SEARCH

How-To Geek

How To Convert Virtual Machines Between VirtualBox and VMware

image

Migrating to another virtual machine program can be intimidating. if you already have your virtual machines set up they way you like them, you don’t necessarily have to install them from scratch – you can migrate your existing virtual machines.

VirtualBox and VMware use different virtual machine formats, but each supports the standard Open Virtualization Format. Convert your existing virtual machine to OVF or OVA and you’ll be able to import it into another virtual machine program.

Unfortunately, this may not always work perfectly, as VirtualBox and VMware both seem to use slightly different OVA/OVF implementations that aren’t entirely compatible. If this doesn’t work, you may want to reinstall your virtual machine’s guest operating system from scratch.

VirtualBox to VMware

Before migrating a virtual machine from VirtualBox to VMware, ensure it’s “powered off” in VirtualBox – not suspended. If it’s suspended, launch the virtual machine and shut it down.

image

Click the File menu in VirtualBox and select Export Appliance.

image

Select the virtual machine you want to export and provide a location for it.

image

VirtualBox will create a nOpen Virtualization Format Archive (OVA file) that VMware can import. This may take some time, depending on the size of your virtual machine’s disk file.

image

To import the OVA file in VMware, click the Open a Virtual Machine option and browse to your OVA file.

image

VirtualBox and VMware aren’t perfectly compatible, so you’ll probably receive a warning message saying the the file “did not pass OVF specification performance” – but if you click Retry, the virtual machine should import and function properly.

image

After the process completes, you can boot the virtual machine in VMware, uninstall VirtualBox Guest Additions from the Control Panel inside the virtual machine, and install VMware Tools from the virtual machine’s menu.

VMware to VirtualBox

Before migrating a virtual machine from VMware to VirtualBox, ensure it’s “powered off” in VMware – not suspended. If it’s suspended, launch the virtual machine and shut it down.

image5

Next, browse to the OVFTool folder. If you’re using VMware Player, you’ll find it at C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Player\OVFTool. Hold Shift, right-click inside the OVFTool folder, and select Open command window here.

image

Run ovftool with the following syntax:

ovftool source.vmx export.ovf

For example, if we wanted to convert the virtual machine located at C:\Users\NAME\Documents\Virtual Machines\Windows 7 x64\Windows 7 x64.vmx and create a new OVF file at C:\Users\NAME\export.ovf, we’d run the following command:

ovftool “C:\Users\NAME\Documents\Virtual Machines\Windows 7 x64\Windows 7 x64.vmx” C:\Users\NAME\export.ovf

If you receive a “failed to open disk” error, it’s likely that the virtual machine is still running or wasn’t shut down properly – boot the virtual machine and perform a shut down.

image

Once the process is complete, you can import the .ovf file into VirtualBox. Use the Import Appliance option in the File menu.

image

After the process completes, you can boot the virtual machine, uninstall VMware Tools, and install VirtualBox’s Guest Additions.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 10/1/12

Comments (9)

  1. Christoffer

    VMDK and VHD disks can be used with both VMWare and VirtualBox, as far as I know, so why not just use those?

  2. SuAlfons

    Can VMware Fusion VMs be exported for use with VirtualBox on the Mac?

  3. Jean-Francois Messier

    What are the steps for Linux-based hosts/guests ?

  4. TheFu

    Certain versions of VMDK files work fine under VirtualBox.

    VMware is a company that makes at least 6 different virtualization “hypervisor”-like products. Rather than saying “vmware”, it is best to always, always, always stay “player” if that is the tool involved throughout so that people skimming don’t assume whatever product they have in their mind already.

    These are:
    * Player
    * Workstation
    * Fusion
    * Server (dead – shouldn’t be used)
    * ESX
    * ESXi
    There’s a VDI solution tool that bundles an OS, app and all settings for a single program and doesn’t leave a trace on the hostOS. ThinApp?

    I’m looking for an easy way (everyone wants easy, right?) to convert VMware ESXi MS-Windows to KVM VMs without reinstalling. Sadly, too many app and OS settings were tweaked to attempt a reinstall. Sadly, the default HDD controller used is an LSI controller and not natively supported by KVM last time I checked. Just getting a MS-Windows VM to boot is hard thanks to that. I read that VirtualBox added support for many, many new virtualized hardware devices, so there may be a way from LSI to a common controller to something that KVM supports to virtio disk drivers. That would be very nice. Anyone done this?

  5. Don

    Another request for how to export VMware Fusion VMs to use with VirtualBox on the Mac?

  6. Jorge

    Thanks for your document,.
    I have been trying to do the conversion in both ways without a satisfactory result… until now.
    Just a few minutes ago, I launched an attempt to convert to Oracle VirtualBox, under XP and VM Player 3.1.5, a virtual machine with WS2003 as guest OS, with the command
    OVFTOOL “H:\\WS2003\D49989GC11.VMX” H:\EXPORT.OVF
    and the process failed with the message ‘Error: failed to open VDF descriptor’
    Any suggests?

  7. Jorge

    In my precedent mail there are some typewriting errors. A corrected version follows.

    Thanks for your document,.
    I have been trying to do the conversion in both ways without a satisfactory result… until now.
    Just a few minutes ago, I launched an attempt to convert to Oracle VirtualBox, under XP and VM Player 3.1.5, a virtual machine with WS2003 as guest OS, with the command
    OVFTOOL “H:\…\WS2003\D49989GC11.VMX” H:\EXPORT.OVF
    and the process failed with the message ‘Error: failed to open OVF descriptor’
    Any suggests?

  8. Ming

    Same request as Don. How to export VMware Fusion VMs to use with VirtualBox on the Mac? With the latest version of Fusion, the VM has 2 files. One flat vmdk and one vmdk. So far find no way to make them convert for Virtual Box to use.

  9. Charli

    After migration Windows 7 Remains Activated or i have To Reactivate it ?

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!