Convert Physical Windows Systems Into Virtual Machines To Be Run On A Linux Desktop

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme

This article shows how you can convert a physical Windows system (XP, 2003, 2000, NT4 SP4+) into a VMware virtual machine with the free VMware Converter Starter. The resulting virtual machine can be run in the free VMware Player and VMware Server, and also in VMware Workstation and other VMware products. Vmware Converter comes in handy if you want to switch to a Linux desktop, but feel the need to run your old Windows desktop from time to time. By converting your Windows desktop into a virtual machine, you can run it under VMware Server/Player, etc. on your Linux desktop.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

In this article I will convert a Windows XP desktop into a virtual machine. Afterwards I will start the virtual machine in VMware Server.

(You can find guides for installing VMware Server on Debian Sarge and Ubuntu Dapper Drake here:



2 Install VMware Converter

First download VMware Converter from to your Windows system (the one that you want to convert into a virtual machine) and start the installation by double-clicking on the downloaded file.

Accept the license agreement and click on Next:

Select a destination folder for the installation (normally you can accept the default value):

Choose Typical when asked for the setup type:

Click on Install to begin the installation:

VMware Converter is being installed:

After the installation, click Finish. If you like to start VMware Converter now, please check Run VMware Converter now.:

You should now find a VMware Converter icon on your desktop:

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5 Comment(s)

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Just an FYI here.  The converter will not work if the only drive you are converting is SATA. It creates a VM that will not boot.


The Fractured Singleton

By: Anonymous

VMware Converter does not run in Windows NT 4.

By: Anonymous

Version 4.0.1 lists that it will work on NT SP6+ and 2000.

By: Matthew

Hi, just a comment regards the legal implications of running Windows as a virtual machine.  I was reading the license terms of  Windows Vista Home which was preinstalled on my quad core machine and I noted apparently Vista Home was only licensed for machines with dual core processors and not to be installed under a virtual environment.

So are some versions of Windows legal for use under virtual machines and other versions not.

Though perhaps the license terms were just well out of date as was the case with XP I believe.

By: Jay Cunnington

I moved to Ubuntu for two reasons: The power supply on my existing XP machine failed and I was handed a new dual-core machine. Here's the problem: The XP partition (drive C) is on an IDE 160 GB disk. The new computer does not have a plug-in for an IDE disk. So how do I virtualize a Win XP partition that is not running? Is it possible?