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I have been having difficulty running Windows 7 from the physical disk in VirtualBox on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

Installed VirtualBox using the Software Center, and created a Windows 7 VM and empty virtual disk, as a test.

Tried to start the VM and VirtualBox complained about a driver version mismatch. Since the version of VirtualBox was not the latest, I downloaded the latest (from here) and installed it.

After a few attempts to start VirtualBox and the VM, VirtualBox was complaining that another version was running. Thinking I'd start anew, I restarted the host Ubuntu machine.

A GTK error message appeared, and my autostart windows had no decorations. Following this answer to How do I reset my Unity configuration?, I have recovered the desktop.

So, the question is, how to run Windows 7 from a real disk in VirtualBox?

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The remainder of this answer is a log of what worked for me.

I re-installed VirtualBox, and following advice here and 9.9.1.2. Access to individual physical hard disk partitions I created a VDMK file to access the Windows 7 partition.

Tried to create a VM (more than once) and got permission errors. The VBoxManage command created the VMDK as root, so I changed the file owner to my uid. The next permission error was that the my uid didn't have access to /dev/sda. Fixed by adding my uid to the disk group.

Finally the VM started! But grub complained

error: unknown filesystem.  
grub rescue>

as in Grub rescue - error: unknown filesystem.

Since making a mistake with grub can be disastrous, I built a new VMDK file to access the whole disk (all on one line):

VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename /home/myuid/mydid/Wholedisk.vmdk -rawdisk /dev/sda

Voilà! The VM started, the grub menu showed, I selected Windows7, and it started.

I think I still have to change grub, so that the default is now Windows 7, otherwise it will try to start Ubuntu, and I'll have two copies of Ubuntu modifying my HD.

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