Monday, November 30, 2009

Windows P2V Failures

First, the bad news: I have made several attempts at doing a Windows P2V, and they have all failed. Last night's attempt with the Citrix XenConvert software was no better... Except it lead me to realize why my attempts were all dismal failures.

Before we get to the the why, let me point out that Citrix XenConvert is one seriously cool tool. More on the later.

Now, the good news: All my P2V attempts have grabbed the drive from the Windows system (all have been XP), and written the content to the VMs drive. I can mount the drive and see the NTFS partition. When I boot the VM, they uniformly refuse to load.

And the problem is... All my Windows systems are dual boot. This means that when the P2V software packages the physical machine, it grabs the MBR and the NTFS, but misses the /boot partition. Without /boot, it can't get the grub.conf to realize that it doesn't need /boot.

The solution should be fdisk /mbr, but in order for that to work, you needed the Administrator password to the physical system. (Notice we are talking about the Administrative account, not an account with admin access.) Unfortunately, Compaq and HP obscure the account on their pre-installed systems. Oops.

In order to test that the problem is grub related, I plan to recover one of the systems to factory defaults, try the converter, then reinstall Linux.

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