How to Convert VMware Virtual to Physical

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VMware virtual machines exist as files on the hard drive of the host computer. VMware vCenter Converter can convert a physical computer to a virtual machine, but not the reverse. A VMware virtual machine can be cloned using a program such as Norton Ghost, dd or PartImage. The downside of cloning is that it is a multiple-step process, which can be complicated. A simpler alternative is Qemu, an open-source virtual machine platform that supports VMware virtual machine images and can convert them to physical disks.

Things You'll Need

  • External hard drive enclosure
  • USB memory stick 1GB or larger - when using VMware in Windows

Converting in Linux

  • Remove the hard drive from the computer in which you intend to install the virtual machine. Consult the manufacturer's manual for specific instructions.

  • Insert the hard drive in the external enclosure and plug it into the computer running VMware. Consult the enclosure manual for specific instructions.

  • Install Qemu using your package manager. In Ubuntu, this can be found in the "System" folder of the "Administration" menu. In Fedora, click the "System" menu. For other versions of Linux, consult your system manual.

  • Open a terminal window and type the following command to install the virtual machine in the hard drive:

    qemu-img convert /PathToVM/VirtualMachine.vmdk -O raw /dev/sdb

    Replace "/PathToVM/VirtualMachine.vmdk" with the location and file name of the virtual machine. If the computer has more than one internal drive, replace "/dev/sdb" with the name of the external drive. Drives are named using letters -- the first drive is "sda," followed by "sdb," "sdc," and so on -- with only the final letter changing. Be sure the virtual machine is not running when you enter this command. Depending on the size of the virtual machine and speed of your computer, it can take up to several hours for this process to complete.

  • Unplug the external hard drive.

  • Remove the drive from the external enclosure.

  • Install the hard drive back into the target computer. Restart the system, the virtual machine is installed as a physical system and will boot normally.

Converting in Windows

  • Download and install Linux Live USB Creator.

  • Download the Ubuntu Live CD.

  • Insert a USB memory stick and run Linux Live USB Creator.

  • Click the "Choose Your Key" drop-down menu and select the USB memory stick.

  • Click "ISO / IMG / ZIP" in the "Choose a Source" section, then browse to locate the Ubuntu Live ISO image.

  • Click the "MB" text box and enter "200."

  • Click the lighting icon at the bottom of the window to install Linux.

  • Restart the computer and boot using the USB memory stick. Consult your system manual for instructions on enabling USB booting.

  • Remove the hard drive from the computer you intend to install the virtual machine in. Consult the manufacturer's manual for specific instructions.

  • Insert the hard drive in the external enclosure and plug it into the computer running VMware. Consult the enclosure manual for specific instructions.

  • Click the "Administration" menu, open the "System" folder, and click "Synaptic Package Manager."

  • Type "qemu" and press enter to search.

  • Click the "qemu" package and select "Mark for Installation," and then click "Apply" to install it.

  • Open a terminal window and type the following command to mount your Windows hard drive:

    sudo mkdir /media/windows && sudo mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sda1 /media/windows

  • Type the following command to convert the virtual machine:

    qemu-img convert /media/windows/location/VirtualMachine.vmdk -O raw /dev/sdb

    Replace "/location/VirtualMachine.vmdk" with the file name and location of the virtual machine. If the computer has more than one internal drive, replace "/dev/sdb" with the name of the external drive. Drives are named using letters -- the first drive is "sda," followed by "sdb," "sdc," and so on -- with only the final letter changing. Depending on the size of the virtual machine and speed of your computer, it can take up to several hours for this process to complete.

  • Unplug the external hard drive.

  • Remove the drive from the external enclosure.

  • Install the hard drive back into the target computer. Restart the system, the virtual machine is installed as a physical system and will boot normally.

References

  • Photo Credit Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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