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Knoppix, Partimage, VMware, mmmm

Posted by edburns on December 4, 2006 at 5:56 AM PST


I had been doing the multi-boot thing on my Toshiba Satellite
5205-S703 since I bought it in late 2002. It came factory installed
with Windows XP Home Edition (monopoly anyone?) on an NTFS partition.
Thanks to Partition Magic 7.0, I soon ended up with the following
partition table:

Physical Geometry: 7,926 Cyls, 255 Hds, 63, Sects

Drive: C:
Partition Type: 07 (Hex) NTFS
Serial Number: F8CD:F94F
Total Physical Sectors: 80,080,632 (3,945.6 MB)

Drive: E:
Partition Type: 08 (Hex) FAT32
Serial Number: None
Total Physical Sectors: 8,353,800 (4,079.0 MB)

Drive: Extended
Partition Type: 0F (Hex) ExtendedX
Serial Number: None
Total Physical Sectors: 100,775,745 (49,206.9 MB)

Drive: F:
Partition Type: 08 (Hex) FAT32
Serial Number: None
Total Physical Sectors: 78,605,982 (38,381.8 MB)

Partition Type: 82 (Hex) Linux Swap
Serial Number: None
Total Physical Sectors: 2,120,517 (1,035.4 MB)

Drive: Linux Ext2
Partition Type: 83 (Hex) Linux Ext2
Serial Number: None
Total Physical Sectors: 20,049,057 (9,789.6 MB)

C: contained the factory Windows XP, E: contained Windows 2000
Professional, where I did most of my production work, including work on
. In the GNU/Linux partition, I ran Sun Java Desktop System
Linux. I used GRUB as my bootloader, but somehow managed to have the
Windows bootloader in there as well (like a sub-menu) to choose between
Win XP and 2k, once "Windows" had been chosen from the main menu. I
never bothered to fix that.

At the JAOO
conference, VMware was giving out free licenses to their VMware
workstation 5.5 product. Seeing an opportunity to free myself from the
shackles of a multi-boot existence, I took one. Several months later, I
began the long and arduous process of converting my multi-boot machine
into one that just boots the factory installed OS (since that's the only
thing officially supported by the manufacturer anyway) and uses VMs for
the other OSes.


I wanted to convert the OSes installed in my real hard disk
partitions into VMs. Here is the high level process I will use.

  1. Install VMware Workstation 5.5 under the Windows XP OS,
    using an external disk for extra space and to contain the VMs
    for the guest OSes.

  2. For each OS on a real partition on my disk

    1. Use a Knoppix 3.7
      CD I had made years ago to boot the Toshiba laptop. Once
      booted into Knoppix, use partimage to create partition images
      of all the OS partitions on the mahcine. Swap partitions
      needn't be imaged, for obvious reasons, and data partitions
      needn't be imaged because they can simply be copied. I stored
      the partimage files on an external disk.

    2. Create a VM for that OS, storing it on an external

    3. Boot the VM into Knoppix

    4. Install VMware tools into the running Knoppix instance
      so I can access the partimage files using the "shared folders"
      feature of VMware.

    5. Use partimage to restore the OS partition into the
      virtual hard disk of the VM.

    6. Re-install the appropriate boot loader for that OS to
      enable that OS to boot.

  3. Once VMs had been created, on an external disk, for all
    the OSes on real partitions, completely and totally wipe,
    defrag, and re-install from factory media the laptop. After
    the factory restore has completed, run Windows update however
    many times I need to get the machine totally up to snuff and
    current. Re-install virus protection software and other
    essential goodies. Note, on the core, non virtual OS, I plan
    to install very little real software, just stuff that
    absolutely has to have access to the real hardware.

Details for the hard part: Steps b. thru f. above

  1. Create the new VM using VMware.

    Set the guest OS type to be the type of the OS stored in your
    partimage files.

    Make sure the hard drive types (IDE or SCSI) match what is in
    the partimage files. I chose to pre-allocate space. Not sure
    if this is necessary.

    Make the same amount of disk space is allocated in the VM as was in
    the partition from which the partimage files were made.

    Because you are using the Knoppix live CD, you need to mount a second
    CDROM drive from the linux.iso file, located in the install
    directory of VMware. Make sure to assign IDE 1.1 to this virtual CDROM

    Use the VMware shared folders feature to expose your partimage files
    to the VM.

  2. Boot knoppix and install VMware tools into the running
    Knoppix instance.

    Download the vmware-knoppix-overlay.tar.gz to a real
    machine on which an FTP server is running. In fact, this can be the
    VMware host machine, but it needn't be.

    With the Knoppix CD in the drive, start the VM, pressing escape
    during the VMware startup screen to enter the boot menu. Select

    When Knoppix starts up, get root access: su - , then

    cd /tmp
    tar -zxf /mnt/cdrom1/VMwareTools-5.5.3-34685.tar.gz

    Use FTP to transfer the
    vmware-knoppix-overlay.tar.gz file to /tmp in Knoppix.

    cd /
    tar -zxf /tmp/vmware-knoppix-overlay.tar.gz
    cd /tmp/vmware-tools-distrib

    This will run the modified VMware installer for Knoppix. When it
    asks "In which directory do you want to install the binary files?"
    answer /ramdisk/bin.

    Accept the defaults for the rest of the questions until it asks,
    "What is the location of the directory of C header files that match your
    running kernel?" Answer

    When done with these scripts, you should have access to your shared
    folders under the path /mnt/hgfs.

  3. Use fdisk under knoppix to partition the
    virtual disk, most likely it will be /dev/hda, in
    such a way that it is equivalent to the partimage files you
    are going to restore. For example, if the partimage files
    were created from a JFS filesystem, use JFS as
    the partition type in fdisk. If you need to
    create a swap partition, make sure to do that as

  4. Use partimage to restore the image files under
    /mnt/hgfs to the new virtual disk.

  5. Lastly, you need to make sure that the boot loader has
    been restored. It's very unlikely that you can use the
    bootloader that happened to be installed in the partimage
    files. Of course, bootloaders are a matter of preference, but
    I used GRUB. Here's what I had to do in my case.

    Back at the root prompt in Knoppix:

    mkdir /mnt/hda1
    mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/hda1
    cd /mnt/hda1/boot
    cp -r grub grub.orig
    rm -rf grub
    grub-install --no-floppy --root-directory=/mnt/hda1 --recheck /dev/hda

    At this pount the guest OS should boot.

Of course, your mileage may vary, but hopefully there is some useful
information here. It was a PITA for me to figure this out so I thought
I ought to share it once I did.

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