Physical to Virtual Machine conversion

August 10, 2016

I was working on a decade old server that runs an Industrial Linux by Siemens and I could not resist taking a picture when I saw the vintage LILO bootloader appearing.

The ageing server would be decommissioned most probably once the core parts die. However, the software that resides is still important for some machines to function. I therefore got my chance to experiment on this backup server.

The server did not support USB neither a DVD boot was possible. The only way I could find to clone the disk and save it externally was through SSH.

ssh [email protected] "dd if=/dev/sda " | dd of=server.img


VirtualBox is a great software to experiment with Virtual Machines. Its utility “VBoxManage” saved the day when disk image conversion was required. Converting the RAW disk image that “dd” created was straight forward.

VBoxManage convertfromraw server.img server.vdi --format VDI


The virtual server booted fine with the converted disk.

Getting the rest of the OS to work did encounter some hiccups but that’s another story. Maybe I’ll cover that some other day.