Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Discussions related to using VirtualBox on Linux hosts.

Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby ClientAlive » 19. May 2011, 06:45

First of all I want to say: I selected that I have the OSE version of Virtual Box in the registration process because I wasn't sure what the right answer is.

I run Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and have downloaded version 4.0.8 of Virtual Box for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS i386.

Those things being said, I've been going through all kinds of grief on the Ubuntu Forums trying to get a solution on how to do this.

I need to make an exact duplicate of my host o/s in Virtual Box.

My problem is this:

My local hard drive is only 40 gig total and the used space is around 5 gig. (All I have on here is my host o/s and Virtual Box, and a smidge' of files in the home directory and on the desktop).

For the life of me I can't seem to find a way to do this where it isn't going to require the entire size of the drive when I put the thing into Virtual Box.

I will want to set up a Virtual Machine for it that is allowed 8 gig (and not a stinkin 'bit' more - I just don't have it to give)

Does anyone know how I can get only the used space on my local drive (this basically is my host o/s) into Virtual Box as a virtual machine?

Any help would really really be appreciated. I'm sorry if I sound a bit sour; but, please understand, I've been going around and around with this issue for over two-weeks. It's ludicrous!

Thanks in advance for any help.
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby ClientAlive » 21. May 2011, 03:39

Bump
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby ClientAlive » 16. Jun 2011, 17:26

Well, I finally figured out how to create a clone of my host and make a vm out of it but now I need to reduce the size of that disk so I can get it off my external usb and have it on my local disk. I've been all over the intermet and almost everything I've seen is very dated. The only article I've found that refers to the current version of Virtual Box is not talking about making the disk smaller it's talking about making it bigger. Can anyone offer some guidance on this?

Thanks.

Jake
-----------------------

Edit: I'm all over the internet looking for a solution and everything I see is from at least 2 or 3 years ago and is using very old versions of Virtual Box. I've read somewhere (more than once/ more than one place) that there has been changes to vBox Manage so I'm not confident these old ways still even work. I don't have the know how (yet) to just figure this out on my own but maybe if I learn how to do it once I will.
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby mpack » 19. Jun 2011, 13:53

Beware: those articles talking about making the disk larger are actually talking about something very different. Now this may be subtle, so pay attention: you don't want to make your disk smaller, you just want to compact it so that the disk image is smaller. Meaning to simulate the same size of disk using a smaller image file. If you don't understand this, and if you go googling for how to make your disk smaller then you may well find a way to do it, and the procedure will most likely be complicated and dangerous... and almost certainly pointless.

Otherwise your question is a FAQ which is no doubt why it has been ignored (it gets boring answering the same question several times a day). I'll give you a tip that the most accurate technical term for what you are trying to do is called a "Physical To Virtual Migration", or "P2V" for short. Try googling for "P2V" with "site:forums.virtualbox.org". Also search for mentions of Disk2VHD and the CloneVDI tool - same site (the latter can help you compact that raw disk image, creating a compacted VDI which VBox can use).
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby ClientAlive » 20. Jun 2011, 06:16

mpack wrote:Beware: those articles talking about making the disk larger are actually talking about something very different. Now this may be subtle, so pay attention: you don't want to make your disk smaller, you just want to compact it so that the disk image is smaller. Meaning to simulate the same size of disk using a smaller image file. If you don't understand this, and if you go googling for how to make your disk smaller then you may well find a way to do it, and the procedure will most likely be complicated and dangerous... and almost certainly pointless.

Otherwise your question is a FAQ which is no doubt why it has been ignored (it gets boring answering the same question several times a day). I'll give you a tip that the most accurate technical term for what you are trying to do is called a "Physical To Virtual Migration", or "P2V" for short. Try googling for "P2V" with "site:forums.virtualbox.org". Also search for mentions of Disk2VHD and the CloneVDI tool - same site (the latter can help you compact that raw disk image, creating a compacted VDI which VBox can use).



Thanks mpack. It's no excuse but I just started using Linux like 3 mos ago so I'm not too extremely knowledgeable with things yet (I know vbox is not Linux though - I'm just saying). This whole thing has been a real challenge for me - yet very high priority for me too. I sure appreciate your advice. I'm going to really think about what you said, but I'm not certain I really get what the outcome to what you mention would be. The bottom line, I'm pretty sure, is that I need this thing to end up being a grand total size of around 10 gig (this is far more - almost double - the used space within it). Apart from that I don't know how I will fit it on my local drive like I need to do. I know how to research and to learn, I just didn't know what to look for before you told me. Sorry about asking a question that is redundant for you guys.

And - I probably should have said this first - right now, right this very minute, I am dead stuck without any clue as to how to deal with my current sitch. I can't start the vm because it gives me an error saying it can't read from the device or something like that. (The vm's disk is on my external drive right now). Without being able to start it I can't do anything to move forward at all. I've tried both from the command line and the gui with the same result. Yes, the external drive is powered up, plugged in, there is a filter specific to that drive in the setting for the vm, the usb is enabled in those settings too. I'm hoping I won't have to start over; but, if I do, at least it's just a vm and not the host.

If there is a chance you could give me a pointer on this I would be eternally grateful.


Thanks.

Jake
------------------------

Edit:

mpack wrote:Beware: those articles talking about making the disk larger are actually talking about something very different.



Oh, by the way. Yeah, I know that compacting and resizing are two separate things. The reason I had this notion in my head that I needed to compact and then resize (to make it larger) - is that I though it the only way to end up with an image that's a precise size that I choose; and a size that's larger than the used space yet not by a tremendous amount.

I had thought that compacting would leave me with an image roughly the size of the used space. If that is right then I would have two issues to deal with. (1) that there wouldn't be any free space to do anything with, and (2) that whatever the total size was it probably wouldn't be a nice even number. So I thought if I compacted I'd get an image about the size of the used space and then I could resize and actually specify the total size I want to end up with (as well as gain a little free space to play with).

Thanks for humoring me. These are just me best guess and I'm not totally sure I'm on the right track. I'd sure appreciate being corrected on it if you have the time.
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby mpack » 20. Jun 2011, 12:27

ClientAlive wrote:I had thought that compacting would leave me with an image roughly the size of the used space. If that is right...

Which it is.

ClientAlive wrote:...then I would have two issues to deal with. (1) that there wouldn't be any free space to do anything with

Nope. Compaction doesn't eliminate free space, it just means that free space sectors are not preserved, and hence take no space in the host file. You have the same amount of free space before and after compaction, because the drive size has not changed, nor has the used space.

ClientAlive wrote:, and (2) that whatever the total size was it probably wouldn't be a nice even number.

Rendered moot because (1) is invalid.
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby mpack » 20. Jun 2011, 12:39

As to what you are trying to do: I'm not aware of a free tool that creates a compacted virtual disk image of a Linux host in one step. So, you need to do it in two steps: (1) image the drive to an external drive - this will be a full size raw image. (2) compact and convert the raw image to VDI format. After the second step you'll have a dynamic VDI roughly 5GB in size.

Step (1) is usually done with dd or CloneZilla - make sure to image the entire drive, not just a partition. You ideally send the dd'd image to an external USB or eSATA drive, which of course has to be at least as large as the disk you are imaging.

(2) The tool of choice here is CloneVDI, which unfortunately for you is designed for Windows Hosts (see sticky and executables download in Windows hosts forum). So, you can either borrow a Windows PC for this step, or run CloneVDI under Wine (CloneVDI runs well under Wine). CloneVDI is fussy about extensions, so make sure the raw image file has a .RAW extension. Make sure the "Compact" option is selected. Pick a name for the clone, then let 'er rip. Tip: don't have CloneVDI read and write to the USB drive. USB is slow so that will take forever! Better to clone from the USB to an internal drive, then copy the result back to the USB drive later.
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby ClientAlive » 20. Jun 2011, 19:35

mpack wrote:...image the drive


When you say "...image the drive..." you mean the local drive that has my operating system on it (not the guest drive from what I have so far)?


mpack wrote:As to what you are trying to do: I'm not aware of a free tool that creates a compacted virtual disk image of a Linux host in one step. So, you need to do it in two steps: (1) image the drive to an external drive - this will be a full size raw image...

Step (1) is usually done with dd or CloneZilla...



The image I created of my operating system (what would later be considered the host) was done using clonezilla. However, when I ran clonezilla I pretty much used default settings. Is there some selection within it for a "raw" image that I needed to choose?


mpack wrote:(2) compact and convert the raw image to VDI format. After the second step you'll have a dynamic VDI roughly 5GB in size.


Is that a sequential order? So 'first' compact, 'then' convert? I assume it has to be but I want to double check to be certain this is a success when I do it.


mpack wrote: After the second step you'll have a dynamic VDI roughly 5GB in size.


By dynamic you mean dynamic type of virtual disk? I'm not certain this term "dynamic" is not used in more than one way in the virtualization world.

5 gig in size is about the amount of used space for my current system (what would later be considered the host). If, after the steps you gave are complete, I want it then to have roughly 5 gig in free space 'as well' I can "resize" to 10 gig using VBoxManage?


Thanks for your help mpack. Please understand that I've been fussing with this project about a month now and this is not my first unsuccessful attempt. In addition, my whole learning is on hold while I try to get this up and running and I miss my studies badly. If some of my questions sound stupid - well, first of all, they probably are - but beyond that, I just want to be very clear on the direction I need to go so I make sure to be successful this time. That's why I ask for clarity - not to frustrate you to death, but to be certain I get this right.

Thanks for being patient with me. I appreciate it.

Jake
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby mpack » 20. Jun 2011, 20:08

Please pay attention to what I have already said. You keep saying that you understand the distinction between resizing and compaction, but then you ask a question that make it very clear that you don't. So let's make it simple: please do not mention resizing a drive again. Nothing you intend to do requires resizing the drive.

"Imaging the drive" is what you called cloning the drive. A raw image is one that is a plain byte for byte copy of your source drive: no added header, no compression etc. dd produces a raw image of whatever drive or partition you tell it to copy. As far as I know CloneZilla does the same, but I'm not a CloneZilla user so will not pretend to be certain. You do need to make sure that you image the entire drive, not just a partition. You can't easily make a working virtual drive starting from a partition image.

Once you get to the CloneVDI stage, converting and compaction is done at the same time, in a single step. The purpose of CloneVDI is to clone one drive image to another. Compaction is an option during that process. CloneVDI always creates dynamic VDI files as output, so the conversion from raw to VDI is implied by using CloneVDI. "Dynamic" means that the image only contains used sectors - the alternative is fixed size which you already know you don't want.
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby Sasquatch » 20. Jun 2011, 23:09

For Linux there is an option that's really easy to do. You note which packages are installed on the Host, if you installed anything extra other than VB from the base installation. Then you install the same packages in the guest using a fresh installation. You install the Guest exactly like the Host, with your designated 8 GB of disk space that you want to use.
Next, you copy your entire /home/user folder including hidden files and folders to a shared storage, like a USB stick. You use that to copy it to the Guest and put them in the same place, essentially copying your /home from the Host to the Guest. If you have made any changes to other system files, like in /etc, then make the same modifications, if you like. Reboot the guest and you should have an environment that's the same as the Host inside the Guest.
If you made changes to the system that required your password and want them again, redo them as well.

That's about it.

Another option is to compress the entire system, excluding the /dev and /proc directories into a tarball and extract that tarball in a freshly installed Guest. You may have to reinstall the bootloader, grub, but that's about it as well.

You can also Google on how to clone your system to a smaller hard drive, there are plenty of hits on the subject. But I believe that you have another thread running with roughly the same information but with another problem (unable to boot guest).
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby ClientAlive » 22. Jun 2011, 05:34

Sasquatch wrote:You can also Google on how to clone your system to a smaller hard drive, there are plenty of hits on the subject. But I believe that you have another thread running with roughly the same information but with another problem (unable to boot guest).


I'll have to try harder on google but with that search term. I've been all over the net about this but maybe I just didn't use the right search terms.


Sasquatch wrote:For Linux there is an option that's really easy to do. You note which packages are installed on the Host, if you installed anything extra other than VB from the base installation. Then you install the same packages in the guest using a fresh installation. You install the Guest exactly like the Host, with your designated 8 GB of disk space that you want to use.
Next, you copy your entire /home/user folder including hidden files and folders to a shared storage, like a USB stick. You use that to copy it to the Guest and put them in the same place, essentially copying your /home from the Host to the Guest. If you have made any changes to other system files, like in /etc, then make the same modifications, if you like. Reboot the guest and you should have an environment that's the same as the Host inside the Guest.
If you made changes to the system that required your password and want them again, redo them as well.

That's about it.

Another option is to compress the entire system, excluding the /dev and /proc directories into a tarball and extract that tarball in a freshly installed Guest. You may have to reinstall the bootloader, grub, but that's about it as well.


That first thing sounds like a tremendous amount of labor and no gurantee you get all the changes you've made carried over - unless, maybe, there are things you can do to sort of automate the changes in the guest. For instance, I read somewhere about the package management system having a file somewhere that records everything currently installed and how you can somehow use this to make the system go through and start installing everything in that list again. That would be one major item down. That would just leave configurations and home directory content. Home directory content would be easily done the way you we're telling me Sasquatch.

Another thing, and I didn't bring this up before because I didn't want to convolute things; but, my next step (after a succesful "p2v" (thanks mpack)) will be to sync everything important up so when I make changes to the host it changes on the guest too. Maybe I end up having to write a script that runs on startup as well but that''s where my head is at. Just to show why I would be concerned about exactness . . . .

Crap! I just thought of something right there at the end of that sentence. If it's possible to write a script that runs in the guest, on startup, and it differences between host and guest then updates guest to match - if that, then it is a solution for this in and of itself. That might be getting off base though.


Sasquatch wrote: But I believe that you have another thread running with roughly the same information but with another problem (unable to boot guest).


Yeah, about that. I wasn't getting any hits on this thread for like a long time and I was still trying things on my own. Trying to make it work. I ran into the specific situation I posted in the other thread. The ultimate goal has not changed from the beginning - just the specific problem I ran into there. I don't think it was even another day after I started that other thread that mpack gave me my first response on this thread. That's how things got to be this way. Sorry about that.
- - - - - - - - - -

I just thought there must be some simple enough way to get an exact copy p2v. The operative word here being exact. There are some things I'd like to exclude - like a directory I have that has some movies and music in it. For the most part though I want the exact same configuration, exact same apps installed (except Virtual Box), most of the home directory contents. Then I want to do everything I can to synchronize things like installed apps, config changes, updates, and even some home directory content so it just automatically stays the same every time a start the guest. What would be nice is - Guest is booted, guest synchronizes everything you want it to/ set it up to do, guest makes a snapshot of itself, guest boots rest of the way into the system - viola! Ready to go!

So, anyway, you've both given me a lot of really great things to work on. I'm gong to try my darndest to find some time to set aside and work on those options. I'm relatively certain I have enough info to get where I need to go once I find the time to put into it.

If anyone wants to comment on my little idea in the paragraph above though it would certainly be appreciated. (The stuff about "What would be nice is . . .").
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby ClientAlive » 22. Jun 2011, 07:01

For what it's worth, probably not much, I'd like to explain why I'm so locked on to this idea of an exact copy. I'm about to use some pretty strong, direct language so hang on to your seat.

About 2 mos ago (I'm only 3 mos into Linux, maybe 3.5) I had a situation where I broke my system so bad that it ended up could not be repaired. It was an absolute horror show! It took a veritable act of God to even recover my personal data from that broken system. Even after a very very tech savvy friend of mine helped me for two days straight to fix the problem - even after that, it simply could not be repaired. I ended up having to reinstall; and, when I did, I went with a different release of Ubuntu (from 11.04 to 10.04 LTS).

What I had wanted to do seemed really pretty simple, and innocent enough. I was trying to change the name of my home directory to match the new user name I had changed to before that. I had gotten a couple different options for accomplishing this on a forum somewhere. I chose the one that made the most sense as being the right way to do it. Between incomplete information in that suggestion, my lack of experience as a newbie (and thus only half understanding what I was being told), and my, probably, making an oversight somewhere and not doing it right - in one fatal swoop I watched my system basically tear itself apart before my very eyes. I'd gotten to screwing around with the chown command and the -R option and spent the next four days without a properly working computer (including the two my friend helped me) and ultimately got the result I described above.

After that experience I said to myself - I may not know much, but I know this one-thing, 'that' can never, ever, happen to me again. It's one thing when you have a second machine to mess around on, but when you have only one, single, computer and it is your livelihood that it continue to function properly, it's a whole other ball game.

So this thing about having an exact virtual copy of my host . . .

I realize that there will never be a perfect match between the results I get in the guest and the ones I get on the host. There are just certain differences between a virtual machine and an actual installation. I get that. I just figure, though, that the closer to an exact match I can get (in configuration, in applications, in everything except one or two less significant things) the closer the result I'll get in the host compared to the guest.

So when I think of "exact" I think of little details. Details like the time I manually edited some configuration file to fix an error message I was getting when I launched some application (I think it was vim if I remember correctly). And all the other little things I know in the back of my mind I've done on here - but just can't recall what they were now. Things that were done on the command line. Manual configurations and edits. Things you will never be able to remember them all to go into the guest and try to make the same as the host by doing them one by one, manually. An awful lot of things seem to be tied together in a Linux system. That's why it seems to me; having these little differences between the host and guest could end up giving off very different results between what you trial run in the guest and what would actually happen in the host if you did it there.

So my hope is to have a safety zone where, if there is even an inkling of a doubt about something I need to fix or change on my host, I will run it in the guest first - every, single, time. If it isn't something I'm absolutely sure of, it gets run in the guest first to see what happens. Never again just blazzae, do whatever, on my actual system and end up in the hell I went through that time. I was literally traumatized by that event.

In addition, I'm just crazy wild right now learning all kinds of new things I have no clue about before jumping head long into them. Things like ssh and ldap servers. Things like compiling and designing my own, highly unique, Linux, messing with micro kernels, learning bash script, and eventually, a programming language. I can't afford to experiment with those things on my real system but some of them will end up being on my real system eventually (like the ssh server, for openers). So I need an absolutely safe place to do whatever I want, whatever it takes, to learn. Go for it! Try it out! See what it does - sure as hell not on my actual installation.

So yeah, that's why I'm so dead set on the guest being as close to identical as humanly possible. All it took for me was that one, horrendous debacle, to wake me up. If I can get this thing set up like I need it to be, and keep it the same as things change over time, I just know I'll have what I need to really accelerate in my learning. Without it, I'm just sitting here with my thumb up my @$$, waiting - and it's terrible. I long, no I crave, I need to play with these things and learn - and I need to have an environment I can feel safe doing it in.
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby Martin » 22. Jun 2011, 09:51

I think an easier solution for your "problem" would be to just use imaging/cloning to an external harddisk without virtualisation.
You just create a full disk image prior to your experiments and if something fails you can just restore to that exact state.
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby Sasquatch » 22. Jun 2011, 20:30

Yeah, with the wishes you mentioned, that would be the best thing to do. Why? Because if you mess up your GUI in a VM, the fix may be different than on your Host. If you do want to go the virtual road, then check out rsync. It allows you to keep two locations in sync over the network. You can set it up to synchronise specific folders from one server to another, and exclude some others.
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Re: Clone Host o/s into Virtual Box

Postby ClientAlive » 25. Jun 2011, 05:56

I will definitely start learning all about rsync. I was reading the man page earlier this afternoon and the way it's described sounds just right for a job like that. Thanks sasquatch.

So I got my o/s p2v'd into Virtual Box. Even managed to (mpack cover your eyes) shrink the thing down to 9.8 gb grand total with about 3.6 gb unused space left. That seems just about right for me since I don't think I'll be putting anything on it that eats up a whole ton of space.

So the route I went was:

1> Used dd to make a raw image file and saved it to my external usb drive/
2> Used CloneVDI (with "Compact drive while copying" ticked/ selected) to clone and compact that raw image to my local, physical disk.
3> Made a vm and used that vdi as it's disk.
4> Set that vm so that it only boot from cd/dvd and booted gparted live in it.
5> Resized the disk with gparted live so that it was set to 10240 MiB.
6> Used CloneVDI again (as above) to compact that resized vdi; and, this time, sent that clone to my external usb drive.
7> Deleted the vm I had made using the option to delete all files (that deleted the old vdi also when it happened).
8> Copied that final, resized and compacted vdi back to my local disk into the folder I had made for it inside "VirtualBox VMs."
9> Made another vm, the final one, the one I've been after - using that final, resized and compacted vdi for it's disk.
10> Booted my new vm host replica, "HostClone," and have been enjoying it ever since.

As far as I can tell it's fine and nothing wrong with it. If there are any problems I'm sure they will come out in the following days. I'm also sure that the way I arrived at my goal may not have been the most efficient or even best way - but I did it the best way I knew how, after the instruction/ input you guys gave me.

Thanks a whole, whole bunch guys. I know you must deal with this same, lame question all-the-time and I can only imagine what it's like. I really needed the help though and I'm glad you showed up for me.

Peace out!

Jake
------------------------------

Edit:

Oh! By the way, do we mark posts "solved" like you do at some of the other forums? Just want to make sure I don't neglect it and I've been looking around on the page and haven't seen a way to do it.

Thanks
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