I had been doing the multi-boot thing on my Toshiba Satellite 5205-S703 since I bought it in late 2002.  It came factory installed with Windows XP Home Edition (monopoly anyone?) on an NTFS partition. Thanks to Partition Magic 7.0, I soon ended up with the following partition table:

Physical Geometry: 7,926 Cyls, 255 Hds, 63, Sects

Drive: C:
Partition Type: 07 (Hex) NTFS
Serial Number: F8CD:F94F
Total Physical Sectors: 80,080,632 (3,945.6 MB)

Drive: E:
Partition Type: 08 (Hex) FAT32
Serial Number: None
Total Physical Sectors: 8,353,800 (4,079.0 MB)

Drive: Extended
Partition Type: 0F (Hex) ExtendedX
Serial Number: None
Total Physical Sectors: 100,775,745 (49,206.9 MB)

Drive: F:
Partition Type: 08 (Hex) FAT32
Serial Number: None
Total Physical Sectors: 78,605,982 (38,381.8 MB)

Partition Type: 82 (Hex) Linux Swap
Serial Number: None
Total Physical Sectors: 2,120,517 (1,035.4 MB)

Drive: Linux Ext2
Partition Type: 83 (Hex) Linux Ext2
Serial Number: None
Total Physical Sectors: 20,049,057 (9,789.6 MB) 

C: contained the factory Windows XP, E: contained Windows 2000 Professional, where I did most of my production work, including work on side projects.  In the GNU/Linux partition, I ran Sun Java Desktop System Linux.  I used GRUB as my bootloader, but somehow managed to have the Windows bootloader in there as well (like a sub-menu) to choose between Win XP and 2k, once "Windows" had been chosen from the main menu.  I never bothered to fix that.

At the JAOO 2006 conference, VMware was giving out free licenses to their VMware workstation 5.5 product.  Seeing an opportunity to free myself from the shackles of a multi-boot existence, I took one.  Several months later, I began the long and arduous process of converting my multi-boot machine into one that just boots the factory installed OS (since that's the only thing officially supported by the manufacturer anyway) and uses VMs for the other OSes.


I wanted to convert the OSes installed in my real hard disk partitions into VMs.  Here is the high level process I will use.

  1. Install VMware Workstation 5.5 under the Windows XP OS,        using an external disk for extra space and to contain the VMs        for the guest OSes.

  3. For each OS on a real partition on my disk

    1. Use a Knoppix 3.7        CD I had made years ago to boot the Toshiba laptop.  Once        booted into Knoppix, use partimage to create partition images        of all the OS partitions on the mahcine.  Swap partitions        needn't be imaged, for obvious reasons, and data partitions        needn't be imaged because they can simply be copied.  I stored        the partimage files on an external disk.

    3. Create a VM for that OS, storing it on an external        disk.

    5. Boot the VM into Knoppix

    7. Install VMware tools into the running Knoppix instance        so I can access the partimage files using the "shared folders"        feature of VMware.

    9. Use partimage to restore the OS partition into the        virtual hard disk of the VM.

    11. Re-install the appropriate boot loader for that OS to        enable that OS to boot.

  5. Once VMs had been created, on an external disk, for all        the OSes on real partitions, completely and totally wipe,        defrag, and re-install from factory media the laptop.  After        the factory restore has completed, run Windows update however        many times I need to get the machine totally up to snuff and        current.  Re-install virus protection software and other        essential goodies.  Note, on the core, non virtual OS, I plan        to install very little real software, just stuff that        absolutely has to have access to the real hardware.


Details for the hard part: Steps b. thru f. above

  1. Create the new VM using VMware.

    Set the guest OS type to be the type of the OS stored in your partimage files.


    Make sure the hard drive types (IDE or SCSI) match what is in      the partimage files.  I chose to pre-allocate space.  Not sure      if this is necessary.

    Make the same amount of disk space is allocated in the VM as was in the partition from which the partimage files were made.

    Because you are using the Knoppix live CD, you need to mount a second CDROM drive from the linux.iso file, located in the install directory of VMware.  Make sure to assign IDE 1.1 to this virtual CDROM drive.

    Use the VMware shared folders feature to expose your partimage files to the VM.

  3. Boot knoppix and install VMware tools into the running        Knoppix instance.

    Download the vmware-knoppix-overlay.tar.gz to a real machine on which an FTP server is running.  In fact, this can be the VMware host machine, but it needn't be.

    With the Knoppix CD in the drive, start the VM, pressing escape during the VMware startup screen to enter the boot menu.  Select CDROM.

    When Knoppix starts up, get root access: su - , then

    cd /tmp
    tar -zxf /mnt/cdrom1/VMwareTools-5.5.3-34685.tar.gz

    Use FTP to transfer the vmware-knoppix-overlay.tar.gz file to /tmp in Knoppix.

    cd /
    tar -zxf /tmp/vmware-knoppix-overlay.tar.gz
    cd /tmp/vmware-tools-distrib

    This will run the modified VMware installer for Knoppix.  When it asks "In which directory do you want to install the binary files?" answer /ramdisk/bin.

    Accept the defaults for the rest of the questions until it asks, "What is the location of the directory of C header files that match your running kernel?"  Answer /ramdisk/lib/modules/2.4.27/build/include.

    When done with these scripts, you should have access to your shared folders under the path /mnt/hgfs.

  5. Use fdisk under knoppix to partition the        virtual disk, most likely it will be /dev/hda, in        such a way that it is equivalent to the partimage files you        are going to restore.  For example, if the partimage files        were created from a JFS filesystem, use JFS as        the partition type in fdisk.  If you need to        create a swap partition, make sure to do that as        well.

  7. Use partimage to restore the image files under        /mnt/hgfs to the new virtual disk.

  9. Lastly, you need to make sure that the boot loader has        been restored.  It's very unlikely that you can use the        bootloader that happened to be installed in the partimage        files.  Of course, bootloaders are a matter of preference, but        I used GRUB.  Here's what I had to do in my case.

    Back at the root prompt in Knoppix:

    mkdir /mnt/hda1
    mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/hda1
    cd /mnt/hda1/boot
    cp -r grub grub.orig
    rm -rf grub
    grub-install --no-floppy --root-directory=/mnt/hda1 --recheck /dev/hda

    At this pount the guest OS should boot.


Of course, your mileage may vary, but hopefully there is some useful information here.  It was a PITA for me to figure this out so I thought I ought to share it once I did.

Technorati Tags: edburns