Saturday, July 5, 2008

Share VMWare Image between Dual-Boot Operating Systems

How to Share a VMWare Image Between Windows XP and Ubuntu 8.04

Sharing a VMWare Image in a dual-boot setup involves the following prerequisites:

- One ntfs partition with Windows XP Professional installed
- One ext3 partition with Ubuntu 8.04 installed
- One fat32 partition, shared between Ubuntu and Windows
- At least 1GB of RAM
- VMPlayer installed in both Windows XP and Ubuntu 8.04
- VMImages, stored on the fat32 partition

Stored on the fat32 partition is one Windows XP Home VMImage. I don't have VMWare Workstation. So you may be wondering how I was able to create my own Windows XP Home image. I'll get to that later.

I first boot into the Windows XP Home installation using the Windows XP Pro host. I moved some files around, made some changes to some files. Then shutdown the VMImage. I reboot the computer into Ubuntu 8.04, started VMPlayer, and boot into the very same Windows XP Home image I was just working with on the XP host. My changes were all there!

Windows XP VMPlayer on Ubuntu select copied

When I first started up the VMImage in Ubuntu, the system asked me if I moved or copied the VMImage. Well, I didn't move it, but I didn't copy it either. Since I wasn't sure what option to pick, I selected the "copied" option recommended by VMPlayer if you don't know whether or not you moved or copied the image. This will happen again when I switch back to the Windows host. So far, selecting "copied" has not negatively affected performance.

The first time booting the image in the new host, networking didn't immediately work. Wait a few minutes and it may fix itself. You can also go into VMWare tools, if it's installed, and make sure your Ethernet card is enabled. So far, I've had no issues with networking.

I'm very impressed with VMPlayer! I can run Windows XP in a VMimage in both Windows and Linux. It's stable, fast, and allows me to work on Windows projects on both Ubuntu and Windows hosts.

Boot Windows XP in Ubuntu using VMPlayer

Using Microsoft Virtual PC to Create Image and Convert with VMWare Converter

Previously, I was using Microsoft Virtual PC 2007, which wasn't cross-compatible with Linux. To answer the above unanswered question of how I created a Windows XP Home VMWare image without VMWare Workstation, I used VMWare Comverter to convert my Windows XP Home Virtual PC image to VMWare. In Virtual PC, it took a long time to boot up. Once booted, response was slow and unusable. I quit using the Virtual PC image long ago because it was simply too slow.

In VMPlayer, I feel that the Guest operating system runs smoother than the Windows XP host itself! I'd recommend this setup for anyone who wants to run Windows from Linux and Windows from Windows. Additionally, although Virtual PC is slow, it's a great tool to allow you to create a Virtual image and then convert it to VMWare using the VMWare Converter.

UPDATE: I've been using this setup for over a month and I'm still happy with it!


Anonymous said...

i use a similar setup having a fat32 partition to store the virtual machines
which can be accessible from xp and ubuntu
but when i use ubuntu as host the performace of the guest os is much slower than when using xp as host

i cannot understand why

James Mortensen said...

I haven't seen any difference in performance between the two. In fact, the Ubuntu host and XP guest seem to almost function completely independent of one another. When one is sluggish due to the load I place on it, the other appears to still perform as if nothing was happening.

If it helps, I'm using Ubuntu 8.04 on a Dell Dimension 3000 with 3GHz of processor speed and 1GB of RAM.


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