[vbox-dev] Booting a physical machine using a virtual image

Michael Brown mcb30 at ipxe.org
Fri Apr 8 11:41:29 PDT 2011

On Friday 08 Apr 2011 19:03:50 Alexey Eromenko wrote:
> > I am working on a master's project in which I would like to boot physical
> > machines using V-Box images stored on a server. Also, the changes done to
> > the operating system thus booted, should be automatically saved in the
> > image. I believe some driver would have to be written on the virtual
> > image for the boot loader to understand and treat it as a physical disk
> > and not a virtual disk. I'm not sure whether I would need to change in
> > v-box code for it.
> >
> > Any pointers on this would be highly appreciated.
> Such (proprietary) technology exists.
> One from Microsoft (part of Windows 7 Ultimate) and other from VMlite
> (called VBoot, freeware).
> Although they work with *.vhd images, but those compatible with VirtualBox.

One other way to solve this, which wouldn't require specific support from each 
guest OS, would be to expose the virtual disk image via a SAN protocol such as 
iSCSI.  You could then boot the guest using an open-source iSCSI bootloader 
such as iPXE (http://ipxe.org).

You would need to find (or create) something that would allow the iSCSI target 
software to expose the disk image backed by the .vdi/.vhd file.  I think the 
Microsoft iSCSI target might already be able to do this; not sure without 
testing it.


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