After many years of working with Windows XP OS, I recently (and finally) upgraded my OS system to Windows 7. I liked the XP system quite a lot, however, with so many recent software applications that were only working under newer OSs (e.g., Adobe Lightroom 4), I realized that it was the time to move on. I did a “clean” install on my current C: partition, which obviously meant that I lost all my programs and settings as installation went through the partition formatting. Another challenge was to maintain my disk partitioning scheme as I am used to have four partitions:
Since C: partition contains Windows registry, links and registration info for the remaining software on those other partitions is lost. Having so many customizations and applications working well on my XP machine, I did not feel like losing them all at once. This is where the virtual machine comes in.
While I am sure that there are other options available, I am used to make system backups (images) of all critical partitions (C, D, E) with Acronis True Image (TI) application (at this time – Home 2012). For the virtualization part, I use VMware Workstation 7 ( version 8 is now available) application that runs both under Window and Linux systems. Depending on the version of True Image (and the .tib file), we may also need a copy (evaluation copy is just fine) of WinImage.
From tib to vmdk:
I was quite happy with Acronis True Image Echo Workstation that was able to convert True Image images (.tib) directly to VMware .vmdk format (see the menu snapshot on the left). Done that way, the virtual disk could be used directly in the VMware Workstation or Player software (scenario a, Fig. 1).
Unfortunately, True Image Home 2012 edition does not support this feature and can only save virtual disks in .vhd format (found in “Acronis backup conversion” section). Had I made my .vmdk disks with the earlier Echo version, I would save myself quite a lengthy process of vhd to vmdk conversion. Since I used the newer Home 2012 edition and have the corresponding version of .tib file, here is how to proceed.
First, if you still have the older version of .tib image file, there is a free version of virtual disk (VD) conversion application from VMware called “VMware vCenter Converter Standalone Client” that can convert many third party VD file types into the vmdk type (Fig.2). Unfortunately, newer (TI-Home 2012) VD .tib files cannot be converted.
If you only have image files created with TrueImage Home 2012, go to “Tools and utilities” tab and launch “Acronis backup conversion” under the “Backup conversion” section. Choose the .tib image of partition that you want to convert, click Next and choose archive location of the future .vhd file. Click Next, confirm, and wait until the conversion finishes. With the new .vhd file in hand, proceed to WinImage conversion into the .vmdk file.
As mentioned above and unless you already have it, download and install the copy of WinImage. I will go only briefly through the steps as there is already one detailed description on the web.
At this point, we should have one or more original partitions (in this case C, D, and E) converted to virtual disks and saved as the corresponding .vmdk files. Now, it is time to launch VMware Workstation.
VMware Workstation setup:
The following steps assume that you have VMware Workstation installed on your computer. For this tutorial, I will be using version 7. Here is the outline of main steps that we will go through:
We will start by launching the VMware Workstation.
At this point we shall see a new tab created in the main VMware window.
Now, we have a modified virtual machine that can boot from the image of our original Windows c: partition.
In the next several steps, we will adjust settings of our new machine.
Now, let’s power on the machine. It should boot into the former system partition. New virtual machine will go through an automated installation of several drivers and will also issue a warning that our new XP system has to be activated.
Now, it is time to connect additional disk images, i.e., .vmdk images of our other computer partitions created earlier.
As a result, “original” disks (C, D, E, and F) are now part of our new virtual machine with all settings, programs, desktop icons, e-mails, … are back. While we continue working with the new Windows 7 system, we can get back into our previous “computer” at any time and transfer missed settings, links, bookmarks, icons to the new system.
Unfortunately, things often do not go as one expects and disk drives may be switched (D: may be mapped as E:), real physical partition (F share) will not connect properly, or we have no access to the internet from the virtual machine. It is time to read the following section of troubleshooting.
Disk drive letter:
After adding single .vmdk disk images, resulting order of drives may differ (e.g., E, D instead of D, E). Since windows registry and links are originating from the c: partition, many desktop icons and programs will be blank or not working. We need to change the assignment of drive letters to correct this situation.
Earlier, we have mapped the data disk (real physical partition) to our new virtual machine (Fig. 12).
Mapped drive actually shows up in the “My network Places” under the “VMware Shared Folders” menu (Fig. 16). While we can use this path and browse the local mapped drive, if any icons or links in the new VM point to this drive, they would be broken. To correct that, we need to re-map this drive as the original data drive in My Computer (e.g., F: as in Fig. 17).
Our VM shared drive (F:) will be mapped as a network file to My computer (Fig. 18). Even though it is mapped under letter S:, computer sees it as the original F: drive.
Network connection is a hit and miss scenario when running VMware Workstation under Windows 7. The initial setup is shown in Fig. 11. Make sure that “NAT:” is selected and “Connect at power on” is checked. This is basic and supposedly the easiest choice. Additional setting to check:
By choosing “NAT”, we let the router assign IP address to our virtual machine through the DHCP protocol. For a communication between computers (including the virtual ones) to happen, network adapters (so called NICs) have to be present (typically they are part of computer motherboard accessible through ethernet ports). The Plug and Play code in Windows handles all the work of installing drivers for those adapters.
Settings in the virtual machine (XP Pro) are shown in Fig. 21-22.
Click My Computer -> My Network Places -> Network Connections to review what networks are setup and available (Fig. 21). Device name should read something like “VMware AMD adapter”. In my case, I have two adapters installed for testing purposes (not necessary). Right-mouse click on “Local Area Connection” and select Properties. We should see connection modules shown in Fig. 22.
VMware Cookbook: A Real-World Guide to Effective VMware Use
Ryan Troy, Matthew Helmke
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Published: June 22, 2012