by using the Automatix installer. If you haven’t already installed Automatix, download and install it from here: Get Automatix, the install is very straight forward. Once, you have Automatix installed, run it and go to the Virtualization category. Here you want to select VMware Server and hit install and Automatix will take care of the rest.

2. Configuring VMware:

You need to run VMware as root so in the terminal window type:

gksudo vmware

You will now be prompted with the VMware Server Console. Make sure that “Local host” is selected and choose “Connect”. For easy setup, use the Virtual Machine Wizard by clicking on “Create a new virtual machine” and going through the following steps:

  1. Next
  2. Custom, Next
  3. Microsoft Windows (Choose Version, I use XP Professional), Next
  4. Choose a name and location, the default values are fine, Next
  5. For Processor Configuration I chose One Processor so that one core would be dedicated to each OS during virtualization, you can change this later. Next
  6. Access Rights did not make a difference, I did not make my machine private. Next
  7. Specify the amount of memory you want to allocate to the Guest OS. I dedicated half my memory, 512MB. However, when running simulations or using apps like SolidWorks it feels very slow so I plan to pickup 2GB after work tomorrow. Next
  8. For your Network Connection I recommend you use NAT (network address translation). This will be the easiest configuration since you will be sharing the same connection among both OSes. Bridged will allow each OS to use a separate connection but requires further configuration that I will not get into here. Next
  9. Choose BusLogic as your SCSI adapter. Next
  10. Choose “Use a physical disk”, Next
  11. Your “Device” should be the main disk that contains both your Linux partition and your Windows partition. Select “Use individual partitions”. Next
  12. Here select both your linux and windows partition (swap isn’t needed). Your linux partition is needed since only the first stage of GRUB resides on the MBR and GRUB will try to access your linux partition to load stage 2. Next
  13. Choose a Disk Filename, the default is fine. Finish

3. Configuring Windows

Before starting up your virtual machine follow these steps, I copied them from Blackmh’s site:

"Now reboot into Windows and set up another hardware profile for Vmware.
Start-> Control Panel-> System, click on Hardware tab and Hardware profiles. You will find Profile 1 (Current), highlight it and click Copy, give it new name, Vmware for instance and move it up.While at Hardware tab in System properties, you can disable driver signing.

One more thing to do. As you may know, work in Vmware machines is easier with Vmware tools. I took Vmware tools installation out of Vmware Server to spare you of downloading 100 MB + file and you can download it here. Unpack archive and put it somewhere on Windows partition."

While you are in Windows I recommend you install the SCSI drivers for the virtual SCSI controller that VMware uses. This is necessary because VMware acts as a virtual computer with virtual hardware. Windows has the drivers it needs to operate on your system but by running it in VMware you are virtually unplugging your HD and plugging it into a computer with different hardware specs. This can pose a problem when Windows can not find drivers to access the HD (since VMware uses a SCSI controller) and you will be presented with a BSOD error 0x0000007 on startup. You can either follow the Microsoft Knowledge Base article and try to work around this problem (I’ve seen little success) or you can follow my method:

  1. Download the VMware Server SCSI floppy image (I’ve extracted the files into a ZIP if you don’t have a floppy drive)
  2. I made a video of the driver install process that you can follow:

Installing VMWare SCSI Drivers

Click “Next” and “Finish” where the video leaves off.

Now reboot into Linux.

4. Getting ready to run the Virtual Machine

Launch VMware as root as explained above and choose local host. There should be a tab for the virtual machine you created earlier, select it.

VERY VERY IMPORTANT: Before running your virtual machine, ensure that your GRUB timeout is not set to zero. You can change the timeout by accessing /boot/grub/menu.lst and increasing the “timeout” value. Refer to my post on the GRUB Menu for more information. If you leave this value as zero, it is very likely that GRUB will automatically run Linux when you first start up. You should ***NEVER VIRTUALIZE YOUR CURRENT LINUX INSTALLATION***. This will corrupt your linux install and make it unusable. With that said, I will show you a way to avoid the GRUB menu all together later in this post.

Once you have ensured that your timeout is not set to zero and GRUB will give you time to choose the OS you want to boot go ahead and click “Power on this virtual machine”. The console screen should open up and you will see your computer booting up. Once this is done the GRUB menu should load and you can choose your Windows install that you want to boot.

At this point you will either be given a choice of which hardware profile you want to boot into (choose VMware) or your screen will hang at “Starting up…”. In my case it hangs at starting up. This had to do with the location that the windows boot files are located on your hard drive and the fact that GRUB did not point to the correct location.

Don’t worry there is a solution that I recommend, even for users who can successfully boot into Windows. Reboot your computer into Windows and use your Windows install CD to make a boot CD image. If you don’t know how to do this, google it, there are many guides explaining it. However, if you are using Windows XP Pro (may work for home), I have a boot disk image that you can download. Save this file to disk and note where you saved it.

Now in VMware you should be at the virtual OS summary screen. Towards the middle right you should see “Devices”. Double click on CD-ROM and under connection change the setting to “Use ISO image”. Click “Browse” and select the file you just downloaded or the boot image you made yourself and click OK. At this point, if your BIOS is setup to boot the CD first before any other device, VMware should automatically boot windows and never even enter the GRUB menu, saving you from accidentally booting your current Linux OS. If your BIOS is not setup to do this, Google how to do this for your specific computer.

You should now be good to go. You can power on your virtual machine and Windows should boot by default. Select the VMware hardware profile and the first time you run windows you may be asked to reactivate Windows. This is because Windows has detected your hardware having changed (VMware’s virtual hardware). The activation process is very simple and straight forward and you should not be asked to activate again when you do a physical reboot into Windows. The first time you login you will be bombarded by “Found New Hardware” screens. Ignore these and just run the VMware tools you downloaded earlier. Perform a virtual reboot and all your virtual hardware will be detected.

You can now use your existing Windows install from within Linux!

Here are a few screenshots of Windows running in Linux:

OS & Browser Detect page shows WinXP & IE7:

OS & Browser Detect

Beryl & VMware:

Beryl & VMware

SolidWorks Running in Linux (emulated):

SolidWorks Running in Linux

If you have any questions you can post a comment. I will do my best to answer them.

WARNING: I am in no way a computer engineer, the guide provided here is intended for people who know what they are doing, don’t blame me if something gets messed up.

With that said, I think the best way to learn is to backup any important data you have and not be afraid of having to reinstall the OS as long as you achieve your goal and learn something at the end of the day. This guide worked on a Thinkpad X60.

104 Responses to “Never reboot linux again? Run your existing Windows install in Linux!”

  1. 1 caucaesse

    Hi! Thanks for the really straightforward howto. 🙂

    I had one problem, though: when activating windows again, I insert the 25-digit product key but it says it’s wrong (and it is NOT wrong because I have the windows sticker in front of me!). I know that this has nothing to do with your method but… did you have to do something special when reactivating windows?

    Like you said, not having to reboot to windows would be übercool :-/

  2. 2 caucaesse

    Oh, I forgot: FWIW, I’m using a Compaq Presario R3000 with the preinstalled Windows XP Home (and ubuntu feisty)

  3. Thanks caucaesse, glad it worked for you. The activation process is supposed to be straightforward. I suggest you check and double check to make sure you are using the right number (I wasted about 30 minutes by entering the wrong number). Boot up the PC and enter your product key and try to activate. If it doesn’t work, there should be a link on the screen that lets you visit MS’s website, click on that and go to any website (can be google or anything) just to make sure your internet connection is working in the guest OS, if it’s not you have other problems. So if your internet is working and you have the right product key and it’s not working try activating by phone, it’s also quite easy. All you have to do is speak in a activation ID to an automated machine and if you don’t want to talk to the automated machine just stay on the line and you will be connected to an operator. Hope this helps.

  4. 4 caucaesse

    Hey! it works!!

    At the end, it seems that the product information had got corrupted somehow… restoring the windows partition from a backup let me activate normally.

    Thanks again.

  5. 5 Fred

    What about a dual boot system running from two hard drives, instead of two os’s sharing a partition?

  6. Fred, I haven’t tried running an existing OS on another drive but I would think it would be just as easy. Go through all the same steps as above and in the New Virtual Machine Wizard within VMware choose to use a physical partition as you would if you had a single disk, however when you get to the part where it asks you which device you’d like to use type the name of the proper HD. Say your Linux install is on /dev/hda and Windows is on /dev/hdb then you would type in /dev/hdb. Having two different HDs would normally complicate the process if GRUB stage 2 is on the other drive, but since the method above shows you how to virtually mount a Windows Boot Disk you don’t even need to mess with GRUB or the other HD.

  7. 7 Fred

    Cool beans. I’ll give it a whirl.

  8. 8 Selena


    I’m really happy to be able to run windows without rebooting! Thanks very much! But it is extremely slow in vmware, and it hangs my fedora every time… Do you know how to make it run faster?


  9. Selena – How much RAM does your system have and how much are you allowing VMware to use? I recommend at least having 1GB system memory and allocating half of that to VMware since you are essentially running two operating systems concurrently. Also, if you watch the VMware software closely you will notice that the HDD light in the bottom right corner blinks quite often. I think hard drive access is one of the major bottlenecks when running XP under VMware. I plan to investigate this in the coming week when I upgrade from my 5400rpm drive to the new Hitachi 7k200. Stay tuned for a review.

  10. 10 Tintinabulation

    Thanks, worked for me. However it’s very laggy for me so much so that I can’t even install vmware tools. I allocated 516mb of my 1gb as well. I might try trimming the startup processes.

  11. Let me know how much the startup processes effect the speed. I have upgraded my RAM to 2GB and my HDD to 7200rpm but still occasionally experience some minor lag. I will post any performance tweaks as I find them, however two major components contributing to your lag may be CPU and Video Card.

    I recommend you disable any hardware in VMware that is not being used (i.e. floppy). Additionally, try some different video settings in Windows when running virtually (i.e. reduce color depth). Maybe these setting will give you a slight boost.

  12. 12 Dean Utendorf

    My browsers show a blank spot on this page where the “Installing VMWare SCSI Drivers” video is supposed to be. There’s nothing there to click on in Firefox or in MS Internet Explorer. How do I see this video?



  13. 13 Chris

    Thanks for the really useful post. Just set it up and it works quite well. I’m a physics grad student who needs to use both linux and windows and this is much nicer than having to reboot each time I want to switch. Thanks!

  14. Dean- What browser are you using? Make sure you have Flash installed so that you can watch the video.

  15. 15 Dean


    It seems to be working now….weird.


  16. 16 Dean

    I was able to follow thru the procedure, except when I try to power the VM, I get the following error:

    Cannot open the disk ‘/var/lib/vmware-server/Virtual Machines/Windows XP Home Edition/Windows XP Home Edition.vmdk’ or one of the snapshot disks it depends on.
    Reason: The partition table is invalid.

    Any ideas?


  17. 17 Dean

    I wonder if the problem is that my laptop has SATA drive in it, not IDE?


  18. Dean, SATA drives should not be a problem. Are you running VMware as root (gksudo)?

  19. 19 Dean

    Yes, I ran it using gksudo, and every time I get the same error “cannot open disk…….”


  20. 20 Dean


    I did try to run VMware as root and still get the same message:

    “Cannot open the disk ‘/var/lib/vmware-server/Virtual Machines/Windows XP Home Edition/Windows XP Home Edition.vmdk’ or one of the snapshot disks it depends on.
    Reason: The partition table is invalid.”


  21. Dean- Can you tell me more about your setup? Is this a notebook or desktop? Are you running one or two HDD’s? Also, are you using the boot disk image that I posted or did you download one specific to WinXP Home? I’m not sure if it matters or not but the one I posted is for XP Pro. One other thing you could do is to choose all the available partitions in Step 12 of “Configuring VMware”.

  22. 22 Dean


    I have a Dell Inspiron 6400 notebook, one SATA internal HD. One primary partition (NTFS), one extended. the extended has several NTFS logicals and then three ubuntu partitions (root, home, swap).

    Boot disk image? I was going to get it working using GRUB first, then try the boot disk method once I got it working.

    I’ll try it again selecting all partitions in step 12.

    Thanks for helping me with this!


  23. 23 Dean


    In step 12 I selected entire disk and magically, now it boots up into Windows. But, my touchpad doesn’t function in the VM 😦

    The cursor arrow is visible, but the touchpad and buttons don’t have any effect.


  24. Nice! Since you are using GRUB to boot, the VM needed access to GRUB stage 2 which resides on your Ubuntu partition and it couldn’t access this before you enabled entire disk. I highly recommend replacing the GRUB method with a startup disk image as I have described above since this will help you avoid accidentally booting into Linux (which would completely ruin your linux install).

    As for the mouse problems, I think it’s an easy fix. VMware tools should take care of the problem. Once you have loaded XP in the VM, login with your username and password, you shouln’t need your mouse for this since you can use your keyboard to navigate anywhere in Windows (use combination of TAB, Arrows and ENTER). Once you are logged into XP, in VMware server click on “VM” and then “Install VMware Tools”. This should launch the install and if you get any prompts that you need to click OK or Next on just use TAB and ENTER to navigate through them. I hope this does the trick.

  25. 25 Dean


    You are the man! Thanks again, as I forgot to install the tools.

    Now if I could only get the sound to pass through, I’d be all set!


  26. No problem, glad it works. Check out my post on enbaling audio:

  27. 27 abheek

    Firstly thanks for this article….. for me the installation is relatively smooth… but i get a blue screen when i start XP on the vm…. i use the CD ISO which you give and start booting thru it… what can be the problem…. thnx! cheerS!

  28. 28 abheek

    stupid me… i missed the VMWare SCSI Installation part…. sorry!

  29. 29 Big Ern

    Seem to have a problem after Windows boots…. everything normal then before all processes are loaded guest machine just powers off…. repeatedly tried… same everytime… any ideas?

  30. Are you getting a Blue Screen before it shuts off? Have you installed the SCSI drivers as the post described?

  31. 31 Ola Dunk

    Thanks for the nice howto – but I haven’t made it work yet. When trying to start the virtual machine I got the message:

    “The partition table on the physical disk has changed since the disk was created. Remove the physical disk from the virtual machine, then add it again”

    I have a laptop, ThinkPad R60, Intel Centrino dual prosessor, with Ubuntu 7.04 as main OS and I’m now trying to run my XP-pro as a virtual machine.

  32. Ola, what boot manager does your computer use? Try choosing all the available partitions in Step 12 of “Configuring VMware” above.

  33. 33 Brad Short

    This is the most complete tutorial I have found, However, vmware still hangs on the starting up…

    I’ve tried using the entire disk to boot but it still doesn’t work, I did notice something that it didn’t do before when I first power on the vmware window resizes a couple times and the cdrom icon in the corner blinks like its trying to access something but then it fails and it loads the Grub menu then I select windows xp and it hangs on starting up…

    I’m using a thinkpad t60p with xp pro and ubuntu feisty, and tips would be greatly appreciated.

  34. Brad, I’m guessing you have the WinXP boot disk image mounted in the cdrom. If not download it and in the cdrom settings make sure you enable the cdrom at poweron and select the image to use. Additionally, make sure to go into your BIOS and give your cdrom priority over your HDD on boot so that it tries to boot from cdrom before HDD.

  35. 35 Brad Short

    I have the winxp boot disc in the cdrom and here’s the strange thing. When I restart the computer with the boot disc in the drive it bypasses the grub menu and loads straight to windows where it asks me if I want Profile 1 or vmware; which is what it is supposed to do. However, when I load vmware and try to start xp inside of it the window resizes a couple times then goes to the grub menu… I am at a loss for why it would skip grub in a physical restart but load grub in a virtual restart.

    and yes my cdrom has priority over the HDD.

  36. Brad, are you using a physical boot CD or mounting the image in VMware settings?

  37. 37 Andrew

    Using a Windows XP Home ISO, and my BIOS being configured to boot from CD first, Vmware server still gives me a Grub error )=

  38. What is the Grub error?

  39. 39 Bill

    When trying to boot the virtual machine, my thinkpad (Feisty / XP home) gets stuck after Grub has done its job, at “starting up …”

    I tried downloading Mohammad’s boot iso, but it is not recognized. I still go directly to Grub, which seems to indicate that either the iso file is corrupt (It will open with archive manager, but doesn’t show any files) and vmware considers it unbootable, or thinkpad is not letting a boot from any cd but the physical cd. Could be one of thinkpad’s security feature (though I have tried to turn security off — and make the iso executable if that is of any use, and first drive to boot in bios.).

    Sounds like Brad is having the same problem with his iso (since a boot through the iso shouldn’t show a grub menu).

    I have some intuition that it is a problem with the thinkpad disk geometry, the thinkvantage button and the recovery partition (a lot of tricky things!).

    there is a boot log in the same directory as the profile (/var/lib/vmware/Virtual Machine etc…). So maybe that will offer some clues to what is going on. It seems to be something on the Windows side, since Grub does start.

    Another source of comments and troubleshooting:

  40. Bill, good to see another Thinkpad user (I’m using an X60), sorry it’s not working for you. The ISO I provide in this article is for XP Pro, it’s possible that you are having this problem because you need an XP Home boot cd? If you have any Windows XP install CD try inserting that and see if that works as a physical CD drive rather than a vritual one that is mounted.

    One way that you can test to see if the problem is your setup or just the boot disk ISO is by mounting a different ISO that you know is bootable (i.e. the Ubuntu Live CD). Once you get something like that booting properly in the VM you know the boot disk ISO should work as well.

    Just make sure you have given your CD boot priority in the BIOS and also make sure that the VM has access to your linux partition (to load GRUB stage 2) along with the Guest OS partition that you are trying to run.

    I hope that helps, let me know if you make any progress.

  41. 41 Bill


    Thanks for the suggestions — I will see if I can boot from a Win boot disk I made a while back (ultimate windows boot disk). It is an xp home as well, made from a compaq machine though. And I have the recovery cds I made from my T60, which I assume are bootable.

    If you are running a thinkpad, the problem probably does not lie in the thinkpad disk configuration — I believe they are much the same across models.

    My settings so far for my machine: 1st boot disk= CDROM; whole sda drive is used for virtual machine (I did not select particular partitions); tried it once with scsi drivers iinstalled in Windows (same behaviour).

    I’m exploring as well another problem, described here:

    My system does have the halacpi.dll (internal name) that this troubleshooting guide describes (in c:\Windows\system32). They describe a work-around, which seems to require (again) an installation cd that is not shipped with my T60. I did make a recovery set of cds/dvds, so maybe I will find what I need on them.

    I will post here my mumblings and fumblings, should they prove useful and coherent. Thanks for your guide and help.

    (Your solution to boot from an iso is an elegant one, in my opinion. The other is to tinker with the mbr, which I prefer not to do…:

  42. 42 John Nistler

    Am I correct that there are two different BIOS that you need to be worried about for changing the boot order. When you are booting the VM you would need to change that BIOS for boot device order to get it to boot from your CD-ROM during VM booting.

  43. Both the host and VM should see the same BIOS on startup. Whatever changes you make in the BIOS when either Host or VM are booting take effect in both scenerios. When you access the BIOS through VMware during startup, you are accessing the main BIOS settings of your PC.

  44. 44 maddox

    Hi! Nice how-to, it helped me a lot getting into vmware and bypass the 0x0000007B erros i got first. I actually dont need to install the SCSI drivers, seems that its enough to update the IDE Control driver to the standard driver.
    So, now WinXP boots with no blue screens but i have no mouse or keyboard. I can´t install vmware tools or anything! I tried to plug a usb mouse and nothing! The first msg i get is the “hardware wizard trying” to install the pci Bus driver and i´m completely stuck there. The keyboard works in BIOS and to select between the hardware profiles at boot.
    The drivers installed in Winxp are Microsoft standard ps/2 mouse and standard keyboard.
    I heard about rdesktop to winxp, but i dont know if its possible to using it trough vmware? anyway i dont think the LAN settings work before vmware tools…….. just a thought
    Maybe you can help me out with this, i´m so close to get it working its really frustrating. Thanks

  45. This might be a long shot but are you doing this on a desktop with a USB mouse and keyboard? I know certain USB devices don’t work unless you enable the USB ports in VMware. Maybe we can figure something out if you can give us some more info on the hardware you are using.

  46. 46 Noworry

    Hi Mohammad,
    You are really great, now I am able to boot my existing windows xp profession on my ubuntu feisty.
    The only problem I countered was with the vmware install. The vmware server version 1.0.3 didn’t work in my system (very very slow, no bios, no post screen).
    So I followed the steps in the ubuntu forums ( to install the older version 1.0.2 and followed the exact same steps you have mentioned for the rest. It is now working like a charm. Thank you very much.

  47. you can have a better alternative.

    use virtualbox

    this gives you seamless virtualization. and is free.

  48. 48 Matt

    I followed the instructions and set up the virtual machine and I am able to boot the physical win xp as virtual machine in VMware. However when I rebooted my system to run my win xp regularly (physical) rather than as virtual machine under ubuntu I get a blue screen for 2s and my system restarts. I am selecting my original hardware profile when I do this. As it stands now I am unable to use my win xp install unless I use it as a virtual machine from ubuntu. Please help. I want to be able to use my win xp as physical as well rather than just as virtual machine in ubuntu.

  49. Anant, I haven’t seen anyone running an existing install of XP off a physical partition using Virtual Box, that would be cool if it is supported as it is on VMware. BTW, VMware server is free as well for personal use.

  50. Matt- First of all, you shouldn’t be using your original hardware profile, this will mess up your existing XP settings as tons of new hardware will be detected and interfere with your existing hardware settings. Make sure you carefully follow the instructions above.

    Regarding the blue screen, did you install SCSI drivers in XP?

  51. 51 Marcus Olofsson

    Hi all,

    Read about your Linuxx-install on X61… anyone know where I can buy one in Chandler… a friend of mine is going there next week and i would be happy to send him to an adress for my greater good.. 🙂 Regards Marcus

  52. 52 Michelle

    After having this site bookmarked for weeks, I finally tried it last night, and it worked great…except that I had to reactivate when I booted my vm, and now when I reboot back into windows, it wants me to activate again, but says my product key has been activated too many times…any idea what I did wrong?

  53. 53 Abhi

    Hey everything is fine, but the link to the zip file for SCSI driver does not seem to be working.

    Can you have that link back again?

    Also, is there a problem, if I use VMware without it?


  54. 54 boredcleaner

    Thank you. A nice guide that worked for me.

  55. 55 dave

    Hi, I’ve had the same problem as Bill and others of getting stuck at “Starting up …” after I chose to boot Win XP Pro in Grub.

    I followed your tutorial and also the recommendation to boot off the ISO image you provided. And even though I set everything up correctly (i.e. BIOS et al), it kept starting up Grub.

    However, I found a simple solution. Just as the VM starts (when you see the VMware logo) I hit escape which brings up another (WMware’s) boot manager. If I pick “boot from CDROM” there, it works…

    I run Win XP Pro/Ubuntu Feisty on a thinkpad t60p by the way.

  56. 56 blenderfish

    Did Bill ever find a solution to not being able to boot from an ISO? I am on a Thinkpad z61m and I am having the same issue. I can boot from a CD made from your ISO file into WinXP Pro, but trying the same thing from within the VM has no effect. My system still goes into GRUB and hangs on “starting up…”. This is the case with multiple ISO’s, including the Ubuntu LiveCD. Any ideas on what my next step should be?

  57. 57 Arnab

    Hi! Azimi
    very nice how to.
    But I am getting some trouble to power on the virtual machine. Every time I am trying the following error appears:

    Unable to change virtual machine power state: The process exited with an error:
    End of error message.

    Any idea how to overcome this problem?


  58. 58 Bryce Schober

    Can I have it both ways? Can I choose to boot windows and virtualize my linux installation or boot linux and virualize my windows installation? All using only the two original o/s partitions?

  59. 59 Martin Lentink

    Much as I would like to do this, following the how-to to the letter consistently results in a disk read error. The VM gets to GRUB, chooses windows and there it gets stuck, because somehow it can’t read the disk. Windows natively boots up fine, so I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with that disk physically. I unmount the relevant partitions prior to trying to boot up, and my user is in the ‘disk’ group.

    The proposed workaround doesn’t work either, because instead of the iso I get to the GRUB menu, and subsequently in the disk read error

    I’m stuck…

  60. 60 Nolan Andres

    dave, blenderfish: you can set the VMWare BIOS itself to boot from CD first.

    michelle: what I did to avoid the activation issue is add the following like to my .vmx file…

    SMBIOS.reflectHost = TRUE

    …which told VMWare to reflect the HW to the OS, and Windows stopped thinking that it was in a different machine. I didn’t have to reactivate at all.

  61. 61 Rohan

    Before I begin, do you know if any of the steps you’ve mentioned will be different if one does not use the GRUB loader in their MBR.
    I’ve set my system up so that Windows is still the boot loader and GRUB4DOS gets me into Gutsy64


  62. 62 Naray Gabor

    To Bryce:

    Yes, You could.
    Even more, You could in windows run a virtualization of itself. I say that, because I tried it with Microsoft Virtual PC – which is free -, and it worked.

    I really don’t know why linux crashes by virtualizing itself, since linux kernels are built to be able to relocate themselfs for a long time, and running more linux instances is an old way of making linux servers, but I don’t know vmware, and since Azimi told it would break my system, I better don’t try playing around it. But if anyone feels to try it, my suggestion would be, to build a relocatable kernel, and I think profiling would be useful too – which makes possible to handle more instances of installments – just as we did it with windows in this guide too.

    These are all thoughts, I had never tried it, and I don’t know how should it be done, but i was thinking on it, to do it once.

    Anyway, I liked this guide too, and made my windows bootable in no minute with the help of this guide, but sadly the only thing I was needed from windows was the good old warcraft III, which is unable to run, because the lack of porting 3D techniques to the guest system – ’cause they would need dedicated channels to the resources, which are locked by the host.

    Now I will fire wine – which supports WCIII -, and shrink my windows, or maybe delete it too. 🙂

  63. 63 Naray Gabor

    Oh and there is one more kernel option, which can be useful:
    Under Device drivers, there is a submenu, called something like virtual machines. That can be useful too, to not break your system with this play.

    I don’t know if it is, but sometimes there are documentations connected to kernel options. If any of this options has links to such thing, you will probably find a detailed documentation how to do this exactly … I did this, and I found something related:
    User Mode Linux: /usr/src/linux/Documentation/uml/UserModeLinux-HOWTO.txt
    I think if You understand “what and why” from here, you can secure your linuxbox not to be broken, when booted with vmware, but instead have an another instance from it.

  64. 64 Rafi

    I follow the instructions , however the video for the SCSI Installation is not clear enough , do you have a list of to do or better video …?

  65. 65 Johan


    Is there any reason why you choose WMware server instead of Workstation? Are there any reasons why the instructions above should not also work for Workstation?


  66. 66 aster

    I managed to install XP on the separate partition as a guest OS running on existing ubuntu gnu/linux (thinkpad T60). When started from ubuntu it works perfectly. But when I try to boot XP by choosing it on GRUB menu it hangs with “Starting up…” message. Can I deal with that without creating that special bootable win CD?

  67. 67 Hain-Lee

    Hey it was all smooth except when I try to activate over the internet, the activation window says “Checking for connectivity” and just stays there forever. Maybe internet isn’t working on the guest OS? I tried activating by phone but the automated machine didn’t recognize my installation ID as valid genuine software (windows xp home came with my laptop).

    I’m running an HP paviiolion dv4000, using ubuntu gutsy trying to virtualize my existing windows xp home. both OS’s are on a single partition. I used NAT for the guest OS.


  68. 68 seanzig

    Excellent step-by-step process. Supposedly Xen, Qemu-KVM, and VirtualBox all work with an existing partition, but VMWare was the only one I got working without having to monkey with the MBR and such. Works like a charm on my T61p.

    For the benefit of other readers, booting from the CD as suggested instead of from grub is the only way I can get it to not hang. However, setting the boot order in my real BIOS didn’t work. As another reader mentioned, you can manually select the boot device right when you start up the VM by pressing ESC. It’s a pain though, because you have to click in the window so it can capture keypresses, then hit ESC, and you only have about 2 seconds to do it.

    I fixed this by changing the boot order in the “virtual” BIOS. At the same VM startup screen, instead of ESC, you can press F2. It looks like your typical BIOS config screen. You can change the boot order of your virtual devices (hard drives, floppies, cdroms, etc.), so just move the cdrom above the hard disks.

    You might consider adding this approach to your main post. Otherwise, it was _the_ best guide on the subject I’ve seen, and I did quite a bit of searching.

  69. 69 rangga

    Hi Mohammad,
    Thank you for the nice tutorial. Can I ask a stupid question before I try it? I have a separate root and home partition for linux, so in step 12 should i select both or just the root?

  70. 70 rangga

    Don’t worry. I just clicked both, followed the rest of your tutorial, and it seemed to work (except that I forgot where I stored the xp activation number). Thanks!

  71. 71 vanrugge

    Thank you very much for a wonderful tutorial. Just a few things I noticed. (Accessing an existing XP install from Ubuntu Gutsy) At first I couldn’t get the login screen to display at all, or access the VMWare server BIOS (the screen was displaying grub and then went completely blank) I hadn’t found too many other people with this problem, but discovered that it seems that Compiz-Fusion/Beryl do not run well with VMWare server

    So if you love your compiz as much as I do…remove xserver-xgl, re-boot your virtual machine, make sure that that everything is working properly, then follow Mohammad’s other excellent tutorial about SeamlessRDL (although another note here, I used my existing login instead of creating a new one because I needed to access files that couldn’t be accessed from another user, and I haven’t had any problems yet)

    Once that is up and running, re-install your xserver-xgl, restart gnome and there you have compiz-fusion running as it should with full windows functionality if you need it. And you realise just how bad Micro$oft really looks…

    Thanks again!


  72. Hi.
    I had been trying to get vmware working with dual boot in my T60 with no success until I found your guide.

    Thanks a lot! It worked in no time and I am really happy now.

  73. 73 sindhu

    hey there!

    I tried this, and i can boot into my windows xp from the vmware (am using opensuse 10.3) just fine. but then once i login , the xp system simply closes everything and shuts down and the virtual machine is powered off.

    i disabled firewall and most of my start up stuff in the xp, still no result.

    i dont have any activation problems, my windows is on another disk (SATA 160GB), my linux is on a ATA 20GB disk, i also tried going into safe mode and then choosing vmware profile. didnt work, it didnt get past the loading bar screen.

    i have 1gb DDR2 RAM , am using an AMD athlon x64 system.

    i had installed vmware and also run the script so it had automatically fixed the NAT stuff for me.

  74. 74 sindhu

    i fixed it 🙂 it’s a been awhile since i installed that xp , so i removed it and freshly installed a new one and everything worked like a charm 🙂 i even got my dot matrix printer working on it! will post about it on my blog and provide a link here. thank you so much, this tutorial was great!

  75. 75 Flux

    Great tutorial! Helped me a lot. Thanks!
    I got one problem though:
    Host: Kubuntu
    Guest: XP Pro

    My windows applications are on an extra partition. When i want to start them i get a message: “The drive or network connection that the shortcut xy.lnk refers to is unavailable.”

    When i go VM->Settings->Hard Disk I can see that the partition where my applications are on has no access.

    I guess this is the problem. I don’t know how to give access to this partition.

    Thanks for your help.

  76. 76 Flux

    By adding a new hard disk with the partition which contains my applications, the virtual machine slows down a lot.
    Hard Disk (scsi 0:0) Linux and Windows Main
    Hard Disk (scsi 0:1) Windows Application Partition

  77. 77 johnboiles

    Thanks for the great guide. It all works. One minor thing though: I can run virtual machines from my user account, but I get several errors saying “Insufficient permission to access file.”. I get two when I start the virtual machine and at least one when I shut down the virtual machine. However, everything seems to work fine… Mostly these messages are just an annoyance. I’ve even tried to chmod 777 everything in the directory containing my virtual machine just to try a shotgun-like approach to see what was getting the error, but that didn’t fix it. So it’s something else that vmware’s trying to access. Any ideas?

  78. 78 John Vossler


    Your guide is wonderful. You indicate that you used VMware server. Any idea if it would work with VMware workstation?

    Also any comment on attempting your procedure with 64 bit Linux (ubuntu 8.0.4) and XP pro?

    Thanks again.

  79. 79 Milos

    Is there a chance do it the other way around? Run Ubuntu in Windows VMWare? – I have driver issues for some of my devices. They work in Win but not in Linux.


  80. 80 Johann

    Thanks so much, excellent guide. I really works, that’s what i was waiting for.

  81. I can confirm this works, although it costed me a lot of time. I used to work with the Gentoo/XP combination, booting XP either physically or via VMware raw disks on my X61. Since Ubuntu, XP worked physically but I got the ‘starting up’ hang in the VM workstation. After a lot of searching, only your XP ISO seemed to work, which saves me an extra grub click 🙂 When this worked, I got the 0x7b error, but this I fixed searching on ‘0x7b vmware’ (click on my alias for the link) Thanks for your excellent guide, I would have thrown off Ubuntu otherwise!

  82. 82 RaiulBaztepo

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  83. 83 Aureli

    Thanks for the very interesting and well structured information!
    I’m currently trying to follow another tutorial – – which seems to require a little less work to achieve basically the same (but with another virtualizer). I hope I’ll soon get this to work…

    P.S.: Matlab is actually available in native version for GNU/Linux and even for other *nix flavours (maybe just not the latest version, dunno) – I remember using it on both Redhat Linux 9 (x86-64) at university and OS X 10.4 (ppc) on my laptop.

  84. Thanks for the comment Aureli. I’m sure there are many ways to accomplish the same thing now, at the time (almost 2 years ago!) this was the best method I could find. Thanks for the heads up about Matlab, I’ve actually used the Linux version since I made this post.

  85. Hi Mohammad;

    Really cool of you to help so many people. I really want to move to SUSE (SLED 11) and have been running 60 day Trial for a few weeks. I have my XP Pro installed on my original disk which is out of the system right now. The SLED 11 is installed on a 320GB disk currently in my X61 (2GB RAM).

    Can I, or rather how could I use VMware to run the Existing XP Pro (I have it installed in an external enclosure attached via USB) as a guest under SUSE 11?


  86. Carl, as long as VMware shows your external drive and windows install in step 2, sub-step 11 above (after you select “use a physical disk”) you should be able to use it.

    You may want to re-install your drive and perform step 3 above to properly configure XP.

    Also, I’m not sure how to configure GRUB to boot from a USB enclosure. Try searching Google for a solution, if you get these things things working individually, you should be able to virtualize off the USB.

    • Hi again Mohammad;

      Thanks for the info! I bought the ThinkPad Serial Hard Drive Bay Adapter for the ultrabase. Never could get the XP Pro drive to boot from either the USB or the Drive Bay Adapter.

      Now have the original drive with XP Pro back in standard drive bay with the 320GB SATA in the Bay Adapter and can boot either from SLED 11 or XP Pro. I will attempt to follow you directions modified to fit the current config, or I may just back up and restaore XP Pro to the 320GB and Dual Boot from there and use your original approach.

      Naturally my hope is to be fully functional as I transistion. And sadly will not likely ever get completely off some flavor of Microsoft OS, although I beleive life could be better with MS only in the virtual world.

      Thank you.


  87. it nice and informative

  88. 89 sidim

    Hi Mohamed,

    Thanks for the nice guide…
    I have been running the my physical widows install in Ubuntu though VMWare for quite some times now…
    Few weeks ago, My widows installation crashed and I had to repair it… Since then I can get to make it work though VMWare always getting the BSOD…

    Any help will be greatly appreciate… I would like not to have to reinstall windows from scratch…

    Thanks for the help,


  89. 90 Scott Andrews

    Hi Mohammad,

    Great guide, works very well, except I can’t see where you’ve shown how to avoid the GRUB boot loader and boot straight into Windows. I see you’ve mentioned about using an image to bypass GRUB but I can’t find any info on the ‘net.

    Many thanks

  90. 91 kayal

    i use XP os, but now i want virtulize suse 11.2 os how to do that ,i want step by step guidance

  91. 92 mohd v.v.

    How to dual boot SLED 11 and Windows XP (SLED 11 installed first) — the step-by-step guide with screenshots

  92. 93 mohd v.v.

    How to dual boot SLED 11 and Windows XP (SLED 11 installed first) — the step-by-step guide with screenshots

  93. thanks a lot, you have a reference to guide me, this is my personal experience on the internet, thank you …………… please visit my web also,

  1. 1 Run Windows Apps from your Existing Windows Partition in Linux « Mohammad Azimi
  2. 2 YABbA : Yet Another Blog by Antok. » Blog Archive » Menjalankan Windows XP yang sudah terinstalasi dengan Linux
  3. 3 Blue Net Support » Blog Archive » 15 minutes to using your existing Windows install & apps in Ubuntu
  4. 4 Never reboot linux again? Run your existing Windows install in Linux! « Mohammad Azimi
  5. 5 Virtualizing Windows XP Professional for Fun and Profit | Peter's Soapbox
  6. 6 It’s all in a day’s work » Blog Archive » Using VMware player for testing Internet Explorer on Ubuntu
  7. 7   How-to configure WeP 800 DX in Linux (via VMWare) 10 Sat # How-to get Wep 800 DX working for OpenSUSE linux (via VMWare) by Computer Tips And Tricks, Programming, Gadgets, Computer How-To’s, Technology, Google And SEO
  8. 8 links for 2008-05-22 « The Adventures of Geekgirl
  9. 9 Ubuntu Linux » Blog Archive » [ubuntu] [VirtualBox] virtualize my existing windows install ?
  10. 10 VirtualBox vs. VMWare Server on Linux « Cooking and Coding

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: