Linux, VMWare Fusion & Bootcamp Partition

If you install Windows XP on a partition of your Mac using Bootcamp, VMWare Fusion should see it, and allow you to boot Windows inside the VM. I installed Ubuntu Feisty on another partition of my Mac, so VMWare Fusion doesn’t notice it automatically, but I finally found out how to get Ubuntu running in the VM without requiring a second installation with a separate VMWare disk image.

The secret is to use vmware-rawDiskCreator as discussed in this InsanelyMac forum. Here are some more detailed directions:

  1. In VMWare Fusion, create a new vmware instance called MyUbuntu. Under “Settings” for that vm, you can change or add a new IDE hard drive. This will make life easier, since you won’t have to worry about having the right SCSI driver if you are running a minimalistic Linux distro. From the command line, MyUbuntu is really a directory called MyUbuntu.vmwarevm (yes, vm appears twice in that extension).
  2. Close MyUbuntu in VMWare Fusion, so you can edit it directly.
  3. In a terminal:
    1. cd "/Library/Application Support/VMware Fusion/"
    2. List the partitions on your hard drive.
      ./vmware-rawdiskCreator print /dev/disk0
    3. Create a file that points VMWare at your partition. (My bootcamp partition is number 3, so that is why you see a 3 in the following command.)
      ./vmware-rawdiskCreator create /dev/disk0 3  /Users/USERNAME/MyUbuntu.vmwarevm/bootcamp_partition ide
  4. Add or edit these lines in the text file /Users/USERNAME/MyUbuntu.vmwarevm/MyUbuntu.vmx
    ide0:0.present = "TRUE"
    ide0:0.fileName = "bootcamp_partition.vmdk"
  5. Run MyUbuntu in VMWare Fusion. You will be asked for your administrative password, because VMWare Fusion must be granted access to read and write to your bootcamp partition.

111 responses to “Linux, VMWare Fusion & Bootcamp Partition

  1. Great info but I got tripped up following your example. Turns out the problem was I needed to boot linux directly before creating the bootcamp_partition file. Looks like jtw had the exact same problem as me. Identical symptoms at least. Took me forever to work out how to get it going, might want to update your blog to include this ;) Apart from that, thanks for the info – big help!


  2. Having a similar issue as Karen with VMWare Fusion on a Mac Mini.. Everything was great.. had an issue copied some files copied back and have been getting this error:

    File Not Found: Applications:Dell XP:Virtual Disk 3.vmdk

    This file is required to power on this virtual machine. If this file was moved, please provide its new location.

    When I looked it wasn’t there.. This is for a USB drive.. drive is still in.. now renamed.. Tried reconstituting by adding that drive to another similar setup, added second drive 16gb.. created file called Virtual Disk 3 with same specs.. copied files to computer with issue.. Put the USB back in, tried again.. same issue..

    Your two cents are appreciated. Thanks so much. (Not familiar with command line on mac)


  3. Evan,
    There are a few things I’m not clear on. When it was working great, what was the setup? Did you create a reference to an existing partition with vmware-rawdiskCreator? This will only work with ide and scsi drives. USB drives are handled separately. You will actually a little USB icon at the bottom of the vmware window that will let you attach or detach a USB device.

    Does the reconstituted vm work on the computer before you copied it to the computer with issue? How big is the VirtualDisk3.vmdk when you get info?


  4. Thanks a ton Admin

    The setup is a MacMini running VMWare Fusion.. two hard drives boot drive and then a second 16gb usb stick that was a second drive (Virtual Disk 3).. the only issue we kept having was VMWare would keep eating up disk space.. so in an attempt to solve that I got the 16gb but it turned out it needed more room on the boot drive.

    I haven’t used nor am I familiar with rawdiskCreator.. Need to hop on that computer to get info on the Virtual Disk 3 File.. will post slightly later.. my problem is that I can’t currently shut down the system.. would like to see if I can remove the USB “second hard drive” from VMWare but due to it being suspended I can’t shut it down and can’t access settings.

    Is there a way to shut it down if it’s suspended?

    Thanks so much for your assistance. And I apologize for my n00b-ness


  5. Daniel, this works fine for me under vmware 3. It still uses a .vmx file that references .vmdk files for drives. I don’t know what file extension differences you are talking about.


  6. Thanks!
    In my case this codes work:

    scsi0:0.present = “TRUE”
    scsi0:0.fileName = “MyUbuntu.vmdk”
    ide1:0.present = “TRUE”
    ide1:0.autodetect = “TRUE”
    ide1:0.deviceType = “cdrom-raw”


  7. 1) you first need to format the target partition as NTFS.
    vmware-rawdiskCreator will not recognise a Fat-32 partition.

    2) Open the VM’s settings and select the HardDisk settings panel,
    Delete the default vmdk and add a new vmdk as ide pre-allocate not-split

    3) Exit from vmware.

    4) Select the VM’s vmwarevm file and show package contents

    5) Rename the vmdk files [there should be 2]

    6) Use the original vmdk file path on the “./vmware-rawdiskCreator create” command

    7) Launch VMWare Fusion again and open the VM’s settings

    8) Attach the installer cd .iso as the virtual machines CD

    9) Boot the VM and install


  8. Love the tutorial, I’ve used it many times. For anyone who’s updated to Fusion 4 the new location of vmware-rawdiskCreator is /Applications/VMware . Hope this helps!


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