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Virtualize your old computer

Virtualization is process of separating a computer system from its underlying platform resources. In other words taking a system off of its existing hardware platform and letting it run on virtual resources. With today’s multi-core computers it has become easy to consolidate several older systems into one. VMware has released two tools that allow anyone to virtualize an existing system absolutely free in a few simple steps. Here’s how:

First you’ll need to download VMware Server and VMware Converter (Starter Edition). Install both tools on your most powerful system. My test system is a Sony VAIO with a Core2Duo 2.16GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM and 250GB of disks pace.

  1. Turn on the system you want to virtualize and make sure it is fully booted up. For this example I chose my old desktop which has been experiencing graphics card related problems recently.
  2. Jot down the IP address, username & password of the system you want to virtualize. You can find the IP address by viewing the Details your network adapter. NOTE: If the system you are virtualizing has a lot of data, you should consider using an Ethernet connection rather than a wifi connection to avoid long delays.
  3. Launch the VMware Converter software and click next twice. Enter the IP address of the system to be virtualized along with the username and password you jotted down in step 2.
  4. Next, VMware Converter will ask you if you want to uninstall the converter agent after the conversion process is done. I chose yes.
  5. Select the partitions your operating system is on. In my case there was a recovery partition I didn’t need so I left it unchecked.
  6. For Destination type choose “Other” and then specify your destination path. I found this a bit tricky. For some reason converter wants a network path here, so I ended up sharing a folder on my notebook and then entering that path like this: \localhostshare. Under type of Virtual Machine, pick the second option Workstation 5.x… NOTE: I chose the first option in my test (see screen-shots) and subsequently had to make some changes to both the VMX and VMDK files. If the second option is chosen this is unnecessary.
  7. Next I chose to allocate the disk space now and clicked through (leaving all subsequent options as default) until the wizard was complete.
  8. Once the conversion process was done I hit the Configure Machine button and clicked through the wizard leaving all options as default again.
  9. When configuration is complete, simply launch VMware Server and open the VMX file in the location you chose to save your virtualized system. Then simply start the new virtual machine.

After booting my test system for the first time a bunch of new hardware was found, but all of it auto installed without me providing any drivers and when all was set & done my new virtual machine ran better & faster than it did on the old desktop hardware.

July 17, 2008

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Comments for: Virtualize your old computer

  1. Darren

    Thanks, this is just what I was looking for. My old XP machine is dying but I need to keep the software on it running. I’ll try VMWare.

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