VMWare Converter is pretty neat. It can suck the gut out of a physical machine, while it is running, and create a virtual machine based on it. I’ve done that and was reasonably pleased with the result. You can also supply it with a virtual machine generated using Microsoft Virtual PC (7 and higher) or Microsoft Virtual Server, and it will convert that into a VMWare virtual machine, although I didn’t try that myself. I may do that in the future.
Note, Converter can only convert Windows boxes, no Linux, no BSD, and such, as far as I can tell.
Here is a note for myself and whoever finds it useful.
1. Downloaded Converter;
2. Upon install, Converter told me that I could use VMWare Converter boot CD, if I want to convert the machine I was installing Converter on, to a virtual machine. Some reading gave me the impression that the image converted using the Converter boot CD only works under VMWare Server Enterprise, so I didn’t take that route. I could be wrong on it though. Plus, VMWare didn’t make it very easy to get the Converter CD;
3. Installation was easy enough. When it was done, I fired it up, and clicked Import Machine button. I then picked the local machine as the source machine. The program then asked for destination, I picked a folder on the local machine. I said yes to the question below.
VMware Converter Import Wizard
The selected destination is the same as the source machine. Are you sure you want to clone the machine onto itself?
4. Somewhere along the way, I was asked if I want to give the virtual machine a name and supply sysprep files. I intended to run this virtual machine on the host on which it was based, so I gave it a different name. I think it also asked for organization name and such. Anything will do here;
5. Locating the deploy.cab files for sysprep created a little hassle. The converter wizard provided some hint via a message box, telling me to search for “sysprep Windows XP SP2” and the like in Microsoft’s site. In my case, I searched for “sysprep Windows 2003 Enterprise R2 SP2”, which led me to this site. I downloaded and installed it, but it didn’t seem to do anything, and didn’t provide deploy.cab that I needed;
6. After checking around for a while, I decided to download the SP2 ISO image from Microsoft, and used 7zip to get deploy.cab out of the image. I then expanded deploy.cab into a folder;
7. Clicking through the wizard, it proposed 3 NIC cards for the machine. I took that, and they were all bridged Ethernet cards. Finally it started importing. On my machine of Windows 2003 Server Enterprise R2 SP2 with Sql Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 installed, the process took 29 minutes;
8. Afterwards, I clicked the Configure Machine button. It seemed that this process gave the virtual machine its name, and somehow hooked up with sysprep files, or not. It took less than 30 seconds to finish;
9. Downloaded and installed VMWare Server. Part of it was the web management interface, or something like that. It needs IIS, the host didn’t have it and I didn’t intend to install it, at least for now. So I skipped that component;
10. Double clicked the vmx file to open it. Click the Run button to run the machine. The virtual machine booted up, but then rebooted, at this stage I saw the sysprep thing running. A few reboots later, it became stable and was functional. It was a bit sluggish, especially inside the virtual machine, but it worked;
11. I then downloaded a LAMP virtual appliance from here. It is light, and it runs pretty well. To use the words of International Man of Mystery: Groovy, baby!