Robolinux turns your C Drive into a virtual Windows machine you can run in Linux

Say you want to move from Windows to Linux… but there are a few Windows apps that you can’t give up, and they don’t work well under WINE. The developer of Robolinux offers a Debian-based GNU/Linux operating system designed to let you run Windows XP or Windows 7 in a virtual machine.

But the latest version of Robolinux goes a step further: It includes a tool that lets you create a virtual machine by cloning your Windows C: Drive, which means it takes just minutes to create a version of Windows that you can run in virtualization in Linux, and it will already have all of your existing programs and data.

Robolinux Windows XP

Not only does this allow you to run Windows apps within Linux… it lets you do it without using a fresh Windows license key. That can come in handy if your only copy of Windows came with your computer or if you have an OEM license which is only allowed to be installed on a single computer.

While the C: Drive to VM tool was developed by Robolinux maker John Martinson, you can also use the software with Ubuntu, Linux Mint, OpenSUSE, Fedora, Debian, or 500 other Linux distributions.

In order to use the tool, you’ll need a C: Drive that’s 127GB or smaller, but you can resize your drive if necessary.

Note that while RoboLinux is open source software, the developer asks for donations of $19.95 for the C: Drive to VP support package (and lower prices for other downloads). You can download RoboLinux 7.5.1 from SourceForge for free… but you’ll still need to make a donation if you want to download the virtual machine and C: Drive cloning tools.

You can find more details at the project’s SourceForge page. And the video below shows the cloning process in action. If you don’t want all the background on the project, skip to about 11 minutes in to see the walkthrough.

via DistroWatch

  • bluesummersnight

    That’s pretty damn sweet. Gonna try it out this weekend.

  • bos

    “Not only does this allow you to run Windows apps within Linux… it lets
    you do it without using a fresh Windows license key. That can come in
    handy if your only copy of Windows came with your computer or if you
    have an OEM license which is only allowed to be installed on a single
    computer.”

    Does Microsofts license really allow this? Or do you mean that the user must also stop using the original standalone Windows install? I doubt the Windows license would allow running the original copy of Windows on one computer and a clone the same Windows licence virtualized in Linux.

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      The idea isn’t to run two instances of Windows. It’s to migrate from Windows to Linux… without losing the ability to run Windows apps. So presumably you’d either do it on the same machine, or possibly on a new machine that’s replacing your primary machine (although that’s a bit shady according to a typical OEM license).

      If you’re trying to run two separate copies of Windows simultaneously, that is probably a violation.

    • Moses

      Well, Microsoft isn’t Apple so they’d probably just ignore it even if
      the license doesn’t allow for it. Whereas Apple would threaten the developers or software company to disable such a features for OS X. They
      definitely did that to VMware.

  • Mark

    What virtualization software does it use under the hood?

    • Penn Taylor

      Appears to be Virtualbox.

  • Alvaro Miranda Aguilera

    Microsoft have a tool that does that for Free, it create a VHD disk image, that you can use without any change in Virtualbox, or convert to any other format.

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx

    • Luke Jones

      Wrong! The Windows VHDX output file does not load into VirtualBox.

      • Anon Coward

        Really? My XP box is running on a VHD that was created that way.

      • Alvaro Miranda Aguilera

        yup, works

      • Alvaro Miranda Aguilera

        well sir, the new version create vhdx as you said, however, you can convert with

        VBoxManage clonehd test.VHDX test.vdi –format vdi

        0%…10%…20%…30%…40%…50%…60%…70%…80%…90%…100%

        Clone hard disk created in format ‘vdi’. UUID: 187cb543-3e0d-4a27-a773-a9bb27f6ae52

        and works.

        in the past this tool created vhd and you were able to open it immediately in virtualbox, now is vhdx, but the process works

  • RobBrownNZ

    VirtualBox already does this itself… “vboxmanage convertfromraw”. I did it with my Windows install and it went fine. See https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Migrate_Windows for some help.

    • Luke Jones

      Really? Well apparently you cannot read Sir!

      Disclaimer: Migration of Windows guests from a physical host into a VirtualBox VM is not supported.

      • RobBrownNZ

        Heh… not sure what I said that you found so offensive, but it wasn’t intentional. FYI I can read: the disclaimer says that the migration is not *supported*, but doesn’t say that it’s not *possible*. In my case there was no BSOD or anything else, it was very simple.
        I’m just providing a data point. Other people’s mileage will probably vary.

      • winnyuk

        Not your intention to offend? Really?

        Some people may misinterpret “…illustrious ignorant rhetoric” as not being the complement you obviously intended.

      • RobBrownNZ

        “…illustrious ignorant rhetoric” wasn’t my comment.

    • Luke Jones

      And here is what you get with your illustrious ignorant rhetoric RobBrownNZ

      you got a BSOD. Shutdown the virtual machine and boot up from a windows CD. Go through until you get to the select a partition, select the existing partition, and choose “repair”. It will basically reinstall windows and configure it for your new hardware (virtual hardware).

      Reinstall patches (Service packs) and updates.

      So even if what you say did actually work then do tell me what users prefers:

      A. One click and your’re done! Oh by the way that works every time with no BSOD errors.
      or…
      B. A very complicated fdisk command etc etc etc Come on get real!

  • praxis22

    VMware converter does this too. You install it into windows, and it builds a vmdk file, you can convert that to vdi or just run the VMDK in virtual box, (I do) All that need to be done to get it working is replace the windows kernel with a default one, and that’s what VMware converter standalone does. No updates, rebuilds or patches needed. Does require a lot of RAM though, and if you run antivirus, you have to keep the VM running all the time, otherwise you get bogged down in missed scans, etc. Whenever you boot it. You do also need to decide what network model to use. As you can have routing issues if you give the VM it’s own MAC, probably better to NAT it, but YMMV.

  • Bart Burroughs

    I am of the mind that if you need to run windows software then just keep Windows as your OS. if you Want to migrate to Linux or OSX etc then you should jump in with both feet and learn how to use the new operating system. There isn’t anything that “most” users need software wise that doesn’t have a linux version that will do exactly the same thing as the Windows counterpart. If you don’t want to take the time to learn or if you need something specialized that is only available on Windows, then you should stay on Windows.

  • noob

    What I think is strange is that robo want you to connect to the internet while installing …

    Yday I read “Discussions”, or something, on sourceforge and someone said that some things were not working with him. Then Robo replied “are you from the Software Maffia from Redmond ?”. It was pure intuition from the beginning that I felt a “better not” towards robolinux. Ended on his site yday where you had to pay first something like 19$ (?) before you could down the Stealth thing.

  • http://www.dufftown.net/ Baz Brennan

    um.. sorry to intrude but Propellerhead ‘Reason’ when when when will they do a Linux version