I have a Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12.04 installed on my machine.

I'd like to know if it's possible to start my Windows 7 from WITHIN an opened Ubuntu session. The same way I would open a virtual machine with Virtual Box, but without having to create a virtual machine (Why would I recreate a windows 7 installation (approx 25GB), when I already have one installed on my computer...?)

I need to do some tests with IE9 and the other windows browsers...


What you need is not to start Windows without Vbox, but for your vbox to use the existing disk instead of a disk image. In other words, your Windows will still run within VirtualBox (there is no way around it!) but instead of installing it on a virtual disk image (VDI), you use an existing partition with an existing Windows installation.

You still have to create the virtual machine, but make it use a real disk.

As far as I can tell, this is possible. However, you might want to read the Virtualbox manual.

  • At the end it didn't work for me, I can create everything following his tutorial, but when I start the virtual machine it just hangs... I accept your answer anyway since it's the closest thing I could find to what I need – Pierre Oct 9 '12 at 10:08

No, it won't work.

Do not experiment with this on a productive machine

Ubuntu and Windows 7 are different operating systems. They can by definition not be run at the same time without the help of a virtualization software. As it may be possible to access a physical hard drive from a virtual machine (see this question) it is

  1. very unlikely you can actually boot the same Windows on both, a real machine and a virtual machine.
  2. not recommended to do so as anything writing to your system files may damage the OS to become inoperable.

You may convert an existing Windows to a virtual machine (see this question) but then it is not much more than an additional VM that will probably clutter your hard disk space more than a newly created machine.

My recommendation in case you still need to dual boot to Windows would therefore be to sacrifice the hard disk space needed for a newly created Window 7 virtual machine for testing Windows 7 applications while still running Ubuntu. You may want to consider to install a reduced version of Windows 7 in this machine. This can be done with RT seven Lite.

  • I'm not sure you understood my question. I have a working dual boot. I just want to be able to use my Windows partition in Ubuntu like any other Virtual Machine. My Windows is not actually booted... – Pierre Oct 9 '12 at 10:10
  • @Piero: you will soon see that it will not work the way you want it to. Doing so puts your Windows at risk. It may be possible to run Ubuntu from a raw disk in a VM but even this is not safe and thus not recommended. – Takkat Oct 9 '12 at 10:52
  • Ok... Anyway it doesn't work so :) But I think it's too bad! – Pierre Oct 10 '12 at 8:07
  • @Piero: its not to be expected that a Windows installation can easily run on a different computer (nothing else is your VM) - just saying... Look at the gentoo page linked in the other answer. They don't tell you how to do it. The "Prepare Windows..." part is blank - guess why ;). – Takkat Oct 10 '12 at 8:21

I've done this in the past with VMWare Player. Before this was a pretty manual process, but now you can add a physical HDD easily. There is a trick to initial creation, however.

First create the new virtual machine, you will be forced to create a virtual disk, just set the size to 0.

Afterwards, edit the newly created VM, remove the HDD and add a new one. Choose 'Physical Device' and choose the device or partition.

And now the catch. The hardware on this will be different than the hardware on your actual machine. It's very likely Windows will have no trouble setting this up as VMPlayer uses pretty generic hardware, but you can never be sure if you trip some Windows Genuine Advantage crap. I never had much trouble with it, but you never know.

This really is no different than pulling the hard drive out and plugging it into another motherboard or something.

  • Also, vmplayer will allow you to set Windows into Unity mode, where the applications look like native applications. – MattK Feb 8 '13 at 21:13

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