As I find my need for virtual machines increasing and my satisfaction with Parallels new licensing options decreasing, I am working on converting much of my testing to use VirtualBox. Provided by Oracle and free, it does the things I need for testing environments. There’s a chance that I may try out VMWare Fusion for the ESXi integration that Rich Trouton writes about for a future project, but for now – getting my Windows VMs into a standard format is the task at hand.
We do this by prepping the image and then using VMWare’s Converter tool to live-create a VHD file out of the VM. There are other tools to do this directly from Parallels -> VHD without this intermediate step, but none that I have found on a Mac just yet.
You will need somewhere to store the image that is NOT on the C: drive of the machine you are converting. I used an existing SMB share from one of our Mac servers – you can also use a USB disk if that is easier for you.
- Make a backup copy of the Parallels image, just in case something goes terribly wrong. This is as easy as copy-pasting the pvm in ~/Documents/Parallels.
- Boot the VM you would like to convert.
- Shut down all programs you’re using.
- From the Control Panel, uninstall the Parallels Tools software. You may need to reboot after this (it will prompt you if so).
- Sign up for a VMWare account and download their (quite excellent) VMWare Converter.
- Install the VMWare Converter onto the VM
- Open the VMWare Converter. From the menu bar, select “Convert Machine” to start the conversion wizard. Use the following options:
- “Powered on machine” and “This local machine” tells the converter to look at the currently booted VM system
- Select your non-C-drive storage
- Depending on your space requirements, select either the minimum space (expanding disk) or max space (non-expanding disk)
- Let the converter run. This may take a while if you have a bunch of stuff on the VM.
- After the conversion is finished, open VirtualBox and create a new VM. When prompted about what to do regarding a hard drive, select the option to not create the drive.
- Select the newly created VM and go to its settings -> storage. Press the hard drive with the green plus icon under the list to add a new disk under the SATA controller and select “hard disk” and, when prompted, choose “Use existing disk.”
- Choose the disk you converted.
If you get blue screens on boot, it’s likely that you forgot to uninstall Parallels tools.