Thursday, 23 August 2012

Centos 6/RHEL VMware-Workstation import VirtualBox Debian Linux image

With the 4.1 release of VirtualBox it is fairly easy to export an image in the VMDK format to import into VMware-Workstation should the need arise, either through bad planning or simply through a desire to do so.

This tutorial walks through the installation of Debian Linux on VirtualBox, then the cloning and exporting of it into VMware-Workstation in a fully working condition. If you have not yet installed VirtualBox go to the quick tutorial. It also assumes that you have VMware-Workstation installed somewhere though not necessarily on the same machine. The host operating system is Centos 6 Linux.


I used a Debian disk but you should be able to use any distro.


The main thing to remember when first installing the guest OS on VirtualBox is ensure that the hard disk type chosen is the VMDK format, in case the need arises to move it.


The following shows the installation of a Debian Linux distro onto VirtualBox and then the cloning of it into VMware-Workstation.


Installing on VirtualBox



Open VirtualBox and create new virtual disk


Assign a suitable ram amount

Create a new disk


Select the VMDK format


Select fixed disk 

Assign a disk size

Hit 'Create' and wait

After a few minutes your disk will be created and ready to install the operating system. I am not going to go into that here as I assume that if you are a Linux user you will know how to install an operating system whether it is on a VM or a physical drive. Just be aware that during the installation process it is probably best to select full screen mode and you may have to toggle between VM and your computer occasionally with Right Ctrl.

Below is the OS as I installed it after completing the steps described above.

Debian installed on Virtualbox

Cloning from VirtualBox

Now we are going to clone the Debian VM into a state ready to import into VMware-Workstation.

With your VM shut down but selected in the left panel, go to 'Machine' > 'Clone' remembering to check the
'reinitialise the mac address' box


Click 'Next' and at the next screen select 'Full Clone', then hit 'clone' and wait. It takes quite a while to complete, when it does you will have a clone folder in your VirtualBox VMs directory.

Now copy the clone folder to the VMware directory which should be in your home directory. Do this manually via your file manager as it can get messy in the terminal due to folder name spaces.

Once it has copied over we are ready to start the import.

Importing into VMware-Workstation

Open up VMware and start the New Virtual Machine wizard.

Select advanced options

Leave at defaults

Select install OS later

Select OS type and browse to the folder you copied earlier

Select a suitable ram amount

Select network connection

Select hard drive controller

Select use existing disc

Browse to the cloned disk and select it

Select convert to newer format

Click finish and your cloned disk is imported ready to start.

So now your new import will be showing as 'Other Linux' unless you specified a distribution, hit 'Power on this Virtual Machine'
and let it load up. You will get something resembling the image below.

  Debian cloned from VirtualBox into VMware-Workstation

You can now install VMware tools and finish any drivers etc. The above procedure can be performed on any OS you have installed, not just Linux guests.

Check out a similar tutorial using Windows Vista as the guest OS.