How To Convert From a VMware Image To Virtualbox Image

VirtualBox is a virtual emulator like VMWare workstation. It has many of the features VMWare has, as well as some of its own.

I really like new Opensource VirtualBox from Sun. It is light on resources. Here is a quick tip – you can convert a VMware virtual machine to a VirtualBox machine using qemu-img utility.

Install qemu

qemu-img is included with qemu package. You can install it by typing:
$ sudo apt-get install qemu

Convert a VMWare Image to VirtualBox Image

Convert VMWare image called centos.vmdk to /tmp/centos.bin
$ qemu-img convert centos.vmdk /tmp/centos.bin
Now use VBoxManage to get back image in native format:
$ VBoxManage convertdd /tmp/centos.bin centos.vdi

I hope this quick tip will save some time.

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🐧 8 comments so far... add one
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8 comments… add one
  • Bryan Dec 22, 2008 @ 23:38

    What are your thoughts on vbox replacing vmware machines at a production level?

  • 🐧 nixCraft Dec 23, 2008 @ 3:56

    VB is good for home use but not for an enterprise. Right now I do not have a lot of reason to switch at work from VM to VB. On other hand we are using more and more Xen to save money.

  • David Dec 24, 2008 @ 23:48

    Actually, VirtualBox can use VMware images (*.vmdk) directly.

    Here is a video that shows the process:

  • David Lemcoe Dec 26, 2008 @ 17:29

    @Bryan I would NOT recommend it at a production level, because from my experience I believe VBox is just not stable enough or “old” enough to work. I personally love VMWare as a server, and I believe that VBox is (right now) for play. IMO

    Thanks for the post! I’ll be sure to try this out!

  • Zeiss Jan 19, 2009 @ 11:12

    Actually i had more .vmdk files in my vmware folder. So i chooses the one which equals the size of the virutal hard drive of 8 GB. And with this it worked. With the other .vmdk files it wont work.

  • Ward Christensen Apr 4, 2009 @ 2:22

    Hi, I find some VMware (server) directories have a small .vmdk which “describes” the disk, and even with snapshots, it just opens fine in VBox.

    I opened my Centos.vmdk with no problem – except the HW had changed, so x11 doesn’t work.

    I’m going to research that further.

    Good site, good postings! Thanks!

    Ward Christensen, inventor of Xmodem & (w/ HW Guru Randy Suess) BBSs

  • Ward Christensen Apr 4, 2009 @ 2:25

    P.S. I tried mounting the VBox CD and ran the linux…x86 version to get the plugins, and it said I needed to recompile the kernel, haha. Back to the researching board.

  • huahsin68 Jun 18, 2009 @ 0:51

    Nice post!! Thank you for sharing the tips. It could be my alternative solution when problem arise. I have experience on using VMWare in my company and VirtualBox in my research lab. I’m using XP as host and Red Hat 9 as guess in both environment. Both are running well. Just that some minor problem in VB when screen saver is triggered in RedHat 9, I’m not able to switch my cursor control back to host. Solution to this is pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up the task manager in XP, this will force the cursor control back to host. A bit cheated but it works!!

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