Back in the day, while my buddies were all firing up VMWare servers, I stuck close to Hyper-V – it was easy to use, free, and it favored Microsoft OS guests – my bread and butter. As it turned out, Hyper-V got even better, and now they are really nipping at the heels of VMWare… meanwhile, I decided to finally catch up on VMWare. Even though Hyper-V is “free,” if you are managing more than a few, you will need it joined to a domain, and will want to run System Center. That gets expensive, and I am trying to move away from domains now – there is bigger and better stuff out there. The one thing that really swung me over to VMWare was their P2V.

I never had to do it until recently. I always did scratch installs, and let me tell you, it isn’t exactly a piece of cake, for those of us on a limited IT budget. I have some really ancient stuff, that needs to go virtual, and soon. After trying disk2vhd (don’t go there) and looking for alternatives, I settled on VMWare converter. This is obviously the best free P2V there is. I also had been doing quite a few Virtualbox hosts, on both Linux and Windows – and Converter allowed me to do .vmdk files, which run very nicely in Virtualbox – and can then be moved over to my “real” VMware box later.

I really like Virtualbox – it looks the same whether you are Linux or Windows, and it’s the best play out there for 32-bit hosts. Configuration is much easier than either VMWare or Hyper-V. It’s fun, and truly vendor-neutral. If you are new to virtualization, this is the one to start with.

Tip: “How do I virtualize a typical Dell (OEM XP license) machine?

After dozens of attempts, hacks and fixes, I finally gave in and admitted “you can’t get something for nothing.” “OEM” means “it is illegal to run this on virtual.” So what I do is P2V it, and before even booting the first time, mount an actual legal volume-license copy of XP, and install over it (using the “repair” option.) Works great, and nothing is lost.

What I use – virtual
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