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

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:

  • Debian Sarge: http://www.
  • Ubuntu Dapper Drake: http://www.



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:


3 Convert Your Windows Desktop Into A Virtual Machine

Now start VMware Converter (it will start automatically if you have chosen Run VMware Converter now. at the end of the VMware Converter installlation).

We don’t need to add licenses as VMware Converter’s Starter Mode offers all we need (and in Starter Mode VMware Converter is free). Therefore we click on Continue in Starter Mode:


The VMware Converter interface opens. Please click on Import Machine:


The VMware Converter wizard starts. Click on Next:


Click on Next again:


Choose Physical computer as the source:


We want to convert the local machine, therefore we select This local machine and click on Next:


Select the volumes that you want to convert. Normally the default values are ok:


Click on Next:


I want to run the virtual machine in VMware Server, therefore I select VMware standalone virtual machine (Workstation or VMware Server):


Specify a name for the new virtual machine (e.g. Windows XP Desktop) and select the location where the virtual machine will be created. You can select a local folder, but VMware Converter will display a warning if the destination folder is on the system that is going to be converted. A better idea is to select a network folder, for example the Virtual Machines folder on the system where VMware Server is installed (e.g. your new Linux desktop). This also has the benefit that you don’t have to copy the virtual machine to another folder/system after the conversion since the virtual machine is already in place.


Select Workstation 5.x, VMware Server, VMware Player for Type of virtual machine to create and click on Next:


If the destination folder is password-protected, you have to specify a username and password:


Next you can make some choices regarding the Disk Space Allocation. Usually Allow virtual disk files to grow is a good choice:


VMware Converter checks some settings:


Next specify some network settings for the virtual machine. Usually Bridge is the best choice:


Afterwards you can do some customizations, but it’s not necessary. Then click on Next:


Check all settings again, and if they are ok, click on Finish:


The conversion begins. This can take some minutes, so please be patient. If you check the destination folder at the same time (for example the Virtual Machines folder on our VMware Server system), you will notice that a new directory with the name of the virtual machine (e.g. Windows XP Desktop) has been created, and in it the virtual machine is being created:


This is how it looks after the completed conversion:


To check the details of the conversion, you can click on the Task Progress tab:


4 Start Your Virtual Machine

Now go to the system where VMware Server is installed, e.g. your Linux desktop or some other Windows desktop. (You can find guides for installing VMware Server on Debian Sarge and Ubuntu Dapper Drake here:

  • Debian Sarge: http://www.
  • Ubuntu Dapper Drake: http://www.


Then import the Windows XP Desktop virtual machine into your VMware Server as described here: http://www.

Afterwards start it. If all goes well, your old Windows desktop should come up in VMware Server:




  • VMware:
  • VMware Converter:
  • VMware Server:
  • VMware Player: