Dec 122011

So, I use linux exclusively….for everything except my photography post-processing.  I don’t care about the rants and raves people give me about gimp, my workflow has included photoshop since Photoshop v3.0 (like mid-1990’s), and its just too hard to switch… I keep one windows machine around just to do photoshop tasks.

Now that I have my fluxbox bliss on my 16GB Quad-core machine dual booting with the factory Windows 7….I thought it would be nice to be able to run windows 7 inside of Linux.  In the past, I always did the “virtualbox from new installation”.  Its kind of a pain in the ass and a huge waste of disk space.

Doing some quick research, I found several articles on booting the physically installed windows in virtualbox and after many trials and errors, I found a simple solution that works.

Here is how I set it up…..

For whatever reason, in linux my system boots with these drives assigned like this:

/dev/sda - external 1TB USB3 disk
/dev/sdb - windows 7 1TB (physical disk /dev/sda - see above)
/dev/sdc - Linux 1 TB
/dev/sdd - external 1TB USB2 disk
/dev/sde - external 500GB usb2 disk

So my Windows drive has three partitions.  /dev/sdb1 is the boot partition, about 100mb.  /dev/sdb2 is the 900GB windows partition.  /dev/sdb4 is a recovery partition created by HP.

Before we go any further, if you have created a user account in backtrack so that you don’t have to run everything as root (which I certainly hope you have), we need to make sure your user is part of the disk and vboxusers groups.  This is done like this:

$ sudo usermod -a -G disk,vboxusers <yourusername>

My windows drive as seen by fdisk… you can also see where I got the partition numbers below.

$ fdisk -l /dev/sdb
Disk /dev/sdb: 1000.2 GB, 1000204886016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 121601 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x1549f232
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sdb1 * 1 13 102400 7 HPFS/NTFS
Partition 1 does not end on cylinder boundary.
/dev/sdb2 13 119992 963724288 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sdb4 119992 121602 12933120 7 HPFS/NTFS

So first we need to create a mbr backup to use with the fake drive.
$ sudo dd if=/dev/sdb of=bootsecc.mbr bs=512 count=1

Next, we create and register a new virtualbox machine that matches our version of installed windows (mine is windows 7, 64 bit)
$ VBoxManage createvm --name win7 --ostype Windows7_64 --register
Virtual machine 'win7' is created and registered.
UUID: e62d8ebd-e6ff-40a9-b421-bf4c3610aa4b
Settings file: '/home/ewiget/VirtualBox VMs/win7/win7.vbox'

Next, we set up the amount of memory to dedicate to the vm, and some of the hardware properties. It is critical you have acpi on.
$ VBoxManage modifyvm "win7" --memory 8192 --acpi on --boot1 disk --nic1 nat

Next, we set additional ide controller properties, and it is critical this is et to ICH6.
$ VBoxManage storagectl "win7" --name "IDE Controller" --add ide --controller ICH6

Finally, we create the actual fake disk image that access the physical /dev/sdb drive. Make sure you have the -partitions to match your device.
$ VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename win7j.vmdk -rawdisk /dev/sdb -partitions 1,2,4 -mbr bootsecc.mbr -relative
RAW host disk access VMDK file win7j.vmdk created successfully.

We now add the created fake disk to the virtualbox vm.
$ VBoxManage storageattach win7 --storagectl "IDE Controller" --port 0 --device 0 --type hdd --medium win7j.vmdk

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