I trying to convert a VMDK image (Windows installed) to RAW format with the qemu-img command. However, it is failing with the following error:

   $ qemu-img convert -f vmdk -O raw image.vmdk /tmp/image.img
   qemu-img: Could not open 'image.vmdk': invalid VMDK image descriptor
   qemu-img: Could not open 'image.vmdk'

As far as I can tell, the image itself seems fine, at least I can boot properly from it using VMWare Player. I'm using qemu-img version 2.0.0.


Do not use the .vmdk image itself but the smaller .vmdk file which references the image.

  • Yep. It does work with ESXi 5.1 vmdk and qemu 2.2.0. – Bgs Jan 19 '15 at 19:46
  • This is the correct answer and should be marked as such – Clayton Dukes Jun 26 '15 at 9:13

It may be the VMDK file is using an image format not supported by QEMU. An example of this is detailed http://brezular.com/2014/07/22/how-to-run-juniper-firefly-perimeter-vsrx-on-gns3/ where the VMDK file format used by the shipped Juniper images are streamOptimized vmdk's, which need to be converted by VMDK tools to a format supported by QEMU.


I tend to use VBoxManage which ships with VirtualBox for converting virtual disk images from one format to another. It's very versatile and fast.

VBoxManage clonehd /path/to/image.vdmk /path/to/newimage.raw --format RAW

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