Simple way to migrate from VMware Workstation Pro to Virtualbox?


swerd

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Hi everyone,

Can anyone point me in the direction for a simple way to convert into a VMware Workstation format VM to Virtualbox? Preferably without the command line.

TIA!
 
Windows Build/Version
22631.3593

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
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    Lenovo
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    QuadCore Intel Core i5-10210U, 3300 MHz
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    Lenovo ThinkPad E15
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Hi everyone,

Can anyone point me in the direction for a simple way to convert into a VMware Workstation format VM to Virtualbox? Preferably without the command line.

TIA!
Not tried it myself, but it would seem that the OVF format would be the one to use for export/import.


VMWare export:
VirtualBox import:
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Acer Aspire 3 A315-23
    CPU
    AMD Athlon Silver 3050U
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Radeon Graphics
    Monitor(s) Displays
    laptop screen
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768 native resolution, up to 2560x1440 with Radeon Virtual Super Resolution
    Hard Drives
    1TB Samsung EVO 870 SSD
    Internet Speed
    50 Mbps
    Browser
    Edge, Firefox
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    fully 'Windows 11 ready' laptop. Windows 10 C: partition migrated from my old unsupported 'main machine' then upgraded to 11. A test migration ran Insider builds for 2 months. When 11 was released on 5th October it was re-imaged back to 10 and was offered the upgrade in Windows Update on 20th October. Windows Update offered the 22H2 Feature Update on 20th September 2022. It got the 23H2 Feature Update on 4th November 2023 through Windows Update.

    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB NVMe ssd, supported device running Windows 11 Pro (and all my Hyper-V VMs).

    My SYSTEM FOUR is a 2-in-1 convertible Lenovo Yoga 11e 20DA, Celeron N2930, 8GB RAM, 256GB ssd. Unsupported device: currently running Win10 Pro, plus Win11 Pro RTM and Insider Beta as native boot vhdx.

    My SYSTEM FIVE is a Dell Latitude 3190 2-in-1, Pentium Silver N5030, 4GB RAM, 512GB NVMe ssd, supported device running Windows 11 Pro, plus the Insider Beta, Dev, Canary, and Release Preview builds as a native boot .vhdx.
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Lattitude E4310
    CPU
    Intel® Core™ i5-520M
    Motherboard
    0T6M8G
    Memory
    8GB
    Graphics card(s)
    (integrated graphics) Intel HD Graphics
    Screen Resolution
    1366x768
    Hard Drives
    500GB Crucial MX500 SSD
    Browser
    Firefox, Edge
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    unsupported machine: Legacy bios, MBR, TPM 1.2, upgraded from W10 to W11 using W10/W11 hybrid install media workaround. In-place upgrade to 22H2 using ISO and a workaround. Feature Update to 23H2 by manually installing the Enablement Package. Also running Insider Beta, Dev, and Canary builds as a native boot .vhdx.

    My SYSTEM THREE is a Dell Latitude 5410, i7-10610U, 32GB RAM, 512GB NVMe ssd, supported device running Windows 11 Pro (and all my Hyper-V VMs).

    My SYSTEM FOUR is a 2-in-1 convertible Lenovo Yoga 11e 20DA, Celeron N2930, 8GB RAM, 256GB ssd. Unsupported device: currently running Win10 Pro, plus Win11 Pro RTM and Insider Beta as native boot vhdx.

    My SYSTEM FIVE is a Dell Latitude 3190 2-in-1, Pentium Silver N5030, 4GB RAM, 512GB NVMe ssd, supported device running Windows 11 Pro, plus the Insider Beta, Dev, Canary, and Release Preview builds as a native boot .vhdx.
@swerd
@Bree

I'd probably image the VM via Macrium or whatever to an external device, create a new VM within Virtual BOX, boot a stand alone restore version of Macrium and restore the image you took from Vmware from the external device, then via bcdboot recreate the boot loader on the EFI partition (on the vdisk in the Guest). (bcdboot y:\windows /s S: /f UEFI where y is the disk vol of the Windows system, and S is the disk vol of the EFI partition -- assign those letters etc via DISKPART -- Stand alone Macrium has a winpe command line or any windows install iso / device -- simply boot the device --> repair system -->command line).

After that Windows will update some of its drivers. Note also you need to ensure Virtual Box additions is installed on the Guest too.

Using things like OVF format are really fiddly and unreliable especially if your VMWare disk (vhdk) is not a single vhdk file but a load of them.

Note -- this method works in reverse too (VBOX>VmWare) and also if you want to run the VM (copy) to say KVM/QEMU on a linux host. Also you can do a V2P (Virtual to Physical conversion) this way too. Just boot the macrium restore disk, restore the image, re-install the boot loader and use Windows Update to update drivers for the physical system.

Cheers
jimbo
 
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows XP,7,10,11 Linux Arch Linux
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    2 X Intel i7
@swerd
@Bree

I'd probably image the VM via Macrium or whatever to an external device, create a new VM within Virtual BOX, boot a stand alone restore version of Macrium and restore the image you took from Vmware from the external device, then via bcdboot recreate the boot loader on the EFI partition (on the vdisk in the Guest). (bcdboot y:\windows /s S: /f UEFI where y is the disk vol of the Windows system, and S is the disk vol of the EFI partition -- assign those letters etc via DISKPART -- Stand alone Macrium has a winpe command line or any windows install iso / device -- simply boot the device --> repair system -->command line).

After that Windows will update some of its drivers. Note also you need to ensure Virtual Box additions is installed on the Guest too.

Using things like OVF format are really fiddly and unreliable especially if your VMWare disk (vhdk) is not a single vhdk file but a load of them.

Note -- this method works in reverse too (VBOX>VmWare) and also if you want to run the VM (copy) to say KVM/QEMU on a linux host. Also you can do a V2P (Virtual to Physical conversion) this way too. Just boot the macrium restore disk, restore the image, re-install the boot loader and use Windows Update to update drivers for the physical system.

Cheers
jimbo
This is over complicated.

1) install Macrium Reflect on host (trial version will do)

2) create Macrium Rescue Iso.

3) Attach iso as a cd drive in vmware.

4) attach an external drive to vmware

5) boot from cd (iso) in wmware

6) image backup all partitions from Windows drive to external drive

7) Create new vm in Virtualbox with blank hard drive (may need guest additions).

8) attach Rescue iso as cd drive.

9) attach external drive

10) boot from cd (iso)

11) restore image from extenal drive to blank cd drive.

12) shutdown vm, detach iso and restart vm.

It should boot automatically without any need to mess around with bcdedit commands It should also update drivers automatically but you may need to go to device manager to finish off updates.

If it fails to boot, reattach rescue iso, the boot into it again and select "fix windows boot problems".

The shutdown vm, remove cd(iso) and restart.
 

My Computer

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  • OS
    Windows 10 Pro + others in VHDs
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    Laptop
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    ASUS Vivobook 14
    CPU
    I7
    Motherboard
    Yep, Laptop has one.
    Memory
    16 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Integrated Intel Iris XE
    Sound Card
    Realtek built in
    Monitor(s) Displays
    N/A
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    1 TB Optane NVME SSD, 1 TB NVME SSD
    PSU
    Yep, got one
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    Yep, got one
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    Stella Artois
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    Built in
    Mouse
    Bluetooth , wired
    Internet Speed
    72 Mb/s :-(
    Browser
    Edge mostly
    Antivirus
    Defender
    Other Info
    TPM 2.0
This is over complicated.

1) install Macrium Reflect on host (trial version will do)

2) create Macrium Rescue Iso.

3) Attach iso as a cd drive in vmware.

4) attach an external drive to vmware

5) boot from cd (iso) in wmware

6) image backup all partitions from Windows drive to external drive

7) Create new vm in Virtualbox with blank hard drive (may need guest additions).

8) attach Rescue iso as cd drive.

9) attach external drive

10) boot from cd (iso)

11) restore image from extenal drive to blank cd drive.

12) shutdown vm, detach iso and restart vm.

It should boot automatically without any need to mess around with bcdedit commands It should also update drivers automatically but you may need to go to device manager to finish off updates.

If it fails to boot, reattach rescue iso, the boot into it again and select "fix windows boot problems".

The shutdown vm, remove cd(iso) and restart.
Hi there
That's almost exactly the same as my suggestion !!! apart from using Macrium to "fix any possible boot problems" where I suggested using bcdboot. !!!!


Cheers
jimbo
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows XP,7,10,11 Linux Arch Linux
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    2 X Intel i7
What is it that needs to be 'converted', i.e. how many VMs and which OS's are involved? - Linux and similar don't normally present a problem because they don't usually complain about 'hardware UUID' changes, unfortunately not as straightforward with (activation required) Windows variants. The main thing to remember is to remove (uninstall) the VMware Tools/VMware Desktop add-ons from each VM before conversion. VMware and VirtualBox can also co-exist, although they cannot be active on a Windows PC at the same time, so it should be possible to transition gradually if there is a number of VMs that would need to be 'converted'; and it's also possible to keep/restore from an external VM backup until successful conversion has been confirmed.

OVF is one option, but not always as straightforward as one might hope, judging by questions I've seen arising on the VirtualBox Forum. It also creates the same issue with converting Windows VMs that 'rebuilding' new VMs from existing virtual disks displays, i.e. loss of license activation due to changed 'hardware', but that can usually be easily 'fixed' using the normal Windows Account management (change of hardware) procedure to link the 'new' VM with an existing activation registration.

Whilst VirtualBox's native virtual disk format is .vdi it does (now) fully support .vmdk so there should be no immediate need for a disk format conversion when choosing to rebuild VMs. However, if rebuilding VMs using an existing .vmdk there are VirtualBox command line options for disk format conversions; and also a much simpler option of using a third-party utility CloneVDI (a free portable Windows app) which can be used at any time to provide a 'complete' conversion to the VirtualBox native format.
 

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System One System Two

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    macOS (plus VMs: Windows XP, 7, 10 Home/Pro, 11 Home/Pro, Linux Distros)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    a) Apple MacBook Pro (Intel) - 2019 b) Apple MacBook Pro M1 MAX - 2021
    CPU
    a) Intel i9 b) M1 MAX (ARM)
    Memory
    a) 16GB b) 32GB
    Hard Drives
    a) 1TB SSD + 256GB SD Card b) 1TB SSD (+ 1TB SD Card)
    Browser
    a) Safari/Vivaldi/DuckDuckGo b) Safari/DuckDuckGo
    Antivirus
    -
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Pro (plus VirtualBox VMs: Windows 11 Pro & Linux Distros)
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    a) Microsoft Surface Book 2, b) HP Spectre X360
    CPU
    a) i7, b) i7
    Memory
    a) 16GB, b) 16GB
    Hard Drives
    a) 1TB SSD, b) 1TB SSD
    Browser
    a) MS Edge, b) MS Edge
    Antivirus
    a) Defender, b) Defender
Might simply just run on the same disk or a copy:
Will mostly depend on the OS but more recent systems simply support a move on the fly, as most virtual platforms.

So what I would first try is simpler:
- Copy the virtual disk (VMDK)
- Create new VM in VBox with same specs.
- And just use the copied disk there, start the VM and see if it boots.
EDIT: use same disk storage controllers in VM: example, use SATA or IDE if that was used before or use SCSI if that's what the VM expects.

There might not be any need for Macrium / bootfix and complicated stuff from VM to VM migration.
Windows 8.1+ and Linux will automatically detect / move most of the drivers anyway.
If the OS you migrate is older, then it might fail to get to the desktop and BSOD on the first run.

Virtualbox supports other disks formats, be it VHD or VMDK.

To be sure @cereberus steps are foolproof. I've done it like this and it works.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Intel NUC
    CPU
    i3 8109U
    Motherboard
    Intel
    Memory
    16GB DDR4 @2400
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
    Sound Card
    Intel / Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    LG-32ML600M
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    Intel SSD 250GB + Samsung QVO SSD 1TB
    PSU
    Adapter
    Cooling
    The usual NUC airflow
    Keyboard
    Logitech Orion G610
    Mouse
    SteelSeries Rival 100 Red
    Internet Speed
    Good enough
    Browser
    Chromium, Edge, Firefox
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
  • Operating System
    CentOS 9 Stream / Alma / Rocky / Fedora
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    TOSHIBA
    CPU
    Intel i7 4800MQ
    Motherboard
    TOSHIBA
    Memory
    32GB DDR3 @1600
    Graphics card(s)
    NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Built-in
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
Might simply just run on the same disk or a copy:
Will mostly depend on the OS but more recent systems simply support a move on the fly, as most virtual platforms.

So what I would first try is simpler:
- Copy the virtual disk (VMDK)
- Create new VM in VBox with same specs.
- And just use the copied disk there, start the VM and see if it boots.
EDIT: use same disk storage controllers in VM: example, use SATA or IDE if that was used before or use SCSI if that's what the VM expects.

There might not be any need for Macrium / bootfix and complicated stuff from VM to VM migration.
Windows 8.1+ and Linux will automatically detect / move most of the drivers anyway.
If the OS you migrate is older, then it might fail to get to the desktop and BSOD on the first run.

Virtualbox supports other disks formats, be it VHD or VMDK.

To be sure @cereberus steps are foolproof. I've done it like this and it works.
The big problem (or it used to be) with this method is that it required the "Virtual disk" to be a single vdmk file -- if you selected multiple == i.e at VM creation time you didn't specify the virtual disk size to be allocated at the start but just specified the maximum then multiple vdmk files are created during the life of the vm == e.g vmdk01, vmdkk02 etc. This is where copying the vmdk file method breaks down.

Might be fixed now - but in the past this certainly was a problem when copying VM's for use in other VM software.

@LeLibran

The vm drivers -- e.g virtual box additions / vmware tools makes no difference -- you don't need to uninstall -- even if creating a PHYSICAL system from the Virtual machine.

To preserve Windows activation you need to ensure that the UUID of the "copied VM" however you copy the VM is the same as that of the source VM. You can usually do this by editing the relevant VM's config file directly. In vmware it's an html file ( a .vmx file).

When you say move / copy a VM within vmware - on first boot of the copied / moved VM you'll get a two box prompt -- I copied it and I moved it. Choose I moved it and the UUID is kept and you don't lose windows activation --- OK not an answer to the original question but a trap for the unwary if copying / moving VM's using vmware.

cheers
jimbo
 
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows XP,7,10,11 Linux Arch Linux
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    2 X Intel i7
I believe that what @Bree suggested with OVF export it should keep everything intact at import, including activation, to be safe.
In Virtualbox is this a OVF or OVA file that can be imported of exported with whole VM data.
Note though that disks are included and converted within so it can be a big file per VM.

Good point @jimbo45 the uuid is being handled with a choice to the user. Usually during disk creation you also get the question to create one file or split it up in chunks. Otherwise you need a tool to convert the chunks to whole disk to be more practical. There are multiple tools available for disk conversion, use Virtualbox built-in conversion tool (command line or GUI disk clone tool), or CloneVDI utility or even qemu-img command line tool.

Regarding the uuid, manual migration is possible, if you don't mind messing with the config files.
See about uuid in VMware here:

Note the example below, using same uuid from VMware in Virtualbox or vice-versa.
The right formatting is needed, Virtualbox uses regular dashed uuid format while VMware needs this to be spaced out after each pair (two) characters. This all enclosed in double quotes " ", with spaces in between (in VMware) and begin-end brackets {} (in Virtualbox) like so:

VMware:
In vmx file (conf) as added entry uuid.bios -->
Code:
uuid.bios = "98 4a 8a 74 7d c6 4f 9d b6 07 a9 0c 77 fd e6 95"

Virtualbox:
In vbox file (xml) as attribute in <Machine> tag at the top -->
Code:
uuid="{984a8a74-7dc6-4f9d-b607-a90c77fde695}"
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Intel NUC
    CPU
    i3 8109U
    Motherboard
    Intel
    Memory
    16GB DDR4 @2400
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
    Sound Card
    Intel / Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    LG-32ML600M
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    Intel SSD 250GB + Samsung QVO SSD 1TB
    PSU
    Adapter
    Cooling
    The usual NUC airflow
    Keyboard
    Logitech Orion G610
    Mouse
    SteelSeries Rival 100 Red
    Internet Speed
    Good enough
    Browser
    Chromium, Edge, Firefox
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
  • Operating System
    CentOS 9 Stream / Alma / Rocky / Fedora
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    TOSHIBA
    CPU
    Intel i7 4800MQ
    Motherboard
    TOSHIBA
    Memory
    32GB DDR3 @1600
    Graphics card(s)
    NVIDIA Quadro K2100M
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Built-in
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
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