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Many users install VMware Workstation on a dual-boot or multiple-boot computer so they can run one or more of the existing operating systems in a virtual machine. If you are doing this, you may want to use the existing installation of an operating system rather than reinstall it in a virtual machine.
To support such installations, VMware Workstation makes it possible for you to use a physical IDE disk or partition, also known as a raw disk, inside a virtual machine.
Note: VMware Workstation supports booting from raw disk partitions only on IDE drives. Booting guest operating systems from raw SCSI drives is not supported. For a discussion of the issues on a Linux host, see Configuring Dual- or Multiple-Boot SCSI Systems to Run with VMware Workstation on a Linux Host.
Setting up a raw disk configuration for a virtual machine is more complicated than using a virtual disk. Virtual disks are recommended unless you have a specific need to run directly from a physical disk or partition.
Caution: Raw disks are an advanced feature and should be configured only by expert users.
You may sometimes want to run an operating system inside a virtual machine and at other times want to run that same installation of the operating system by booting the host computer directly into that operating system. If you want to use this approach, you must be aware of some special considerations
The issues arise because the virtual hardware that the operating system sees when it is running in a virtual machine is different from the physical hardware it sees when it is running directly on the host computer. It is as if you were removing the boot drive from one physical computer and running the operating system installed there in a second computer with a different motherboard, video card and other peripherals - then moving it back and forth between the two systems.
The general approach for resolving these issues is to set up profiles for each of the two operating environments - the virtual machine and the physical computer. You can then choose the appropriate profile when you start the operating system. On some hardware, however, booting a previously installed operating system within a virtual machine may not work.
Technical notes in this section document the issues most commonly encountered with various guest operating systems. Read the notes that apply to your guest operating system before you begin to set up your virtual machine.
Before you begin, be sure to read all the sections listed under the name of the operating system you intend to run as a guest in a virtual machine.
Caution: Running a Windows Server 2003 guest from a raw disk is not supported. You should not test a Windows Server 2003 raw disk configuration in a production environment.
Caution: Running a Windows XP guest from a raw disk is not supported. You should not test a Windows XP raw disk configuration in a production environment.
It is also possible to install a guest operating system on a raw disk when you plan to use that disk only within a virtual machine. For details on setting up a such a configuration, see Installing an Operating System onto a Raw Partition from a Virtual Machine.