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

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
Last edited 02/13/2007

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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16 Comment(s)

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From: at: 2007-02-22 22:04:43

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

From: Anonymous at: 2009-07-21 21:02:01

VMware Converter does not run in Windows NT 4.

From: Anonymous at: 2012-06-13 14:29:34

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

From: Matthew at: 2010-12-11 16:43:08

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.

From: Jeff at: 2009-04-22 14:59:17

Do you know if this software can convert Windows Server 2003 Standard?

From: Anonymous at: 2009-04-05 12:54:29

As long as your source xp system is already been activated, there is no need to activate the virtual system either.


From: Anonymous at: 2008-10-09 19:28:12

does the conversion process impact the original version of windows.  Will the original version still operate as if nothing has happened?

From: Anonymous at: 2009-03-04 01:15:45

it does not affect the original windows install in any way; it will still run like nothing happened.

From: Anonymous at: 2009-03-21 00:06:31

Will the newly created image require activation?

From: mike at: 2009-05-28 01:36:47


Between this and your perfect step by step guide on installing vmware server from source, YOU HAVE MY GRATITUDE.

 But how does vmware server do with system resources? What's the average CPU and memory usages per vm you run? Could a simple 3 ghz (single core, 32 bit) with 3 gigs of ram handle my system (pretty much exactly as the example in your guide)? If I cant get halo 1 and rosetta stone thru alcohol I'll have to go back to dual boot.

From: Sam at: 2009-08-14 17:08:22

WOW thanks for opening up my eyes to this. So, on a dual boot system, I can: convert Windows partition to virtual copy the files over to the Linux side of the hard drive install vmware (following your guide) run windows from within Ubuntu for a couple of weeks or so when happy everything is running properly, kill the windows partition and let windows live inside Ubuntu. This is a GREAT idea. No more dual booting. Just fire up Windows inside Ubuntu! Thanks

From: Andy at: 2009-09-16 04:52:36

Does this work with Vista?

From: Anonymous at: 2010-02-25 21:42:18

This does not work with OEM licensed versions of Windows. The license will kick you out of the OS. Which means that for everyone that has a version of Windows that "came with the computer" this won't work.

It will work with VLK and non-OEM keys.


From: Anonymous at: 2011-09-03 06:21:57

Is this really true ?  

From: Anonymous at: 2011-02-08 14:51:28

This is not works with NT4.0!!

From: sbdunford at: 2011-09-01 23:46:51

There are some physical to virtual conversion tools out there as well, like SmartDeploy. It will take physical XP machine and convert it to VMware, Windows Virtual PC VM, Virtual Box, and others.