Thursday, 15 December 2011

Convert a Windows machine to a VMware VM with Clonezilla

I have had need to do manual conversions of physical and virtual machines for several reasons previously. Some of these reasons have included:
  • There is not enough free space on the machine's disk(s), (also know as "I haven't got time to wait for the machine's administrator to tidy up")
  • VMware Convert no longer supports the conversion of that operating system.
  • We can't afford PlateSpin
  • I wonder if I could do a conversion the hard way.
This takes me back to my first ESX Project. The company I worked for had about 8 test machines sitting along one office wall. The situation was already out of hand and I was being asked for more test machines. I decided we needed a to think big and decided on and got approved ESX on a couple of big (at least for us) servers to virtualise the test environment. I managed to simply move all the test machines by installing a fresh OS and installing and configuring all the software my self, with the help of the relevant departments. I then came to our Windows NT 4.0 software build machine.... No-one, not even the developer that put it together knew what was on there. We were building releases every couple of weeks at the time. It goes without saying this is not a good place to be, and baring a complete hardware failure on the physical machine there was no way anyone was going to be rebuilding the machine. I scratched my head and had previously used dd and tar to move installs from one machine to another on Linux, so I had a crack at it, and to my surprise a few hours later I had run a P2V by hand with a Linux live CD. I had even managed convince Windows NT to let me switch the drives from IDE to SCSI.

Having used Clonezilla to store a few images from machines that were shipped without restore media in the past, I wondered how easy it would be to back up an image of a machine and restore it into a new virtual environment. As it turns out with Clonezilla I don't even need to create an image, the tools are there to transfer the data from one machine's disk and write it directly to the disk of another.

The conversion here is from a Xenserver VM to a VMware VM but the technique used here will probably work else where. 
  • Put a Clonezilla live CD in both your (virtual) machines and boot them.
  • The default boot option for Clonezilla worked fine for me on both machines, your mileage may vary.
  • Select your language options as necessary
On the source machine:
  • Select "Start_Clonezilla"
  • Select "device-device"
  • Select "Beginner"
  • Select "disk_to_remote_disk"
  • Select "dhcp" or assign an IP address with "static"
  • Now it should show you a list of disks in the system, select the one you wish to transfer.
  • Select "Skip checking/repairing source file system" 
  • Clonezilla will now show you the command it is about to run, press "Enter."
  • You will be asked to confirm at a few important stages that you wish to proceed.
  • When you see "Waiting for the target machine to connect..." you have finished with the source machine for now, except take a note of the commands it is telling you run on the destination machine (See below image.)
On the destination machine:
  • Select "Enter_shell"
  • Select (2)
  • Type: sudo su - (to change to the root user)
  • Type: ocs-live-netcfg (and setup the networking)
  • Type: ocs-onthefly -s 192.168.1.1 -t sda  (replacing 192.168.1.1 and sda with the relevant IP address and device name)
  • You will again be asked to confirm at poignant stages.
You should see a progress bar which includes an estimate for the finish time.


When this finishes you should now be able to boot the destination VM and install the VMWare tools to make everything pretty and efficient. Don't forget to install the paravirtual SCSI and network card drivers if your OS is supported.


If you have success (or failure) with this migration method please leave a comment below, it certainly helped me out of a hole.

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