how to turn a physical machine into a virtual machine

I have a very old laptop running OpenSuse, can’t remember which version. It has two games on it that I really like the versions of, and I hate the upgraded versions. I want to turn that physical machine into a virtual machine so I can run it on my Mac. I know under other distros it can be done, but the instructions are very difficult for a basic user to understand. Can anyone help me do this?

On Tue, 18 Mar 2014 16:16:02 +0000, nejones wrote:

> I know under other distros it can be
> done, but the instructions are very difficult for a basic user to
> understand.

Doing a P2V (physical-to-virtual) migration isn’t a simple thing to do.
Virtual hardware is going to be different than physical hardware, so it’s
similar to migrating from one set of hardware to another with different
video, network, and other hardware involved.

That’s why the instructions are difficult - because it’s not a trivial
task to do.

You could look at VMware’s Converter (which runs on Linux and Windows) -
that is a free (as in cost - it’s a closed-source tool itself) tool that
makes it easier, but in my experience you still may have some cleanup to
do when the migration is done.


Jim Henderson
openSUSE Forums Administrator
Forum Use Terms & Conditions at

Which hypervisor are you going to be running the VM on?

While there are a few tools out there to do physical to virtual conversions (such as VMWare converter Jim mentioned), you might just try using clonezilla. Google “physical to virtual clonezilla” will show some guides with screen shots, etc.

You will need a place to temporarily save the image of the physical machine to. If you have enough room to temporarily store it on the mac this might be fairly easy, as clonezilla will allow you to mount a location to store the directory via NFS, CIFS or SSH. Or you could use a usb hard drive, etc.

After restoring the image to the virtual machine you may need to make some grub or fstab changes for it to boot. If you get stuck at that point post the specifics.

IMO nowadays there are plenty of good P2V utilities that are reliable for all the virtualization technologies I’m aware of.

You first need to select a hypervisor/virtualization technology…
I don’t generally support MacOS as a host, but have seen VMware Fusion and Parallels on Macs, am not aware of others.

Maybe you’d consider running Linux as your main OS on your Mac?

After you select your virtualization, you can then look at the various recipes and utilities for that technology.

Note that particularly for “modern” Linux (which may not be the case for your “old” Linux), you can often just restore from backup to different hardware and Linux will auto-detect and use different drivers automatically, particularly if you’re installing into a virtualized environment.


Change your fstab mount to “Mount by Volume Label” to lessen the pain along the way rotfl!, also you need to deal with grub/grub2, Good Luck and have a lot of fun!

Although I’ve watched a number of threads (primarily in the Install Forum), in theory if the target disk configuration is identical to the source configuration, the method for identifying mounts and partitions shouldn’t really matter.

For an older Linux, I’d also expect that MBR should be used which should simplify any grub issues. I don’t know if grub > grub2 issues should be an issue, but YMMV. Whatever already exists should also be used in a virtual configuration unless you’re also upgrading.

Which raises a point of advice… Simplify each step. Don’t try to do too many different things with each step to simply troubleshooting should anything not work as expected at each step.


Every disk has a unique id, eg /dev/disk/by-id/blah…blah…blahh , and that is what you will normally see in your fstab. During startup fstab is read/used during that process and you will get an error such as, could not find /dev/disk/by-id/blah…blah…blah… would you want to fall back to blah…blah…blah? rotfl!. Thats why my advice is to change fstab to mount by-label. You will run in that issue when cloning a disk using whatever tools/program available out there ;), but don’t take my word for it and see-for-yourself lol!.