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Configuring Dual- or Multiple-Boot Systems to Run with VMware Workstation

Configuring Dual- or Multiple-Boot Systems to Run with VMware Workstation

VMware Workstation uses description files to control access to each raw IDE device on the system. These description files contain access privilege information that controls a virtual machine's access to certain partitions on the disks. This mechanism prevents users from accidentally running the host operating system again as a guest or running a guest operating system that the virtual machine was not configured to use. The description file also prevents accidental corruption of raw disk partitions by badly behaved operating systems or applications.

Use the New Virtual Machine Wizard to configure VMware Workstation to use existing raw disk partitions. The wizard guides you though creating a configuration for a new virtual machine including configuring the raw disk description files. Typically, you rerun the wizard to create a separate configuration for each guest operating system installed on a raw partition.

If a boot manager is installed on the computer system, the boot manager runs inside the virtual machine and presents you with the choice of guest operating systems to run. You must manually choose the guest operating system that this configuration was intended to run.

Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 Dynamic Disks

Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 Dynamic Disks

If your host is running Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 and is using dynamic disks, see Do Not Use Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 Dynamic Disks as Raw Disks.

Using the LILO Boot Loader

Using the LILO Boot Loader

If you are using the LILO boot loader and try to boot a virtual machine from an existing raw partition, you may see L 01 01 01 01 01 01 ... instead of a LILO: prompt. This can happen regardless of the host operating system. As part of booting a physical PC or a virtual machine, the BIOS passes control to code located in the master boot record (MBR) of the boot device. LILO begins running from the MBR, and in order to finish running correctly, it needs access to the native Linux partition where the rest of LILO is located — usually the partition with the /boot directory. If LILO can't access the rest of itself, an error message like the one above appears.

To avoid the problem, follow the configuration steps below and be sure to select the native Linux partition where the rest of LILO is located. The next time the virtual machine tries to boot, the LILO code in the MBR should be able to access the rest of LILO and display the normal LILO: prompt.

Configuring a Windows Host

Configuring a Windows Host

Use the following steps to run a guest operating system from a raw disk.

Note: If you use a Windows host's IDE disk in a raw disk configuration, you must not configure it as the slave on the secondary IDE channel if the master on that channel is a CD-ROM drive.

  1. If you are running a Windows guest operating system, read Setting Up Hardware Profiles in Virtual Machines. You should boot the guest operating system natively on the computer and create a hardware profile for the virtual machine before proceeding.
  2. Create a separate configuration for each guest operating system.

    To configure a virtual machine to run from a raw disk or disk partition, start the New Virtual Machine Wizard (File > New Virtual Machine) and select Custom.

  3. When you reach the Select a Disk step, select Use a physical disk.
  4. Complete the wizard steps, specifying the appropriate disk or partition to use for this virtual machine.

    Note: The maximum size of an IDE disk in a virtual machine is 128GB.

  5. To run multiple guest operating systems from different raw disk partitions, unmap these partitions on the host.

    On a Windows NT host, use the Disk Administrator (Start > Programs > Administrative Tools). First highlight the partition that contains the guest operating system, then select Assign Drive Letter from the Tools menu. In this form, choose Do not assign a drive letter for the partition and click OK. The unmapping happens immediately.

    On a Windows Server 2003, Windows XP or Windows 2000 host, use Disk Management (Start > Settings > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Storage > Disk Management). Select the partition you want to unmap, then from the Action menu select All Tasks > Change Drive Letter and Path. Click the Remove button.

  6. Use the virtual machine settings editor (VM > Settings) if you want to change any configuration options from the wizard defaults — for example, to change the amount of memory allocated to the guest operating system.
  7. If you have multiple IDE drives configured on a system, the VMware BIOS normally attempts to boot them in this sequence:
    1. Primary master
    2. Primary slave
    3. Secondary master
    4. Secondary slave

      If you have multiple SCSI drives configured on a system, the VMware BIOS normally attempts to boot them in the order of the SCSI device number.

      If you have both SCSI and IDE drives configured, the VMware BIOS normally attempts to boot SCSI drives followed by IDE drives, in the order described above.

      The boot sequence can be changed in the Boot menu of the virtual machine's Phoenix BIOS. After powering on the virtual machine, press F2 during the BIOS boot in the virtual machine to enter the BIOS setup menu.

  8. Power on the virtual machine. Click the Power On button. The virtual machine starts, runs the Phoenix BIOS, then boots from the master boot record (MBR).

    Choose the target operating system from the list of options offered by the boot manager.

  9. Remember that your virtual machine hardware environment, which the guest operating system is about to run in for the first time, probably differs significantly from the physical hardware of your host computer.

    For Windows guest operating systems, Plug and Play reconfigures Windows. Set up your virtual hardware profile with the devices found and configured by Plug and Play. See Setting Up Hardware Profiles in Virtual Machines for more information.

  10. Install VMware Tools in your guest operating system.

Warning: If you take a snapshot while using your raw disk, you must either revert to the snapshot or remove the snapshot before you reboot your guest operating system natively. This is necessary because any changes to sectors on the physical disk that have been modified on the disk invalidate the snapshot for the disk.

Configuring a Linux Host

Configuring a Linux Host

  1. If you are running a Windows guest operating system, read Setting Up Hardware Profiles in Virtual Machines. You should boot the guest operating system natively on the computer and create a hardware profile for the virtual machine before proceeding.
  2. Create a separate configuration for each guest operating system.
  3. Check operating system partition mounts. Be sure the existing disk partitions that you plan to configure the virtual machine to use are not mounted by Linux.
  4. Set the device group membership or device ownership.

    The master raw disk device or devices need to be readable and writable by the user who runs VMware Workstation. On most distributions, the raw devices, such as /dev/hda (IDE raw disk) and /dev/sda (SCSI raw disk) belong to group-id disk. If this is the case, you can add VMware Workstation users to the disk group. Another option is to change the owner of the device. Please think carefully about security issues when exploring different options here.

    Often, the most convenient approach is to grant VMware Workstation users access to all /dev/hd[abcd] raw devices that contain operating systems or boot managers and then rely on VMware Workstation's raw disk configuration files to guard access. This provides boot managers access to configuration files and other files they may need to boot the operating systems. For example, LILO needs to read /boot on a Linux partition to boot a non-Linux operating system that may be on another drive. As noted above, you should consider the security implications of the configuration you choose.

  5. If you plan to run a second Linux installation from an existing partition as a guest operating system and your physical computer's /etc/lilo.conf has a memory register statement such as Append= "mem...", you may want to adjust the append memory parameter or create a new entry in LILO for running Linux in a virtual machine.

    If the amount of memory configured in lilo.conf exceeds the amount of memory assigned to the virtual machine, then when the virtual machine tries to boot the second Linux installation, the guest operating system will most likely panic.

    You can create another entry in lilo.conf for running Linux in a virtual machine by specifying a different amount of memory than what would normally be recognized when Linux boots directly on the physical machine.

  6. To configure a virtual machine to run from a raw disk partition, start the New Virtual Machine Wizard (File > New Virtual Machine) and select Custom.
  7. When you reach the Select a Disk step, select Use a physical disk.
  8. Complete the wizard steps, specifying the appropriate disk or partition to use for this virtual machine.

    Caution: Corruption is possible if you allow the virtual machine to modify a partition that is simultaneously mounted under Linux. Since the virtual machine and guest operating system access an existing partition while the host continues to run Linux, it is critical that the virtual machine not be allowed to modify any partition mounted under Linux or in use by another virtual machine.

    To safeguard against this problem, be sure the partition you use in the virtual machine is not mounted under the Linux host.

  9. Complete the remaining steps in the wizard.
  10. If you have multiple IDE drives configured on a system, the VMware BIOS normally attempts to boot them in this sequence:
    1. Primary master
    2. Primary slave
    3. Secondary master
    4. Secondary slave

      If you have multiple SCSI drives configured on a system, the VMware BIOS normally attempts to boot them in the order of the SCSI device number.

      If you have both SCSI and IDE drives configured, the VMware BIOS normally attempts to boot SCSI drives followed by IDE drives, in the order described above.

      You can change the boot sequence using the Boot menu of the virtual machine's Phoenix BIOS. To enter the BIOS setup utility, power on the virtual machine and press F2 as the virtual machine begins to boot.

  11. Power on the virtual machine. Click the Power On button. The virtual machine starts, runs the Phoenix BIOS, then boots from the master boot record (MBR).

    Choose the target operating system from the list of options offered by the boot manager.

  12. Remember that your virtual machine hardware environment, which the guest operating system is about to run in for the first time, probably differs significantly from the physical hardware of your machine.

    For Windows guest operating systems, Plug and Play reconfigures Windows. Set up your virtual hardware profile with the devices found and configured by Plug and Play. See Setting Up Hardware Profiles in Virtual Machines for more information.

  13. Install VMware Tools in your guest operating system.

Warning: If you take a snapshot while using your raw disk, you must either revert to the snapshot or remove the snapshot before you reboot your guest operating system natively. This is necessary because any changes to sectors on the physical disk that have been modified on the disk invalidate the snapshot for the disk.

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