Running Windows in VirtualBox on Ubuntu

I have a couple of WindowsXP computers that I’m just not in a position to upgrade to later versions of Windows yet.

I’m wondering if this is a realistic proposition:

Create some free space on the hard drive, install Ubuntu as the new boot OS, install VirtualBox, then run the existing XP installation through VirtualBox.

I did a little research, and all the stuff I saw said the process goes: install Ubuntu, install VirtualBox, install XP. But I don’t want to re-install XP. I’m happy with the setup I’ve got and don’t want to start over.

Any thoughts? If I can virtualize this, I may be well on my way to eliminating some of the PCs I have taking up space in my office. :slight_smile:

No, it is unrealistic. It would also be rather pointless - if you run an existing install from a hard drive (vs. a virtual disk) you lose out on the main benefit of running XP in a VM - the ability to revert back to a known-clean snapshot (if/when you suspect a malware infection).

It’s theoretically possible to snapshot a hard drive of a physical machine and then transfer it into a VM, but it’s nearly always messy. At the very least, XP is going to discover that it’s running on different hardware (i.e. the virtual devices in the VM) and this will provoke it to demand licence key validation.

I think you might need the professional version of VMWare to actually make the snapshot, also.

The installation of Windows on your hard drive is based on your hardware. The virtual machine has magical, pretend hardware that an OS can install itself for, but that won’t match the hardware expected by your copy of Windows. Windows is unlikely to even be able to start up on it, even if you got a bootloader to try launching it.

You’re going to have to abandon the install. All you can save are your files.

I have it the proscribed way, Ubuntu/vbox/xp and so far the only major hang up remaining, is to get the printer working.

Can you image your current xp boxes and then reload if your going to do a clean install?


Sorry to have let this fall off my radar, everyone who replied!

This is what I think I was unconsciously afraid would be the problem, because I was specifically thinking “it’s the same box, it’s the same hardware,” and yet somehow still suspected there would be a catch.


I can image the drive, that’s actually how I choose to do my full backups. I’ve known for a long time I’d eventually need to abandon some of the solutions I’ve been employing and find other ways of doing what I want my computers to do, but I guess this one isn’t it.


I run XP in VirtualBox on Opensuse very satisfactorily if very rarely. However no virtual machine at present can use all the bare metal resources of the computer — such as full memory or graphics drivers.
You could just install Ubuntu and use that until you can get Windows 7/8.

You can do physical to virtual (P2V) transitions, but it is not trivial. You can have HAL and IDE driver issues. Look at for a guide. But YMMV.