I don't expect the exe version to work like you expect since they run in wine.
You absolutely should have a second disk in your PC and you should boot a live or backup system in order to create an image from your system. Booting a live system should never be dangerous to your current OS.
The most straight forward approach is this. It won't give you any software related problems:
dd (disk dump) to create an image from your disk, something like:
sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/media/hdd/disk.img bs=1M
if is input file,
of is output file,
bs is block size and
1M will speed up the transfer.)
After that convert the image using
qemu-img convert -f raw -O vmdk /media/hdd/disk.img /media/hdd/disk.vmdk
You may delete
/media/hdd/disk.img as soon as your VMWare works.
Be aware that you temporarily need up to twice the disk space of the size of your source disk, which means you cannot dump the system without a second hard drive.
Be careful with
dd, if you output to disk (
of=/dev/...) instead of a file, you will destroy your data on that disk. Apart from this it's totally safe. I did this a thousand times without backup ;)
Afterwards you can simply create a new virtual machine with similar specs as your real system. Then instead of creating a new disk choose the one we created using
Another idea: probably you can convert directly from disk
sudo qemu-img convert -f raw -O vmdk /dev/sda /media/hdd/disk.vmdk
but I haven't tried this yet. Would speed up the process by 90%
Note: you should boot a live CD for execution of DD else some data on the disk.img might be corrupt. This should not be a problem since most data that is modified (logs, temp) is not vital to a system. But eg. databases will be broken (in theory).
If you cannot boot a live CD, please run your system with as few processes as possible. Usually you can achieve this in Linux by calling
sudo init 1. This will shutdown your GUI session and bring you to a text mode login.