Turn your physical computer into a virtual one

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Imagine you want your physical computer to run as a virtual machine, maybe because you want to try some dangerous changes, maybe because you want to sell one of your two laptops. That's what this article is about. Your computer can be on Windows or Linux, no matter.

How to

Let's call the computer you want to virtualize moon and the computer you want to use as a host for the virtual machine earth.

  • Get an image of moon's harddisk. Do one of the following:

Either: store on a USB disk

  • Use a USB disk to store an image of the hard disk:
  • dd if=/dev/sda of=/mnt/usb/hdimage.img
    

This can be used if your harddisk is /dev/sda and you want your image file at /hdimage.img.

Or: Transfer over network

  • Transfer moon's image over the network:
  • dd if=/dev/sda | ssh root@earth "cat > hdimage.img"
    

  • Download and install VmWare on your host computer.
  • make sure the command qemu-img exists on your host computer, e.g. under SUSE this will install it if it does not exist:
yast -i qemu
  • use qemu-img from the qemu package to transform your harddisk image to a vmware image:
qemu-img convert /mnt/usb/hdimage.img -O vmdk ~/hdimage.vmdk
  • you can now use your vmware image to boot your virtual guest computer.