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Is there any virtual machine under Linux which can start Windows (XP) from real hard drive partition, not from emulation image?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

VMWare products can map physical disks to virtual disks, both on Linux and Windows:

http://www.vmware.com/support/ws55/doc/glossary%5Fws.html#wp1018930

Physical disk

— A hard disk in a virtual machine that is mapped to a physical disk drive or a partition of a drive on the host machine. A physical disk is also referred to as a raw disk. A virtual machine's disk can be stored as a file on the host file system (see Virtual disk) or on a local hard disk. When a virtual machine is configured to use a physical disk, VMware Workstation directly accesses the local disk or partition as a physical device (not as a file on a file system). It is possible to boot a previously installed operating system on an existing partition within a virtual machine environment. The only limitation is that the existing partition must reside on a local IDE or SCSI drive.

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In xen you can use the device and give it directly to your guest. You can use lvm:

disk        = [
                  'phy:/dev/volg1/thedisk,sda1,w',
                  'phy:/dev/volg1/theswap,sda2,w',
              ]

or directly a harddrve partition:

disk        = [
                  'phy:/dev/sda1,sda1,w',
              ]

you also can give a complete Disk to a guest, and let them partiton it:

disk        = [
                  'phy:/dev/sdb,sdb,w',
              ]
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Thank you very much! –  user20272 Oct 20 '09 at 14:25

Easier: sudo qemu /dev/sdX will launch a virtual machine from an actual disk ;) qemu is free software, usually present in your distro's repositories

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KVM and Xen can both do it -- you just point the VM at the physical partition.

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Xen is obsolete nowadays –  kolypto Oct 20 '09 at 14:07
3  
My, aren't we the king of unsubstantiated assertions... –  womble Oct 21 '09 at 22:32

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